How Strong Is Your Faith?
“It is by your faith that you are standing.”—2 CORINTHIANS 1:24.
1, 2. Why must we have faith, and how can it become stronger?
JEHOVAH’S servants know that they must have faith. In fact, ‘without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing to God.’ (Hebrews 11:6) Therefore, we wisely pray for holy spirit and for faith, which is part of its blessed fruitage. (Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22, 23) Imitating the faith of fellow believers can also strengthen this quality in us.—2 Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 13:7.
2 Our faith will become stronger if we persist in pursuing the course that God’s Word sets out for all Christians. Increased faith can result from daily Bible reading and diligent study of the Scriptures with the help of publications provided through “the faithful steward.” (Luke 12:42-44; Joshua 1:7, 8) We are encouraged by one another’s faith through our regular presence at Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions. (Romans 1:11, 12; Hebrews 10:24, 25) And our faith is strengthened when we speak to others in the ministry.—Psalm 145:10-13; Romans 10:11-15.
3. With respect to faith, what help do we get from loving Christian elders?
3 By offering Scriptural counsel and encouragement, loving Christian elders help us to build up our faith. They have a spirit like that of the apostle Paul, who told the Corinthians: “We are fellow workers for your joy, for it is by your faith that you are standing.” (2 Corinthians 1:23, 24) Another translation reads: “We are working with you to make you glad, because your faith is strong.” (Contemporary English Version) The righteous live by reason of faith. Of course, nobody else can exercise faith for us or make us loyal integrity keepers. In this respect, ‘we must carry our own load.’—Galatians 3:11; 6:5.
4. How can Scriptural accounts of faithful servants of God help to strengthen our faith?
4 The Scriptures abound with accounts of those who had faith. We may be acquainted with many of their outstanding deeds, but what about the faith they displayed from day to day, perhaps throughout a long life? Reflecting now on how they exhibited this quality in circumstances similar to our own can help to strengthen our faith.
Faith Gives Us Courage
5. What Scriptural evidence is there that faith strengthens us to declare God’s word courageously?
5 Faith strengthens us to declare God’s word with courage. Enoch courageously foretold the execution of divine judgment. “Look!” he said, “Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” (Jude 14, 15) Upon hearing such words, Enoch’s godless enemies surely wanted to kill him. Yet, he boldly spoke out in faith, and God “took him” by putting him to sleep in death, apparently without allowing him to suffer its pangs. (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5) We do not experience such miracles, but Jehovah answers our prayers so that we can declare his word with faith and courage.—Acts 4:24-31.
6. How did God-given faith and courage help Noah?
6 By faith Noah “constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” (Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 6:13-22) Noah was also “a preacher of righteousness” who courageously declared God’s warning to his contemporaries. (2 Peter 2:5) They must have scoffed at his message about a coming Deluge, even as some scoff when we provide Scriptural proof that the present system of things will soon be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:3-12) Like Enoch and Noah, however, we can deliver such a message because of our God-given faith and courage.
Faith Makes Us Patient
7. How did Abraham and others display faith and patience?
7 We need faith and patience, especially as we await the end of this wicked system. Among those ‘who through faith and patience will inherit the promises’ is the God-fearing patriarch Abraham. (Hebrews 6:11, 12) By faith he left the city of Ur, with all its advantages, and became an alien in a foreign land promised to him by God. Isaac and Jacob were heirs of the very same promise. However, “in faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises.” By faith they ‘reached out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven.’ Accordingly, God “has made a city ready for them.” (Hebrews 11:8-16) Yes, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and their godly wives—patiently awaited God’s heavenly Kingdom, under which they will be resurrected to life on earth.
8. Despite what did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob manifest patience and faith?
8 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not lose faith. The Promised Land did not come under their control, and they did not see all nations bless themselves by means of Abraham’s seed. (Genesis 15:5-7; 22:15-18) Though the ‘city built by God’ would not become a reality until centuries had passed, these men continued to display faith and patience throughout their lives. Surely we should do no less now that the Messianic Kingdom is a reality in heaven.—Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5.
Faith Gives Us the Highest Goals
9. What bearing does faith have on goals and objectives?
9 The faithful patriarchs never adopted the degraded Canaanite life-style, for they had far higher goals and objectives. Faith similarly gives us spiritual goals that enable us to resist assimilation into the world lying in the power of the wicked one, Satan the Devil.—1 John 2:15-17; 5:19.
