I hear a lot of people say they wish they had more faith. They say they need more faith. Well, yes, that’s true. Don’t we all need more faith? Wouldn’t it be nice to get over the struggles to believe the gospel daily? So how do we get there? When we say we need more faith, where do we think we’ll get the faith? Surely we can’t think we can do it ourselves! Paul helps us in Romans 4 when referring to Abraham’s righteousness before God because of his faith. In verse 20 he says, “He grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”
Abraham’s life was marked by faith. We know this because scripture tells us so. He left his home and family to go to a place God would show him later on (Genesis 12). He refused the riches of the world offered by the king of Sodom because the Lord was his great gift, not earthly treasures (Genesis 14:22-24). He nearly sacrificed his only true son because God asked him to (Genesis 22) and had the thought the whole time that even if he did slay Isaac, God had the power to raise him (Hebrews 11:19). Clearly Abraham lived by faith. But how did this faith get there? Paul says it grew as he gave glory to God. So, what does it mean to give glory to God?
One of my favorite examples of Abraham giving glory to God is in Genesis 14. He has just gone all Jack Bauer on his enemies and rescued his nephew, Lot, from the hands of the foreign kings. He’s returning in triumph to his land and is met by Melchizedek and the king of Sodom: one offering a blessing from God, the other offering a comparably puny amount of temporary goods.
So, here is Abraham, a mighty warrior who has just pulled off a great rescue. He’s returning weary from battle and is met with a blessing and a subsequent temptation. Melchizedek says to him “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” Melchizedek then accepts a tithe from Abraham (Genesis 14:20). Then the king of Sodom offers to repay Abraham his tithe and then some, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” (14:21) But Abraham’s response shows him glorifying God, not himself, nor any other man. Therefore, his faith grows. He says, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eschol, and Mamre take their share.” Abraham goes into battle with many men, much strength, and more possessions. He leaves having lost a few, weary, and having given a tenth to Melchizedek. He is in many ways weaker now than before. But he recognizes that the king of Sodom has but temporary gifts to offer him. God is the possessor of heaven and earth! What are the good of foreign kings compared to that! So, Abraham glorifies God.
In the face of temptation, in the midst of a life based on promise that is yet unfulfilled, Abraham looks to God. He glorifies God in his victory. He glorifies God in temptation. He glorifies God to the kingdoms around him. And by his glorifying of God, his faith is strengthened. What if Abraham didn’t glorify God on this account? What if he had taken to possessions from the king of Sodom? What if he held back his tithe? What if he refused the blessing? What if he didn’t praise God with his lips in that moment? Would he have had the faith to lay his son on the alter? Would he have had the faith to know that even in death there could still somehow be life? Would he have had the faith to endure to the end?
Abraham’s faith grew strong as he glorified God. When we glorify God we see him as he truly is. We see ourselves as we truly are. In glorifying the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth we are saying to ourselves, to the world, and to God, “I have nothing but honor to give to you, Lord. I trust in you. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, the eyes of my heart can see the horizon and there is a great King on the throne. I will wait for him.”
You want more faith? Glorify God. Our faith grows strong through it. God is faithful. He will strengthen us and we will enjoy him.