Augustine of Hippo was a fourth and fifth century Christian theologian and philosopher. Viewed as one of the most important “fathers” of the early church, it was said of him that “he established anew the ancient faith.”
Augustine was well-known for his deep thinking. He once wrote: “Faith is to believe what you do not see. The reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” He may well have derived that thought from chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews. It’s a perfect summary of what that chapter teaches.
The truth, however, is that we may not see what we believe right away. And it’s important to know that sometimes we might not ever see the fulfillment of what we believe in this life at all.
This seems ridiculous to many. As humans, we like the tangible and the empirical. We want to see the evidence. And most of the time, if you want us to be truly convinced, we don’t want to just see it, but hear it, taste it, touch it, and if possible, smell it too.
Augustine thought like Moses. And that means he thought differently from the run of the mill person. When the book’s author describes Moses, he points out that he took great risks despite the fact that he could not physically see God. He could only see him through the eyes of faith.
Nevertheless, Moses gave up all the riches and power of being “the prince of Egypt.” He accepted being disrespected and mistreated. He chose the hard path with the people of God, rather than the easy path with their oppressive masters, the Egyptians. Even if it meant disgrace, it was disgrace for the sake of Christ, and he could handle that because he was looking forward to the reward that Christ would win for him.
Moses had the ability to look ahead and anticipate the good things that would come. He relied on God’s words and promises, not his own thoughts and experiences. He kept his eye focused firmly on the promised Messiah, and the forgiveness and eternal life he would bring.
Faith is like a set of binoculars. When you have faith in your heart you see things in a way that you haven’t seen them before.
How about us? Are we ready to trade the tangible for the intangible? Are we prepared to exchange the physical for the spiritual, the seen for the unseen? Are we open to seeing the future through the eyes of faith, and through the prism of God’s words and promises? Are we willing to take up the binoculars of faith so that we can see things we wouldn’t see otherwise?
If we are receptive, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, to trusting God and accepting trouble because of our faith, then we will persevere as Moses did. And like Augustine says, we will see what we believe.
We can’t physically see it now. But we’re good with that, because what we do see is God’s promises. And believing God’s promises is seeing our future and our reward very clearly.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27, NIV).
Lord Jesus, give me the same eyes of faith that you gave Moses. I want to believe so that I can see.
Our Bible reading for Friday, November 13, is Ezekiel 24:1 – 25:17, Hebrews 11:17-40 and Psalm 124:1-8.
Header image based on "Binoculars Portrait" by gerlos, CC By-SA 2.0