How can I keep the faith?
There are a few different Scriptures that refer to "keeping the faith," but what does that really mean? How can we keep the faith? And what does that look like in our everyday lives? A simple definition for keeping the faith would be: "persevering in our Christian walk." Encouraging the believers to keep the faith was a goal of the apostle Paul (Acts 14:22). There are a few key mindsets we need to develop in order to keep the faith, and they have to do with timing:
1. Stay focused in the present
2. Look to the future
3. Remember God's faithfulness in the past
Walking out our faith is a daily practice. It requires us to be vigilant in our studying of the Bible so that we are keeping the truth in mind and obeying it on a daily basis (1 Timothy 4:16). This will prevent us from being swayed by false teachings that present a distorted gospel (1 Timothy 4:1; Galatians 1:6–7). Practical ways to stay focused in the present include things such as reading the Bible, praying, journaling, spending time in worship, and regularly engaging in fellowship with other believers. We are guaranteed to face trials and tribulations, but with these difficulties comes the perseverance we need to continue in our faith: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2–4).
Just as Jesus looked to His eternal glory in heaven to help Him endure the cross, as we run our race in the present, what motivates us to press on is looking to the future we have, an eternity with Christ who is seated at the right hand of God cheering us on: "let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1–2). The metaphor given in this passage for our Christian walk is an endurance race. If we keep in mind that we are in a long-term race, we will realize that there is no allotment given to us to be a stagnant or lazy Christian. We are to look to the future so that we may endure and press forward in the present.
It can feel exhausting to be constantly pressing on to the future while living in the present, so it is also important for us to look back often and remember God's faithfulness to us in the past. The Israelites made a regular habit of this by setting up monuments and having feast days to commemorate God's miraculous intervention in their lives (Deuteronomy 4:9). We need to consciously choose to remember God and His faithfulness to give us eternal life, forgiveness, protection, provision, redemption, healing, and the list goes on! Psalm 103:2–5 says: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Remembering the Lord's faithfulness helps our own faith to stay strong, because our thoughts are rooted in thankfulness for the faithfulness God has shown to us. God is completely faithful to us, so we have no good reason not to be faithful to Him: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23; see 1 Thessalonians 5:24). We can have total confidence in God's ongoing faithfulness for He "is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
We keep the faith by abiding in Christ (John 15), being intentional about growing in Him, relying on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Philippians 2:12–13), consistently giving God thanks (Philippians 4:4ndash;7), and encouraging one another through all of life's ups and downs. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:23–25).
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