How much faith do we need? Are we afraid that if we had more faith we would be successful, self-sacrificing or fanatical?
I want us to learn that we already have enough faith to fulfill big dreams.
We will discuss faith and duty.
Dissatisfied with Faith
Have we ever experienced dissatisfaction with our faith? Have we ever wished that our faith could be increased much larger than it already is? Why do we so often seem to think that bigger is better? Which is more important, quality or quantity? Bigger in size is often less in quality. The apostles seem to have had a similar desire in Luke 17:5-10. The reply is encouraging for those of us who doubt our own faith. Even a small amount can be used in dramatic ways. Our faith may be small in our own eyes, perhaps like a mustard seed. Faith is confidence, loyalty and commitment all in one. Jesus mocks their self doubt or perhaps their attitude of spiritual competitiveness by saying that they, not he, already have enough faith to move a tree. A little is enough.
Enough faith for big things
In Luke 17:5-10 the apostles recognized two things about faith: 1) that faith can grow and 2) that we depend on God for faith. Their request suggested that they did not believe that they had enough faith for the job at hand. However, when Jesus replied to their request the Greek grammar implied they already had the necessary faith, they just needed to use it. As the mulberry or sycamore tree obeys our order to be uprooted and planted in the sea by our faith, so too does a slave obey his master. We cannot earn God’s favor by merely doing what he expects. We must have faith, but asking God for more faith could be dangerous. We might become so Christ-like that we begin to do really big things and even live lives of radical self-sacrifice for others.
After prayer, talk & action
In Luke 17:5-10 is a prayer or petition to Jesus. The disciples asked for more faith. Have we ever prayed for faith? If we prayed to Jesus would he give us the same answer? Jesus likened life’s challenges to a mulberry or sycamore tree. Elsewhere, he likened them to a mountain. Then he said something remarkable. He did not say to keep praying, or even fast and study the Bible more. Instead, Jesus said to talk to the tree or mountain, and tell it to move. Is that strange? Is there any more to do? Faith without works is dead, so then after we have told our circumstances to move out of the way we get to work. How do we move a tree or mountain? One shovel full at a time. How do we talk to our challenges?
What obstacle in your life seems too big to move? Is it tree-sized or mountain-sized? It can be conquered in faith the size of a mustard seed. Do you have a spouse who has been unfaithful, and are frozen in place because forgiveness seems too big an obstacle? Start with one small step, a word of faith. Do you have a dream business you want to begin? Are you frozen in place because it seems to big to build? Make a word of faith your first step. Do you have a messy house that just discourages you? Don’t look at the mess, start doing something small and make a word of faith the first step. How do we move a tree or a mountain? One step at a time and the very first step is to speak a positive word.
Jesus spoke of faith the size of a mustard seed moving tree-sized or mountain-sized challenges. What if you had to build a large barge as huge as a ship? That was Noah’s challenge. He stepped out in faith. Very little detail is given us, but that it took 120 years and was as long as 5 football fields. Too big? Naval architects and structural engineers concluded that the shape was optimal for the stresses involved. What if you were 75 years old and had to move your entire family to another country? Abraham did just that, he stepped out in faith. What if you were past child-bearing age and still wanted a family? Sarah believed that God had promised and was faithful. If it’s God’s will, it may often look like too big a challenge. Take the first step anyway.
Faith & duty
How much faith does it take to just do our duty towards God? It takes faith to provide for our families today. It takes faith to be a Christian and go against the world and obey Jesus. But all that is just doing our duty to God. How much faith is needed go beyond mere duty? How much faith is needed for really big things? How much faith does it take to build a business to provide for other people’s families? How much faith does it take to build a church that is a light in the community and not just another museum to generations long dead? How much faith does it take to do something really big for God? It is the kind of faith to move trees and mountains. It is faith the size of a mustard seed.
It only takes a small amount of faith live an exciting, adventurous life? We can be afraid or we can take that first step? We already have enough faith to fulfill big dreams. Let’s start. Let’s do it.