Matthew 9 gives us another example of faith: "Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven'" (Matthew 9:2). As Jesus was speaking to a crowded room of people, friends of a paralyzed man lowered him from the roof into Jesus' presence. $at simple act was the marker of their faith.

Like the centurion, these men did not proclaim their faith in Christ through words; they proclaimed it through action. Matthew 9 also includes the story of the woman with a discharge of blood who touched the fringe of Jesus' robe to make her well. Once again, it was her movement toward Jesus and not any verbal proclamation that revealed the authenticity of her faith in him. This is the example we see repeatedly throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Men and women proclaim their faith, or lack thereof, by their actions. But somehow, over time, our Christian culture has changed the focus of faith from what we do to what we say. Many in the church think we demonstrate faith when we say we believe that Jesus is the only way to God or when we verbally claim to trust him for salvation. We may forcefully tell others that God is sovereign, and we believe him to be in control over our lives. We may stand on our soapbox and proclaim Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the life. But how do we respond to trouble? How do we deal with hardships in life? What good is it if you can verbally defend Christ with the best of believers if your life contradicts your words through anxiety, fear, and worry?

Remember Abraham's example in Genesis 22 when God commanded him to offer Isaac on the altar? As with the centurion in Matthew 8, the friends of the paralytic in Matthew 9, and the woman who touched Jesus' robe, Abraham's faith in God was evidenced by his physical response. He didn't earn God's favor through his works, but he demonstrated his authentic belief by how he responded. James 2:14, 20-22 emphasize this point:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? … Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works …

When the rubber meets the road, it's not what you say that demonstrates faith in your life. It is what you do and how you respond in the moment of crisis.

Practical Theology for Women

Copyright © 2008 by Wendy Horger Alsup
Published by Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, Illinois 60187

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