Littleness of Faith

June 12, 2021

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] (Matthew 17:19-21).

On several occasions Jesus remarked that His disciples had little or no faith (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20; and parallel passages). On the other hand, Jesus commended the faith of those who were not His disciples (Matthew 8:10; 9:2,22,29; 15:28; etc.). What can account for this? Jesus said (Luke 12:48), From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. The disciples had been given much in their 3 years with Jesus, certainly more than all the others in Israel combined. They had seen His miraculous power, heard His authoritative preaching and teaching, observed how He dealt with issues, problems, burdens, controversies. They had been given power and authority to minister in His name, and were successful in that ministry. They shared in public ministry with Jesus and in private conversations as well. The Lord expected His disciples to have an abounding and powerful faith - but they didn’t.

“Little faith is the kind of faith that believes in God when you have something in your hand, when His provision is already made” (John MacArthur).  When life is smooth sailing and everything has a place and everything is in its place, it is easy to trust in the Lord. When the storms of life upset your boat, when things fall out of place and your plans slip through your fingers like sand, it is easy to lose faith in the Lord. In fact, most people - even Christians - will blame the Lord and have nothing to do with Him for a while, if not ever again!

A growing faith trusts in the Lord in every situation, every circumstance, with every burden, issue, conflict, or condition. Great faith is developed over a life-time of experiences - good and bad, successes and failures, advancements and setbacks - with Jesus as your foundation and focus. Great faith is seen in people like Job who said, when everything in life was taken away from him, Though He (God) slay me, I will hope (trust; have faith) in Him. Job suffered like most of us never will, but Job’s faith in God did not waver in the midst of His suffering. He complained to God. He questioned God. He even argued with God. But he did not relinquish his faith in God. His faith grew in the midst of his trials.

This lesson in the life of the disciples teaches us to always trust in Jesus in every situation in life, in every opportunity to minister to others. Like the parable of the vine and branches (John 15:1-5), we can do nothing apart from Jesus.

“Lord Jesus, help us to learn this lesson well. It is a great temptation to attempt to minister in our own strength, but we soon learn that that results in failure at best and catastrophe at worst. May Your name be glorified in our continuing to serve You with a growing faith. Amen.”


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