The Fruit of the Spirit: Faith
We see and hear it all the time people talking about faith; banners that say “faith, family, friends,” or “faith makes things possible” and another is, “when you’re close to the edge, faith is knowing you will be taught to fly,” and of course we just gotta have it, or so says George Michael. While the sentiment is fine and understandable, do these really grab at the heart of what faith is? Do these cultural mantras in fact give us a right understanding of biblical faith?
In the scripture we read of a woman who had a severe medical issue (Mark 5:25-34). She had an illness resulting in a flow of blood from her body for twelve years. This is a difficult condition to grasp, because hardly anyone has ever bled for twelve days let alone twelve years. Likely, her condition would result in anemia, persistent cramping, chronic fatigue, and shortness of breath and a host of other issues, none of which would be pleasant to deal with. Her pain drove her to seek the help of many physicians who could not assist her and she ended up spending all her money. Her condition only grew worse. However, we’re told that she “heard the reports about Jesus” and so she determined that he could make her well. She went to where she knew Jesus was, and said “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” So she touched the fringe of his clothes and her body was healed, immediately! Jesus found her and he says to her with the compassion of a father, “Daughter, your faith has made you well…”
What are we to make of this event? Surely it was the power of Christ that made the women well, but he does not seem to take pleasure in commending his power, but instead he commends her faith. We must observe that this woman was not healed by her act of faith, but rather it was the object of her faith that made her well. It was not her act of reaching, and touching that merited her healing, for garments and our actions do not possess any intrinsic power, but it was Christ’s merit and power, which in turn healed her. Recognizing the obscurity of this woman, and the dense crowd that Jesus was walking through, notice that he says, “who touched my garments?” as if it were even perceivable. If we were not provided the scriptures we would respond the same as the disciples, who said to him, “you see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘who touched me?’” But, we must understand, Jesus knew very well what was happening. He - being truly God - knew this woman's faith and exactly what she was doing, and was well aware of what was about to take place. And it was upon her being healed, that he commends her faith, which was in him, and he encourages her to continue in that faith and grants her peace and healing from her disease.
What we see in this account is the exercise of faith, faith lived out, walking by faith. But what exactly is faith? Faith is a crucial aspect of our lives as Christians, and this is made abundantly clear in the scriptures. Faith is defined, very generally, as “conviction of the truth of anything.” So it is not illegitimate for even non-believers to possess faith in something or someone. However, the scriptures beckon saints to a deeper and weightier faith: that of faith in Jesus Christ, the only true God. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament draw us toward a life of trustful reliance upon God and an attitude of the heart in which faithfulness toward God is our natural expression (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17). Faith is also an assured hope! Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This is the faith mentioned in the preceding chapter by which the just man lives, but it is also the humble and confident trust of the promises of God. Faith is explained here to be an absolute confidence of the power, faithfulness, and love of God in Christ, and of all special blessings. We have faith in those things that are still future, things that we have not laid hold of, but that we will with absolute certainty obtain in a future time. We have faith in things invisible to us, which includes God, who is invisible (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17).
This faith, which is a gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8; Galatians 5:22) grants us peace with God, and healing for our illness and disease of sin. The sin which separates us from God has been forgiven in Christ, and all those who take hold of him, as the woman took hold of his garment, will receive healing, and peace, and encouragement to continue in these blessed things. We are gifted confidence in the only true and absolute hope, and we can therefore be assured of the future no matter the ills that may befall us in this life. Have faith, therefore, like the woman, who had emphatic confidence in Christ saying, “...I will be made well” trusting absolutely in the goodness and mercy of our God!
Nick Muyres is a USN veteran and now lives in Pittsburgh PA with his wife and 3 children. He owns and operates a handyman business and is a graduate of Liberty University with a Bachelors Degree in Christian Counseling. He is currently pursuing a certification in biblical counseling through RPTS with the ACBC.