It’s a thin line between putting your faith in works and walking by faith in God. If I just mentioned faith rather than faith in God, it would cover a broad spectrum. A person can have faith in a lot of things, including himself, and that faith motivates him to do whatever he believes. What he does may not always be moral or just, but when it yields the results expected, his actions can be justified.
Since works are predicated by faith, they are intricately connected, but the value of those works are precipitated by what you have faith in.
So it behooves those of us in the household of the Lord to know what we believe, and most importantly who. While claiming to do all in the name of the God we serve, we can be merely serving ourselves. We can believe in the good works we operate in and not believe God at all.
Blessings are promised to those who obey the voice of God. We are instructed to pray, do good works, remember the poor. When we are blessed, we praise God proclaiming He is good, but oftentimes we secretly believe it was our good works that made us fortunate.
We don’t really see God, we see ourselves.
Consider for a moment how you react when you are unable to do what you’ve been accustomed to due to a change in circumstances or even your health. Can you still be blessed when you have no money to put into offering plates or can’t pray as much or as long as you used to? When you’re not out evangelizing or visiting the sick and shut-in? When you walked right pass the homeless man and didn’t give him any money?
Absolutely. But do you believe that?
There’s a passage in the Bible that tells of a man named Jacob who wrestled with an angel all night long (See Gen. 32: 25-29). When the angel saw that Jacob refused to let go, He knocked his hip out of joint. Still, Jacob vowed he wouldn’t let go unless the angel blessed him.
Jacob was a man who believed in the power of his works. If God said he was blessed, then Jacob was determined to bring it to pass. What Jacob didn’t realize was he had been blessed from the womb. It was not his job to bring God’s word to pass in his life. It had very little to do with his righteousness or his works. In fact, if it did, he was more likely to be cursed rather than blessed. (Read Jacob’s story, starting at Gen. 25:23)
If you were to look back and honestly evaluate you own life, how many times were you blessed not because of what you did, but in spite of it?
After his encounter with the angel, I bet Jacob walked with a limp and probably suffered with some hip pain. That must’ve impeded his faith in his own abilities, at least some.
Sometimes it’s necessary to “misplace our hip” so we’ll stop putting all our confidence in our own abilities—or those of others (See Phil. 3:3). Impeding our abilities to get the job done or to make it happen sure has a way of making us look up, for it is only after we are weak, we finally see He is strong (See 2Cor. 12:9-10).
While the part we play is relevant, we tend to overvalue our roles in God’s plan. God is the One who does the heavy lifting. Learn to stand back and see the salvation of the Lord.
Remember: Not by [your] might nor by [your] power, but by My spirit,” says the Lord (Zech. 4: 6).