10. How do we know that Joseph pursued a goal far higher than that of worldly prominence?
10 By divine providence, Jacob’s son Joseph served as Egypt’s food administrator, but it was not his goal to be a great man of this world. With faith in the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promises, 110-year-old Joseph told his brothers: “I am dying; but God will without fail turn his attention to you, and he will certainly bring you up out of this land to the land about which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” Joseph asked to be buried in the land of promise. At death, he was embalmed and laid in a coffin in Egypt. But when the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian bondage, the prophet Moses had Joseph’s bones taken along for burial in the Promised Land. (Genesis 50:22-26; Exodus 13:19) Faith like that of Joseph should move us to pursue goals far higher than worldly prominence.—1 Corinthians 7:29-31.
11. In what way did Moses give evidence that he had spiritual goals?
11 Moses ‘chose ill-treatment with God’s people rather than the temporary enjoyment of sin’ as a well-educated member of Egypt’s royal family. (Hebrews 11:23-26; Acts 7:20-22) This cost him worldly prestige and perhaps a grand burial in an ornate coffin at some renowned Egyptian site. But of what value would that have been compared with the privilege of being a “man of the true God,” the mediator of the Law covenant, Jehovah’s prophet, and a Bible writer? (Ezra 3:2) Is prestigious secular advancement what you desire, or has faith given you much higher spiritual goals?
Faith Results in a Rewarding Life
12. What effect did faith have on Rahab’s life?
12 Faith gives people not only the highest goals but also a rewarding life. Rahab of Jericho must have found little meaning in her life as a harlot. Yet, how that changed when she exercised faith! She was “declared righteous by works [of faith], after she had received the [Israelite] messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way,” so that they eluded their Canaanite enemies. (James 2:24-26) Recognizing Jehovah as the true God, Rahab displayed faith also by abandoning her life of prostitution. (Joshua 2:9-11; Hebrews 11:30, 31) She married a servant of Jehovah, not an unbelieving Canaanite. (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 7:39) Rahab had the grand privilege of becoming an ancestress of the Messiah. (1 Chronicles 2:3-15; Ruth 4:20-22; Matthew 1:5, 6) Like others, some of whom have abandoned an immoral life, she will receive yet another reward—a resurrection to life on a paradise earth.
13. How did David sin with respect to Bath-sheba, but what attitude did he display?
13 After abandoning her sinful life, Rahab apparently maintained an upright course. However, some who have long been dedicated to God have sinned gravely. King David committed adultery with Bath-sheba, had her husband killed in battle, and then took her as his wife. (2 Samuel 11:1-27) Repenting in deep sorrow, David petitioned Jehovah: “Your holy spirit O do not take away from me.” David did not lose God’s spirit. He had faith that Jehovah, in his mercy, would not despise “a heart broken and crushed” over sin. (Psalm 51:11, 17; 103:10-14) Because of their faith, David and Bath-sheba enjoyed a rewarding place in the Messiah’s lineage.—1 Chronicles 3:5; Matthew 1:6, 16; Luke 3:23, 31.
Faith Bolstered by Assurance
14. What assurances did Gideon receive, and how may this account affect our faith?
14 Although we walk by faith, we may sometimes need assurance of divine help. That was true of Judge Gideon, one of those “who through faith defeated kingdoms in conflict.” (Hebrews 11:32, 33) When the Midianites and their allies invaded Israel, God’s spirit enveloped Gideon. Desiring assurance that Jehovah was with him, he proposed tests involving a fleece of wool exposed on a threshing floor overnight. In the first test, dew formed only on the fleece, while the earth stayed dry. The situation was reversed in the second test. Bolstered by these assurances, cautious Gideon acted in faith and defeated Israel’s foes. (Judges 6:33-40; 7:19-25) If we seek assurance when facing a decision, it does not mean that we lack faith. We actually show faith by consulting the Bible and Christian publications and by praying for the guidance of holy spirit when making decisions.—Romans 8:26, 27.
15. How may we be helped by reflecting on the faith of Barak?
15 The faith of Judge Barak was bolstered by assurance in the form of encouragement. The prophetess Deborah spurred him on to take the initiative in freeing the Israelites from oppression by Canaanite King Jabin. In faith and with reassurance of divine support, Barak led 10,000 poorly equipped men into battle and triumphed over Jabin’s far greater forces commanded by Sisera. That victory was celebrated in the thrilling song of Deborah and Barak. (Judges 4:1–5:31) Deborah encouraged Barak to act as Israel’s God-appointed leader, and he was one of Jehovah’s servants who through faith “routed the armies of foreigners.” (Hebrews 11:34) Reflecting on how God blessed Barak for acting in faith may well move us to action if we are somewhat hesitant about fulfilling a challenging assignment in Jehovah’s service.
