|Greetings Grace Family,|
I hope you are blessed this day, resting in our Savior’s arms. I pray this morning devotion in God’s word is an encouragement to your day.
For We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight
Paul’s phrase, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” from his second letter to the Corinthians, is perhaps one of the most quoted and memorable bits of scripture in the New Testament. As I came across it during my devotional reading, it stuck with me as I rolled it over and over in my head.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
In simple terms it tells us we move, we navigate, we surmount, we overcome, we succeed in a wholly unnatural and strange way. Try telling your neighbor, “Hey, I don’t need to walk by sight anymore,” and you’ll probably get some curious looks. But that’s the point of Paul’s somewhat shocking phrase, it is to remind us there is something different about the way we do things than others around us.
But who is the “we” Paul is referring to? Paul uses the word throughout the previous chapter seeming to refer to himself, or to the apostles, or those simply serving in the work of the gospel with Paul. But here in chapter 5, Paul is using “we” broadly in terms of all Christians. He makes that clear at the end of his thought at vs. 10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” So when Paul says “we” in verse 7 he is being all-inclusive of the faith saying, “for Christians walk by faith, not by sight.”
We should also understand in this unusual claim Paul makes for all believers what he means by the word “walk”. The word throughout the gospels and on into Acts is used almost exclusively just as you’d expect, an individual using their feet to walk, or someone got up and walked, or another was seen walking. But a few times it suggests something else, as when the Pharisees were questioning Jesus in Mark 7:5, “And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
In this case, the Pharisees were using the word walk as a pattern or way of living exemplified by the traditions of the elders. In other words, they were asking, “why, Jesus, isn’t the life of your disciples governed and directed by the tradition of the elders?”
When you come to the letters of the New Testament, “walk” is used almost exclusively as in this latter example of Mark 7:5. Here are just a few of the dozens of examples we could site.
Romans 6:4 – We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
2 Corinthians 10:3 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.
Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The meaning Paul has for this word “walk” becomes even clearer when we see the word also translated behavior, or life, or to live, to practice, or to act.
The last piece of Paul’s phrase we should look closer at is “faith.” For a straightforward definition, the writer of Hebrews is very helpful. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”(vs. 11:1) The writer of Hebrews ties faith directly to the way we see things just as Paul does. Faith is the tangible of the intangible, the visible of the invisible, the seen of the unseen.
If you were to continue to read the whole of chapter 11, you’d see it played out in the lives of scores of men and women of the Bible. You could say looking at their lives, we “see” the assurance of what they hoped for. Or, we “see” the conviction of what they would never “see” in this life.
Going back to the various epistles’ use of the word “walk”, we can now understand how we see the characters in Hebrews 11 walking by this unseen faith. We see it in the way they behave, we see it in how they live, we see it in how they act. And yet it is all based on an inward assurance, a conviction in what is unseen.
Returning to our original text, I am struck with the gravity of this simple phrase, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” With it, Paul makes one of the most earth-shattering declarations of the Christian life and I realize the truth of it has turned my life upside down ever since I began walking with Jesus. It challenges me to live my life in a way foreign to the world around me and unfamiliar to the life I once lived.
I no longer need to act or respond to events in my life solely or primarily based on what I see with my eyes, but rather based on the one in whom I have placed my hope. I no longer have to choose the path of least resistance, greatest gain, or minimal suffering. But rather, taking my Saviors hand I can boldly step out onto the storm-tossed waves, trusting Him as He leads me. And even when the world around me seems to be crumbling under the weight of the latest calamity, I no longer need to crumble with it. I stand on the rock.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25
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