HOW MUCH FAITH DO YOU NEED?
"The apostles came up and said to the Master, 'Give us more faith.' But the Master said, 'You don't need more faith. There is no 'more' or 'less' in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, 'Go jump in the lake,' and it would do it.'" Luke 17:5,6 (The Message).
Faith 'fitness', like physical fitness, only comes with exercise. Some of us who are not fitness freaks, would love to be physically fit without the effort! It seems that the disciples wanted to be faith-full without the practice that it takes to increase faith.
But what is faith? Can we have faith in different measures? According to Jesus, yes. He classified faith by words like no faith, little faith and great faith but, at the same time, even the tiniest bit of faith produced results.
Faith is the confidence in the trustworthiness of another. People can have faith in each other to do what they said they would do or to be what they said they would be. The value of faith lies in the faithfulness of the one who promised.Likewise, the value of our faith in God lies is His willingness and ability to fulfil His promises. Faith is also the energy that is released when we put our confidence in the God who promised.
It is understandable, then, that it is not so much the measure of faith we have but the reliability of the one who promised, that is at stake. Faith no greater than a 'mustard' seed, the size of a grain of pepper shaken from a pepper pot, will get a response from God because He will never let Himself down. His reputation of faithfulness is at stake in the mix, therefore He cannot deny Himself.
Confidence in the faithfulness of God grows, not by God's miraculously adding to it but by our personal experience of Him. This is true of the trust that grows between people. It is not something that automatically happens when two people meet and become friends, for example. As they spend time together and interact with each other, they learn to know one another and to trust one another. That trust is either betrayed or vindicated by their behaviour.
In the same way, the strength of our trust in God grows as we test and prove the trustworthiness of His promises until we are so confident of His faithfulness to His word that we would never doubt Him for a moment.
But there is another aspect to this 'faith' thing that we tend to forget. God is faithful to His own nature as well as to His promises. We have a tendency to want to hold Him to what we want Him to do rather than what He said He would do in the context of His nature and His will. He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness but He is also wise and all-knowing. He sees the end from the beginning and knows where every situation is going.
We tend to use faith as a way of trying to get what we want by holding God to His word, often out of context. The devil tried this one on Jesus, only to be soundly rebuked. He tried to get Jesus to manipulate God by suggesting He jump off the parapet of the temple so God would send His angels to catch Him! That was not faith; it was foolishness.
We need to move from trusting God for things as though faith were some magic way of getting our wants fulfilled, to trusting God, period, when it's too dark to see the way ahead. It's saying, 'Not my will but yours be done,' when all of me is screaming to get out of where I am. It's nestling in the arms of the Father in the midst of the storm knowing that I can trust Him because He is there, He is good and He is in charge.
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