What Is The Substance Of Your Faith?
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:6-9)
Over the weekend, we were preparing our home and cleaning up before winter settles in. My husband was outside burning boxes and wooden items that we needed to get rid of. The next morning he was telling me about all he had done and spoke about a table we used to have in our kitchen that we used as an island. To look at it and lift it up, it seemed like a pretty solid piece of furniture as it was somewhat heavy to lift. It was nice looking, appeared to be well made and had two square marble like stones on the top of it that was used as a cutting surface. He took the two stones out and the metal towel racks and burned the rest of it as mice had gotten to it as well as our cat, who had used it several times as his scratching post. As my husband watched it burn, he noticed as the fire burned away the shellac and began burning the wood, it exposed what the wood was really made of, particle board covered by a hardwood laminate. It was now hollow on the inside. What appeared to be a solid, well made and good looking piece of furniture turned out to be nothing but cheap particle board dressed up to look nice. We were both surprised as its appearance, weight and sturdiness seemed legitimate. It wasn’t until it was put into the fire did the truth of what is was really made of come to light.
Before we go further, let’s take a look at particle board to better understand this lesson on the value of having faith and building our recovery on a firm foundation. Particle board is a waste-wood product made by heat pressing wood chips, sawmill shavings, or even sawdust and resin together. To make it water resistant, fireproof, and/or insect-proof, chemicals are used including wax, dyes, wetting agents, and release agents. Although particle board is used to make many useful products, the problem with it is that it chips and breaks easily and can only withstand so much pressure before it breaks down, collapses and falls apart. In other words, it’s not made from a very strong substance. We can pretty it up and make it appear to be a solid piece of furniture, but over time and through use, it will break down and fall apart. It will not stand the test of time nor endure great weight that solid wood can endure. It has fillers in it that hold no real substance.
Peter tells us that we should rejoice in our trials because our faith is tested by fire and this in turn brings praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The fire of our trials shows us what our faith is truly made of. It’s either strong, weak or there is no faith at all. This allows us to examine ourselves to see what is the substance of our faith, what it’s made of. When trials happen, do we fall apart, do we put our faith in other people or do we have faith in God that He will give us great endurance to see us through the trial? Is our faith truly built on the foundation of Jesus Christ or are we just going through the motions and talking a good game?
In 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, Paul speaks about the work of a minister of the word and whether their work is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ or whether it was built upon something else.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Although this is directed towards ministers of the Word, this speaks volumes about where we put our faith, what happens when it’s placed on the foundation of Christ and what happens when we try to build something else upon it. We can learn from this when going through recovery or any trial. When we are honest in our recovery, working it on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ and apply the scriptures to our life and work, our recovery and our work will endure fiery trials and will stand. But if we are performing the motions of recovery, appearing strong to others yet not walking as we should or speaking the right words, fiery trials will come our way and expose our work and what it’s truly made of. This is not to say we won’t have down times or make mistakes. It happens to all of us. It just means that when we stand on the foundation that Jesus has laid and we build our recovery on that and apply His Word to our lives and situations, we will see a difference. We will become spiritually stronger due to our faith in Christ and we will better be able to handle disappointments, family problems, illnesses, financial problems and the stressors of life. But if we continue to collapse every time a problem or trial comes our way and it leads us back to the our addiction and/or old ways, then it’s time to take a look at where we are placing our faith. We once had someone come to our recovery program for a time. After a while he stopped coming and every so often I would wonder about where he was and how he was doing. Some months later he came back and told us that all three of his accountability partners had fallen and went to jail and this affected him and then he fell back into his old ways. We knew he truly wanted to trust God but his faith was not built on the foundation of Christ completely.
We must be careful not to place only a portion of our faith on the foundation of Christ. We must place ALL of our faith on the foundation of Jesus Christ. In the case of this man, he placed more of his faith in his accountability partners and less on Jesus. Accountability partners are wonderful to have and we encourage people to have one or two of them, but we always tell them to make sure they are putting all their faith in Jesus and relying on Him because people can fall but Jesus will never fall and He will never fail us.
Take a moment to think about what your recovery and your faith are built on. What are you building on today? Is it on the foundation of Jesus Christ or is it on something else? Are you standing on the foundation of Jesus Christ but trying to build something else on it, doing it your way or trying to do it someone else’s way? If so, be warned it will most likely burn up in a trial. We can follow many different types of steps and procedures but if our recovery is built on sand (worldly ways) rather than on rock (Jesus Christ), flood waters (problems and trials) will come and wash away what we have built. If we put up an appearance of strength in front of people but inside we are hollow, be aware that fiery trials will burn away the shellac, the pretty outer appearance and expose the hollowness within whether we are in recovery or living the life of a Christian.
How do you respond to fiery trials? Do you reach for Christ or do you reach for the comforts of the world? Do you remain steadfast or do you fall apart? Is your faith strong or is it hollow? Are you becoming stronger, weaker or remain the same as you were when you first began? Ask God to show you the true basis of your faith and to continue building it up, giving you great endurance to continue running the race.
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.