Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Exercising Your Faith Muscles

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Weight Training

If you have ever done any kind of serious weight training, then you have a basic understanding of how weight/strength training works. On one day, you may work your muscles really hard, break them down, and experience an incredible amount of musicle fatigue. The next day, you would typically rest your muscles and allow some recovery time. Then the following day, you would work your various muscle groups really hard, break them down once again, and experience more muscle fatigue. This hard workout day would, once again, be followed by a day of rest to allow your muscles some time to recover.

This cycle of breaking down the muscle tissue followed by recovery time is what gradually builds up the muscles in weight training. The very act of tearing down the tissue and giving it a little time to repair itself is what makes it grow larger and stronger. If you think about it, this process can be true in other areas of our lives.

Faith Training

Our spiritual lives are no different. In order to grow stronger in our faith in God, we have to exercise our "faith muscles." Many Christians are under an assumption that they need to pray and ask the Lord for more faith, especially during times of great difficulty.

Even the apostles thought this! One day, they walked right up to Jesus and asked Him to give them more faith. In Luke 17:5-6 (MSG), we read:
The apostles came up and said to the Master, "Give us more faith." But the Master said, "You don't need more faith. There is no 'more' or 'less' in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, 'Go jump in the lake,' and it would do it.
I love Jesus' answer to His apostles. He told them that they already had the exact amount of faith that they needed. At the point of salvation, we were given an appropriate amount of faith. If we're struggling in our faith, then we need to "exercise our faith muscles." The interesting part about this is many times we don't have a lot of say as to what, when, where, how, and why our "faith muscles" get exercised. God allows things to come into our lives to "break down" our faith in order to build it up.

James 1:2-4 (NIV) states:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Life problems are growth opportunities for the believer in Christ. When we face various trials in life, then our faith muscles are exercised and it causes growth and development of our faith. As a result, we mature as Christians. Even though this process can be painfully exhausting, God uses this process to build up our faith in Him.

So, Don't Be Dumb And Ask For More Faith

Okay, I'm half joking here, or am I? If you ask the Lord to increase your faith, then you better be prepared for some extensive faith exercising! As we have seen in the passages above, we were given an appropriate amount of faith at salvation. In order to strengthen this appropriate amount of faith, though, we need to exercise this faith. The Lord allows us to go through times of difficulty in order to break us down in our faith so that we may place even more faith in Him. This process is what creates our faith to grow and causes us to mature in our spiritual walk.

Are you going through a time where you feel as though your faith is being exercised? If so, then rejoice! Embrace the excercise so that you can tear down those "faith muscles" in order to build them back up. You're going to be a stronger, more mature Christian as a result. Get "ripped" for Jesus.

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