This is a question that we ask ourselves from time to time. Especially when we are young(er) in life, say 16-24, and at a point where we are going to choose a career and make many choices (marriage, kids, education, where to live, etc) that will affect our lives for the next many decades, if God gives us that much time.
With the many verses that we could use, I would like to answer that question in broad terms with two verses.
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, (Act 13:36)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb 11:6)
David did something so simple: He served the purpose of God in his own generation.
We don’t have to do something big and grandiose in order to win God’s favor. We don’t even have to affect the whole world or leave a legacy that lasts throughout time. Simply serving God where and when you are is a good thing and one could argue that in so doing you will have a bigger impact than if you “tried” to serve God in some grand way. David made mistakes, but he was a man after God’s heart and so his repentance was never far away…neither was God’s word!
Psalm 119, written by David, stands out as a testament to the power of God’s word, its value, and its necessity in the life of the person who would follow God.
The other verse cited above, Hebrews 11:6, says basically that we need faith to please God. But what is “Faith”? While the word is used in a few different ways, this time it is used in regards to the “trusting obedience” that one who pleases God has. There are two components to faith then: Trust and Obey (Do you remember that song?).
Faith, of course, is not something that we just dream up. We don’t wish for something and then live our lives as if what we wished for, or what we want, will come to pass. Faith is dependent on a something solid (substance) and which we trust (are convicted about) to be true. (see Heb 11:1 KJV). I believe that one such item, and the one we have readily available to us today is God’s word, the Bible!
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)
If you hear it in the word of God, you can trust it to be so and, as it pertains to the commands, obey them and so show that you are living by faith. This is what living by faith means….living by what you read in God’s word.
Having faith in God that your sports team will win the next big game is NOT living by faith because God never said you would win. Having faith that you will get a raise at your next evaluation is not living by faith because God never said you would get a raise. Having faith that your new business will succeed is not living by faith because God never said you would.
If you doubt these statements just go talk to any Christian sports player, any Christian employee, or any Christian business owner and ask them what happened when they lost that game, didn’t get the raise, or lost their business. Did God fail them? Is faith not enough? When it is defined in such a way as to reward you or make your life easier, and yet not found in the Scriptures, then not only is faith not enough, it is not really faith.
So what does God want from me? The answer is simple: Live by faith.
The sports player follows the rules, treats his opponents with love (even as he competes against them), and knows that whatever skills he has, God gave him that ability. The employee works as unto the Lord not just when the boss is looking, doesn’t steal time or company property (e.g. pens, paper clips, tools) and the business owner is fair to his customers, produces a quality product, and shows integrity.
Why would those be examples of living by faith? Because the Bible references each of them. The Bible may not tell you how to drive a car (i.e. the skill) but it does tell you HOW to drive when on the road (i.e. obey the laws, be courteous, be wise and not foolish).
So when it comes to our life; do what ever you want that is “by faith”. Don’t choose a path that is unjust, don’t fail to show mercy, don’t fail to walk with God. (Micah 6:8)
The above should lead you to one inescapable conclusion: “I have to know what God’s word says to know what God wants of my life.”
I am not suggesting that you need to know it all by memory in order to answer the question. You can ask yourself right now, is there something in my life that God does not approve of? If you stop doing it, you are living by faith. Is there something that God would have me to do (honor parents, visit sick, etc.)? If you start doing it, you are living by faith.
Living by faith is what God wants of you. Now go live the life God wants for you!
If you would like to listen to a sermon on the idea of “living by faith”, click here.
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (Jas 2:1)
I want you to feel the weight of these words. People have, in the name of Christ held viewpoints that were contrary to the faith which is called by the name of Jesus. When you call yourself a Christian there is a standard to which you are accountable. There is much to be said about this in the coming verses so let me just take the one verse to begin with. The illustration that James gives will be another topic.
My brothers….James is not saying that these people to whom he is writing are not Christians. He calls them brothers and this is good because we need to realize that brothers do err. Here are brothers in Christ who show partiality. In error, but still brothers. This is James’ warning to them. I have no doubt that should they have continued in this practice he would not refer to them as brothers. (Titus 3:10)
Hold not….To hold onto something is to cling to it. Sometimes it is a person, sometimes, a viewpoint. In this context, the contrast is between clinging to the faith of Christ and yet having a viewpoint that some are not worthy. (cf Luke 18:9) Simon, the sorcerer, for example, was wanting to cling to the faith of Christ and yet had the spirit of covetousness. (Acts 8 ) He was rebuked and told to repent. Jesus said that no one can serve two masters. (Matt. 6:33) Anything that is in contrast to the faith of Christ is another master to be refused.
I had an acquaintance at a previous job who seemed sad one day. He attended a work Bible study and seemed by appearances to be a Christian. He explained his sadness: “My family is on my case for living with my girlfriend….but they don’t know how the Spirit is leading me.” Whoa!! My brother, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus with a spirit of fornication! What happened to testing the spirits?
Partiality here seems to be a judgemental superficial judgement that is based on something beyond a person’s control. There is a difference between having some close friends and tolerating the presence of others. While I agree that a group of friends could become a click or an isolating factor, Jesus himself spent more time with Peter, James, and John and to the 12 as a whole over the other disciples. Yet, you won’t find him refusing others, disciples and antagonists.
What James is calling partiality seems to be judging a person unworthy based on some external thing, in this case riches. But skin color, sex, body build, or even singing voice at church (remember God told us to sing, not sing well) in addition to wealth are not standards for judging a person’s value to God. God is not one to show partiality.
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Act 10:34-35)
God does not care if the Arabs, Chinese, Japanese, Kenyans, Mongolians, or any other person from any nation comes to him, all can be accepted. Notice the key: Those that fear (respect him) and do what is right. Once again, God has standards and our life should not be lived in such a way as to violate those standards.
What motivates you to make a distinction? If it is something beyond a person’s control don’t do it. If it is a behavior issue and you can correct it, do so with love.