I have been discussing virtues over the last several months. Theologians and Bible scholars have sorted and classified virtues. Among them is Thomas Aquinas who determined there are three classifications of virtues: Intellectual, Moral, and Theological. Theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity, or love.
According to Aquinas, these three virtues are not human virtues, but Divine virtues; they are of God and above human nature. He writes, “Such like principles are called "theological virtues": first, because their object is God, inasmuch as they direct us a right to God: secondly, because they are infused in us by God alone: thirdly, because these virtues are not made known to us, save by Divine revelation, contained in Holy Writ.”
We have discussed Love and Hope, and today I would like to look at Faith. Faith is the confident belief in something that is not yet seen or fully understood. It is the foundation of our relationship with God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It is trusting in God's goodness and believing that He will keep His promises of forgiveness, provision, peace, salvation, and guidance.
Faith is a powerful force that can transform our lives and help us overcome obstacles. It also is a force that can help us gain or achieve our heart's desires. It is through faith that we receive blessings and desires from God, whatever they may be: healings, change, guidance, or help of any kind. Matthew 9:29 – “Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it unto you.’” In Mark 9:23 Jesus says, “All things can be done for the one who believes."
A cornerstone of Christ’s teachings lies in Mark 11:23-24. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” That is faith – believing in what has not yet happened and cannot yet be seen.
Faith is a most excellent virtue. It helps us to know the right moral behavior to be a disciple of Christ, while recognizing the existence of God's mercy when we fail. Faith enables us to see Christ in those around us, even the poor and downcast. Through faith, we recognize the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Faith improves our daily lives whether on the job, serving others, or connecting with people. Faith keeps us going and motivates us to move forward. It helps us in difficult times. If we have faith, we will have hope and the strength to endure our challenges.
Faith sees us through to our goal’s attainment, and our faith can encourage others to keep their own faith. Faith helps us do the things that frighten us; it gives us courage. Faith is the guiding light that draws us towards our purpose. We see anxiety and stress diminish when we have faith in ourselves and God.
Romans 12:3 tells us: "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned". Each of us has been given faith, and there are ways to increase our faith. One comes from Romans 10:17. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." We do not have the benefit of directly hearing the words of Christ except through the Bible and the words of the scholars and theologians who have studied the Bible.
Prayer builds faith and trust in God – communicating with God, listening to that still small voice for wisdom and guidance and sharing our needs and desires. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Through serving others we express our faith and love for God. Through heartfelt service, we demonstrate God's love and grace, grow in humility and compassion, and develop our spiritual gifts. As 1 Peter 4:10 teaches, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.”
Trusting God is an essential part of our faith journey. It means surrendering our fears, doubts, and worries to God and relying on His power, wisdom, and goodness. As we trust God more, our faith is strengthened, and we experience His peace, joy, love, and blessings. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
As we know, sound is a type of energy made by vibrations. These vibrations create sound waves which move through mediums such as air, water, and wood. These sound waves cause the molecules of the medium to vibrate in tandem waves, and they persist until the particles in the medium run out of energy.
Some people believe faith is similar; it is a powerful vibration of energy that uses various mediums for expression. One of these mediums is doubt; faith vibrates through our desires and through our doubts. If we will allow it, our faith moves through doubt and keeps going until there is no more doubt; doubt runs out of energy.
When there is no more doubt, or no more desire, faith is not needed. What we had faith in attaining has come into being. What we doubted has been proven true. We know; it is ours, real and actual. There is certainty in this outcome and so faith turns to another course, toward another doubt or desire, and then another.
Our faith continues throughout our lives until we have dropped the body and our desires and doubts, and every medium for faith has ended. Then we will see ‘face to face’ and no longer through a ‘mirror dimly.’
But while we are empowered within these bodies, as 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us, “…we live by faith, not by sight.” Faith is a most excellent virtue and gives us the power to hold on to the good in our lives. Through faith we cling to those things that we desire to manifest in our life. Believing in God, the good, by faith, we embrace His good and possess it. Faith in the good and Light of God is the antidote for worry, fear, anxiety, and unbelief or faith in evil and the darkness of our self-obsessed ego. As Christian writer, Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
When thoughts of doubt assail us, we affirm, “I have faith!” Our faith becomes the vessel upon which we traverse the storms of doubt. Faith uses our doubt, our desires, and the dreams God has placed upon our hearts as the means to attain God’s good in our lives. Romans 4:20 says, “He wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up.” Sorrow has us looking back to the times when sadness captured our hearts. Worry has us looking forward and back for something bad that has not yet occurred. It is like having faith in the negative. But with faith, faith in God, faith in God’s good, we don’t worry because we know our good is on the way. Faith is looking up, beyond the travails of the world and into the smiling eyes of Christ, knowing that God will always do what is best, as He arranges things for our benefit.
It is my prayer that we fully use the faith given to us and work lovingly to increase it. Faith in Christ, faith in God, faith in God’s good. Though it may be difficult at times, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” It is my prayer that we live and love and laugh in faith.