Read the original article in RELEVANT Magazine:
Do you ever wonder if you’re doing enough to please God? Do you have times when you keep ruminating over what you’re doing wrong? Sometimes we don’t think we should let go of being hard on ourselves because that’s too easy; God wouldn’t want us to be irresponsible. So we keep focusing on what we should do or what we’re not doing. The problem is, that’s not what God asks us to do. While we tend to make it all about us, He wants us to shift our gaze and make it all about Him.
What was it that brought Jesus into our lives in the first place? Was it our good behavior or our promise to be good from now on? No. It was something as simple as a belief. It was the childlike act of saying, “Yes, Jesus, I believe You did what You said You did.”
It was faith.
This seemingly small word is anything but. It’s the foundation for something as enormous as our redemption from sin past, present and future. It is also the key to unlocking results that we could never imagine coming. Faith—simply heartfelt belief—is pretty unbelievable.
And it’s often underestimated. Sometimes we forget—or we may not even know—the actual power of faith or the lack of power without it. But few things make that more clear than a look into Jesus’ time on this earth.
Jesus Needed Faith to Work
Did you know that there was a question Jesus often asked before he healed someone? It wasn’t, “When was the last time you prayed?” Or “Can you repent of what you did yesterday first?”
It was: “Do you believe I can do this?”
Interesting. The records we have show that most of the people who responded said they knew He could heal them. After saying they believed, Jesus would then heal them. Every time.
But an interesting thing happened when Jesus went into His hometown of Nazareth. Scripture says that because the people there knew Him since He was a child, they didn’t see Him as anyone particularly special; certainly not the son of God. So they didn’t expect much from Him. And because of this, “Jesus could not do many miracles there because of their lack for faith” (Matthew 13:58).
Jesus, the savior of the world, could not do many miracles there.
Didn’t He just do enormous miracles a couple days before? Yes. Jesus didn’t change. But the people around Him did. These people didn’t have faith in Him; and that’s what made all the difference.
It’s hard to fully comprehend. But it looks like even who Jesus was, wasn’t enough. Jesus needed something from people in order to do His best work. He needed faith.
Could it be that just as Jesus needed faith when He was on this earth, He still needs it from us today?
Faith is nothing short of amazing. It connects us to the presence of God. It releases the fullness of His power into our lives. Matthew 21:22 says “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” This verse specifies that we need to believe it first. Mark 11:24 puts it this way: “And when you ask for something in prayer, believe that you have it, and it will be yours.”
Faith actually releases the power of God into our lives. It’s also the one thing that God deeply desires from us.
It’s What Pleases God
Psalm 147:11 says that God “delights in those who trust in His unfailing love.”
David was known as the “apple of God’s eye.” He was someone God dearly loved and honored. Did He do things perfectly? Not by a long shot. But what he did very well was urge himself to trust in God’s goodness over and over.
We may get swept up in thinking that we need to do things a certain way to please God, but Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” Those are some strong words. It means that even if we act just the way Jesus did—love others, worship God, forgive everyone—it’s not enough if we’re lacking faith in God.
This verse could say anything else about what it takes to please God. But it chooses faith. It doesn’t say, “And without good deeds” or even “And without repentance it’s impossible to please God.” Does God want these things from us? Of course He does. But amazingly, what God takes the time to specify to us is that faith is the cornerstone of His desire.
Everyone wants to be known for who they are. When they are good and loving, they want to be seen that way. A kind father wants his children to trust him; to believe that he will take care of them. It touches that parent when they trust his judgement even if they can’t understand what’s going on. He wants his children to believe he will be gracious and “give good gifts” them. This is the kind of stuff that makes God smile.
But God takes no pleasure when we focus on our weaknesses. He is actually saddened when we hold on to the shame that He gave everything to remove. But we are continually invited to turn our focus to HIs goodness and say, “I may fall short but thank God you are gracious.”
No more striving. No more fear. Faith in His goodness is all we truly need to please the heart of God.
The mysterious power of faith is that it both pleases God and unlocks the door to His great power in our lives and those we pray for. Does this mean God will always do what we ask if we believe in it enough? Well, no, it doesn’t. If we ask for things that look good to us but in actuality are not right—or in his plan for our flourishing or development—God won’t do it. But we can be assured that when we ask for His will to be done, and we believe it, it will be done.
We can ask for things that Scripture points out as good like the salvation of those we love, God’s provision, His guidance or peace. We can receive those things as we keep encouraging ourselves to trust in His love and His power; even as we wait for it.
Fortunately, we can also have faith in God’s ability to understanding with us when our faith is weak. We can say what this one man said back to Jesus when he asked if he believed in him. We can say, “I do believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). God understands our challenges. He is merciful with our tendencies. He honors a heart that is honest, and asks for help to believe. We can thank God that Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith; that He wants to help us with it and knows how to.
Fundamentally, we can be grateful that resting in His greatness is what God wants most from us. We can know that it’s from this place of faith—this soil of deep connection with Him—that He grows and refines us into our potential. We can also be excited that God says when we believe, even with only the faith of a mustard seed, anything is possible.