I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately. It started in my Bible reading, of course. And then it has been an ongoing discussion with one of my prayer partners, who also writes and leads Bible studies. I even started a notebook of all the different places where word searches have taken me in Scripture, places that define faith and how it intertwines with hope and love.
A few weeks ago I was pondering the whole “faith the size of a mustard seed” thing, noting that though Jesus said that was all you needed to make a mountain move, he also talked about the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, growing to be the largest tree in the garden. So that “all I need is small faith” thing that we sometimes cling to isn’t the whole story. Jesus expected that small faith to grow. But how does that really happen? The formula for growing faith has seemed quite elusive to me, both in teachings I’ve heard and in the life I’ve lived. I know my faith has pushed out of its seed casing and broken through the earth, but I want it to grow bigger than all the other plants, like Jesus said. I want faith that overshadows everything else.
Then last week I ran across this verse, which, yes, I’ve read 10,000 times.
“No unbelief made him [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,” Romans 4:20
Abraham grew strong in his faith. How? As he gave glory to God.
We hear this all the time, don’t we? Giving glory to God. But what does it really mean in practical terms? Because if doing it makes my faith grow strong–bigger than all trees in the garden–I want that! So I went to my trusty New Testament word dictionary. (Thank you, Kay Arthur, for introducing me to Spiros Zodhiates’ wonderful books!)
GLORY comes from the root word of thought or opinion. As glory pertains to God, the idea is that glory is a true apprehension of who and what God is. Thus, “glory” involves ascribing the full recognition of His character to Him. It is a focus on who God is instead of who I am or what my circumstances are.
Okay. Got that. But how do I “give” glory to God? Is it like a gift? Is it just words?
Interestingly enough, not really. The word “gave” in Romans 4:20 is more along the lines of “trusting to the care of another” than a gift, per se. I choose to put something in someone else’s hand for safekeeping. So Abraham’s faith grew because he allowed God to be Himself. Abraham entrusted to God God’s own reputation.
Doesn’t seem earth-shattering, does it? And yet, is that really how we act like our faith grows? Don’t we think our faith grows when we do something, when we act? When we just believe hard enough? If so, we have it backward. Faith without works is dead, but before we can act, do, or even just believe, we have to acknowledge God’s character and entrust Him to uphold Himself. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Give Him glory and my faith will grow strong. I want that. How about you?