Written by Dan LaValla
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 00:00
While faith and presumption take into account a level of trust that goes beyond reason and physical evidence, they are distinct. To exercise one’s faith is to trust in God’s word, works, and promises. Jesus commended the centurion (Matt. 8:5-13) for his faith because for the centurion, Jesus’ word that his servant would be healed was enough for him. His trust in Jesus’ word did not require Jesus to physically go to his servant for the healing to be effectual. Throughout the book of Ephesians, Paul emphasizes that our salvation comes through faith by trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection.
Presumption, on the other hand, is when one takes something for granted or proceeds with unwarranted boldness. In Matthew 20:20-22 and Mark 10:36—38 James and John and their mother are presumptuous to think they have the right to ask Jesus for the highest placement in the Kingdom of heaven. Further, in Luke 22:23-27, the apostles were presumptuous to think they could determine who Jesus would regard as the greatest amongst them.
Therefore in life, one needs to be careful not to mistake presumption for faith. This is especially true when interpreting circumstances in one’s own life or the lives of others. In a middle and upper middle class American context, one should be aware of the influences of prosperity and variations of the “health and wealth gospel.” One must avoid the temptation to simply equate success of one’s own or other’s endeavors as a sign of God’s approval. The opposite is also true, one must be careful not to see one’s own trials and tribulations or the trials and tribulations of others as evidence of God’s chastisement or disapproval. As Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 teaches, God creates both times of prosperity and adversity; therefore, no one can discover anything about their own or another’s future.
Dan LaValla is Director of Library Services and Development Associate for Institutional Advancement at Biblical. He is Chair of the Endowment Committee for the American Theological Library Association and is very active in his church and community, coaching youth baseball and football and has served on several community boards. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/daniel-lavalla.