Walking by Faith
by Robert C. Veil, Jr.
In 2 Cor. 5:7-8 the apostle Paul wrote: “Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord(for we walk by faith, not by sight).” We all understand that walking by sight involves seeing clearly what is before us as we navigate a course in life. But the fact is, as Christians we are guided more by what we do not see. We are guided by the word of the God whose existence and dependability we honor and revere by faith.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1KJV). “Substance” can be felt, physically observed. So faith takes the place of, and is as fully reliable as tangible, physical substance. It’s like feeling our way along in a dark room, and suddenly bumping into a desk or other object. Even though we cannot see it, we know it’s there just as surely as if we were beholding it with our eyes.
Faith is the “evidence (the ASV has “conviction”) of things not seen.” Evidence is convicting. It produces a level of assurance, enabling us to rely upon it in the important decisions of life. Bible faith does not leave us in doubt.
“Walking” to the Christian is a figurative depiction of active living. It involves making progress in life toward a goal. Christians “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7); “walk in wisdom toward them that are without” (Col. 4:5); “walk in love” (Eph. 5:2); and “look carefully” how they walk (Eph. 5:15). So “walking by faith” involves a way of life which is characteristic of Christians. It makes use of a guide or standard different from that used by the world.
“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Rom. 10:17KJV). So the standard from which Christians derive their ability to walk or live in this life is the word of God. Without it, they would be limited to what everyone else is using, namely their own sight. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” It follows that the closer we adhere to the word of God, the more accurately and safely we are guided through this life. Conversely, as we drift away from the word of God and fail to follow it carefully, we are ignoring the guide or standard our Lord has provided to us. We are choosing a less reliable standard (our own vision) over the infallible God who created us.
Walking by faith may involve making choices which to the world seem questionable or foolish. This is because they are following a different standard. “The word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God,” (1 Cor. 1:18). Some of God’s commandments may be counterintuitive. For example, it may seem strange to the world to treat our enemies with kindness and love, (Mt. 5:43-48). To a person walking strictly by sight, such a course would be nonsensical. Again, treating other people as we would prefer to be treated (Mt. 7:12) makes sense to a person walking by sight only if there are some tangible benefits to be gained. If we can “see” no benefits, such a course of action would not be followed by a person walking merely by sight.
Walking by faith may at times be lonely, and contrary to the majority. “For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it,” (Mt. 7:14). A person walking by faith, by definition cannot be guided by polls or popular opinion. He will often find himself in the minority. God does not look at things the way humans often do. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Is. 55:8-9). Thus, the commitment to “walk by faith” involves summoning the courage to go against the crowd, in favor of humbly following God’s lead.
Walking by faith is the only sure method for getting to our heavenly home. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father but by me,” (Jn. 14:6). So if heaven is our goal, we must learn to “Trust in Jehovah with all [our] heart, And lean not upon [our] own understanding: In all [our] ways acknowledge him, And he will direct [our] paths,” (Prov. 3:5-6). We must have the faith and humility to make him the pilot, and then be willing to sit back and let him lead us gently home.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.