Text: Luke 17:5-6
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5 ESV)
Have you ever felt like your faith is too small? Maybe you’re wishing your faith could be stronger, more bold, or more fruitful and effective, yet it feels so… well, puny at times.
Oftentimes faith is thought of as some grand spiritual commodity that the super-saints possess and ordinary believers lack. Perhaps we are stirred by the fascination that if we could just get more of this supernatural ‘gold’ into our spiritual bank accounts, we could start moving mountains the way Jesus promised in Matthew 17:20.
But what if ‘mountain-moving’ faith is less like some elusive spiritual superpower, and more like an ordinary part of our DNA that just isn’t being used like it should?
Do you realize how crazy this must’ve sounded to the apostles? In response to their petition for Him to increase their faith (Luke 17:5-6), Jesus says, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” When is the last time you saw someone tell a Palm tree to uproot itself and plant itself in the Gulf of Mexico, and it listened?
This would’ve been strangely ridiculous to the disciples. But Jesus used this absurd imagery to make a profound spiritual point—that even the smallest grain of faith, such as that of a mustard seed, is sufficient to do the impossible.
I believe Jesus wanted His followers to recognize that in order to increase their faith, they didn’t need to acquire something they lacked; they simply had to use what they already possessed.
To increase our faith, we need to be willing to stretch the ordinary faith muscle we already have. Tweet this
When muscle and bone tissue are not used, they begin to shrink and waste away. This deterioration is known as atrophy. Even minor atrophy in muscle or bone tissue can cause debilitating loss of strength and motion. Faith is very much like a muscle. We all have muscles. It’s just that some folks exercise their muscles more than others. The Bible tells us that as believers we’ve all been given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). In order to grow it needs to be stretched, or else we’ll suffer from spiritual atrophy.
Faith comes from daily intake of, and exposure to, the Word of God. To increase our faith we must immerse ourselves in the Holy Scriptures. Yet that’s not enough. Faith must be exercised if it is to be effective. You can nourish your body with protein shakes all day long, but if you don’t get up off that couch and stretch the muscle it will not develop properly.
Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), but it grows, or increases, by stretching.
Scripture memorization doesn’t increase our faith. It increases our knowledge, or our capacity to stretch our faith in ways we didn’t understand until the revelation of God’s wisdom. But it’s only when we act on that knowledge that our faith is stretched. I can memorize scriptures about forgiveness, but it isn’t until I stretch myself to actually do the work of forgiveness, that my faith increases. I can quote verses about generosity all day long, but it isn’t until I actually give something away that my faith is increased to be ‘more’ generous in every way (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).
So where does God want to increase your faith this New Year?
In what ways may He be leading you to stretch the measure of faith He’s already given you? Maybe instead of wishing for some kind of elusive superpower faith this year, we would do well to ask God to show us how to act in obedience to what we already know we should do—such as serving others, walking in forgiveness, praying for our enemies, witnessing to our neighbors, fasting for revival, or responding to the material and spiritual needs around us.
Think about that as you abide in Him this week.
Father, increase our faith. Holy Spirit, search our hearts for places where our faith has suffered atrophy, those places where we’ve failed to obey you and act on the truth we already know. Stretch us to do the impossible by way of being obedient in the ordinary. Increase our faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- If you could have one superpower, which would you choose? Why?
- Who is a person whose faith you have admired? What has made their faith attractive to you?
- In what season of your life has your faith been stretched the most?
- Which do you find more challenging in your life, memorizing God’s Word or obeying God’s Word?
- Where do you sense that God might be stretching your faith right now?
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