Walking By Faith, Not Sight
Second Corinthians 5:6–7 says, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (ESV, emphasis added) Other versions use the word live rather than walk. The “walk” here is a metaphorical reference to the way a person conducts his or her life. We still use the phrase “all walks of life” to mean a variety of lifestyles or cultures.
The apostle Paul reminds his readers that followers of Christ must not build their lives around things that have no eternal significance. Rather than pursuing the same things the world pursues, a Christian should focus on the unseen realities such as Jesus and heaven. Paul goes on to say, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:9–10) Jesus instructed us to store up treasure in heaven. (Matthew 6:19–20; Luke 12:33) He promised rewards to everyone who does His will ( Matthew 16:27; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 22:12) and punishment for those who reject Him. (Matthew 25:24–46; John 3:16–18)
Walking by faith means living life in light of eternal consequences. To walk by faith is to fear God more than man; to obey the Bible even when it conflicts with man’s commands; to choose righteousness over sin, no matter what the cost; to trust God in every circumstance; and to believe God rewards those who seek Him, regardless of who says otherwise. (Hebrews 11:6)
Rather than loving the things of this world, (1 John 2:15–16) Christians should spend their lives glorifying God in everything they do. (1 Corinthians 10:31) It requires faith to live this way because we cannot see, hear, or touch anything spiritual. When we base our lives on the truth of God’s Word, rather than on the popular philosophy of our day, we are going against our natural inclinations. … To walk by faith requires that we tune our hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the truth of His Word. (John 10:27; 16:13) We choose to live according to what God reveals to us, rather than trust our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
Have you ever imagined that you were blind? I have tried many times to identify with those who are blind by taking just a few steps with my eyes closed. After a couple of steps I am totally disoriented. It is so unnatural for us to walk without looking where we are going…
The Bible challenges us to “walk by faith, not by sight.” This task is as unnatural as walking with our eyes closed. But the more steps we take, the more comfortable this walk will become, and the more confident we will be of the destination of our walk. And ultimately that’s what faith is all about—it is “the assurance of things hoped for.” (Hebrews 11:1)
A classic example of faith versus sight is Peter’s attempt to walk on the water of the Sea of Galilee. One night Peter and some companions were in a boat being battered by a storm. They were in grave danger of sinking when, suddenly, they saw Jesus walking toward them amidst the surging waves, telling them not to be afraid.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. [So far, so good!] But when he saw the wind [faith now gives way to sight], he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (See Matthew 14:28–31)
One of the greatest hindrances to faith is that the world around us, like the waters swirling about Peter, seems so real. We, made from the dust of the ground, are naturally in tune with the physical. We feel pain when we are sick. We hear harassment or threats from neighbors and relatives. When we lose a job, we see the cold reality of a termination notice and the accumulation of bills. Family problems are real. Medical reports are real. So are the temptations and weaknesses of the flesh.
Whatever the situation is, we can look around and see, hear, taste, smell and feel material reality. Knowledge of it comes to us through our senses. But there is another vital dimension: faith. …
If our minds are mostly on the world and material things, exercising the spiritual element of faith is extremely difficult. We easily begin to sink in the waters of doubt as Peter did. …
On the other hand, getting one’s mind off the physical and onto the spiritual is one of the greatest keys to strengthening faith. We can fill our minds with spiritual understanding by studying God’s Word and allowing God’s Spirit to work in us. Also, through God-centered prayer, our minds will be more focused on the reality of God’s presence in our lives.
Some problems are short term, such as a bout of flu or a temporary falling out with someone at work. Others may last much longer: a chronic illness, a disability or an addiction, the loss of someone dear, or an ongoing battle to overcome a personal weakness such as anger or moodiness. You may have to struggle with such difficulties for weeks, months, or even years.
Sometimes problems persist even when you feel you’ve already done all you could: You’ve been praying, reading and following God’s Word, claiming His promises, and trying to trust Him. Still you see no answer, which can be discouraging.
In cases like that, God may be testing you to see whether you will continue to trust and believe and thank Him for all the other good things He sends your way, even when it seems He is not answering your prayers about a certain thing. “We walk by faith, not by sight. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (2 Corinthians 5:7; John 20:29) God loves to see His children’s faith manifested, and He promises to greatly reward those who bravely endure the trying of their faith.
If God is working in your life to bring out a special quality, the process may take some time. Lumps of coal aren’t turned into diamonds overnight; so it is with our lives.
When you think you’ve reached the end of your rope, just hold on a little longer. Patience is often the key that opens the door to God’s blessings, and sometimes we must be content to wait for His answer. While we may expect God to put an end to our problems right now, He may know that later is a better time. God’s timing is impeccable. “He has done all things well.” (Mark 7:37) Trust Him!
Faith is believing. Faith is trusting. Faith doesn’t quit. Faith refuses to call anything impossible. Faith refuses to be robbed of its joy and peace by circumstances or battles.
If we refuse to concede defeat, but rather hold on to God no matter what, if we determine to believe His promises, even though we may not see the fulfillment immediately, victory will be ours in the end. Such faith cannot be defeated. God will always come through for us.
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