What does it mean to have actual faith? And how are we to obtain actual faith? Is there such a thing as having actual faith? Having actual faith in Christ produces the willingness to put in the work according to God. We are to trust in His good will and the fruit produced from it.
At first, trusting God and His will may be difficult to do, especially as a new follower of Christ. We are habitual creatures, therefore we don’t do well with change. However, what may begin as a reluctant discipline becomes something we desire and are willing to do over time. For instance, if you have never been to the gym but chose to attend the gym and exercise, the hardest part might be just going to the gym. The more we push ourselves to exercise, the easier going to the gym becomes. We grow to want to exercise, and eventually we desire to attend the gym. We become willing to put in the work to obtain great health. Following Christ might be something like starting a gym routine for the first time. The more we commit ourselves to Christ, the easier it becomes to trust in Him. And when we heavily trust in God, the fruits of the Spirit begin to surface because we become motivated to do good works according to God’s will. James 2:14-17 (ESV) says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Just like attending the gym, if we simply show up to the gym without touching any fitness equipment, or without any sort of exercise, we will see no difference in our health. James says that if we aren’t working to please God, we cannot be assured of our faith. If we aren’t working to bring glory to God by showering others with kindness and love, or by pushing out of our comfort zone to bring glory to God, do we really have faith?
Having actual faith means relying on God in every aspect of our lives, even during the not so great moments in our lives. Perhaps actual faith simply means trust—to trust God’s will and that He looks after us. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV). To work according to God’s will, we have to trust in His truth. If we fail to commit any works through God, we fail to trust Him and therefore fail to have faith. And when we fail to have faith, we miss out on His fruits of the spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV). Sometimes the work requires us, His followers, to love those difficult to love, to forgive the unforgivable, and to respond in patience and kindness when we disagree with someone we feel disrespected us. Perhaps, we were once that person who was difficult to love, however, through God, we become more empathic and loving to others. When we fully trust in God and His truth, we grow in areas that were once unattainable such as loving others better, having more patience for others, and offering careful gentleness to others. You see, God isn’t only looking out for those outside of ourselves; He’s looking out for us too. He presents us with opportunities to practice things He knows we need improvement on. For instance, for myself, as someone who struggles with pride and self-reliance, God allowed difficult times in my life to bring me to humility and to the fact that I needn’t attempt to be strong on my own. I am not strong on my own, but He is my strength. For me, the humility I attained through relying on Him is a fruit of the Spirit. We must remember that putting in work, and mudding through difficult situations smooths the rough edges in and around our hearts so as to draw others to Christ; at the same time improving our motives and values, and our walk with Jesus.
“This fruit of the Spirit is an attribute of action. It means living one’s life with good morals and motives as well as doing good things for others. Producing the fruit of goodness is a true mark of godliness. It also has an attractive power and draws people to Jesus through the Christian’s actions.” ¹
As we come to a close, I pray God will present us opportunities according to His will so we will bring glory to Him and grow in His truth. May we open our hearts to His truth and be willing to trust Him as we continue our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
- “Comprehending the Fruit of the Spirit”, Compassion International, (https://www.compassion.com/christian-faith/fruit-of-the-spirit.htm)