O You of Little Faith…

I am reading Steve McVey’s book “beyond an Angry God.”  I would highly recommend it.  In the book he said “faith is not currency.”  It was in a chapter about the vicarious life we live through Jesus.  We can hit some of that another time.  That comparison of faith to money really hit me.  I wondered; “do I see faith as currency that I take to the God Blessing Bank and Trust to make a withdrawal?”  I know most of us would love to hit the GBBT ATM every now and then but we just don’t have enough in our account, right?  Sorry…wrong.  Faith is not like money or wealth or a PhD or a journeyman license or family name status or accumulation of data or Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles….  Nope, faith is like a mustard seed.  Jesus said so.

Mat 17:20b … For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘ Move from here to there, ’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (ESVST)

 “But wait a second Pastor Lance, didn’t Jesus say we have little faith like this passage?”

Mat 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘ What shall we eat? ’ or ‘ What shall we drink? ’ or ‘ What shall we wear? ’ (ESVST)

Why yes He did.  As a matter of fact did you notice I left out part of a verse above?  Here is the rest of Mat17:

Mat 17:20 He said to them, “ Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘ Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (ESVST)

“I am so confused.  Isn’t a mustard seed really little?  What is going on?”

I am glad you asked.  Once again English isn’t helping us.  Time for some definitions.  Are you ready?

The word for “little faith” is one word in the Greek.  Here is the definition:

3640 oligópistos (from 3641 /olígos, “little in number, low in quantity” and 4102 /pístis, “faith”) – properly, few occurrences (applications) of faith. 3640 (oligópistos) occurs five times in the NT, each time with Jesus rebuking the problem of failing to hear His voice (cf. Jn 10:3,4,27).

“Little-faith” (3640 /oligópistos) describes someone dull to hearing the Lord’s voice, or disinterested in walking intimately with Him. In contrast, the goal of life is to receive (obey) the Lord’s gift of faith in each scene of life (Ro 14:23; Heb 11:6).

Do you see it?  “Little in number” not insufficient in quality.  It just means few not inadequate.  It is a statement of fact.  Jesus is saying “you have a few number of faith(s).”  That is why the mustard seed comparison works.  One tiny seed of faith is all it takes.  If you don’t have even one of those seeds in your pocket you don’t have enough.

We tend to think of faith as something we acquire through effort.  We see it as a wage for working or studying or diligence in discipline.  I guess you can find some faith in those places but did you see what Jesus said to the worriers?

Mat 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘ What shall we eat? ’ or ‘ What shall we drink? ’ or ‘ What shall we wear? ’ (ESVST)

BUT IF GOD!  Do you see how Jesus points to God as the solution?  Even though these people obviously are worried about stuff, Jesus points to what God has already done.  Really He is pointing to stuff that most would take for granted.  This “little faith problem” isn’t an accounting error that we can make up for by trying harder.  Our “little” faith is because we don’t see His faithfulness.  OK, don’t believe me?  Want to manufacture some faith in the faith sweat shop?  Check out this:

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (ESVST)

There it is again…POWER!  God moves and does and makes and creates and provides.  God is the action.  We are the recipient.  Come on!  That is Grace.  In our right relationship with God (that Jesus paid for) the perfect awesomeness and rightness of God is revealed (by Him) from one moment of His delivery of faith to another (which He does).  This last sentence:

“The righteous shall live by (His) faith (faithfulness).”

is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4.  In this passage the word “His” appears and the word faith actually means “faithfulness.”  Our right relationship with God is based on His faithfulness.  Here is another translation of the same sentence:

 “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.” (The Message)

Are you beginning to see faith differently?

“But wait a second Pastor Lance…You said God does everything and we receive…I don’t like that.  We must be doing something.”

I’m glad you mentioned that.  I do want you to do something.  I actually want you to bow in obedience and do some work.  Paul even said so (bookends to Romans)!

Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, (ESVST)

Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (ESVST)

So what is obedience to the faith?  Wait for it….  Plant a seed.  Whew, that was easy.  Yep plant a seed of faith.  Listen to me.  You have the power in your human self to do NOTHING.  You can’t make a tree.  You can’t heal the sick.  You can’t exert more will power and change the planet.  Only Jesus can.  But guess what?  He is in you.  He is working for you.  He saved you to work through you.  You plant the seed.  Jesus makes it grow.

 Jesus wasn’t rebuking the disciples for “bad faith” or “insufficient currency for the GBBT.”  He wasn’t saying they had overdrawn their accounts or failed to make sufficient investments.  He was stating a fact.  There are a bunch of Greek words for insufficient, inadequate, worthless, lacking, etc.  I’ll spare you the language lesson.  It isn’t the word for “little faith.”

Know this.  When you plant a seed you know that you know it will grow into a mighty tree if God is in it.  You get to believe that God is in it because He said so and gives you the assurance of the Holy Spirit in you.  It is that simple.  You may see nothing happen.  Sometimes trees grow slowly.  Sometimes the seed hit supernatural dirt and gets supernatural water and supernatural time compression and a paralytic gets out of a wheel chair.  Sometimes you plant a seed that looks like a few bucks for the homeless that was your lunch money and God brings a feast for them and you.  I can go on and on but Jesus said it best:

Mat 21:21 And Jesus answered them, “ Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea, ’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (ESVST)

A mustard seed against a mountain.  I would say those are good odds.  Still you must avoid the temptation to doubt.  If you see nothing and pluck it out of the ground it may have a root that you killed by pulling it up.  Let it rest.  Pour on some water of praise and worship.  Give it some living water out of the river flowing from you.  Give away some more of God’s love to someone else.  Plant a seed.  The more you plant the more you will move from “O You of Little Faith” to mountain mover.

Yay God!

Lance

Grace Wisdom

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. You know.. .this speaks to something I have found myself doing.. . .I find myself holding back from praying for miracles sometimes, because I feel that if I make a withdrawal now, there will be less for later. (And I want to wait till I really REALLY need something.. .lol) How very ridiculous!!
    And to the rest. . the real meaning of little faith. . .I’m . ..well. . .speechless (which is saying something for me) My words might catch up with me later. . .but as for now, I’m just going to hold this thought close for a bit and watch more chains fall off from around me.. .oh. .but I WILL say this: Yay GOD!!!

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  2. I was looking up Habakkuk 2:4 because I love the way it says, the righteous will live by His faithfulness. In my Bible. . well. . on Bible Gateway. . .the ‘his’ is not capitalized. . so I know I would have read this entirely wrong — something like this — “you become righteous as you remain faithful to Him” BIG distortion.. .lol. . .but. .just for curiosity’s sake.. is there any way to tell whether the His is referring to Jesus or to the man in this instance?

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