If you study the book of Hebrews you will begin to see a recurring theme in this letter that can be summarised by this simple phrase, "Jesus is better, so live by faith." This is the constant appeal of the writer, showing how Jesus is better than the angels, the prophets, the great patriarchs of the Old Testament - everyone. And since He is better, we are exhorted to trust Jesus, not just for salvation, but for the everyday issues of life, such as going to work, paying the bills, parenting, relationships, health problems, anything and everything. Trust Him as our source of life and power.
So when the writer comes to chapter 12, after listing some of the great men and women of our faith in chapter 11, he implores us not to get tripped up by the sin that so easily ensnares or entangles us. Too often we view sin in terms of morality. Did the person violate a rule or commandment? And while that is true of sin, it is only a shallow understanding of it. At the center of all sin is the absence of faith in Christ (see Romans 14:23 ). So the sin that so easily entangles us, at the core, is really unbelief.
Now before we go any farther let me be clear, I am not writing this to condemn your lack of faith or get you to buck up and try harder, for neither approach leads you to having a greater faith, but only feeling beaten up and tired. Instead, I am writing this to expose WHY we are all so easily entangled in doubt and unbelief, and please note that we are ALL SO EASILY ENTAGLED, you are not the only one.
Everyone, if they are honest, will admit that it is hard to trust a God that you cannot see, have not heard with an audible voice and cannot feel, especially during a storm in life. Jesus understood this difficulty better than anyone and commended our generation because although we did not witness His resurrection, we still believe (see John 20:29 ).
And I believe the reason for our unbelief has a lot to do with our fear. Often, fear is a powerful motivation in what we do or don't do. We don't say something because we are afraid of what someone might think of us. We don't act because we are afraid of the consequences of failing.
My friend Preston Gillham defines fear in his book 'No Mercy' as,
"Fear is the false belief that you can go somewhere or do something that's beyond the presence and capability of God. Fear is the belief that what you do is greater than God. Fear is the belief that you can find yourself alone, abandoned by God."
So how do we overcome this fear? How do we increase our faith? First off, faith is not like a muscle that we can target in the spiritual gym. Instead it is something that Father develops within us over time. After all, faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, not the Christian. But it grows in us after we encounter a trial in life and discover that Jesus was sufficient. So when the next trial comes, we can look back and see His past sufficiency and trust that He will be sufficient once again in the here and now.
It is for this reason that we have so many stories of God providing for His followers in the Bible, that we might learn and gain faith from their experiences as they found God's sufficiency. So when, not if, the next trial comes, we can look back on His provision and trust that His grace will be sufficient once again.
I have found this to be true in my life, what about you?
In Christ who is our Life,