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Pointers along the way #209

Risk taking and faith
- Jacob Ninan

There are people who are willing to take risks, whether it is in their business or other aspects of life. But there are others who are 'cautious' and think more than twice before taking any action. The risk-takers are usually the ones who achieve great things, because the others are many times too scared to make a decision. Of course risk-takers make many mistakes because their hunches do not always work out. That is also one reason why risk-averse persons who watch them are hesitant to take risks.

Does this have any effect on Christians walking by faith? Is it possible that some of those who propose fantastic sounding projects 'by faith' are risk-takers by nature? Perhaps some of the others who question these proposals are risk-averse by nature?

The essential issue is about what faith is. Is faith something given to us from God, or is it something that we can initiate from our side? It is clear that faith comes from hearing God (Ro.10:17). Therefore the process of receiving something by faith from God is like this: God reveals to us what He is planning to do; we respond in faith believing that what He has said will happen (He.11:1). For this process to take place we must have another basic form of faith, which is a sincere trust and confidence in God (He.11:6).

When a person receives faith like this he is really not taking any risk even though it may seem so, because God is trustworthy and He cannot lie (Nu.23:19). But what if we have not really heard from God and we are trying to muster up faith by ourselves in order to get something from God? We may imagine we have heard from God, or think that if God has done something for someone else He will do it for us too. If we are mistaken in thinking that God has spoken to us, then of course we shall not receive what we are asking for. Even if God has done something for someone else, it does not mean that He will do it for us too, unless it is something He has promised for all of us.

When we have received faith from God we don't have to worry about the negative things the others tell us about. But if we have not heard from God and we are about to go ahead with our own schemes it will be very good for us to listen to the suggestions from others, especially those who appear to be negative. If we are natural risk-takers with a tendency to jump into things on impulse without much thinking we have all the more need to pay attention to what the others are saying.

Is it not possible for us to imagine we have faith when we don't? Can't we make a mistake about hearing God? It may be humbling for us to admit that we can make mistakes, but it is a fact nonetheless. Why don't we have a check on ourselves by being open to correction and advice (Pr.15:22). Hasn't God provided others who see things from a different point of view so as to balance those of us who want to forge ahead without delay? Shouldn't the risk-averse ones learn to listen to God and expect greater things from Him?