Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” We must believe that God is who He says He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him. So, what is faith? How do we practice it? And why is it so important to God that we live it in order to please Him? As I live out faith in my own life, I often wonder how perfect my faith must be to please God. Must it be unwavering, never faltering? Does it have to be immediate?

My studies on faith led me to Genesis, where I explored the lives of Abraham (formerly Abram) and Sarah (formerly Sarai). In their stories, we witness an evolution of faith, beginning with their introduction in Chapter 12 of Genesis.

Faith is a journey.

We often view faith as a finite entity or a destination that has an endpoint. However, faith can actually be turbulent, marked by numerous ups and downs and turns. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, ‘…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ So, what does practicing faith look like? And does it need to be perfect?

We see in Genesis that God considered Abraham to be an obedient and righteous man. He tells Isaac in Genesis 26:4-5 NLT, “I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions.” God tells Isaac that his father, Abraham, obeyed all of His requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions. Yet we know that Abraham was not always obedient.

When God told him to leave his family and land, and go to the land He instructed him, Abraham half-obeyed by taking his nephew, Lot. Genesis 12:1, 4 NLT reads, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.’ So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him.” If God says leave your relatives, you probably shouldn’t take your nephew. We later learn that Lot is problematic on several levels.

On two other instances, Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister because he feared he would be killed if it was known that Sarah was his wife, as detailed in Genesis 12:11-13 and Genesis 20:2, 4. Abraham lied even though God promised him that many nations would come from him. Nations consist of descendants. How, then, could Abraham have any descendants if he were to die? This demonstrated his wavering faith in God’s protection, despite the promises given to him. Furthermore, Abraham fathered Ishmael with Hagar after God’s promise of offspring through his own lineage (with Sarah), as mentioned in Genesis 15:4 NLT. Through all of this, God still considered Abraham to be righteous. God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness.

How do we know Abraham’s faith evolved?

In Genesis 22:1-3, God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering.

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.”

There are two things that stand out to me from this passage.

  1. Abraham immediately made himself available to God. When God called Abraham’s name, Abraham immediately replied, “Here I am.”
  2. Abraham’s actions were reflective of his ‘yes.’ After God gave Abraham detailed instructions, Genesis 22:3 tells us that Abraham got up the next morning and loaded his donkey. He then took with him two servants and his son, Isaac. Abraham did not just say ‘yes,’ he lived ‘yes.’ Abraham obeyed God completely.

Scripture tells us that God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac by providing a ram in the bushes.

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” Genesis 22:11-13

How do we know Abraham knew God would provide? His actions and the way he spoke about God were evidence of his faith. Not only did he immediately say yes to God and proceed to sacrifice the son God promised and gave him, but he told his servants, “We will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Genesis 22:5. This reveals that Abraham believed that even if he did sacrifice Isaac, God would resurrect him. In Genesis 22:8, when Isaac asked about the sacrificial lamb, Abraham replied, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” God provided another sacrificial lamb by sacrificing His only begotten Son, so that we may live and not die. —John 3:16

The Biblical Takeaway

In the study of Abraham, faith is not depicted as static or perfect from the outset. Instead, it is often characterized by growth, struggles, and transformation. Genesis affirms that faith involves trusting in God’s character, promises, and timing, even when circumstances challenge our understanding or desires.

Abraham’s faith journey highlights an important biblical principle: faith is not about perfection but progression. It is about how we respond to God’s call, learn from our experiences, and grow in our trust and obedience. The Bible emphasizes a relational faith that matures over time, shaped by experiences and encounters with God. As we grow our own faith, we must understand the multifaceted nature of faith, emphasizing that it is not merely about belief but involves trust, obedience, and a relationship with God. We often miss out on the immeasurable blessings of God because we focus on what we want and can see, rather than on eternal vision.

Question from Today’s Devotional:

How are you living out your faith in God? Reflect on your own faith journey.

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