Chapter VI

Appropriating Faith

You may have faith but do you have appropriating faith?

One of our leading evangelists one evening, in desperation, trying to explain the principle of faith, offered an Ingersoll watch he held in his hand to the largest of a group of boys sitting on the front seat of the church.

“Sonny, would you like to have this watch?” said the evangelist, holding it out to him. “Aw, go ‘long,” answered the little fellow. “You can’t fool me.” Looking at the next lad, the evangelist repeated the question. Quickly there came the answer, “Whatcha think I am?” This ain’t any April Fool.”

Again the question was repeated, and again and again down the line came similar jocular answers. At last the evangelist offered the watch to a little fellow about five years old, who was sitting on the edge of his seat, with bright, eager eyes, focused intently on the face of the speaker. His little feet did not touch the floor, but he was balanced on the edge of the seat just ready to leap, and the evangelist did not even have the opportunity of finishing his sentence, which he began on this wise: “Little man, would you like...” That was enough, for the chubby hand quickly grabbed the watch. Grabbed is the only word to describe the intense, eager action of the believing child, who instantly pocketed the gift, and while wiggling back on the seat in a pleased manner, said with a satisfied, grown-up sigh, that it was just what he had been wanting all the time.

After the service, the crowd of boys surrounded the evangelist with protests. “Aw, g’wan, how’d a feller know you really meant it?” and “Say, that’s jus’ the kind of watch I was wanting.”

“Why didn’t you tell us you were in earnest?” and then another, “If you really meant it, why didn’t you put it in my hand, or say it to me again, so’s I’d know.”

Each boy wanted the evangelist to literally put it right in his hand, rather than to reach out and take it for himself, while the tiny tot had real appropriating faith, and reached out to take unto himself that which was proffered. He really put his faith into action.

Many people do not have appropriating faith. Somehow they believe they are saved, and they believe the promises of God in sort of an impersonal, indefinite way. But they do not know how to “appropriate” God’s promises unto themselves. They simply do not know how to “get things from God,” and while always asking, they are never receiving, for the simple reason that they cannot comprehend this principle of faith. It is so simply explained in the very quotation so often repeated here, “When ye pray, believe that ye receive, and ye shall have,” for without this act of appropriation by the soul we can never come into all the glorious privileges of the child of God, or partake fully of our birthright.