Discussing How To Walk By Faith In A World That Uses Faith and Optimism Interchangeably
In darkening times, one major attack is on the principle of faith. In a previous post, How to Identify False Teachers, I gave some practical tools for distinguishing false teachers. As a result of so many false teachers playing prominent roles in our society and our world, the subject of faith has become a large blur. Positive thinking, the New Age movement, and other false doctrines are largely influencing the world using faith and optimism interchangeably, which makes walking in faith difficult to do.
Definitions of Faith
When I looked up faith for definitions, I found further controversy which confuses people who desire to walk in faith. Some of the definitions that I found are:
-Faith is complete confidence or trust in a person or thing; or a belief not based on proof. It may also refer to a particular system of religious belief. (Wikipedia)
Dictionary.com gave several common uses for the term “faith”, but none of the definitions is consistent with the biblical definition. They said:
Definitions of Optimism
When doing an internet search for the term “optimism”, I found definitions that could easily be used interchangeably with faith. Google’s definition of “Optimism” says:
-Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.
Regarding optimism, Wikipedia defined it as:
A disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
The Difference Between Faith and Optimism
With the definitions in mind, we know that the secular society uses faith to describe a group of people with common beliefs, a positive outlook on circumstances, and believing something without proof. Similarly, optimism is also the positive outlook on circumstances. The Bible does not define faith and optimism the same way. Hebrews 11:1-3 defines faith biblically saying:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.” (NRSV)
Faith is not optimism or hope. Faith is appropriated by works! Faith is acted upon. Faith is firm belief so much that they are willing to bid on it. Do not go out giving false witness (a commandment) to another person saying, “I have faith that your…”, and you are not willing to apply your effort towards the success you “believe” will manifest! You have hope or optimism, but faith cannot be separated from works. If you say you have faith in my success or you have faith about something for me, you better believe, I am going to want to see appropriated action to support that. If you believe what I am saying, and are scared to share it, should I believe you have faith? I won’t! If you have I will get high returns on my investment, I will be confident of your faith when you invest. Offer a prayer. Offer to fast with them. Offer to wait on Yahweh with them. Offer to seek for a response, but do not tell anyone a lie that you have faith for something or someone, and you don’t. Separate optimism from faith: thoughts from actions. You act on things that you have faith about. As James (Yeshua’s brother) said, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but has no actions to prove it? Is such “faith” able to save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food, and someone says to him, “Shalom! Keep warm and eat hearty!” without giving him what he needs, what good does it do? Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead (James 2:14-17).”
The things that you act upon in faith are beyond the things that can be seen physically. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” With this scripture, we know (even if we have not laid eyes on things in the spiritual realm) the end of every season and every time ends in victory thru Christ. This assurance of good given us by scripture is not faith until it is acted upon, rather it is closer associated to optimism because it is not enacted. It may at times be based on hope or trust, but it is usually positive thinking about the future without the groundwork of vision laid in the spiritual realm.
Similar to looking down from an airplane, you can look from eternity at your circumstances thru the lens of God’s word, and the circumstances shrink to be very small.
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