Friday, February 23, 2007

Increasing Faith

All around us are people with their own discouragement and desperation. In my own walk, especially when I'm tired from traveling and the fog of jet lag just won't lift, it is easy to become one with them. To sink into depression, to let my eyes drift from the ball that is my salvation and my service.

Do you ever feel that way?

Certainly we are not like the million refugees shuffling around in the Sudan or the displaced in Afghanistan. But still as I shuffle through my life and from time to time distress overtakes me, I cry out like the apostles did, "Increase our faith."
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you. "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' "
-- Luke 17:5-10
There are many interesting things to note in Jesus' reply. For example, we see Him using rhetoric and humor, common to the vernacular of the day to make His points. By comparing faith to a mustard seed, He is telling us that we shouldn't give up so easily. Even a little faith, as small as a mustard seed, is enough to accomplish tremendous and outrageous things.
Like many good comparisons, there is more than one aspect to examine. We may only need a small amount of faith, but like a mustard seed , we need to nurture our faith and help it to grow. This means we can't just give up quickly. Given time, attention, and food, and our little faith can grow strong and powerful.

As we find our mustard seed of faith, care for it and watch it grow, it can be easy to forget that it is not our strength that feeds the faith. It is not by our own works that we are saved and serve. Even when you think you have it all together, remember the days you cried out for your faith to increase. The power that pulled you from that place was not your own but His. When we are walking rightly, when we are strong to serve, when our faith is tempered in trials, even then, we are only doing as we ought. And it is His grace which frees us to do so.

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