For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Hebrews 4:2NKJV) If your faith is to turn a profit, you must invest it and mix it with the Word of God.
As you invest (or spend) it, you find gold inside yourself. For your gold to surface, your faith must go through a wilderness experience of inner struggle and refinement.
Faith brings its own return on investment (ROI). The word “profit” as a noun means “financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent buying, operating or producing something.”
Profit is what remains after all transactions are over. If you break even, there is no profit; if you spend more than you take in, you’re in the red and there is no profit.
Hebrews 4:1 & 3 tells us, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it … for we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said.” So we need to fear being unprofitable, because, if we fail to mix faith with the gospel, we risk missing out on our eternal rest.
There are some things we are commanded to fear and some things we are not to fear. Bishop T.D. Jakes, in a sermon titled “Work Your Faith,” based on the same text, says, “These words on fear may seem like a biblical contradiction but are actually a biblical collaboration of truth.” “There is,” he says, “an inner struggle going on between the ‘human you’ and the ‘holy you.’ As we struggle between them, our thoughts are of ‘where we are’ versus ‘where you ought to be.’”
Satan wants the “human you” to win and God wants the “holy you” to win. Jakes says, “Neither will ever happen, because the ‘human you’ gives substance to the holy you.’”
Increasing our faith draws us into a wilderness experience. Satan is always busy in the wilderness, trying to stop us, distract us, or talk us out of taking the journey. Satan uses our fear of people and/or our fear of failure to paralyze us.
Today, as it was in the time of the Old Testament, the gospel is being preached. But far too many people are not profiting from it and are settling for mediocrity, more afraid of people’s opposition than God’s opposition, failing to turn a profit and to achieve their destiny.
In the “Hall of Fame of Faith” (Hebrews 11), all the saints – Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Rahab – mixed their faith with the Word of God and turned a faith-profit in history.
Every faith action has an equal and opposite faith reaction. According to Luke 8:4-15, when God rains down His Seed (The Word) on our faith ground (our hearts) and we fail to receive it, The Word heard fails to turn a profit. Then our gifts, according to Matthew 25:29-30, are taken from us and given to another.
If you lose a parent, you will grieve but then your faith spends something helping you to survive but you still have something left: other family members standing by you.
Or if you go through a divorce and your faith spends something to help you survive it, you still have something left: friends standing by you.
Or if you lose your job and your faith spends something to help you survive it, you still have something left: other job options to explore.
You go though a serious cancer surgery and you make it through, you’re alive, so you still have something left. You are in an accident and your car is totaled but you live, you still have something left.
You’ve lost your home but you still have a place to stay, you still have something left.
In all these expenditures of faith, you spend something to survive and yet you still have something left. This is when your faith turns a profit.
Yes, the deductions are painful but, as the Hebrews writers said, “Some have nothing left because the Word didn’t profit them.” But when we mix our faith with God’s Word, this is faith that turns a profit.
*The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org