Take a moment for some gentle spiritual prodding. Right now, in today's market, what's your faith worth?
You could begin this assessment by listing the features of your faith:
- You believe there is one God, creator of this world and everything in it.
- You believe this creator-God sent his voice (his Word) to this earth in human skin to show the creation how to live and to rescue them from their own self-destruction.
- You believe God's Holy Spirit is ever-present and living inside you.
- You gather with other believers on a regular basis to confirm your faith.
- You verbally defend your faith when necessary.
- You read your Bible as an act of faith.
- You pray to God as expected.
- You do good when asked, speak the truth when possible, forgive when necessary, and treat others the way you would like to be treated.
- You try your best to live within these requirements.
- You keep doubts hidden, stay close to your comfort zone, and refuse to put a voice to questions that would challenge the features of your faith.
In many ways, the book is closed ... the decision made. This is the way it has been and always will be and someday, if you keep the faith, you will be rewarded.
Does that sound like your faith?
There is another way to evaluate your faith. This method looks past the features to the benefits of faith. What difference does your faith make in your life and the lives of those around you?
Because of your faith:
- You have experienced first hand the power of grace and forgiveness and love.
- You can see the future in others before they can see it in themselves.
- You no longer have a need to live in fear because the Father-God knows your name. You're in his family.
- You have experienced the joy of giving and serving.
- You live with purpose and passion.
- You look for ways to honor God and make him proud.
- You are ready to risk all you have, in order to make God look good.
- You hear his voice, even when the distractions are all around.
So the question, rephrased, is still lingering: When you make a faith audit, do you look for features (the facts, the specifications) or are you lost in the celebration of benefits?
The features are provocative, but boundless life is only found in the benefits.
Consider this parable:
One day, the owner of a jewelry store watched one of his salespeople talking to an older gentleman about a bracelet the customer had seen in the window.
The price was only $400, so the man said, "I'll take it."
The storeowner continued watching them from across the store until the sales person placed his gift-wrapped box into a bag and thanked the customer for coming in.
Seeing that he was about to leave, the owner walked over to gentleman and said, "I see that you bought the marvelous jade bracelet in the window. Is it for her birthday or your anniversary?"
The gentleman said that it was to be a gift for his wife on their wedding anniversary. "I guarantee she's going to love it," replied the owner. "That's really a very special bracelet, and I can promise you that none of her friends has ever seen anything like it. Before you leave, let me show you a necklace that goes just perfectly with it. Maybe some day you'll want to add it to the bracelet."
The customer followed the storeowner over to a showcase, where he dramatically presented an $8,500 necklace over his arm, saying, "If you ever want to take her breath away and see her cry, just give her this."
Five minutes later, the gentleman walked out the door with a second package in the bag. He bought the necklace immediately because the storeowner promised a value worth more than money… the benefits-not the necklace.
There is a postscript to this story.
A few days after the sale, the owner received a note from the gentleman's wife. "I only wish you could have seen his face when I gasped and began to cry. When I saw how startled he was, my husband told me what you had said that made him buy the necklace, and then we both laughed and laughed and laughed until we had to sit on the floor. Thank you for making this the happiest anniversary any two people have ever had." Then she added: "Harry has promised me that he will never again shop at any jewelry store but yours."
So, have you experienced the benefits of faith? Or, are you still studying the features?
Get out of the shallows, into the deep. This is the perfect time to look for Jesus, for people who need his mercy, his grace, and his forgiveness ... and give what they need.
Experience the authentic worth and priceless value of transformational faith.
Live like God keeps his promises and take their breath away. I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ... (Philippians 3:8 TNIV).