By Robert Halsey Pine
“The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:1-23 NRSV).
We are sometimes critical of how people seek the Lord in their life. Paul is saying that as long as a person is proceeding from faith, they should not condemn themselves or be condemned. But if we do not have faith in the Lord, we are subject to the ways of the world and the world is sinful. When the faith that we have is of our own conviction before God, that is our only measure. No other person can judge such a faith.
We are saved by our faith. Where I have gotten confused is when I have seen God as some sort of good fairy that is there to grant my wishes. This is where the tin-man, the lion and the scarecrow got off the track in the Wizard of Oz. They already had within them that which they were looking for. The part that was missing was their recognition of this through their own faith. At Christmas time we sometimes have more faith in Santa Claus than we have in Christ Jesus. We have trouble recognizing our true gifts.
My faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit is my nourishment. I must soak it up daily. Faith is not something that we can turn on and off. Faith is our way of living. There can be no opinion about our faith. It cannot be challenged when it is sincere. If we have doubts about our own faith, as Paul said, “[we] are condemned.” Think about it. Whenever we lose our conviction about our faith, we are moving away from God and toward sin. Sin is having no anchor in our life. Without that anchor of faith, we wake up each morning not knowing where our boat has floated to and what our position is.
When our oxygen is cut back, we have trouble breathing. When it is cut off, we die. We all fear that which will not allow us to breathe. To survive in our natural life, we seek to breathe every second of every day. Our full attention is on this. But what good is it to breathe if we are dying to sin each day due to our lack of faith? Our faith is more important than our breathing. We should consider our faith more often than we consider our breathing. We must build up our wind for the Lord.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.