Commended for Faith, not an outcome
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Written By: Mindy Larsen
Have you ever stopped to consider that you may never achieve the one thing that you’re working towards? Or that maybe you’ll be stuck trying long after you expected to be reaping the rewards?
I’m a writer whose one big goal is to write a book. I’m taking courses to become a better writer, sending off submissions, sharing posts on my blog and on social media in hopes that someday I will be a published author. One day, I sat behind my computer, pressed my fingertips onto the smooth surface of the square keys, and heard the Lord ask me, “Will you still praise me if your book never gets traditionally published? Will you still be faithful even if you don’t receive the outcome you’re working towards?”
faith hall of fame
There’s a well-known chapter in Hebrews chapter 11 that is often referred to as the “Faith Hall of Fame.” It tells the stories of well-known heroes of the Bible—people like Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Noah—who took courageous steps of faith. For example, Noah was told there was going to be a flood that would drown the world, by faith he made an ark. Abraham was asked to travel to his new home in the Promised Land but he had no idea where he was going; by faith, he trekked through the desert.
After telling these stories about monumental steps of faith, verse 13 says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”
One sentence in this verse struck me – “they did not receive the things promised.”
The finish line
Our culture operates strongly based on a finish line. We train to complete a marathon. We go to graduate school to get the MBA needed to become an executive. The purpose is to get to the end, to finish the goal, to complete the project. Only then, when the finish line has been reached will we have made it. Then we’ll be commended. Then we’ll be praised. Then we’ll be worthy because we reached our goal; with this mentality, it’s all about the outcome.
But what if we, like some of the heroes in Hebrews chapter 11, never get to see the final outcome? What if we never reach what we’re working towards?
Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” It is so easy to get caught up in the belief that success is based on what we yield. But what the Faith Hall of Fame advocates is, we will be commended for our FAITH in the journey – not for an outcome.
Commended for faith
Noah saved mankind and all the animals of the earth, but believe it or not, he was not commended for the end result. He was commended for the faith it took to build the ark. And Moses was not commended for leading the people of God to the Promised Land (friends, he never even got to go in); yet he was commended for the faith it took to leave Egypt.
When it comes down to it, our ultimate goal as followers of Jesus is to be faithful no matter what. If we become so focused on what we produce, on what goals we are accomplishing (or not accomplishing) in our lifetime, we not only rob ourselves the joy of enjoying the process, but we run the risk of losing sight of our purpose; to make Jesus name known.
The key to losing the end-goal mentality, to being satisfied with steps of faith versus an outcome, is found in Hebrews 11:16 that says, “Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.” The reason the ancients didn’t lose faith, even when they didn’t reach their outcome, is because instead of being focused on their end goal, they were focused on THE end goal – eternity in heaven with the Lord.
Instead of obsessing over my goal to become a published author, I’m shifting my perspective to being faithful and obedient to the Lord in each moment, and trusting Him to lead me even if the outcome is not what I expect. And you know what the result has been? Freedom. Satisfaction. Joy.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus releases us from the power-hungry obsession to be successful and enables us to enjoy life to the fullest. Will you join me? Together, let’s focus on faithfulness, find satisfaction in the journey, and pray that someday we, like the ancients, might be commended for our faith.
Mindy Larsen is a writer living in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. She loves donuts, the power of Scripture to combat anxiety, and cuddling on the couch with her husband Chris, and their cat, Finn. Mindy writes to encourage others with words that point towards Jesus. You can find her writing in Thryve Magazine, Grit & Virtue, and (in)courage, as well as on her personal blog – www.loveminblog.com She’d love to connect with you there, or over on Instagram www.instagram.com/mindykaysl