03 January 2012

What of faith?

God's word is a never ending well spring. I never cease to be amazed when I read passages that I have read dozens of times and they strike me in a new way. I read Romans 12 this morning and verse 3 says "for by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned" (Romans 12:3). What really struck me this morning was the tail end of that verse, where it reads "each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." I have two thoughts.

First, there seems to me a strong tendency among believers to gaze outward as a measure of faith rather than upward and inward. Many of us look at others and compare our faith with theirs. On the one hand, we may see some who appear much more holy than we do and become discouraged, or even question our own salvation. On the other hand, we may look at others who claim to follow Christ yet seem much less righteous than we do. Both represent forms of legalism and judgment. According to this verse, however, God assigns faith in measure. Some may have more, some less. The command is that we are each to use our gifts for the kingdom in proportion to our faith. Romans 12:6 reads, "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith." I think Matthew's account of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-9) also captures this differential fruit bearing among believers. 

Second, I have mentioned to others in the past that according to the construction of Ephesians 2:8-9, faith is also a gift of God. We don't receive salvation because of faith that comes from us, the faith we have is also a gift. This verse from Romans would seem to support the notion that faith is granted to believers. It reads "according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." To assign means to appoint or ascribe. Our faith, and the measure of it, is assigned to us by God. We believe in God because he appoints us to believe. We have faith because God appoints faith to us. 

Let us read God's word for what it says and ascribe praise to his name for the faith that he grants by his grace.

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