Wait—stop reading. Look up from this post and fasten your eyes on something else and then come back to your reading.

Do you see that in one very important sense, that’s all that God has required of you? The shifting of your eyes from this post to another object doesn’t require great skill, deep understanding, or monumental strength. It simply requires a desire to do so. That’s what faith is: a looking away from yourself to Someone else. While that is a true definition of faith, it needs to be expanded.


To help you understand what true faith is, think again about the Israelites in the wilderness. If they had scoffed at the bronze serpent or just glanced at it in curiosity, it wouldn’t have been an agent of healing for them, would’ve it? It didn’t contain any magical powers in and of itself. In the same way, I’m pretty sure there were people standing about at the foot of the cross, watching the Lord die, who did not automatically inherit eternal life. No, the bronze serpent and the crucified Son are agents of healing only when our gaze gives evidence to the simple belief that good will come to us from God.

Faith, then, is a trusting in the love and mercy of God.

It is hoping for an unseen mercy—it is a conviction that God desires to bless us (Hebrews 11:1).


There is something in the heart of all givers, and in God’s heart in particular, that recoils at the prospect of a precious gift being refused. Just as my mother would be offended if I declined her offer of an inheritance, so God is offended if we refuse to believe that he is merciful and loving enough to give us good gifts, in spite of ourselves.

The writer of Hebrews captures this thought in 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”


In order to find ourselves in the enviable position of “pleasing God,” we must have a faith that believes that the invisible God is really and truly here, and that he’ll reward our seeking of him—that was all that was required of the Israelite children, and that’s all that’s required of us.

We shall have a complete definition of faith if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of God’s favor towards us, based on the truth of a free promise in Christ. . . . We are drawn to seek God when we are told that our safety is treasured up in him, and we are confirmed in this when he declares that he takes a deep interest in our welfare. . . . It would be useless to know that God is true, if he did not lovingly draw us to himself. We could not lay hold of his mercy if he did not offer it.


This post is an adapted excerpt from Elyse’s book, Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life.