Two Tests of Faith


question_mark_3dAnd from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. 
(Mark 7:24-30 ESV) 

Jesus’s response seems harsh. Is he calling this woman a dog? The short answer is yes. He was a Jewish messiah sent to the Jews, and she was of mixed Greek heritage and in short a Gentile. The Jews had two classifications of people, Jews and everyone else. But Jesus knew the thoughts and intents of her heart; her faith was in Jesus to heal her daughter. She was trusting him to do for her what no one else could.  Jesus tested her in such a way as to make her faith public. Recall his words to the woman with the issue of blood: “Your faith has made you whole.”  When put to the test, she passed with flying colors.  Belief can be stated, faith must be demonstrated. Continue reading

Tests of Faith

It is an easy thing to say we have faith.  Some may believe they have faith, until a trial actually arises and that faith is put to the test.  Jesus, quoting Isiah, said that many people loved him with their lips but their hears were far from him.  Some of the things Jesus said or did was because he sees through our speech and knows the heart.  Consider these two examples:

When the Syrophenician woman came to Jesus his response seems pretty calloused.  Her daughter was possessed by a demon, and she was asking Jesus to cast it out.  His response is that it would not be right to cast the children’s bread to the dogs.  He was a Jewish teacher, she was basically Greek.  He literally and figuratively called her a dog.  This was a test of her faith, and she responded wisely. “Yes Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  Jesus tells her to go her way,  that her daughter has been healed.

Just a few chapters later is the story of the rich young man.  He is either lying to Jesus, or more likely has deceived himself, when he proclaims he has kept all the commandments since his youth.  Jesus tells him he lacks one thing: “Go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  The man left very sad for he had great possessions.  Regardless of what he said, his actions spoke louder than words.  His faith was not in Jesus but in all that he had.  He was depending on his wealth to see him through life, he could not let go and let God.  By the way, don’t miss the part were Jesus looked at him, loved him, and then told him he lacked one thing.  The testing of his faith forced him to be honest with himself and others about where his faith really was.

The Rich Young Man; Look Again

He came to Jesus professing he had kept all the commandments from his youth.  After Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor, the man left very sad for he had great possessions.  We all know this story, there’s nothing else to learn from it right?  (It’s a trick question, don’t answer.)

The story of the Rich Young Man (or Ruler, historically) is accounted in Mark 10:17-22.  He asks Jesus what he must do in order to have eternal life.  Perhaps you’ve heard religion is what we do, the gospel is what Jesus does for us.  But Jesus tells him to keep the commandments.  The man replies he has kept all of the from his youth.  Now we know that he is either lying or more likely has deceived himself.  He thinks he is good, bound by the notion that what he does will earn him salvation.  For those of us that know this story, the way I thought I knew this story, look again at verse 21:

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus looked at him, loved him, and then responded.  Jesus was actually listening to him, not just waiting for his turn to speak.  This man left sorrowful because he had many possession.  The scriptures do not say that Jesus was sorrowful, but we know that it is God’s will that no one should perish.  Jesus wept over Jerusalem and prayed for the ones that hung him on the cross.  Jesus loved the rich young man.  This was a good person that was tragically attached to his worldly possessions.  Jesus loved him.  But this person, like so many others, found something else that he loved more than Jesus.  He went away sad that day.

Every single person you met today: Jesus loves them.  There is a lesson to be learned about how to receive eternal life, but look at the lessons here for Christians.  Look at people.  Listen to them.  Love the way that Jesus loves.  And remember that there are no Super Christians.  Every person that Jesus witnessed to did not get saved either.