In this time of crisis, we have taken a look at moving with panic and fear. Over the past two Sundays, I have preached about how we should continue to have great faith in God. However, I have been seeing a different sort of “believer” rise within this past week that I am compelled to preach about today. This believer: one who ignores wise counsel (advice) and pushes ahead “on faith”. I have to warn you against having such a foolish faith like that.
What Genuine Faith Does
I have preached several sermons about faith because faith means a great deal to me. Just recently, I preached a series of sermons where I took a look at the spiritual conundrum that many face when it comes to faith in the Lord. My favorite scripture in the Bible is about faith! “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).” Faith in God means a very great deal to me and so to see some have foolish faith truly does bother me. Let me express to you today, what genuine faith does and what foolish faith does.
Faith seeks wisdom and understanding
Faith, from the very beginning, is always seeking for wisdom and for understanding. The reason this is the case is because we are always asking questions! From the time you and I were born, we have had questions about everything. It likely started off with wondering who they people were that was holding us, right? Then, we were toddlers, and we asked our parents the question that probably becomes the most annoying question: “Why?”
“Why?” stays at the back of our heads for most of our life. When we get to the age of when we start liking boys or girls, we will ask, “why do they act that way?” You see, behind it all is us trying to understand how things work. We are always seeking knowledge and seeking to understand.
When things get real quiet, some of us will eventually begin to seek our place in all of this – this world and this universe. Some of us open our mind to our existence and wonder, “Why? Why do I exist? What is my purpose?” These questions are also what has led many of us to God. Jesus taught that it is our asking of questions, our seeking of knowledge, and our knocking on the door of God that will reveal Him to us (Matt. 7:7).
Faith gains wise counsel
When we were little, the first people that likely gave us sound advice were the ones we were wondering about when we first opened our eyes – our parents. They taught us how to do several things: eat, drink, talk, crawl, walk, and run. It was smart of us to listen and learn from them, right? We had faith that our parents were not teaching us to do wrongly even when we had no idea what right and wrong even was.
Of course we get older and as we mature we begin to be able to discern what is right and what is wrong. We learned from the wise counsel of that old lesson: “if your friends jump (off a really tall structure) are you going to jump too?” This taught us that we can’t simply follow after every foolish idea our friends have. That does not necessarily mean that we never acted foolishly but we certainly knew better!
For example: doctor’s visits. We know that our doctors are trying to get us to live a lifestyle that would be beneficial to us and even those around us. This means, the counsel that they give us is wise counsel. Some of us, me definitely in my past, regretfully, did not pay that counsel much attention and did foolishly. Solomon wrote (Prov. 12:1), “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid (foolish).”
Faith listens to and acts on wise counsel
Yes, we are to seek wisdom but when we have found that wisdom, what do we do with it? The smart thing to do would be to listen to the counsel of the wise, right? As when we were little and we listened to the counsel of our parents, we should listen to those who have knowledge about a subject we lack knowledge in. We should then also act on that knowledge, right?
In another proverb, Solomon says (Prov. 13:16), “Every prudent (wise) man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly.” To not act on the wisdom or knowledge one has gained would be incredibly foolish and incredibly dangerous. Solomon says that the fool “lays open” his folly. Understand that when Solomon is talking about the wise he is always talking about those who are of faith in God.
So, those who have faith in God, act with the wisdom and the knowledge that they have gained; they act with commonsense. My dad would always say this about commonsense: “you either got it or you don’t” (his exact words). So, I express to you today that faith does not require us to take foolish actions against wise counsel.
I understand the moment of time that all of us are now a part of in the history of mankind. If there is anybody that understands what people are going through with feeling “locked” in their homes, it would be me. My days are often filled with waking up in the morning to do home dialysis, eat a lunch and dinner, work on bible study or sermon, and then go to sleep to repeat those steps the next day.
