“You of little faith,” Jesus replied, “why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it was perfectly calm. (Matthew 8:26 Berean Study)
‘Making do’ with little faith
Are you ‘guilty of little faith? I am. Yet these things give me hope – Jesus accused His disciples of the same charge, and He hardly ever accused them of anything else – so I am not alone in my failing. Logically then, the victories that Peter and the apostles were later to experience – despite their initial lack of faith – is surely within my reach. Jesus prayed for them, so that their faith may not fail. Before He went to the cross, Jesus informed Peter, “Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”. He interceded for them – as He now intercedes for me – and His prayers were instrumental in moving them on from the place of failure, to become a source of strength for others.
What are we to do with our faith, as little as it is? First, let us thank God for the measure of faith He has allotted to each of us, remembering that faith as little as a mustard seed can accomplish much. When Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, and thanked God for His provision, the small portion of food multiplied till it became sufficient to feed a multitude. We honour God by thanking Him, and thanksgiving opens the way for greater deliverances (Psalm 50:15).
Second, “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given you” (NLT). We should not despair about the littleness of our faith, nor grow proud if we think we have much, for it is God who has dealt to each of us, a measure. Rather, we must honestly assess ourselves in the light of God’s word to determine where we stand, and then build with what we have.
Third, God expects us to be faithful with what He has given us. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required…” (Luke 12:48 NASB). God holds us accountable in relation to the measure He has given, whether more or less. Being faithful involves using the faith that we have to serve others. As James pointed out, faith must result in works, and yield good fruit.
Fourth, like the wise steward, we must work to increase our faith. Whether we have been given one talent or five, we must put it to good use so that it grows. Faith is a living seed that can multiply to produce a thousand seeds if planted in good soil. Our Master expects a good return on His investment, and we will be rewarded for our labour. So let us not despise the day of small beginnings, rather, let us take care to be faithful in little things. This brings us to the next topic – how does one grow in faith?
Growing in Faith
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT).
The trials that God allows us to undergo have a two-fold purpose – to reveal to us the mettle of our faith; and then, as gold is refined by fire, to enhance its worth. This is why James exhorts us to count it all joy, when we face trials because “the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:3-4 NIV).
We have seen the example of people whose trials led them to Jesus, only to have the ‘smallness’ of their faith exposed to the light. This exposure became their stepladder to higher levels of faith, and a closer walk with God. So, we ought to thank God for the trials which draw us closer to Him, and also thank Him for the measure of faith He has given us. Thanksgiving is the key to multiplication. Equally, we must, like the father of the demon-possessed child, confess our unbelief, when we find it holding us back, and pray for help.
There is more that we can do. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 NASB). The so-called ‘word of faith’ teaching has been much derided, yet there is no doubt that the words we hear or speak can impact our faith, either building it up or tearing it down. This is why we are exhorted to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and to “let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). Perhaps in our trials, we have no one to build us up this way with words of encouragement. Then we must, like David, encourage ourselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). And how is this done? By reading God’s word, and confessing it aloud, we quell every discouraging thought that the enemy plants in our minds. As our minds are continuously conditioned by His word – rather than what the world has to say – we will find the faith to rise above our circumstances and experience the divine breakthroughs that we so desire.
Finally, as we exercise the faith that we are given, we will receive more. If we are faithful with the the little we are given, more will be added till we are in possession of great faith and able to do great exploits. This brings us back to our original point – faith is really all about knowing God. If while we have little knowledge of Him, we aim to be faithful to Him, and persevere in seeking to draw close to Him, He will reveal more of Himself to us. Our faith will grow to help us accomplish more for the Kingdom, and finally, to win us the crown that Christ has promised all who are faithful.
Father, we thank You that You are working in our lives to build our faith. We thank You for our trials, and the grace You provide to persevere and become mature. May we live to please You. In Jesus’ name.