Present day stress levels, packed agendas and everyday distractions can make it hard to focus on anything, especially your faith. However, refining your faith is a critical step to enduring this life full of highs and lows. It’s also the best way to ensure that you stay on God’s path for your life and accomplish the purpose he has for you. Here are 8 biblical principles to refine your faith. These principles are applicable and will make a difference in your faith journey!
8 Biblical Principles to Refine Your Faith
- Be the salt and light
- Managing your relationships
- Resist the devil’s schemes
- Protect your family
- Don’t be a hypocrite
- Love your enemies
8 Biblical Principles to Refine Your Faith
As a Christian, our relationship with God is what helps us bridge the gap between the struggle that this world guarantees and the peace that the mind and soul so desperately needs. It impacts our mental and emotional well-being, which, in turn, impacts anyone we come in contact with: our family, friends, co-workers, associates, etc. Our faith is essential, but faith is challenging! It’s a skill that needs to grow with us throughout our lives.
When it comes to refining your faith, Matthew 5 is a great place to start. This is more commonly known for the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus lists out the Beatitudes. We’re going to start further down in the chapter. Starting with verse 13, we come to the first of the eight principles that can help you refine your faith.
Be the Salt and Light
If you’ve been a Christian for long, you’ve likely come across this passage (13 – 16). This is split into two parts. The first talks about being the salt of the earth and the second is acting as a light to the world. When we apply this verse as a way to refine our faith, it comes as a challenge to our behavior.
An excerpt from Christianity Today, explains it like this,
“Recognize that for many years salt was used as an instrument to reduce the corruption of meat and other foods so that they could be edible for a longer period. Christians who obey God and do his will serve as a preservative of the human race and the earth by slowing down the moral and spiritual decay of the world around them.”
You don’t have to look far, probably not any further than on your social media apps to see examples of the “moral and spiritual decay.” Here’s the challenge – in what areas of your life are you contributing to this decay and what can you do to change it? Is it gossip, lust, jealousy, greed? One of the first ways to start refining your faith is to address your current behavior. As a born-again Christian, we are called to shed off the “old” us. What behaviors do you need to let go of?
The next section of Matthew goes into the fulfillment of the law and how we are to apply God’s word to our life. The scripture reads,
“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
What this verse helps point out is the seriousness of our Christian journey. Faith in God is not a casual activity. Nor does it come with hours of operation. We are to apply God’s word in our lives without ‘lax”. Faith is strengthened when you stop compromising. That’s when you close your mouth instead of sharing the latest gossip. Or when you put down the bad habit even though “it’s the weekend”. Where have you been compromising in your life?
Manage Your Relationships
Matthew 5:21 – 26 focuses on conflict. It compares anger and argument to murder. This same theme appears in a number of other scriptures that refer to the power of the tongue and how it can bring life or death. It likely doesn’t take much effort to think back to a recent time when anger and/or arguments hurt or ended a relationship.
Conflict is an easy weapon the devil uses against God’s people. When relationships are strained and destroyed, individuals are left more vulnerable. The same technique is used when the lion picks off its prey from the herd.
The opposite of anger and argument is pleasure and agreement. Even in challenging situations, how can you bring in positivity and partnership to avoid a disagreement from spinning into a blow up? In order to refine our faith, we need to be accountable to how we manage our relationships with others.
Resist the Devil’s Schemes
Satan is at work, day and night, attempting to weaken our faith. For he knows that without faith, we are comfortable and willing to engage in sinful activities. Sin leads to death. Death is Satan’s goal in your life. In order to refine your faith, you need to recognize when Satan is attacking you so that you can resist the devil and not give him a foothold in your life.
To resist the devil, refuse to take the bait. Refuse to act out of anger or let stress compromise your peace. Refuse the temptation of that relationship that you know is toxic. What are you needing to resist right now?
Protect Your Family
In the middle of Matthew 5, there is an entire section dedicated to divorce, with the instruction to avoid, if possible. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Statistics, over and over, show that an intact family provides a better environment: mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, etc. Jesus urges those in marriages to stay committed, as a positive home environment can be a spring board for our faith journey. In addition, the marriage work needed to create this positive environment is a faith journey in itself. In order to refine your faith, use your marriage as a ministry to your spouse, your children, friends and family, and yourself.
Don’t Be a Hypocrite
Next, Jesus address the people at that time and their habit of saying extravagant oaths, used to impress others. When, in reality, what they said versus what they did made them hypocrites. Jesus uses this section to address hypocrisy. In order to refine your faith, work towards removing the hypocrisy in your life. Don’t make promises, when it’s possible that you won’t be able to deliver. Don’t try to impress others. Instead, stay focused on your faith and let your faith deliver a strong example. Stay transparent and honest.
In a world of reality television, commercials highlight the “last word” moments. Rage, retaliation and revenge are rotated on the highlight reel of a show, enticing viewers with the latest drama. Jesus calls us to do the opposite. He gives a few different examples of ways that people can hurt you and what to do about it. None of them involve revenge or retaliation.
This doesn’t have anything to do with the other person, but has everything to do with you being unshakable. Your faith, peace and confidence in God. When these things are intact, you don’t feel the need for retaliation. To refine your faith, step back and let God’s will unfold. Psalms 44:7 says, “but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.”
Love Your Enemies
Though you may never feel like you could love your enemy, something that might feel easier is to understand your enemy. This is in no way justifying their actions, but removes the “personal” element – that being you. When people hurt, they can hurt others – intentionally or not. Some hurt others to cover up their wounds or to spread hurt. Others don’t understand the pain they have caused because pain was so normalized in their life. An example of this is generational addictions and abuse. The man abuses his wife because that’s what he saw growing up. The woman allows her daughters to be abused because she grew up thinking that was normal. The cycles continue.
Again, understanding those who hurt you doesn’t excuse their actions. Instead, it points you to the true enemy, Satan, and the areas of life that he has claimed in others. This is why praying for your enemies is important. Praying against the grip that Satan has on people can save lives. Praying that saints surround that person and show them God’s way can change future generations. Loving your enemies isn’t loving their current state. It’s loving the soul that God created and desires. To refine your faith, you need to love your enemy.
In the bible, refining your faith is compared to gold being purified by fire. That can be how intense refining your faith feels. As you submit yourself to God’s will, you will feel vulnerable. At times, you can feel intense pressure. At other times, you feel the heat of the flames. Refining your faith will also give you peace like a river, joy that’s unending and a confidence in God that is unshakable.