Do you ever feel like your faith is weak? Ever feel like you are clinging to Jesus by a thread?
Ever feel like you don’t know if you will have enough faith to make it to the end? Here’s some good news for you: your faith isn’t just up to you. If you believe in Jesus, it isn’t because you were smarter or wiser or more spiritual than those who don’t believe. And when you endure to the end and finish the race, it won’t be because of how strong you are. The good news is this: Jesus gave us our faith and he is the one who will perfect it.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. HEB 12.1-2
The Christian life isn’t easy.
In fact it’s really hard. I can’t begin to fathom how hard it is for believers in some places, like the work camps in North Korea or for those who are persecuted by ISIS. But the Bible tells us that every believer in Jesus has to endure, to “fight the good fight” of faith, that we will all suffer trials and afflictions of various kinds.
We have personal sin “which clings so closely,” that we must constantly put to death. And we have a real and powerful enemy, Satan, a spirit far more powerful than us, who schemes against us and tempts us to trip us up, whose lies we must continually deflect with the shield of faith.
But we don’t run this race in our own power. God doesn’t tell us to quit our belly-aching and man up and just do it. Here is what he tells us.
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” HEB 12.2
What an encouraging verse.
Our faith is not simply up to us.
First of all, our faith didn’t originate with us
Jesus is the “founder” of our faith. He is the “pioneer” or “author” of our faith, as some translations put it. In other words, Jesus is the originator of our faith. He gave us our faith. He enabled us to believe in him. We didn’t believe in Jesus because we were smarter and wiser than unbelievers. We believed in Jesus because he opened our eyes and hearts. He gave us our faith. He is the author. He gave us our faith as a gift.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 CO 1.26-30
Do you feel weak? God loves working with weak people. He gives faith to weak people. The Lord gave us our faith when we were foolish and weak. Not because we were worldly-wise or powerful or noble. When we get to heaven we won’t boast that we had such powerful faith, but we will boast in the Lord and praise him for giving us faith.
Jesus is not only the founder of our faith but he is its “perfecter.”
The way we endure in this race, the way we persevere to the end and get through the afflictions and trials that come our way is by “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” By praying, by seeking him, by looking at his life and imitating him, by seeing how he looked past the afflictions to the rewards. But we also endure by knowing that Jesus is perfecting our faith. He is doing a good work in us.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. PHP 1.6
Jesus began this good work in us, and he will finish it. Every day he sharpens our faith. He knows exactly what we need to become like him. He is the master sculptor. He chips away here, chips away there, sands this little spot down, rubs that spot. He makes us like himself. Romans 8 says:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (RO 8.28-29)
What is the “good” that all things are working together for in our lives? It is “to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
That is what God is doing in our lives. He is making us like Christ – perfecting our faith. He began this good work and he will bring it to completion. Jesus is the originator of our faith and he is the perfecter of it.
Jesus gave us our faith – we should regularly thank him. We were weak, foolish, without faith and without hope, and Jesus “authored” our faith. He gave us faith to believe in who he is and what he did for us.
If you feel weak in your faith keep looking to Jesus to strengthen it.
He knows our every weakness delights to help us. Remember the father of the boy with a demon who cried out ” I believe; help my unbelief!” Jesus didn’t tell him to come back when his faith was stronger, but healed the man’s son. The One who multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed thousands can take our tiny grain of faith and make it strong.
And if you have strong faith, remember Jesus is the one who did that good work in you. Remember, “let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Lord Jesus, we look to you. Thank you for giving us faith in you. Please continue to strengthen our faith, and thank you that you will perfect it and complete this good work you began.