The Sure Sign of a Growing Faith


I once buried an old Datsun truck in sand. Not by choice, of course. It was just that the shortest path looked so inviting despite my inner warnings to go a different way.

As I eased the truck into the soft sand and began to sink, I thought if I just pressed on the gas a little harder and tried to go a little faster, I could make it through. Even when the front fender was covered in sand, I refused to believe it. So, I stood on the gas … and buried the back end, too.

At times, my journey of faith has felt like driving that truck into the middle of a sand pit. No matter what I do, I just can’t get it to budge. I can do all the things people recommend. I can say the right things and give off the appearance that I’m fine, but the truth is I’m spinning my wheels, doing nothing but digging a deeper hole from which to climb.

Why does our faith inevitably get lodged in such a hopeless predicament? Theresa of Avila offers up an answer:

“I hold that love, where present, cannot possibly be content with remaining always the same.”

Stale bread is hard, crusty and flavorless. So is stale faith.

… if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:2b-3 (NIV)

Doing things to offer a more pious or authentic expression of our faith will only bog us down further. Our works – the outward expression of our faith – are important but won’t fuel further growth. We can puff out our chests and talk about how we’re the kind of church or the kind of Christians that Jesus wants because we’re about social justice and caring for the marginalized. But if love is missing, the Apostle Paul makes it clear: it’s nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. If heaven had a scoreboard, you and all your great works would be sitting on the wrong end of the final score. It’s easy to do random acts of kindness with a heart of stone.

We need faith and works, but that’s not what makes us grow. The presence of God’s love in our hearts makes us blossom and bloom into who God created us to be. Love is like Miracle-Gro for our hearts. Love helps us push through the weeds of doubt, depression and disillusionment that often mire us in a pit of pity.

Love brings life to our hearts, giving us not only the desire to serve others with works but gaining a heart for them as well. That’s when we’re changed. That’s when we grow. That’s when we lurch from the pit onto solid ground and find the fuel to travel miles upon miles with our Savior.

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