What Does True Faith in Jesus Look Like?

We often like to associate great faith with bold acts of courage. But often, the greatest demonstrations of faith we will make are those quiet mornings we choose to wake up and make the next right decision—regardless of how out of alignment our choices might seem with what we hope God has in store.

What Does True Faith in Jesus Look Like?

Hebrews 11

Today's Scripture Passage

A Few Thoughts to Consider

What does true faith look like?

Hebrews 11 is often called the "Hall of Faith" chapter. But it's important to note, as Robert Peterson does, that the individuals listed in these 39 verses "were often quite fallible in character. They became heroic not by their abilities or advantages but by the eternal purposes of the One in whom they placed their faith."[1]

Verse 6 is a pivotal part of this narrative when the author says, "Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." As my professor in college, Alan Brown, often pointed out, this verse indicates true faith always involves three components: belief, commitment, and trust. "Faith believes what God says, commits to do as God requires, and trusts in and rests on God's promises."[2]

If there were any part I would add to this definition, it would be the tiny phrase "and often for many years without divine reassurance that we're on the right path." I add this part a bit tongue in cheek, but when we look at the lives of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11, we cannot help but notice the sheer time attached to their faith. It's one thing to believe God's promises for a day. But it's another to believe them when these promises are not even fulfilled in one's lifetime.

This was a message the oppressed recipients of the Hebrews' letter needed to hear. As George Guthrie writes,

The message to the original hearers must not be missed, for their circumstance must be seen as analogous to that of the patriarchs. Perhaps their current experience of persecution has highlighted the alien nature of their earthly existence. They cannot perceive the fulfillment of God's promises to them; all they can see is the difficulty of their present crisis. The writer's point is that this is normal for people of faith. The promises of God must be embraced even though their fulfillment lies in the future.[3]

Those last two sentences are especially poignant and may resonate with you today. Maybe you have placed your hope in God, but there is much you do not understand. Perhaps you felt confident that God told you something would happen, and it hasn't. You thought being a Christian would look one way, but it's turned out very different. You wrestle with doubts, have grown disgruntled with hypocrites, and are disheartened by unanswered prayer.

It's here you have a choice. You can start to become bitter and drift away from God, or you can lean in and see these circumstances as tests of your faith.

We often like to associate great faith with bold acts of courage. But often, the greatest demonstrations of faith we will make are those quiet mornings we choose to wake up and make the next right decision—regardless of how out of alignment our choices might seem with what we hope God has in store.

C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters revolves around the fictitious plotline of a senior demon, Screwtape, and his nephew, Wormwood. As the older mentor, Screwtape's goal is to help Wormwood see how he can best attack a human's faith. Along the way, Screwtape makes this statement:

"Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."[4]

This is a line we should all remember.

A Meditation to PRAY

Praise | Thank you for faith. Thank you that I can trust you even when I can’t see or understand what you’re doing.

Release | I release my fears and uncertainty to you.

Ask | Strengthen my faith, and help me to keep my eyes on you instead of my circumstances.

Yield | Help me trust you even when I'm tempted to give in to doubt.

A Challenge to Act Like Christ  

It's important to note that two different groups of "Hall of Faithers" are mentioned in Hebrews 11. The first are the popular names most of us recognize. The second are the nameless ones who were tortured, mocked, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated.

Several years ago, I came across a statement from Pastor Kevin Myers that stuck with me. He writes,

"I have always heard preachers talk about the first group and I had imagined that I would be named among them. And for the first time it was dawning on me, What if I'm in the second group? They were just as faith-filled. God was just as pleased with them as He was the ones named in Hebrews 11. If God owns me, He can put me in either group."[5]

In the West, everyone wants to be in the first group. We feel this is where we deserve to be. Like the people of Babel, we want to make a name for ourselves. But living a "Hall of Faith" life isn't about tackling insurmountable challenges and beating the odds. It's about actively believing, committing, and trusting in Jesus—even when this involves decades of silence, days of persecution, and no reassurance that God's promises for our lives will be fulfilled while we are still on this earth.

What is one comment or question you have on this devotional or scripture passage?

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[1]Bryan Chapell, eds. Gospel Transformation Study Bible Notes. Accordance electronic ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), paragraph 6033.

[2] Class Notes

[3]George H. Guthrie, Hebrews, ed. Terry C. Muck, The NIV Application Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 379.

[4] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

[5] Kevin Myers and John C. Maxwell, Home Run: Learn God's Game Plan for Life and Leadership (New York: FaithWords, Kindle Edition, 2014), 28.