Greg's Blog

Faith: Use It or Lose It

by Greg Laurie on Jul 29, 2022

I heard about a mother who was reading exciting Bible stories to her young daughter one night. The little girl turned to her and said, “Mommy, it seems like God was a lot more exciting back then.”

Maybe it seems that way because we don’t apply faith. The men and women of the Bible took risks, and God blessed them.

World Changers

In the New Testament book of Hebrews, we find a group of very interesting men and women who went out and changed their world. They were ordinary people like you and I, but they did extraordinary things. They faced adverse circumstances like we do, but they rose above them.

Elijah, for example, was a great prophet of the Lord. One day God said to him, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” (1 Kings 17:9 NLT). So, Elijah went to Zarephath, and the widow agreed to let him stay. Although she had a son and limited resources, she fed him from the meager supply of food that she had.

What she didn’t realize was that she had welcomed a world changer into her home. She always had what she needed, and God kept providing for her. Then, one day, her beloved son, more precious to her than anything on Earth, died. And she blamed Elijah for it. But Elijah took the boy in his arms, carried him up to the room where he was staying, and raised the little boy from the dead. Even death does not stop the world changer.

Of course, we think of Elijah as a rock star, a biblical legend. After all, he raised a boy from the dead. He stopped the rain and called down fire from Heaven. Yet, the Bible tells us that “Elijah was as human as we are” (James 5:17 NLT).

After Elijah had his great contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he fell into a deep funk. He was deeply depressed and didn’t want to live any longer. This reminds us that even world changers get depressed at times.

Ordinary People God Used

The men and women of Hebrews 11 didn’t make it into the Heroes Hall of Faith because they were great people. Rather, it’s because they put their faith in a great God. For instance, Gideon was a frightened farmer when the angel of the Lord called him to be a mighty warrior to deliver Israel.

Moses was a fugitive from justice when the Lord called out to him from the burning bush. We think of Abraham as the father of faith, yet we know that he lied about his wife, Sarah—twice. And Sarah, also named in Hebrews 11, laughed at the promise of God and then denied that she laughed.

David committed adultery and tried to cover it up by essentially committing murder. Samson was very immoral.

These people didn’t collect medals. In fact, they sometimes collected scars. But we don’t find one mention of their failures in Hebrews 11. They all were human beings whom God worked through. And God can work through us as well.

It was said of the first-century church that they turned their world upside down (Acts 17:6). This, by the way, was not meant as a compliment. Yet, I think that for some Christians it seems as though the world is turning them upside down.

Having Active Faith

World changers have an active, not passive, faith. Faith is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it becomes. It reminds me of someone I saw at the gym who had bulging biceps and a massive upper body. But, for some reason, he had incredibly skinny legs.

That’s how it can be with some of us when it comes to faith. We exercise our faith in some areas, but we don’t exercise it in others. Faith is not fragile. God has given it to us to use, to stretch, to flex and to develop. And the more we use our faith, the more we will have. But if we neglect our faith, it will atrophy.

In other words: use it or lose it. The Bible tells us, “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love” (Jude 1:20–21 NLT).

Notice the emphasis is on doing things. Faith is praying, faith is staying, and faith is keeping—faith is active.

God has given us this faith to use, but all too often we don’t. Instead, we neglect it. For many of us, our faith is all show and no go.

In fact, we can stop the work of God in our lives by unbelief. And unbelief is a thief. We see in the Bible how God worked through people exercising their faith to produce amazing things. God could have parted the Red Sea by his own power. Yet, he told Moses, “Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:16 NLT).

God didn’t need Elijah to call down fire from Heaven when he was facing off with the prophets of Baal. He could have done it without Elijah. But God wants us to exercise our faith. He wants us to be part of the process.

Maybe you’ve messed up in life. Maybe you feel like your story is over. That isn’t true. God can change your story. God can change the trajectory that your life is taking. And if we learn nothing else from Hebrews 11, we see that that God can use flawed people.

When we look at ourselves, we may see weakness, but God sees potential. We see what we are, but God sees what we can be. We see the past, but God sees the future. In fact, we may even think of ourselves as zeros, but the truth is that God can make us into heroes—heroes of faith.

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