GRACE FOR THE DAY: Ultimate proof of faith

May 4—Meatloaf once sang, "I'll do anything for love, but I won't do that." In the mental health world, we call them boundaries.

Boundaries establish limits to how much is allowed from others and how much others can expect from us. "You can go this far but no farther." "I will go this far but no farther."

Boundaries, and their consistent monitoring, are essential to positive mental health. Boundaries are inclusive and they are also exclusive. We often violate or allow others to violate our boundaries at a high emotional cost.

Others will test our boundaries to see how strong they are, or how malleable we are. Some will push our boundaries as a test of love. "Will you violate your own boundaries on my behalf, as a demonstration of your love for me?"

The violation of boundaries essentially establishes new boundaries, that are defined by others. The request to violate one's boundaries for another demonstrates a lack of respect for those boundaries.

If I love you, I will not ask you to violate your personal boundaries on my behalf. Manipulators are masters of destroying boundaries. It is part of gaining control. If we could totally trust others, boundaries would not be necessary, because love (agape) does what is best for the other person and is never self-motivated.

God tests our boundaries. He does so to strengthen our faith. Since God is agape (love) he would never ask us to violate our boundaries in any way that would harm us.

He will, however, ask us to go beyond our comfort zones to demonstrate our trust in him. The ultimate proof of faith is when God asks people to do what they would not do otherwise.

The ultimate test of your faith is when God asks you to do the most difficult thing for you to do. The asking comes in the form of a situation in which your faith boundaries are stretched to breaking when you obey what he teaches and promises, even though your heart and mind cry out for reprieve. Abraham is usually the poster child for faith because of God's request that he kill his own son.

He did not merely ask him to kill Isaac, he directed him to sacrifice him to God. God was not going to take his child from him, which would be acceptable even though a huge test.

We all entrust our loved ones to God when they die. We believe him to be the perfect father, and trustworthy with our offspring. Rather, God was going to have him lay waste to his son simply because God asked him to do so.

Abraham would experience tremendous loss and God would gain nothing except an expression, a gesture. Abraham was not only willing to do so but was actually going through the motions until God stopped him.

The true test of your faith comes when your allegiance to God puts you in the position of having to do whatever is most difficult for you. Killing your son qualifies, so does losing everything that you have, including your family, as happened to Job.

What would be your greatest challenge? Now let's compare that to things that God asks us to do which in no way rises to the level of those examples, but which seem to sometime push us to our limits.

God has commanded all Christians to not forsake the assemblies of the church (Heb. 10:25), but it seems to be too much for many. God has instructed us to give sacrificially every week (1 Cor. 16), but the contribution in most churches represents a poverty-level average among its members. God has directed us to maintain sexual purity, but the rates of immorality among followers of God closely resembles that of non-believers.

It must ring hollow to God that so many who profess him sing love songs to Jesus on Sundays, but what he really hears is "I'll do anything for love, but I won't do that!"

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