Faith Promotes Peace
16. What fine example did Abraham set in pursuing peace with Lot?
16 Just as faith helps us to fulfill difficult assignments in God’s service, so it promotes peace and tranquillity. Elderly Abraham let his younger nephew Lot choose the best pasturelands when their herdsmen quarreled and a separation became necessary. (Genesis 13:7-12) Abraham must have prayed in faith for God’s help in solving this problem. Rather than put his own interests first, he settled things peaceably. If we find ourselves in a dispute with our Christian brother, let us pray in faith and “seek peace,” bearing in mind Abraham’s example of loving consideration.—1 Peter 3:10-12.
17. Why can we say that an apparent breach involving Paul, Barnabas, and Mark was healed in a peaceable way?
17 Consider how applying Christian principles in faith can help us to promote peace. When Paul was about to embark on his second missionary journey, Barnabas agreed to the proposal that they revisit the congregations in Cyprus and Asia Minor. However, Barnabas wanted to take along his cousin Mark. Paul disagreed because Mark had abandoned them in Pamphylia. “A sharp burst of anger” occurred, and this dispute caused a separation. Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus, whereas Paul chose Silas as his associate and “went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the congregations.” (Acts 15:36-41) In time, the apparent breach was healed, for Mark was with Paul in Rome, and the apostle spoke favorably of him. (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 23, 24) When Paul was a prisoner in Rome in about 65 C.E., he told Timothy: “Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering.” (2 Timothy 4:11) Paul had apparently made his relationship with Barnabas and Mark a subject of his prayers of faith, and this resulted in the tranquillity that is linked with “the peace of God.”—Philippians 4:6, 7.
18. What likely happened in the case of Euodia and Syntyche?
18 Being imperfect, of course, “we all stumble many times.” (James 3:2) Difficulties arose between two Christian women, about whom Paul wrote: “Euodia I exhort and Syntyche I exhort to be of the same mind in the Lord. . . . Keep assisting these women who have striven side by side with me in the good news.” (Philippians 4:1-3) It is most likely that these godly women resolved their problem in a peaceful manner by applying such counsel as that recorded at Matthew 5:23, 24. Application of Scriptural principles in faith will do much to promote peace today.
Faith Enables Us to Endure
19. What trying situation never destroyed the faith of Isaac and Rebekah?
19 By faith we can also endure adversity. Perhaps we are distressed because a baptized member of our family has disobeyed God by marrying an unbeliever. (1 Corinthians 7:39) Isaac and Rebekah suffered because of their son Esau’s marriage to ungodly women. His Hittite wives “were a source of bitterness of spirit” to them—so much so that Rebekah said: “I have come to abhor this life of mine because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob ever takes a wife from the daughters of Heth like these from the daughters of the land, of what good is life to me?” (Genesis 26:34, 35; 27:46) Yet, this trying situation never destroyed the faith of Isaac and Rebekah. May we maintain strong faith if difficult circumstances become a challenge to us.
20. What examples of faith do we have in Naomi and Ruth?
20 The aging widow Naomi was a Judean and knew that certain women of Judah might bear sons who would be forefathers of the Messiah. Inasmuch as her sons had died childless and she was past the childbearing age, however, the possibility that her family might contribute to Messianic lineage was remote indeed. Nevertheless, her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth became the wife of elderly Boaz, bore him a son, and became an ancestress of Jesus, the Messiah! (Genesis 49:10, 33; Ruth 1:3-5; 4:13-22; Matthew 1:1, 5) The faith of Naomi and Ruth outlasted adversity and brought them joy. Great joy will be ours too if we maintain faith in the face of adversity.
21. What does faith do for us, and what should be our determination?
21 Although we cannot say what a day will bring forth for us individually, by faith we can meet any challenge. Faith makes us courageous and patient. It gives us the highest goals and a rewarding life. Faith has positive effects on our relationship with others and outlasts adversity. May we therefore be “the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39) In the strength of our loving God, Jehovah, and to his glory, let us continue to exercise strong faith.
How Would You Answer?
• What Scriptural proof is there that faith can make us courageous?
• Why can we say that faith gives us a rewarding life?
• How does faith promote peace?
• What proof is there that faith enables us to endure adversity?
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Faith gave Noah and Enoch the courage to declare Jehovah’s messages
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Faith like that of Moses moves us to pursue spiritual goals
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Assurance of divine help strengthened the faith of Barak, Deborah, and Gideon