“The Just Shall Live by Faith”

We’re not supposed to know everything.

Not knowing is uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that we work hard to avoid acknowledging it. We look for evidence that our opinions are right. We ignore evidence that they are not. We place ourselves in familiar environments, where we have some expertise. We avoid unfamiliar environments, where other people know more than we do. We read posts and articles which confirm our beliefs. We say (or at least think), “I told you so,” when circumstances favor our positions.

All of these are strategies for coping with our vast non-knowledge. The reality is that, no matter how educated we may be, what we know is dwarfed by what we don’t know. And it was supposed to be that way. That’s how this life was designed.

Alma warned the Zoramites against conditioning their belief on evidence. “If a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it” (Alma 32:18). There is something ennobling about choosing to believe, and we only have that choice to the degree that we lack knowledge.

“I will stand upon my watch,” wrote Habbakuk. “I will watch to see what [God] will say unto me.” He warned us not to give up on unfulfilled promises from God: “Though it tarry, wait for it,” he said, “because it will surely come” (Habakkuk 2:1, 3). Then, he taught the core principle behind these actions:

The just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

This is an important principle, so important that the apostle Paul quoted it in three of his epistles. (See Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38.) In another epistle, he wrote, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Knowing before doing, seeing before believing is more comfortable, and it is also stultifying. Growth comes from extending yourself beyond your direct knowledge and learning to trust reliable sources of knowledge.

This is why Alma invited the Zoramites, “Give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart” (Alma 32:28). He invited them to nourish it and to give it some time to grow. Like Habakkuk, he urged them not to give up halfway through the process. “If ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life” (Alma 32:41).

Today, I will be grateful for the things I don’t know. I will remember that not knowing gives me an opportunity to believe. I will wait patiently for the promises of the Lord to be fulfilled, knowing that the very process of exercising faith in Him is vital for spiritual growth.

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