Every now and again a news story will break about how archeologist have discovered ancient seeds. Someone a few hundred or even a few thousand years ago stored away some seeds. The ancient wheat or maize was perhaps set aside with the hope of planting the next spring. Something happened however that prevented the seeds from being planted. In many of those instances, the discovered seeds are still viable, still ready to grow if planted and watered. Faith is like that.
Faith is one of those words we kind of understand but still puzzle over. In one sense it is interchangeable with religion and is used to describe our belief system. But mere religion can’t move mountains like faith can. Sometimes faith is used in the same way hope is. Yet the Bible separates those two as being distinct from each other. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NASB95) Some see faith as the force that moves God to do something on our behalf. But that is upside down and backward from what faith really is. Faith is an unshakable assurance that God loves us and is doing something because of it. But faith is more than belief, thoughts, and words. Faith is like an unplanted seed; full of possibility but useless until it is worked into the soil of life.
For faith to be faith it must be planted, it must be put into action. James wrote, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26, NASB95) We don’t do things to prove our faith; we do things because of faith. Reviewing Hebrews 11 reveals act upon act performed in faith, sometimes without knowing the outcome, sometimes never seeing the fruit. Abel worshiped in faith. Noah built an ark by faith being warned about things that had never happened before. Abraham obeyed God and moved away from family and friends by faith. By faith, Rahab hid the Israelite spies and directed them to a safer route. All of these planted in faith. Sometimes they saw the harvest of those seeds, sometimes they didn’t.
Being a kind of “fix-it” person I tend to weigh things on the balance of does it work. Is an action effective in reaching the desired results? If something isn’t working, then it needs to be repaired or changed to make it work again or work better. But faith isn’t like that. We often do the right and obedient thing without seeing results. Or sometimes we experience far different results than we envisioned. Abel was killed because of his worship. Noah experienced 120 years of ridicule. Abraham never saw the fulfillment of God’s promise but lived as an alien in the very land his descendants would one day occupy. Rahab suffered the loss of almost everyone she had known. Faith is not a “fix-it.” Faith is often not fast, but it is deliberate. The testing of our faith does not produce more faith but endurance (James 1:3). In other words, we can’t judge faith by what we see.
Today’s encouragement is to begin or to continue to plant seeds of faith through works of love. Believe that God can – yes. Pray, pray again, and pray some more – yes. Those are necessary steps. They prepare the soil and keep our desires centered on Christ. But we must also put faith into action through love. Self-sacrificial Jesus kind of love. Those acts could be a million and one different things. By faith we plant. We may not see the promise of the seeds we’ve planted bloom in our lifetime. But consider this, if no one planted seeds of faith, then no one would have ever experienced the fulfillment of their promise. It may not be found in scripture but remember, only God knows how many apples are in a seed. Only God knows the fruitful results of the faith and love we plant today.