…remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…
There is a spectrum when it comes to faith. Both steadfast and voluntary faith are necessary and beneficial for spiritual health and maturity.
On one hand, life brings it’s own circumstances that require faith. Some of these are ordinary and daily challenges, and some are extraordinary temptations, trials, or persecutions. Steadfast faith is required here. Like a muscle, faith must be excercises to be strengthened. Muscles are torn and then heal back stronger and with more endurance. In this world we experience daily trials, even ordinary things that hardly seem to be trials at all. When you rise in the morning you complete one half of a sit-up, and when you lie down at night you finish it. One sit-up a day is a bare minimum.
There are times to walk, run, lift, reach, and stretch. All of these ordinary acts represent steadfast faith in the spiritual walk. Sometimes circumstances bring about such difficulty, that one might be pushed to the brink of despair, discouragement, or discomfort. These are more uncommon but are also extremely valuable to cultivate a steadfast kind of faith. God is good in that He allows trials in our lives to build and cultivate a faith that will stand. This is God’s desire in all circumstances we face; to learn steadfast faith.
So while some of our faith steps come as a result of living in a broken world, other steps of faith come because we decide, act, or intentionally step out. This is like when someone chooses to enter a fitness regime or run a race. These kinds of activities are beneficial for physical growth. God gives us a great deal of freedom in regards to voluntary steps of spiritual growth.
Sometimes we over analyze decisions of this nature. If it is clearly God’s revealed will (ie. to be a witness of the good news, to speak kindly about another, to pray earnestly for a brother, etc…), the main ingredient required is trust; trust that God is able to guide, provide, and empower you.
Where there is fear, His love will cast it aside. Where there is lack, He will be enough. If you are misled and in need of correction, He is there each step of the way to lead. He will never leave you or forsake you. His very Spirit is living within all who trust Him.
So trust the Lord Jesus with your everyday, extraordinary, and voluntary steps of faith. He wants to stretch your faith even this day, so seek Him afresh to find just how trustworthy He is.