“Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, do not seek to understand so that you may believe, but believe so that you may understand.”
~Augustine of Hippo (354–430)
God requires something of us in this life, and without giving him this thing we will continue to become confounded. This thing required of us is faith. Life works very well with faith, but it works hopelessly without it.
Proof of this is the virtue we enjoy for simply presenting ourselves to a life that promises us nothing but unpredictability. Yet, we come into life with some chance for mastering it. We are taught by our parents, in our schools, and then in our workplaces. But how often are we taught the wrong things—to nurture understanding without faith—to expect understanding without faith—and possibly worse than all, to believe we understand, yet have no faith in those transactions.
We are to be warned.
We can be certain that where we don’t present in faith we then have no capacity to truly understand. With little humility there is little ability to learn. With faith, though, is the openness of the beginner’s mind. With humility and openness there is no coercion of circumstances to create a self-fulfilling and self-understandable understanding. True understanding is achievable.
First Comes Faith
We can understand nothing truly or fully if we don’t first have faith. Faith, sincerely, needs to come first, before any sense can be made of knowledge. Only a truly open vessel can accept any significant import of material.
If we are too full our own stuff, we have no need of fresh understanding, which also means we have no need of faith. Without having the need to understand—because we are fooled by a level of self-satisfaction regarding our understanding—we die a slow spiritual death; worst of all, we die blind.
This is a common threat for all of us: we either seek to understand yet fail for faith, or we prefer our own understanding of things and, therefore, do not need faith.
Before we can understand anything, truly or fully, we must first have faith.
Second Comes Understanding
When we have come before our situations in life in a spirit of humility, and are ready to learn, both quintessential qualities of faith, understanding flows to us like cause and effect.
Faith opens the way to understanding.
When we present our offerings of surrender to God via faith God makes available to us every portion of understanding that can be understood by a human mind. This involves a risk. Faith, therefore, is a test that determines us as serious in our quest for understanding.
Faith will give us many things in this life, and, most of all, understanding. When we are open before God, he is able to open our minds for us. Only a receptive mind can receive understanding.
When we show we are willing by actually jumping over the chasm of doubt, before the answers arrive, we will be granted true understanding.
To dream of faith serves no real end, but to act in faith; that’s what brings the blessings of true understanding.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.