When I think about faith I often think about what Jesus said to His disciples when He said: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
This was said in response to the Disciples asking Jesus why they couldn’t drive a demon out of a possessed boy. In asking that question the Disciples wanted to know what they were missing. Yet I suspect the answer He gave them was not what they were expecting to hear – Jesus told them the truth that there was nothing they were missing or lacking, other than a faith response.
None of us need to increase the size of our faith to try and match the size of the “mountain” we are facing, for It’s God that moves the mountain, not us.
Why did Jesus refer to ‘faith as small as a mustard seed’ – which is one of the smallest seeds there is? When talking about faith the size of a mustard seed Jesus wasn’t talking about faith in varying sizes or different degrees of faith. Instead Jesus was making it clear to His Disciples that you either live by faith or you don’t. You don’t live a bit by faith, partially by faith or even a lot by faith. What Jesus was saying is that it takes faith, period. None of us need to increase the size of our faith to try and match the size of the “mountain” we are facing, for It’s God that moves the mountain, not us. But He wants us with Him in it – believing and trusting in Him.
Yet I know that often when God has said something to me I can fall into the trap of doing one of two things: I either try to wrap my mind around what God is asking of me through my understanding; or, I look at the size of what is before me and feel that I need more faith, that I somehow need something more from God to help me do what He is asking of me.
In Hebrews 11 Paul talks about all the men and women of God through the ages that have lived by faith in response to God’s will. Many of them didn’t witness the fulfilment of God’s words to them in their lifetime but each faithfully responded to the call God had given them to live by faith both in life and in their death.
Recently it struck me when reading Hebrews 11 that Paul starts each sentence with the words ‘By Faith’ with no mention as to the size of their faith. He simply states that each of the people mentioned responded to God and lived by faith in what He said.
From a human perspective, we like to acknowledge effort when great things are achieved. So from that point of view it would be tempting to assign a scale to all the people of faith and how much faith they lived in compared to each other. But we know that anything done for God is actually done by His strength alone and His will can only be done in our lives by faith. That is why ‘faith is substance’.
To live by faith we need to be faithful to God’s word, making Him and all that He says the centre of everything we do. For this to happen we must let go of our desire for understanding and wanting to see tangible results, as we continue to walk forward with God. If Noah, Abraham, David, Moses and all the other men of faith, had lived limited by their understanding, then God’s will would have been thwarted and we would not be able to have the relationship we cherish with God today. Like us, they had to totally believe what God said no matter how impossible it may have appeared to them.
Faith is our response to God, freely given in the context of our personal love relationship.
Faith is not about what you have to do, but it is about believing and trusting in God and everything He says. Not because you know what is going to happen or can see how it will occur, but simply because you know God and recognise His ‘voice’. In that way, faith is not actually anything to do with us but is everything to do with God and believing in Him. Faith is our response to God, freely given in the context of our personal love relationship.
Jesus used the example of a mustard seed to make clear what it does – and doesn’t – require to live by faith. From our perspective we view ‘moving the mountain’ to be the hard part (because without God it is impossible), but for God moving the mountain takes effort the size of a mustard seed. For God ‘moving the mountain’ is the easy part, He can do that. But what He can’t do by His choice alone is have us stand with Him knowing that what He has promised will come true and living in that reality. That part is totally in our hands. For God has made the fulfilment of His will in this world dependant on the men and women He has called and without their faith response He is helpless. There was not a second Noah waiting in the wings to take up Noah’s call if he refused to do so. God was totally dependant on Noah’s response and obedience. By faith Noah responded, not just once but again and again. Through his choices Noah made God’s words the truth he lived in.
The truth is that no matter what the situation or circumstance, I can always say yes to God and in doing so choose to live by faith.
A true faith response is always saying yes to God’s will without regard to anything else. The truth is that no matter what the situation or circumstance, I can always say yes to God and in doing so choose to live by faith. For faith is active. It’s not the size or the amount of faith that is the issue, it’s actually whether or not I am willing to believe by faith in what God has said because of who He is and who He is to me. Knowing God and living in relationship with Him, I know the choice is always there before me in lots of different ways – will I make God the centre of everything in my life. I love that this is not a one-off choice, but one I get to make over and over. It is this simple choice in its many forms which allows me to express my love to God.
So whenever you feel like you do not have enough faith to believe what God is saying to you, know that Jesus has already shown you the way. Simply look at God, the God who loves you and who you love and give Him your heart’s response. That is all the faith you need.