For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).
We all had plans for 2020, but this year has thrown us curveball after curveball. In the middle of such uncertainty, it is human for us to become frantic, especially when our health, our jobs, and our communities are jeopardized.
The frantic life means a person has been tuned-in to what’s going on in our society—pandemic, riots, divisiveness—or perhaps just what’s going on in his or her own life—loss of routine, loss of a job, or worse, loss of a family member. If you’re not frantic, you’re likely not aware of all the chaos.
Here’s the good news: when we live the frantic life, the faithful life is close by. The faithful life is like the frantic life, in that it says, “I’m not in control” and “I don’t have the power to change this.” But unlike the frantic life, the faithful life also says, “God is, and God does, and he is sovereign.” You see, the faithful life means a Christian is focused on what the Bible says especially when he or she is tuned-in to the chaos of the world.
Don’t waste your frantic life—turn it into a faithful life. Here are four biblical ways to do so:
1. Follow the commandments of God, especially when it sets you apart.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:1–3).
In our world, being righteous is not in style. Being divisive and mean-spirited when facing others, and being dismissive and proud when facing God—that’s the way of the world. Observing this lawlessness in others makes us frantic first because we are offended by it. But when we live without daily contemplating God’s commands, we swim with the current—and our own sin leads us away from God and into more frantic living.
This is why it is so important to know and to follow God’s commandments, precisely because it sets us apart as Christians.
Now, you might expect that phrase to imply you’ll get some attention. In our culture, standing out usually means getting more followers, likes, etc. But perhaps following God’s commandments sets us apart precisely because it takes us away from the spotlight. What if God’s commandments were shaping us so “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:2)? Now that would really involve being set apart from the world!
2. Believe God’s promises, especially when the world is evil.
[God] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:5–6).
The world Abram lived in was evil, plain and simple. His life was constantly in danger, his household was often on the move, and his wife was barren. Mankind no longer lived in Eden, that’s for sure! But when God made a promise to Abram, Abram listened and believed. he knew God’s goodness would always outweigh the world’s evil.
His faith was counted “to him as righteousness.” Why? Not because he was naïve, pretending nothing was wrong with the world. His faith was commendable in light of his awareness of the evil world.
A promise said to Abram also contains truth for us: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2, italics added).
God promises to bless us so that we will bless the world. In other words, God blesses the world through his people. So, if you’re frantic about the evil world, Christian, believe that God is using you to do something about it!
3. Trust in Jesus, especially when you feel overcome by the world.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4–5).
Get this: John says here that if you have faith, you have overcome the world. Talk about getting rid of a frantic life!
But how can this be? What is it about faith that John can say that it “is the victory that has overcome the world”? Remember Jesus’ words: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So, it is through faith that we are united to Christ—his victory becomes ours!
This is such a needed truth. When you feel like the world has crushed you, Jesus’ victory is yours. When you’ve been enticed by the evil of the world, Jesus’ victory is yours. When your godliness leads others to overlook you, Jesus’ victory is yours. Praise God!
4. Keep in step with the Holy Spirit, especially when the world is a wasteland.
[The blessed man] is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither (Ps. 1:3).
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22–23).
The Bible tells us that we, as Christians, bear fruit. In Psalm 1, the “blessed” man is “like a tree” that yields fruit and never withers because it is connected with water, its life source. Christians have a constant source of power, because we are rooted in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. And in Galatians, Paul explains the kind of fruit we bear.
When we are frantic about the poor state of the world, the way to respond is by faith. Faith knows that following God’s commandments defines His people. Faith knows God promises to bless the world through his people in Christ. And faith knows that Jesus has overcome the world already and his victory is ours.
So, living by faith means walking boldly in this plan to bless the world, especially when the world seems like it will never get better. For it is all the more important to offer the fruit of the Spirit to a wearied world craving love, joy, peace, and the rest that Jesus offers (Matt. 11:28).
Isn’t it amazing? In God’s marvelous plan to bring us into a greater Eden, he has let us be Edenic trees to the fallen world, proclaiming the gospel and bearing fruit that glorifies God and entices others to turn to him.