In the Bible and history, we find many heroes of faith. Hebrew chapter 11 has a list of them from the Old Testament, including Gideon and David. In the New Testament, Paul, Peter, and others inspire us to pursue God. When we study history, there are a number of men and women who have set a tremendous example of faith such as Polycarp and Wycliffe.
Over the years, I have heard people compare themselves to people from the Bible or history. David is a common comparison. He fought many battles for the Lord and displayed courageousness in the face of peril. He is even called a man after God’s own heart. Keep in mind David also made serious mistakes. One reason why we connect with heroes of the past is because they fell short as we do.
We can also not forget the heroes of today – people from our own lives that have made an impact on our walk with God. This can include, but are not limited to, a pastor, fellow church member, parent or grandparent, and even a sibling. These individuals are dear to our hearts because we knew them. They ministered to us, prayed for us, cried with us, and fought the battles of life with us. We look up to them.
While we have heroes of the faith – whether from the Bible, history, or the present – we also must have our own personal faith in God. This means that we spend time seeking God for His will in our own lives. When someone asks you a question about your faith or the Bible, does your answer sound like the following: “Because my brother says so”; “My mom or dad told me”; “Because my favorite preacher said it was true”; or “Because someone from history believed the same way”.
When we have answers like this, it makes us sound insincere. Jesus said that whatever comes out of our mouths reveals what is in our hearts (Matthew 10:34). Do you know why you believe a certain way? Are you just imitating someone else or following an organization’s command?
It is still important to honor and respect others who encourage you in the faith. At the same time, we want to have an authentic faith. Paul said, “…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12b, NKJV). Paul was persuaded because He knew God for himself.
When someone asks you why you believe a certain way – be sure to know where in the Bible you can defend that belief. Then you can say “Because God instructs me in the Bible to do such”, and you can demonstrate where that belief is found in the Bible. When you can defend your faith, you display authenticity.
Heroes of the present and past can certainly encourage, inspire, and teach us. But their example is to encourage us in our own genuine faith. Their faith cannot take the place of our own. Take the time to study the Bible and pray; be convinced and persuaded like Paul. Serve in your local church.
In the process of developing an authentic faith, let us remember that the end result is the example of Jesus Christ. No one else can exceed His perfect life.