Faith Like A Mustard Seed
“And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and be planted in the sea”; and it would obey you’” (Luke 17:5-6).
Faith is a difficult concept. It comes so naturally to us, but we must fight to keep it. It starts so small, so pure, but must endure many hardships and tests before it grows to maturity. We all start somewhere in our walk with God – some have the benefit of a childhood spent attending worship, participating in Bible classes, raised by godly parents, while others might pick a Bible for the first time very late in life. While these differences might be striking, we all have access to the same information and tools to help us increase our faith. Essentially, it increases in a similar manner no matter who you are, where you live, or how you’re raise.
“If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). Part of growing faith is respecting the authority of God and His power. Jesus didn’t say this to the apostles to make their heads swell, as if they had self-derived miraculous abilities that made them super-human. It’s interesting to me that, for how many times Jesus made statements like this (John 14:13-14, Mark 11:23, Matthew 21:21, Matthew 17:20) the Bible never records the disciples utilizing their miraculous abilities to move mountains and make trees sprout legs and skip into the sea. The disciples never fly. They don’t shoot lasers from their eyes. They don’t make money appear out of thin air (although Jesus did make it appear in the mouth of a fish).
All of this indicates to me that part of having a growing, thriving faith is being fully aware of the authority that God has over all things – believer and unbeliever, plants, animals, geology, weather, etc. If it is within God’s will to use you to make trees walk into the sea or mountains to levitate, then you’d better acknowledge that will and get working! If we’re commanded to move mountains, then God has the power to make that happen. The crucial issue in growing our faith is not the amount of power we bring to the table, but the power of God. By referring to the tiny mustard seed, Jesus deflects attention away from the quantity of our faith to the object of our faith – God. God moves the mulberry tree. God moves the mountain. God gives freely to those who ask. God answers prayers. God commands our destiny and infuses our lives with an otherworldly power.
Obviously, it was never God’s will to literally move a mountain during the ministries of Jesus or His apostles, but He did work wonders through them! In order to access such immense power, they had to ask IN FAITH and ACCORDING TO HIS WILL (James 1:6, Romans 4:19-20, John 15:7, Matthew 21:22, John 16:23-24).
“Now which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him after he comes in from the field, ‘Come immediately and recline at the table to eat’? On the contrary, will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? 9 He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too, when you do all the things which were commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” (Luke 17:7-10). The Word of God commands our lives (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). We must live in conformity to a moral code, not only as a demonstration OF our faith (Romans 1:5), but a means to GROWING our faith. Psalm 119:34-38 says, “Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Thy ways. Establish Thy word to Thy servant, as that which produces reverence for Thee.”
Think about the commands that we have in the New Testament. They are not only manifestations of the faith we already have, but the fuel that helps drive our personal growth. Take any commandment and this proves to be true! Singing (Col. 3:16), partaking of the Lord’s supper (1 Cor. 11:26-30), “love your enemies and pray for them,” etc. The command to assemble is probably the most obvious passage that illustrates this point (Hebrews 10:24-25). As I pointed out already, I not only do this by faith, but I also do it to foster faith.