Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quantifying Faith

How much faith is enough faith?  We often hear about how much faith one needs for whatever we are talking about in the Christian life, but what does the Bible say?  The answer is in a Scripture we all know very well.
So the Lord said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."  Matthew 17:6 NKJV
A mustard seed is a very interesting choice for Jesus to use in His illustration.  Seeds are generally tiny and a mustard seed is even small compared to other seeds.  I realize we do not have much experience with mustard bushes, but if it helps, I will provide another illustration.  We have all at least seen pictures of those giant Redwood trees.  They are hundred years and and they are unbelievably large.  What is amazing is they they start as a seed about the size of a Fruity Pebble.  The point Jesus is making is that we are heading in the wrong direction when we talk about faith as a measurable thing. 

The first lesson we can clean from this Scripture is that faith is not about size.  I daresay that faith is something hard to quantify.  You either have it or you do not.  For example, we are justified by faith through grace.  Are we now going to determine how much faith is necessary to have for salvation?  Perish the thought!  Can you imagine giving your life to Jesus and wondering through your whole life if your own faith was great enough to save you?  Then again, that is the point as to why quantity of faith is not an issue.   If we measure success or salvation by how much faith we have, who then gets the glory?  Instead of taking credit in our own abilities, we would begin to take credit for our faith.  Faith then becomes just another kind of work and a source of pride.  Faith is more like something you have or do not have and not so much about how much faith you have. 

The other lesson we learn is that where there is faith there is no doubt.  Doubt is the opposite of faith.  Let's think about our little mustard seed.  We take that seed and plant it in the ground.  From our point of view, it is not even an inch of dirt.  From the mustard seed's perspective, it is as though a mountain collapsed on it.  Think about it, if you were buried in dirt and stone many times your size in depth, would you be able to dig your way out?  Odds are, you would not.  You would be trapped and unable to move.  The seed on the other hand, sprouts through the dirt while at the same time digging roots deeper into the dirt to find sustenance.  The seed, having no mind, is incapable of doubt.  It just does.  Such is the man of faith.  He does not wonder whether or not he can accomplish something.  He does not doubt that God will provide the means to accomplish what he was called to.  He does not worry about finances or resources.  He just does and has faith that God will take care of the rest. 

And so, the point of this short post is that faith is something you have or do not have. We should not be concerned with growing our faith because if we have faith it does not matter.  I say that because faith is not dependent on us.  When you sit down in a chair, does your faith in its ability to hold you up have anything to do with whether or not it will break?  It is all about the chair.  It has the ability to hold you up, it is only a matter of your believing that and taking a seat.  The same can be said for God.  He has the power to affect anything in our lives that He wants to.  He can provide any resource, give any strength, teach any skill, and remove any obstacle.  The question is not whether or not God can do those things, but the question is whether or not we put our faith in Him to do it.  If we have faith, we will follow His lead without doubt.  We will know that He has called us to and that He will provide for us.  We will know what His promise is and that He will fulfill it.  As we have faith in little things, our faith will be there in larger things.  And so, do not doubt your faith, just have it, and God can do amazing things in and through your life.
But when Jesus heard [it], He answered him, saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well."  Luke 8:50 NKJV

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