What do the words gram, liter, square foot, parsec, minute and pound have in common? They’re all units of measurement. They all are used to set a length or weight or distance or some other quantity with assigned values so that we can have a common point of relation when we want to discuss the amount of some solid, liquid, gas, time or anything else. There is really nothing we can’t assign values like these to; even the largest or smallest known things in our universe can be measured in some way.
But how do you measure something intangible? How do you quantify the amount of that which is not a physical entity? How, for example, do you measure something like faith?
It’s not just an intellectual question; the reason it’s not is because of how important faith is. Without faith, one cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). And what are the works God requires? At the center of all of what we might attempt to do for God and His glory, the Lord is looking for the act of faith – belief in the One He has sent (Jn. 6:29). This is a sobering thought – that the center piece of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is our faith. Surely, then, we would want to do the same thing we do with everything else in the world, which is to know how much we have of that which is so essential.
But here you see the problem. How do you measure faith?
Well, one option would be to look at results. Jesus was the One who said that even with a small amount of faith, faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell a mountain to get up and move and it would (Lk. 17:6). In our minds, this looks like a focus on results. That the one with faith will be able to believe that a certain thing should be, and it will be. That’s how we know how big our faith is – it’s based on whether or not that which we can conceive actually becomes reality. But I want to propose a different measure of faith, one not based on results but instead based on something bigger and better than those results.
And you can describe this kind of boldness of faith in five words:
“Even. If. He. Does. Not.”
Remember this phrase? Three exiled Hebrews said them a long time ago. They spoke them to an angry potentate in the more dire of circumstances. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood before the gigantic golden statue the king of the foreign land had erected in his own honor. The law had been passed; every citizen of the kingdom was required to bow low and pay homage to this statue, and the king the statue represented. This was too far for these Israelites.
Sure, they had lost their home. Yep, they had been stripped of their families and national identity. Absolutely, they were living in the midst of a foreign culture. But they would not bow, and they were ready to face the consequences. In this case, those consequences meant sudden and certain death. In light of the serious threat before them, the king was curious about their resolve, so they were questioned:
“Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will be immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” (Dan. 3:15).
Can you hear the arrogance in the question? Can you see the sneer of the one who seems to hold all the cards? These three men could. And that’s what makes their response all the more remarkable:
“Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king” (Dan. 3:16-17).
This is boldness, is it not? Standing firmly in the face of an adversary, declaring the power of the unseen over that which is seen? And if we stopped right there, we might have our measuring tool. We might conclude that the measure of faith is not only results, it’s confidence that those results are actually going to happen. But the story goes on:
“But even if He does not rescue us…”
What’s that? Is it a chink in the armor? Is it a thread of doubt in this God and His power? On the contrary, this is the true measure of the boldness of faith. Faith is not measured by results; it’s measured by confidence in the God behind the results.
Even. If. He. Does. Not.
This is faith. This is looking a ruler, a situation, a circumstance directly in the eye and humbly admitting that we do not know the best outcome, but we know the One who does. And because we do, we trust the ultimate outcome to Him. Christian, don’t stop short in your faith today. Don’t assume you know the right answer. Don’t let your confidence drift into arrogance. Instead, refocus your faith not on the results but on the One behind them. And then even if He does not, we stand even still.