It always strikes me as a bit odd that we try to improve conditions in our lives by greater obedience without working on having greater faith. I suppose it is a result of our dependence on religious practices where we imagine we will somehow gain something from God in exchange for our acts of service or obedience. This sort of religious thinking has led to a lot of disappointment and huge deposits of works-based righteousness that never really helped anyone with anything. The starting point of everything in our life in God is faith, and that includes the actions of obedience, love, service and worship.
The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 opens his letter to these believers by telling them how thankful that he is to God because their faith was flourishing (the NASB has it “your faith is greatly enlarged), then as a secondary effect, their love for others had flourished too. He is commending them because they had a role in this super-growth of faith and love, but he rightly gives thanks to God for what they were experiencing. God is both faith’s source and object. He produces faith in us as an internal response to His promises. That’s why we encourage a regular exposure to the Word of God in hearing it taught and preached and in reading it for ourselves. Enlarged faith is the blessing that flows out from this exposure.
God is not only the source of our faith; He must remain the object of faith. We don’t get a good dose of faith from our morning devotional reading and then run through the rest of the day believing that the things we do will be blessed and produce good results. That kind of faith in specific behaviors or actions leads us to a one-for-one expectation that says “I did this, so I should get this.” This is what we might call vending-machine spirituality. If we keep God as the object of faith we learn to trust that at just the right time and in just the right way, He will keep His promises to help, bless and provide for us.
Read through this passage in 2 Thessalonians today and reflect on the size of your faith. God desires for it to be enlarged so that you believe more and that the steps of obedience you take or the actions of love that you offer toward others are anchored solidly back into Him. It’s time to leave the puny closets of faith and run in the open expansive fields of a vibrant trust in God. Seek Him today. Go back and read the stories of God’s provision to people like Gideon, David, Moses and Esther. Recall the specific promises that God has spoken into your life in the past. Your enlarging faith in the One Who spoke those previous promises is critical to the steps you are taking into your future.
“Togethering” Today: Join together tonight in the Fellowship Hall at 6:00pm for a light pot-luck dinner to break our fast and then a time of worship and ministry following afterward.