I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him . . . “ Ezra 8:22
I still struggle with the difference between knowledge and faith. I knew drugs were bad for me, but I did not live according to that knowledge. Similarly, I know donuts are bad and that broccoli is good for me. This knowledge does me no good though, unless I live according to it. Knowledge and faith are not the same.
I do this with God. I believe He exists, but do I have faith in Him? Even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). When I simply know that God is, but I refuse to follow Him, then I have an artificial faith, which is really no faith at all. It is simply an intellectual acceptance of a thing.
The priest Ezra knew the difference between knowledge and faith. Today’s passage tells of Ezra leading the Judean exiles from Babylon back to Jerusalem. In the story, Ezra explained that he could not ask the king for protection on the journey home, as he had already told the king that God would protect them. His faith claim was put to the test as he was required to make a decision of whether he would live out his belief in God or not.
Do we have knowledge or faith? Do we keep our eyes on God and live accordingly? Or, do we live for our own desires, while claiming a knowledge of God? When we say we believe, but our lives look no different than if we did not believe, then we have an artificial faith, which is simply a useless knowledge of God.
If we want faith and if we want to truly know God, then we must keep our eyes on Him and we must make our feet follow. Like Ezra, we must realize that our actions determine the authenticity of our belief.