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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Is Mustard Seed Faith?

Jesus told us that we would see our mountains moved if we had faith as small as a mustard seed. (Mountains were symbolic of seemingly insurmountable problems.) He gave a spacial dimension to a spiritual reality. He wanted us to see how little faith it takes to see what we have considered to be impossible to become reality.

Faith is a gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "   For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--  not by works, so that no one can boast." Some may want to say that this is only saving faith that is a gift. I can't see it. Faith is spiritual. Our spirit is made alive by God's Spirit. We are able to know spiritual things because of this.

Jesus rebuked people for having too little faith. Once He and His disciples were on the Sea of Galilee in a storm. He was in the front of the boat asleep while the disciples rowed. They became so scared that they awakened Jesus to save them from the storm.  He said to them, "You of little faith, what are you so afraid?" If we are not careful we can assume that Jesus rebuked them for waking Him but this is not the case. It was their fear, not their coming to Him, that revealed their faith. If anything, they should have woken Him earlier. They had a little faith. That faith came to Jesus. He rebuked them for that faith's size.

Doubt is the fleshly refusal of faith. Doubt is believing refusing to believe what God is revealing to us as truth. God gives us faith for things He wants for us. We have the opportunity to take that faith and let it grow or refuse to believe what God is revealing. Doubt is a conflict within the Christian. It is ambivalent. It believes what it sees and what God reveals at the same time. It does not allow faith to grow. The seed of faith needs the water of belief to grow. Doubt removes all moisture for this seed. Jesus said,  (Matthew 21:21 NIV) "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done."

Jesus rebukes His disciples for their lack of faith because He knows that God has given them the faith they need to do what He has called them to do. They have refused to let the faith grow. They have instead believed what they have always seen rather than what God is showing them.

We do not manufacture our own faith. That makes faith something we use to manipulate the world. God is sovereign. True faith never conflicts with God's will because faith must come from Him. But this makes our responsibility so much greater. We must accept and allow the faith that God gives us to grow. That is our responsibility.

Remember the story of the man who wanted the demon cast out of his son. The man told Jesus, "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

"'If you can?'" said Jesus, "Everything is possible for him who believes." 

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:22-24) Jesus removes the demon. He does not rebuke this father for his admission of unbelief. He is affirming his faith but admitting he lacks what he thinks is necessary to get what he really wants.

This is the faith of a mustard seed. It is small but wants desperately to grow. This faith moves mountains.

Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

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