We all want something practical in life. None of us wants to do something that does not impact our lives. Our faith in God is not removed from our daily life. We are not meant to believe and use our emotions alone. God expects us to be practical in our journey of faith. The journey of faith begins at salvation when we surrender to the Lordship of Christ by being transformed in our hearts (2 Cor. 5:17, Galatians 2:20). The question we need to answer is how this relationship with Christ affects and consequently reflects in our day to day lives.
The Premise for Practical Faith
It has been said that many saints are too heavenly-minded and of no earthly good. The statement is usually used for one of two reasons: first, saints have been seen to focus too much on spirituality while absconding from other life duties such as family, work, or school. As a result, they get lost in prayers and fastings while showing poor or no performance in their duties. That sort of living is not in line with biblical faith (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Or secondly, the saint is living life faithfully, and the world is seeking to find ways to make them drop their guard and indulge a little in civilian affairs (2 Timothy 2:4) to look ‘normal’ or ‘like the rest’. I wish the second reason were the only reason the world would say we are too heavenly-minded for our earthly good. This shows that we are hard workers, don’t compromise on time and integrity, are not involved in earthly corruptions, and do not subvert justice for our gain.
How can we salt this world? How do we live this life in an explicitly heavenly-minded way while, at the same time, being of much earthly good? What keeps us on that path? Paul tells us the motivation for such living is the glory of God. When we realize that life is centred on the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31) and not our selfish pursuits (2 Corinthians 5:15), we start applying our heart convictions to our daily life activities. After all, all things are from him, through him, and to him; he deserves all glory (Romans 11:36). And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17). In what ways can we consider this pursuit?
Handling Our Bodies
In the Christian faith, we believe in the sanctity of the human body because we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Therefore, not only are we to pursue inner purity, but also there is a sacred call for us to pursue purity of the body. That means we must be careful with how we handle our bodies to glorify God. From how we eat and dress to how we clean up, all should be done in a way that is not just for us but to honour and give God glory. Purity is not only a matter of sexuality, though sexuality is very important and takes up a considerable percentage of it. It is also a matter of mental purity, taking care of the things you consume by watching and listening. Your mind should always be in a state of renewal and being filled by God’s will (Romans 1:1-2). We should always consider things that are worthy of praise and honour (Philippians 4:8).
Scripture calls our bodies God’s temple wherein the Spirit dwells (1 cor. 3:16, 6:20). All our body parts belong to God and must be handled with honour and sanctification and not in lustful passions (1 Thess. 4:3-5). Therefore, when we indulge in things like orgies, wild parties, immoralities, and other vices involving the misuse of our bodies, we fall short of the glorious call to live out our faith. We must cleanse ourselves from sins that render our bodies defiled, misused, and unqualified for the master’s use (2 Tim. 2:21). Our faith says that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us handle ourselves as such.
Handling Our Time
In Genesis 1, we see the orderliness of God in the creation story, where He took time and created everything without confusion or wasting time and all of them on an appointed day. Scripture shows that those who have lived for his glory don’t waste time. The Psalmist asks for wisdom in numbering our days – on account of God’s coming judgment – so that we gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). The teacher in Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is time for everything (Eccl. 3:1). In Proverbs we are warned against having a lazy outlook towards life as compared to the hardworking attitude of the ants (Proverbs 6:6-8, 24:30-34). Paul in Ephesians 5:15-17 tells us to walk wisely by making the best use of our time. Countless scriptures point out that being born again is inseparable from being good stewards of time. Are you a typical “African timer” who disregards and dishonours others by always coming late for meetings and appointments in the name of “African time”? Misusing time is against our beliefs and our God’s character. But it is equally unethical to spend much time doing wicked things that cause more harm than good in other people’s lives. Practical faith is seen in our time management.
All things belong to God (Psalm 24:1-2), and we, saints, are stewards of what God has freely given to us. Nothing at our disposal came from our abundance, but all we have is from God (1 Cor. 4:7a). We have because we have received, hence the need to be wise stewards of our finances. Jesus talked about this in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the parable of the unrighteous steward (Luke 16:1-9). Both parables come as a warning and exhortation for the saints to learn how to manage the resources given to them by the Lord.
One way to handle our resources in a way that expresses our hope is in giving to the work of the ministry (in tithes, offerings and other love gifts to missionaries and others who are faithfully working in the vineyard of God). Paul reminds us that a giving attitude and culture are what the Lord loves (2 Cor. 9:6-15) and rewards. In giving, we understand in some way what it meant for Christ to give himself for us on the cross (John 3:16, 2 Cor. 5:21, Romans 5:6-8).
Another way to spend our resources wisely is by using them to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). Go out of your way and serve and give to others without expecting anything back (Luke 14:12-14, 1 John 3:17-18). This does not mean you give haphazardly. On the contrary, your giving should be wise and joyful. For example, are you joyfully providing for your relatives and the needy saints (1 Tim. 5:8)? If you have spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-11), are you using them to serve the fellowship of believers? Are you giving from the abundance of what has been provided for you? Refrain from hoarding things for yourselves. Faithful saints express their faith in God’s providence by giving.
Handling Our Relationships
The other way our faith impacts our life is how we handle our relationships across the family spectrum. Again, scripture has much to say about family and faith; we will look at a few pointers.
- As parents and spouses, we are responsible for training our children in the ways of the LORD because God gave them to us (Proverbs. 22:6) and instructed us to guide our homes in the path of the Lord (Joshua 24:15). In our parenting, we are equally called to show and grow in our patience, mercy, grace and love to our family members. Our faith also plays out in our roles as husbands (Ephesians 5:25-33, 1 Peter 3:7) relating to our wives in love and understanding, and also in our roles as wives (1 Peter 3:1-6, Ephesians 5:22-24) relating to our husbands in the quietness of heart, wisdom and submission. Our confession of faith needs to be seen in our growth in the above areas.
- As children, we must express our faith in God by honouring our parents and obeying their leadership and instructions in the Lord. God has given us a responsibility to show the practicality of our faith in the way we obey and submit to them (Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20). Our confession of faith needs to be seen in our growth in respect and obedience to our parents.
- As masters in our businesses and workplaces, our faith must also be seen. God calls us to treat our servants with dignity and honour because we also have a master over our lives (Ephesians 6:9).
- As servants in our masters’ homes or places of work as employees, we must also express our faith. Ephesians 6:5-8 calls us to serve our employer as if we are serving the Lord, not man. There is a reward in our obedience and application of our faith in such matters.
How intricate our faith is in our daily responsibilities cannot be overstated. But, friends, we cannot divorce our daily life from our beliefs because we are what we believe, and we express our convictions through our actions.