Examine Your Faith

Do you have a reactionary faith or a proactive faith?

A reactionary faith is rarely seen on calm, sunny days. When the weather is fine and the sailing is smooth, the Father of lights from Whom every good and perfect gift comes down (James 1:17) is forgotten while His gifts are being enjoyed and used with gusto. But when the gloom thickens and doom seems near, this kind of faith presumes on the nearness of God and calls upon Him with fervency.

When some urgency arises, reactionary faith assumes that He Who has been ignored for months stands ready to respond in an instant. It counts God as its dearest Friend, eager to use His almighty power to achieve the greatest of all goals. That goal of course is to secure (as soon as possible) the personal comfort, happiness, and prosperity of the one expressing reactionary faith. After all, what higher goal or purpose could the eternal One possibly have?

Yet how gracious and longsuffering He is! How often He does indeed act powerfully and promptly to rescue the one who has reactionary faith. How often does the longsuffering God answer cries for help, only to find Himself forgotten and ignored again when the trouble is past.

On the other hand, a proactive faith is sketched for us at 1 Thessalonians 5:17,18. “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

It is illustrated by patient Job. During the course of a single day, he learned that a portion of his livestock had been stolen by two bands of thieves, that some of his servants had been murdered by the raiders, that other livestock and servants had been killed by fire that fell from heaven, and that all ten of his own children had been crushed to death when the dwelling in which they had gathered for a celebration collapsed in a violent windstorm. His response?

“…Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ ” (Book of Job 1:20,21)

So a proactive a faith gives thanks robustly, when earthly blessings abound. But it perpetually prizes God as its highest joy, the heaven of its heaven. It also looks with confident trust to a gracious Savior when gloom and doom is near. That confidence comes from having been at His side all along, ever abiding in the presence of Him Who is unseen.  Being a faith enriched by God’s living and active written word, it responds to adversity with the mindset of the Psalmist, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)

Proactive faith knows well the exhortation with which James begins his general epistle. When various trials come it counts them all joy, knowing that testing produces patience. It apprehends that God’s eternal purpose is to glorify Himself in and by all things. Think about it – could God have a greater goal or purpose? What else would be worthy of Him Who condescends to consider the whole human race, indeed all creation?

Proactive faith delights in knowing that God will glorify Himself by using trials and tribulations to further conform the patient one to the image of the Lord Jesus…to make that one perfect and complete, lacking nothing…securing that one in an everlasting state that is blissful beyond anything he can presently ask or think.

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