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Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11 is all about faith, it’s a chapter that tells us about some of the great heroes of the Old Testament and of the great faith they exercised in their lives; Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, name a few. These people are listed as demonstrators of amazing faith and as people who trusted God and by faith achieved great things. Reading this list of names can seem really intimidating: how can we ever achieve incredible things like the great prophets of the past? But when you really look, you remember that these people were just human beings before they had faith in God and put that faith into action: Abraham tried to fulfill the prophecy of God in his own strength, Jacob was conniving, Moses was a murderer, Rahab was a prostitute... So these ‘heroes’ of the Old Testament were regular human beings like you and me, and yet they are listed as examples of people of amazing faith - and therefore, what’s stopping us from joining that list?

I have faith, I would even say strong faith or great faith. I believe God has got me, I trust Him, I know He has a plan for me and I have faith that His way is good. And yet, I fall short and I fail to put my faith into action. Today reading Hebrews 11, reminded me of something that I feel God has been encouraging me to do for a long time. A little over a month ago, I heard a sermon about tithing. Tithing is a religious custom of giving one tenth of what you own back to God - we first see this in the Bible in Genesis, and it is the act of giving back to God that which belongs to Him. Having grown up in the Christian faith I have heard about tithes and offerings my entire life, but have never really gotten involved with it. It’s a personal decision at the end of the day, and I never felt inclined or financially able to give. However, having heard this sermon recently I felt compelled, that I should start tithing, it was time for me and I felt God calling me to do this. I had good intentions, I had faith, so that week, on Monday I withdrew cash from the bank - one quarter of 10% of my monthly wage (I planned to give a quarter a week in my home church offering). The money was in my purse, and then I found myself needing the cash for something else, a friend was in need in the week and I lent her the money, she paid me back into my bank account, and come Sunday morning I had forgotten to withdraw it again. So I sat penniless in the congregation and - as was the norm - let the offering pass me by, thinking “it’s okay, I’ll just start next week”. The following week, I thought better to withdraw the money closer to Sunday and then I would have less opportunity to spend it prior to going to church, by Saturday night I had forgotten all about it, until Sunday morning when I again sat in church and failed to give my tithe, and I thought “oh no! I’ll have to start next week”. The week after I was getting ready to go on holiday and I decided that I couldn’t quite budget to give that week, I wanted to save the money for my time away, so I decided “I’ll just start tithing when I get back”, and again didn’t give that Sunday. I then missed a Sunday due to the aforementioned holiday. This week was my first Sunday back, and I had considered tithing but it’s the week before payday and I decided that I would be struggling for money if I began tithing today, so again I thought “I’ll just start next week” - I failed to act in faith again.

This is a long winded and personal story and I’m sure it isn’t one that everyone can relate to (this absolutely is not me telling you you need to tithe) - but we each have our callings. We each have something that God has called us to do, a step He calls us to take in faith, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that I hesitate, I pause before I jump, I’m cautious. But the caution and the doubt and the hesitation is us doing things our way.

In Hebrews 11:33-34, it tells us that normal people like you and me “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; [their] weakness was turned to strength; [they] became powerful in battle and routed armies”. This is the power of Christ in a life. Through faith in Him we are capable of achieving immeasurably more than we could ask, hope or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and He will make a way for you.

The reason I haven’t yet begun tithing, isn’t because I can’t afford to, or because I’ve forgotten, it’s because I’m trying to do it in my own strength.

I believe that God is awesome. I believe He is all powerful. I believe that through faith in Him: water was turned to wine, 5 loaves and 3 fish fed 5,000 families, men were raised from the dead, blind men were able to see, and the sick were healed. I believe all this, and I believe that the God who is responsible for all of those things loves me, walks with me and lives within me. He is my waymaker! So, I’m not going to doubt, or budget, or worry, or be cautious. God provides everything I need, and I have faith that if I gave my last penny to Him, he could multiply it and return it to me, or He could see that I require no expense until more money comes my way, or He would ensure that I am looked after another way - this is the power of Christ in my life, and even when I feel incapable, He is always able.

Someone recently asked me what it meant to walk by faith rather than by sight, and this is it! To do what He calls you to do not seeing the whole picture - He has a plan for you and it is good; to give because He tells you to not knowing if you can afford to - He’ll make sure you can afford to; to take the step of faith not knowing where you will end up - He will catch you; to talk to that person not knowing how they’ll take it - He has called you there for a reason .

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). I cannot see Christ walking by my side, I cannot see the plan He has for me, I cannot see how I will afford to tithe, but I have faith in Him, and I am sure that He is my hope through everything.

I don’t know what you are being called to, but whatever it is, please let this be an encouragement to you to step out in faith and do it! Trust in Him - He will never let you down. The God of miracles and love and grace and power lives in you, all you have to do is put your faith in Him, and you might just join that list of heroes in Hebrews. You’re going to be a hero with a past just like everyone on that list, with previous shortcomings and downfalls, but He loves you despite your imperfections and failures; and just like all the others on that list, you are defined not by your past, but by your faith!

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