Stupid? Foolish? St. Paul could be pretty tough when he felt the situation warranted it. From what he had heard, Paul sensed that the Galatians weren’t using their gift of reason in the right way. He expected them to know what it meant to live by faith and to understand how the Holy Spirit wanted to empower them. As far as he was concerned, they should have known enough about the Lord by then to be living in the freedom of the gospel. So we have to ask ourselves what it is that St. Paul considered essential to know about faith. What should we know that will bring us into greater freedom?
First of all, faith is open. It can hold to the possibility of God working in and around us. Next, faith welcomes this activity of God; it doesn’t keep God at arm’s length. Faith is also trusting, in that it believes what has been received through prayer or Scripture.
Faith is also intelligent: it observes the work of the Spirit and draws rational conclusions from it. Faith is persistent, as well. Having begun with the Holy Spirit, it strives to stay with the Spirit. Most of all, faith is free, unhampered by doubt, unfettered by superstition, undeceived by worldly philosophies. This is the kind of faith that grasps the truth, accepts it, and opens the way for God to work mightily in a person’s heart.
So having faith is no problem, right? Or is it? If the qualities we listed above seem to highlight where your faith is weak, remember this foundational truth: if faith were all your own work, the demands of living by faith would be overwhelming. Who could ever muster all these attitudes and positions? But it’s not up to you alone. Before anything else, faith is God’s gift. It comes to us as an almost natural response to God’s revelation in our hearts. It arises spontaneously as we experience the Spirit’s touch in our lives. All we have to do is nurture it through prayer and give it room to grow through obedience. If we do, we’ll find the Holy Spirit alive in us in ever increasing measure.
“Father, you know where my faith is weak; come and strengthen me today! Pour out more of your Spirit, so that I can live a life supported by faith, growing in faith, and encouraging others in faith.”