by Steve Presswood
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:1-6 NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb 11:1-6 NIV)
Some years ago, I was a recent college grad and newlywed waiting for the USAF “training pipeline” to open so I could go to pilot training. The wait would be 9 months so I needed a job in the meantime. We lived in the same town as my parents and my dad helped me find a job, though I wasn’t proud of it: I was a floor salesman in the toy department of a department store. It was a blow to my ego as an engineering grad bound for the heady realm of flying military jets to have to try selling dolls to moms doing Christmas shopping for their daughters. Still, I had a strong work ethic and did my best.
About 5 weeks into the job and with Christmas approaching, I was asked to report to the store office. No explanation given as to why I was being summoned, and I walked to the office with a growing sense of anxiety, my imagination working overtime to piece together what might be going on.
Arriving at the office, I was ushered into a small, windowless office with a desk and two chairs. The desk had nothing on it. I waited for a few minutes before a man I’d never seen before came in with a manila folder. He politely invited me to sit but his facial expressions and demeanor told me he was not happy. For an hour this man, the store’s security manager, grilled me. He told me that the store had been losing money and that as they investigated, they realized the money was being taken from the register in our department. He told me further that they had access to video tapes of what went on in the store. He hinted that I was the culprit though he never said it outright. It took me some time to catch on to what he was getting at but when I finally realized he believed I was “dipping into the till,” I was shocked. I was no thief. It just wasn’t in my character. I would return a penny if I could find the owner.
My stomach knotted up, my mind began to race and I was overwhelmed with a flood of emotions and thoughts: “How could they think I’ve been stealing? How could I have given them the impression that I’d done something wrong?” I finally had the presence of mind to ask to see any video that would incriminate me, knowing I’d be able to give a rational explanation for what they saw that caused them to think I was stealing. They never put any video in front of me. That hour-long investigative interview seemed like an eternity. When they finally let me go, I was shaking from the emotional trauma of being hauled before the store authorities and accused of wrongdoing.
If you’ve ever been accused of something, you know the feelings it brings. Being accused of something you’ve done would probably cause a powerful emotional response, but to be wrongly accused is gut-wrenching.
Now go back in your mind to the events in the Garden of Eden. God told man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” When Satan came to tempt Eve, he called into question God’s character, specifically His honesty, by insinuating that He was holding out on the man and the woman. Satan essentially called God a liar who was misleading Adam and Eve.
To accuse God of wrongdoing is an affront to Him. He’s the only being in the universe who is inherently good, honest and truthful. When mankind distrusts Him, the foundation for relationship is lost. That’s why Abram’s belief in what God said is so profound. It’s why God credited Abram’s faith as righteousness. He believed, based on God’s character, that He would do what He promised because of who He is, because He is trustworthy. God credited Abram’s faith as righteousness, as grounds for a relationship (which would eventually be consummated through faith in the atoning work of Christ’s righteous life, death and resurrection). Faith is the only foundation for any person’s relationship with God.
God is pleased with faith in Him. Hebrews says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Doesn’t it make sense that God would be pleased when we trust Him, since He is worthy of trust? To not trust Him is, quite simply, ludicrous. Everything He says is true because of who He is. When we operate contrary to what he tells us, we call into question His character; but, when our lives are consistent with what He tells us, with His revealed truth, we live lives of faith.
Faith (and the verb form of the word, believe) is not a one-time transaction. It’s an ongoing action based on understanding God’s flawless character and the truth of what He says. Believe God! Believe everything He says. He’s worthy of your trust.
Some questions to ponder:
- Do I take God at His word or do I justify my actions as preferable to God’s will?
- Do I believe that all God says is true or do I look for ways to discredit or get around the hard things?
- Would someone looking at my life characterize me as a person of faith (who trusts God and His word) or as a pretender? In other words, would they see me as one who really trusts God or as one who lives behind a mask of religiosity?
Application: What did God speak to you about in today’s reading? Are there any action steps for you to take?