In the book of Acts, chapter 14, the Apostle Paul has fled to a place called Lystra to continue preaching the gospel. In the crowd there sat a man who was lame from birth who was intently listening to Paul. As he was speaking, Paul locked eyes on him, “saw that he had faith to be healed” (Acts 14:9) and calls him up onto his feet. This man, who had never walked, jumps up and begins to walk in front of everyone!
One thing that we know about Paul was that he loved to preach. A bit of persecution, the threat of death or an angry mob couldn’t keep him quiet! Here, in Lystra, Paul was on a roll, preaching away, and didn’t even get to the end of his notes before something caught his eye. It was in the middle of his message that this cripple got healed.
I wonder – what did Paul see while he was speaking? What was it about this man that Paul perceived as faith? What did he display in his body language? What story did his eyes tell?
Whatever it was, Paul “saw that he had faith to be healed”. So, it provokes the question, what does faith look like? What does having a sense expectation look like?
For this cripple, it was trusting Paul’s word and getting to his feet, despite his terminal condition. It was believing and then going, being willing to take a risk, in spite of the circumstances that were the story of his life. It was moving from interest to action, even when it was the hardest thing to do! And the miracle was in the move.
It seems that with faith there is an internal decision and an external disposition. Maybe our invisible God is looking for visible faith.
We also see Jesus affirming visible faith, when four men lowered their paralysed friend through the roof just to get to him (Mark 2:5). They refused to ponder what Jesus could do whilst standing outside the door. Their faith drove them to do whatever it took to get their friend to Jesus.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6). But without action, James tells us that our faith is really dead! (James 2:17).
Let’s not be people that just talk about faith and sing about faith. God is drawn to and calling us to visible, decisive, risk-taking, action-making faith. It might be only be small thing, but in the eyes of God, the little things are big things. Today, that might look like:
1. Being proactive – being the first person to take the initiative to forgive, to open up the tough conversation, to be generous with your time
2. Being courageous – being willing to take the risk and look a bit foolish! It might mean risking your reputation just a bit in order to step out in faith
3. Being obedient – really taking God at his word is the test of real discipleship.
What action can you attach to your faith today?
Where might you be falling into the trap of a words-only faith commitment?
That you would be filled with fresh courage today to take God at His word and put your faith into action in every area of your life!