“Trees don’t grow to the sky,” economists sometimes say. This expression suggests that things in life reach a maximum rate of return, above which they’re not able to achieve any greater height or potential output. All you can do at that point is maintain, and try to keep it from falling.
Faith, however, is not one of those things.
So I’ve got good news for you if you’re eager to fully invest in your faith, and you’ve seen the futility of putting stock in other stuff. Faith in God doesn’t peak. Even the sky is not the limit. Your faith can just keep on going, getting stronger, growing deeper—as long as you’re planting it in certain types of soil.
The places where faith grows include:
The Bible. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Your pastor may inspire you by proclaiming the Scripture from the pulpit. That’s great. But his sermon is not meant to be the sum total of your spiritual diet. It is meant to be an inducement for a whole-week, every-day encounter with the Word. If you’re struggling in your faith today, get alone with your Bible. Open it. Read it. Jot down some notes from it. Covenant with God in prayer that you are going to live out its truth today. The Word is one of the key places where faith comes from.
Fellowship. Faith also grows from time spent with other believers—perhaps in a small group or some other kind of regular gathering where your faith can be challenged and stirred up by being in close proximity with fellow Christ followers. When Paul talked about going to Rome to meet with the brothers there, his expectation was “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12). This can still be our expectation today.
God’s house. Too many believers treat the church as if they only need it every so often. But your faith when coming out of church will be more vibrant and alive than when you were going in to church. God has designed His house to be a place where we gather every week for renewal and refreshment, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
If you’re frustrated because your faith isn’t stronger—as strong as others’ seems to be—and yet you’re too seldom in the places where faith is built, you’re like someone complaining about the darkness while sitting in the basement under a blanket with the lights off.
Don’t look at faith as if it’s something that only belongs to other people, or that requires knowing a mysterious secret you can’t quite figure out. You can have faith that stands strong amid trials; that enables you to trust God when it’s hard; and that helps you overcome sin—even that sin—again and again and again. But not if you’re forsaking the places where faith is built.
The Word of God.
With the people of God.
In the house of God.
What kind of obstacles do you find cropping up when you plan to open the Word, get to church, or engage in Christian fellowship?
How can you proactively guard against getting derailed from engaging in these essential disciplines?
Father, thank You not only for giving me faith as a gracious act of Your love, but also giving me places where You continue to develop and strengthen that faith within me. Thank You for the good and perfect gifts of Your Word, Your church, and Your people. I’m hungry for the kind of faith that’s greater than every challenge I face, where I can be a living testimony to Your strength working through my human weaknesses. Keep me committed to increasing belief, and keep me always coming back to those people and places You’ve designed to nurture and grow my faith. In Jesus’ steadfast name, amen.