Ever cried out to the Lord saying those words? “Increase our faith!” Have you ever felt that your faith was lacking? Almost every Christian has asked at some time these same words that the disciples of the Lord asked him in this section of scripture. But the answer Jesus gave them is quite revealing, especially when we look at what faith is all about.
How much faith do you need?
This is the interesting thing about this scripture. Jesus said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Verse 6) Elsewhere he describes a mustard seed as being the smallest of seeds but that it grows into the largest of shrubs. (Matthew 13:31-32)
So what we gather from this is that you don’t need much faith. In fact a very small amount of faith will allow you to do miraculous things, if it is the will of God. So the real challenge is not about having more faith, it’s about having faith at all.
Then we see that like a mustard seed, the faith that we have will grow and expand, provided we have that first little bit and we nourish it. We need to feed and water it with the word of God so that it will grow. This is how to “increase our faith.”
How do you get faith?
Faith comes from knowledge through hearing the word of Christ. That’s what Paul showed us saying, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
So if you want to increase your faith, increase your knowledge of the word of God. Listen to the words of Jesus and study the Bible and let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as Paul said in Colossians 3:16. When you absorb the words of the Lord and you see the word working in your life and changing you into the image of Christ, then faith grows as well. You learn to trust in Jesus knowing that he will do what he said he would do. And when you trust in the Lord, your faith becomes strong.
But with the addition of knowledge we need to learn humility as well. There is a danger with increasing in knowledge that we need to consider, for Paul shows us, “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1)
So the key to strengthening your faith is not knowledge alone, but knowledge tempered by love for love keeps us humble.
Is faith all that is needed?
Well as I have just mentioned, you need love too. In fact in 1 Corinthians 13:13 Paul gives us that well known scripture, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Faith is active along with hope and love and these three form the side of a triangle. A triangle is the strongest geometric shape and so too the faith, hope and love triangle is a strong combination.
But Paul shows the greatest of these three is love and as I mentioned earlier, it is love that tempers the others, especially faith. In fact Paul says, “…if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2) So here we see Paul expanding on the teaching that Jesus is giving us in this section of Luke 17. You don’t need a lot of faith to move mountains as Jesus showed us, but even if you did, without love it would be of no value.
It is love that lasts into eternity for God is love. When we are in the presence of God and enter eternal life with Him, we will not need faith. We will not need to hold onto a faith and a hope for something yet to come for we will be with Jesus. But love will keep us forever and it is by the power of love that we will live forever.
The work that the Lord is doing in each Christian is to bring them to the place where they are in the image of Christ. And to be in Christ’s image is to learn to live by the power of the love of God. He is teaching us how to love God’s way. But until we reach that place where we are living in the love of God, we need faith, and hope, and grace, and all the gifts of God for they are the tools and processes that will bring us to the place where we live in love.
It is a journey and faith is part of the process. So let us seek to increase our faith by learning the ways of God and trusting in Jesus to bring us to God.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Dominic Morel)