As a genuine believer, I understand how it feels to not be able to physically go out to church and worship with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It does not feel right! The idea of not going to church has always been something taught and preached against. We will recall the scripture about stirring up the good works in one another and not forsaking the assembling of ourselves (Heb. 10:24-25).
Listen to wise counsel even in faith
However, the wise counsel of this day is for us not to gather together in large groups. Are we doing wrongly by not gathering together to worship God? Some will believe that this moment is a test of our faith in God, but God does not test our faith in such a manner. In their faith, they will ignore the helpful advice because their “faith” says they must go to church. Part of me understands that, but it would be foolish of us to ignore the wise counsel of this current moment.
You see, I know this because the building that we gather in each and every Sunday is not the church! Though we may be apart, we have all still been worshiping together when all of us are studying, praying to God, holding fast to our faith, and praising God in this moment! The church is the genuine believer and God resides in us; we are holy ground wherever we go! Paul asked (1 Cor. 6:19), “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?”
The temptation of Christ
So, what are we doing when we are going against the wise counsel of today or any day for that matter? Are we trying to prove our faith in God by still gathering together? I have seen and heard some folks brazenly say, “God is going to protect me!” God does not test us so why do we put Him to such a test by gambling with our own lives?
When I was thinking over this sermon throughout the week, I kept thinking about when the devil tested Christ out in the wilderness. I know I have preached about this before, but it would be hard for me to ignore this scripture in this sermon. Recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke is a recording of the time the devil tempted Jesus three times.
All three temptations were a way to test who exactly Jesus was (His deity). In his first test, the devil tempted Jesus physically with hunger (Matt. 4:3). In his final test we see the devil test Jesus psychologically by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4:8-9). I want to zone in on the second temptation that the devil tried to tempt Jesus with.
Do not test God
In the second temptation, after taking Jesus to a high point, the devil tells Jesus to throw Himself down (jump) to the ground. He quotes scripture, not completely or accurately (Ps. 91:11-12), saying, “He (the Lord) will give His angels charge over you, and in their hands they shall bear you up” (Matt. 4:5-6). The devil was testing Jesus spiritually by trying to get Jesus to put His life on the line!
To this, Jesus responded (Matt. 4:7), “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ “ Jesus quoted scripture (Deut. 6:16) in His response to the devil. The scripture that Jesus quoted was in reference to an event that took place in the wilderness after the children of Israel left Egypt (Ex. 17:1-7). The children of Israel, at Massah, had contended that the Lord had brought them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness.
God cares a great deal for the lives of His children – that is our physical and our spiritual lives. We often feel like God does not care about our lives but this could not be any further from the truth! If God did not care about us physically, then He would have turned His sun off a long time ago and stopped this world from spinning! No, God cares for our lives and is constantly providing for us each and everyday. The last thing we should do with our lives is to treat it with no care or take it for granted!
Faith is not foolish
My dad would often tell me and my brother one of those old sayings that you have probably heard before: “A hard head will make a soft butt.” This meant that if you were to ignore wise advice by being hard-headed, you would have to live with the consequences of your decision. We are being given wise counsel that could help us to be able to see another day.
We believe that we are acting in great faith when we ignore that advice and “stand on faith”. However, in all honesty, we are choosing to act ignorantly and foolishly when we ignore wise counsel. That is not acting in great faith, but acting with foolish faith that is tempting the Lord. Let me say this, should you choose to act out of foolish faith, you should be prepared to live with the consequence of doing such a thing.
I believe we are tempted in all three of the facets that the devil tempted Jesus – physically, psychologically, and spiritually. However, I believe it is a test that we can handle if we choose to act out of genuine and great faith instead of foolish faith. Some will see faith in God as foolishness, but I tell you that faith in God does not mean one is or acts with foolishness.
I would encourage everybody to be prudent during this time and act on the knowledge that we have received. Acting with foolish faith is a very dangerous game to play! Do not contend with the Lord when it comes to your life. Treat your life as the gift it is and cherish it!