Faith to Grow

I trust that many of you have a burden to grow. If you’re like me, you look around and see all the areas of your life in which you could be growing and think, why am I not doing better; I keep feeling like I should be further along by now!

Well, if today is one of those days, come fix your eyes once more on the One that faith is all about.

“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:19-20

The first thing I notice in these verses is the phrase “little faith” (verse 20); it immediately implies the fact that our faith could be so much bigger. Lets stick with the example Jesus gives of a mustard seed and apply the points we discover in these verses to it. 

Jesus says to “have faith like a grain of mustard seed.” A mustard seed has significance because of what it is and what it becomes when it is put into the ground. Size according to the grade of seeds is not the measure of stature here, instead we look at the potential of all that is bound up inside. We all know that a microscopic seed cannot move mountains as it is, but let it have all it needs to grow, and the tree cannot be restrained.

The same is true with our hearts — in the beginning our acts of faith and power we command by it may not be great, but faith is something that must be allowed to grow and birst out of the boundaries of our present knowledge. As we allow God to feed us with the wisdom and understanding of His Son through His Word, the ministry of His Holy Spirit and our continued exercise of obedience, we will be able to watch God grow us.

And this, I believe is the key to a vibrant life in Christ, in which you can move mountains: Have a maturing faith. One that grows mighty having great roots. Then “nothing will be impossible for you” (v. 20b).
Mustard seeds must mature to reach the full potential of its true identity. Let your view of God grow by investing yourself in knowing Him for who He is and what He can do. Then seek Him for how He can do His work through you so that you can experience all the fullness of Christ.

Compelled to Compare

Do you ever feel like your journey with God has to look like that of others around you?

Maybe you struggle with confidently following God when things you already don’t quite understand yourself, seem too spiritually risky to carry out?

Well, may I encourage you that our faith is not really our own — in the sense that we are the arbitrators of it. This means that the progress of our faith is not dependent upon us and our ability to, as the dictionary puts it: “decide a dispute or settle differences [in this case spiritual].” In fact, I think one of the largest obstacles to our faith in God is our readily we can become tangled up in the issues of faith rather than the Issuer. We see ourselves as one’s “fully empowered to examine the facts and decide the issue[s]” concerning what we will believe, rather than letting the questions and doubts that surface in our hearts lead us back to God, where everything began.

This is where Paul’s words to Timothy are necessary for us as well:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

There are a couple of important concepts here for defining our beliefs, that make this passage worth studying.

One points us back to where we began. If the gospel is our beginning — that marvelous truth that we were dead in our sins, but through faith in Christ we have been raised to new life in Him — than our foundation is sure. No, not on the foundations we like to make of our own accountability and achievement, but on Christ who began the work of salvation, and who alone can finish it.

Each day, when we face all manner of tests, may our faith look like this: “[I] do this by keeping [my] eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects [my]  faith” (Hebrews 12:2, New Living Translation).

Notice what the two verbs describing Jesus’ action indicate express about Christ.

1. they are objective — showing that Christ’s action regarding our faith must have an object — us

2. they are in the present tense –revealing that Christ is at work on our faith and the barriers to it right now.

Now, if we pull back a bit, we can see the broader scope of this verse; we are to realize that we depend on Christ for our faith. And He gives us faith to lead us back to Him. So that even learning about Him is a choice to be exercised upon by God, not exercise ourselves on Him. As we walk by faith, God is able to freely confirm the truth of who Christ is to us when our eyes are lifted from ourselves. Because working to obtain our salvation is no longer an obligation for us because of Christ, we can see our faith promoted by letting it be set in this reality: “For the Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). “In the beginning there was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by Him and nothing was made without Him. In Him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it” (John 1:1-5).

I’m Supposed to “Get” Everything?

A hard lesson that I’ve been having to learn these past few weeks is how weak I am in my understanding of God. I think I am supposed to be able to see everything that He is doing clearly and have faith that will enable me to scale walls of doubt easily. I’ve fallen into the trap of insisting that I should be able to make this whole journey with God look smooth, even and effortless. It scares me when I can’t offer a joy-filled report of how I’m dealing with what God is doing in my life presently.

I worry that I am failing God in my analysis, but who said that I need to analyze and be able to explain God? In the Bible it is very clear that not even the righteous could explain God. It was simply their job to come under God’s umbrella and trust Him. Let Him keep the rain off of me and shelter me from what I cannot bear. I don’t need to put up a fight for Him. He is for me — let that be all that I need to know.

And, if that doesn’t satisfy others (who want more examples of logic and reasoning to assure them that I am not standing too much on faith), then may I leave that external requirement up to God. With Him there are no errors, just a discrepancy in our own understanding of His perfection. Yes, I can be okay with that.