“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13, NIV 1984).
It was his five-year visit. I was cutting him loose from my care, so we mostly just chatted. Somehow we got on the topic of his wife and her clothes. She described this wealthy friend who twice a year gifted her with recently bought clothes. Twice yearly, my patient’s wife received a three-foot mound of custom made clothes, worn once or never worn at all.
Lucky to have a friend with money and also the same dress size.
It’s one thing to wear someone’s hand-me-down clothes and it’s another to wear someone’s hand-me-down faith. Many of us live our faith lives with thoughts, beliefs and character that were handed to us by another—pastor, parent, mentor or friend. Nothing is wrong with such faith-sharing as we mature. The problem comes when we become comfortable in the faith we have borrowed and cease working out our own faith in relationship and obedience to our Lord.
All personal faith is, in God’s plan, custom fitted. Though we all wear the same articles of clothing (Ephesians 6:13-17; Galatians 5:22-23), we are all different people and God has different plans for each of us in building His kingdom. Each plan requires a somewhat different dress code.
How do we find these faith clothes that fit us well?
God is the Great Designer and life is His sewing machine. Oswald Chambers put it this way:
We begin our religious lives by believing our beliefs; we accept what we are taught without questioning; but when we come up against things, we begin to be critical, and we find out that the beliefs, however right, are not right for us because we have not bought them by suffering. What we take for granted is never ours until we have bought it by pain. A thing is worth just what it cost.
Personal faith clothes are designed for us when we walk through life’s trials in obedience and relationship with the Great Designer. Walking in borrowed clothes may be helpful as we mature; but, at some point, we must trudge through normal life struggles with Jesus, depending on Him to get us through. At the end of each trial, He hands us our own set of custom built clothes that conform perfectly to His Word in Scripture, and that also fit us in unique ways to accomplish His purpose through our lives. We need to seek this for ourselves and accept it in others.
Thank you for the clarity of our faith within your Word. Help me to follow you in ways that will shape me to fit your plan perfectly.