John McCarthy, a close friend of Hudson Taylor, once wrote this in a letter to Hudson: “How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all he is for us: his life, his death, his work, he himself as revealed to us in the word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith…but a looking off to the faithful one seems all we need; a resting in the loved one entirely, for time and for eternity” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Littleton, CO: OMF Books, 2010, page 119).
McCarthy is right to say that faith is increased as we look to Jesus, for faith is trust in the faithfulness of God. We don’t get or grow faith by thinking about faith but by thinking about the source of our faith. Further, McCarthy is right to say that we grow in faith by thinking both about who Jesus is and who he is for us. Contemplating the truth about Christ surely is the proper starting point for fresh faith but at some point we must also address the “so what?” question. Sometimes the various attributes of Christ don’t have overly-specific personal and corporate applications to our lives but most times they do.
So, how does this work in daily life? It’s simple but it requires devotion, time, and discipline. Here are the steps I take when seeking to gain or grow fresh faith.
· Read the Scripture and prayerfully meditate on what they reveal about Christ. For example, Hebrews 2:17 teaches us that Jesus is a merciful and faithful High Priest. The process of prospering our faith begins by taking the time to pray and think about this, to write down our thoughts and questions, to press deeper into the Scripture, and to seek the insight and counsel of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In other words, the way to think “of all that Jesus is” is to contemplate what the Bible teaches us he is. Faith cannot prosper apart from this labor of prayer and meditation.
· As we gain clarity with regard to who Jesus is, it is right and necessary for us to meditate on who he is for us. Notice the “us.” Life in Christ is life together, and the best faith-building insights come as we come to see the implications of the being and character of Christ for the body of Christ. Corporate insight always has personal application but before the Lord we are a singular temple, body, and bride. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Again, the point is this: when you contemplate all that Jesus is for us, think about “us” and not just yourself.
· As we gain clarity with regard to who Jesus is and who is he for us, we must seek God’s power and help to receive and obey what we’ve learned.
So how does our faith increase? By contemplating the Scripture, discerning who Jesus is, discerning who he is for us, and then walking in humble obedience by the power and mercy of Christ.
As for me, my reading for today will be in the Psalms, Proverbs, and Hebrews. As I open the Word, I will seek the Lord with regard to these things and then ask him for power to walk in his will and ways. Why not join me in the quest for fresh faith? If you do, please share with me what the Lord teaches you, both of himself and of the process of growing in faith. May the Lord bless us all as we seek him day by day.