To approve something is to declare it valid and authentic. It is to say that the thing in question meets the standards set and satisfies the requirements established for excellence. Today we focus on what it is that makes our faith valid and authentic. What qualities does God look for in us to make us those that He validates and is happy with as far as faith is concerned. To understand this, we must first appreciate how faith is defined. Faith is rendered as “the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen” [Hebrews 11:1]. This definition takes several things into consideration.
Firstly, it establishes that faith is an actual substantive phenomenon, not a myth. It then establishes that faith produces very clear evidence. This interplay between what is abstract and what is substance is what makes faith an interesting life long journey. The first thing that makes faith valid and approved is hope. Hope is that which makes us expect even when logically speaking we should not be expecting. Where things have been written off and given up, hope lights up faith that touches God to act.
The second factor validation of our faith is management of the unseen. For as long as something remains unseen, unrevealed and mysterious, it falls within the realm of faith because it requires us to trust God with the unknown. There is nothing that brings God more pleasure than knowing that we trust Him with the unknown and unseen.
The third factor is our understanding of authority. The centurion understood that authority is not limited to geographical location, but rather transcends it. That understanding deepens our faith more than we can ever imagine. God does not have to be near in order to be involved and to act. Jesus did not need to be in the centurion's presence for His power to be deployed and to effect healing. This faith moves us to understand that we must never put our trust in what we see about God, but in what we know about Him.
The fourth factor is understanding what God values and esteems, and offering it to Him. Abel understood this, and hence offered a perfect sacrifice that was acceptable to God. When we know what God requires, and we offer it to Him, It pleases him and our faith gets approval.
The fifth factor is a righteous life. Enoch lived a life that was pleasing to God. He did what was right before God, and he was commended ad approved for his faith and journey. Righteousness is very attractive to God, and it causes him to be inclined towards us and to validate what we do.
The six factor is intimacy with God. Enoch walked with God and he was approved by God because of his closeness to God. One day, while they were walking together, God took Enoch and he stepped out of time into eternity.
The seventh factor that validates our faith is belief in the existence of God, and a proper understanding of his nature and character. Belief in the existence and active involvement of God in our affairs earns us great commendation. A proper understanding of who he is and what he does is an ever better sweetener to the deal. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him” [Hebrews 11:6].