Increase Our Faith
When the disciples asked Jesus - “Increase our faith”, instead of working some phenomenal miracle to fill their hearts with awe, He gave a simple one-sentence parable: “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be pulled up by the roots and be thou planted in the sea; and it would obey you.” (Lu. 17:6) There are four main ways this metaphor should increase our ability to believe.
1. The mystery of hidden life—A seed contains hidden life: so also, true faith in God. The intellectual counterfeit of faith is a kind of positive-thinking discipline apart from a relationship with God. Because it is not divinely inspired, it can only produce soulish, temporary, human results. However, if Jesus is the Author of our faith, and if the life-giving Spirit of God (the “Spirit of faith”) is in the kernel of our faith, it will inevitably bring forth spiritual, inspired, eternal results.
2. The mystery of divine increase—There is an old saying, “Little is much if God is in it.” In Matthew 13:32 Jesus said the mustard seed is “the least of all seeds” but when it is grown, it becomes “the greatest among herbs.” (See Mt. 13:31-32, Mk. 4:30-32, Lu. 13:18-19) This is a kingdom principle, the proven truth that our God delights in taking the least and making it the greatest, the lowest and making it the highest, the tail and making it the head, the last and making it the first…to display His sovereignty and power. The Israel of God was the “fewest of all people” yet it became the greatest of all nations. (Dt. 7:7) Likewise, the church had a humble, mustard-seed-like beginning: a despised, crucified leader and a band of only about a hundred and twenty mostly lower class followers. Yet look at the end result: a church of countless millions surrounding the globe. And if this faith principle is true on a grand scale, for the body of Christ as a whole, it is also true for the individual Christian. However small or insignificant a dedicated work may appear, if God is in it, it will prosper and be of great value in the sight of heaven. And it will ultimately “increase with the increase of God.” (Col. 2:19)
3. The mystery of death to self—A mustard seed must fall into the ground and die in order to reach its full potential. So also, a child of God must lose his life for the Gospel’s sake in order to find it …in order to bear fruit that remains. In Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter of the Bible, we find that “by faith” Moses refused the riches of Egypt and chose rather to “suffer affliction with the people of God…for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” (See Heb.11:24-27, Jn. 12:24-26) So mustard-seed faith is that faith which sees past the temporary suffering of self-denial to the outpoured blessings and the everlasting glory God will grant in response.
4. The power of the spoken word—Jesus indicated that even if our faith seems as small as the mustard seed, if we dare to release it in the form of the spoken word, it can root up problems that comparatively look much bigger (represented as a sycamine tree). The centurion was told he had “great faith” because he said to Jesus, “Speak the word only and my servant shall be healed.” Certainly, “the word of faith” in God’s people is powerful as well. According to Romans 10:8-10, it is the key to salvation. And Matthew 18:18 did communicate “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This kind of boldness in the spoken word does have limitations and conditions. But still, those who refuse to implement this truth, usually spend their lives putting up with sycamine trees that God would have gladly moved long ago. So with increased faith dare to “speak the word” and expect God’s best!