Put Actions Behind Your Faith
The Scripture tells us there was a paralyzed man who spent his day in bed. One day he heard that Jesus was in a nearby town teaching in a private home. He asked four of his friends to carry him to that home. When they arrived it was so crowded they couldn’t get in.
They’d gone to great lengths to get there. I’m sure the four men were tired. Their shoulders were sore. Their backs were hurting. They’d hurried to get there, so when they couldn’t get in they were let down and disappointed. They could have easily given up and thought, “Too bad. It’s not going to happen.”
But the paralyzed man was not about to give up. He said to his friends, “Take me up on the roof. Tear a hole in it and then lower me down so I can have a front row seat.”
They hoisted him up on the roof. Jesus was in the middle of his sermon and dust began to fall from the ceiling. People looked up, thinking, “What in the world is happening?” All of sudden a tile came off, then another and another. Finally they lowered this paralyzed man into the room, all curled up on his bed, right in front of Jesus.
The scripture says in Mark 2:5, “When Jesus saw their faith.” That’s my question for you. Do you have a faith that God can see? Are you doing something out of the ordinary to show God you believe Him? It’s not enough to just ask. It’s not enough to just believe. Like the paralyzed man, you’ve got to do something to demonstrate your faith.
Jesus looked at the paralyzed man and said. “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” Immediately the man rose from his bed, picked up his mat and went home, perfectly well.
This all started when he did something so that God could see his faith. Don’t you know there were other people in the room who didn’t get well? Other people had the same opportunity. The difference was this man put actions behind his belief. God is looking for people who have faith that He can see. Not a faith that He can just hear, not a faith that just believes, but a faith that is visible, a faith that is demonstrated.
Years ago, one day after the RCIA class, I talked to a gentleman who had smoked cigarettes since he was in high school. He looked to be in his midthirties. He’d been smoking three packs a day for the last ten years. He smoked the same amount without giving it a thought every day. He wanted to quit. He had prayed. He had believed. He had friends and relatives trying to help him. They encouraged him to give up smoking, but nothing worked.
The one day he heard this principle: you have to put actions behind your faith. So he started taking simple actions every day to break his nicotine habit. Whenever he’d open a new pack he would immediately throw away three cigarettes. This was his way of saying, “God, I’m trying. I’m not just asking for Your help; I’m not just believing that I’m free of this addiction; I’m not just hoping that one day I’ll stop. I’m taking it one step further and showing You I mean business by putting action behind my faith.”
The action you take does not have to be something big. It could be just a small step to show God your faith. After a couple months of throwing out three cigarettes from each pack he wasn’t missing them anymore, so he doubled up and every day began throwing out six from each pack. Eventually he got to where he could eliminate a whole pack a day, so he kept cutting back more and more. Several years after he first took action to break his addiction, he realized the cravings were gone. He no longer smokes at all.
“Thế I haven’t felt this good in thirty years,” he told me.
Here’s my point: He could have prayed twenty-four hours a day for God to take away his addiction. He could have believed it would just happen one day and last for the rest of his life. But the power came when he took it one step further and showed God he meant business by putting action behind his faith.
Are you doing something to show God you’re serious about your dreams coming to pass? God is not moved by our needs. He’s concerned about our needs, but God is moved by our faith. When God sees you doing what you can to get well, when He sees you getting to work a little earlier because you want that promotion, when He sees you bypass the cookie jar because you’ve been believing you’ll lose weight—that is when extraordinary things will happen.
Like the man who took small steps to kick his nicotine addiction, you’ll find that you have a power to do what you couldn’t do before. You’ll see favor and opportunity that will thrust you to a new level when you take action to show your faith.
When my daughter Mary was about three years old, she wanted to go to the office with me. She asked to go with me, but I said, “No, Mary, I’ll take you some other time, but not today. I have meetings and I’m going to be busy. Maybe tomorrow or next week.”
But May wouldn’t take no for an answer. She was determined she ignored me, ran back to her room, and got dressed as if she were going with me. You would have thought she hadn’t heard a word I said. My negative response simply didn’t register in her mind.
After dressing, Mary heard the back door open. She realized I was about to leave. She took off to grab her shoes, going full speed. I turned around and saw my little three-year-old daughter suddenly dressed and struggling to put her last shoe on. My heart melted. I couldn’t say no.
“Come on, Mary, you can go with me,” I said.
What made the difference? I saw her faith. When I saw how badly she wanted to go, when I saw how determined she was, when I saw her going all out to prepare herself, I was so touched and changed my mind and allowed her to go with me. Mary’s actions spoke louder than her words. She could have begged me all day. She could have sat in a corner pouting.
Neither of those approaches would have worked. I wasn’t moved by begging or by pouting. I was moved when I saw little Mary’s faith.
Friend, God is the same way. Can He see your faith? It’s one thing to ask for God’s help, it’s one thing to believe He loves you—but if you want to get God’s attention, take it one step further and put actions behind your faith.
The Scripture tells us that a group of lepers once saw Jesus passing by. They came over and said, “Jesus, please make us well.” Jesus could have healed them right there easily enough. But He asked them to do something to express their faith. He said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”
And as they went, they were cleaned of their disease. Jesus asked them to do something that they were not allowed to do by law. They were not supposed to be near other people. They had a contagious disease and were considered unclean.
I’m sure they debated whether to follow His instructions. “Should we do what He asked us to do? My skin doesn’t look any different. I’m not well. Why should I go?”
But they put actions behind their faith. The Scripture says, “As they went they were cleansed.” In other words, if they had not had the courage to demonstrate their faith, then they would not have seen God’s goodness. As they started down the road, I can imagine every few blocks they said, “Look I’m getting a little better.” Another mile: “Can you see it? I think my skin is clearing up.”
They just kept moving forward, demonstrating their faith, and by the time they reached the priests they were perfectly normal.
A lot of times we want change without taking action. “God open all the doors, then I’ll step out. Give me the power to break this addiction, then I’ll cut back. Give me the big crowds, and then I’ll launch my ministry. Let my husband straighten up, and then I’ll start treating him better.”
Yet God says, “As you go, as you show me your faith, then I’ll give you what you need.”