Today's "thought" addresses the question: "How much faith is necessary?"
On two occasions I have heard preachers speak on Jesus' words that, "faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains." And in each case both of those preachers went on to speak of wanting to exercise a far greater quantity of faith than Jesus said is necessary. One of the preachers even said, "some people are content with a thimble full of faith, I want a swimming pool full of faith -- faith I can swim in!"
Yet, I believe both of them missed Jesus point. For Jesus tells us that faith the size of a mustard seed is far more than anyone will ever need! With that much, says Jesus, "Nothing will be impossible for you." In other words, we don't need tons of faith to see impossibilities become possible, we simply need that small amount and we will see miracles happen. As R.T. France says in his commentary on Jesus words: "It is not the 'amount' of faith which brings the impossible within reach, but the power of God, which is available to even the 'smallest faith.' "That's what today's thought is about: "Little Faith." It comes to us from a book entitled, "Day by Day with the English Puritans" by Randall J. Pederson. This particular entry was written by John Rogers, a Puritan pastor from Essex, England, back in the 1620's. I trust you will find it helpful and encouraging. Enjoy.
"If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain,
'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
"Little faith is true faith, as well as great faith. A little man is just as much a man as a large man; a little water is just as truly water as the ocean seas. The disciples had true faith, yet very weak faith, weak in knowledge. Though they believed that Jesus was the Messiah come to save the world, yet they did not know how. They were ignorant of His death, for when He told them of His coming sufferings, it is said that they did not understand what He was saying (Luke 18:31-34). Peter took Jesus aside and counseled Him not to go to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 16:22). They were ignorant also of His resurrection also, for when Mary told them of it, they did not believe her (Luke 24:11). And of His ascension, when He spoke of going away, they understood it not, neither did they know where He was going, or the way to get there (John 14:1-31). Their knowledge was very weak to be ignorant of such important things...
But weak faith may prove strong in time. The most learned clerk was once in school studying his grammar book. The greatest giant was once in swaddling clothes. The tallest oak was at one time a twig. And faith grows from a grain of mustard seed to produce a tall tree. As from a child to a man, so corn grows from a weak blade, to a stalk, to an ear with ripe corn therein. The disciples who were so weak before, afterwards, when the Holy Spirit was sent among them, were exceedingly strong and feared not in the face of tyrants."
It was not unusual for Puritan pastors to affirm the words of Jesus that even little faith (faith as small as a mustard seed) was sufficient faith. Thomas Watson, also a Puritan pastor, once said: "Though your faith is weak, do not be discouraged -- a weak faith may receive a strong Christ." And Richard Sibbes, yet another Puritan pastor, once said: "A spark of fire is fire, as well as the whole element. Therefore we must look to grace in the spark as well as in the flame. All do not have the same strong faith, though they have the same precious faith (2 Pet. 1:1), whereby they lay hold of, and put on, the perfect righteousness of Christ. A weak hand may receive a rich jewel. A few grapes will show that the plant is a vine, and not a thorn. It is one thing to be deficient in grace, and another thing to lack grace altogether.”
So, we are, as Peter says, to, "make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control...." (II Peter 1:5-9). We are called to exercise and add to our faith. Yet, we must also remember that a mustard seed sized degree of faith is more than sufficient to "move mountains" and make "nothing impossible for (us)." No one needs a swimming pool sized degree of faith! Who needs more than a faith that is able to do all things?!
In fact, if Jesus rebuked the disciples for not being able to cast out evil spirits, "because they had so little faith," and then went on to say "faith the size of a mustard seed" was enough to do anything that needed to be done, one must question how much the disciples could have had? Maybe the tiniest speck of a mustard seed that had been ground to powder? I suppose it really doesn't matter. Little faith in the infinite God is enough! The aim, after all, is not to focus on our faith, but the immutable, great, loving, and all-powerful object of our faith. For faith grows as we look away from it, and seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. The greater we understand Him to be, the greater our faith will become -- and that without even needing to focus on faith.
Living in the Grace of Jesus, Pastor Jeff