In Luke 17 Jesus has an interesting discussion with His disciples. The followers have pretty straightforward request, “increase our faith.”. And Jesus responds rather straightforwardly,
“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.”
Simple enough. Even a small amount of faith has great power. But then Jesus takes somewhat of a left turn:
“And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”
Huh? What does that have to do with the disciples request for increased faith? Actually it has everything to do with it.
If you are like me, you have no trouble believing that God can do anything. Part the Red Sea, water into wine, raise the dead? No problem…in theory. But I stumble over believing it enough to actually act on it. I’m selfish, and I want God’s will without sacrificing my own. I want Gods plan without having to give up mine. It’s not that I don’t believe God CAN do it, it’s that I’m afraid He won’t do it my way.
- I believe God CAN heal my finances, but I want the quick fix, not the pain of budgeting and sacrifice.
- I believe God CAN deliver me from addiction, but I don’t want the embarrassment of openness and accountability.
- I believe God CAN keep His promises to me, but I’m afraid to step out into the danger of the unknown.
I want my cake and I want to eat it too. I want Gods way and my way, and the two cannot coexist.
Jesus is saying to the disciples and to us, “Faith is not really the issue. Even faith like a tiny mustard seed can accomplish much. The issue is obedience. Do you BELIEVE enough to ACT? Do you believe enough to do things My way and not yours?”
Until we are truly ready to be that “unprofitable servant” Jesus talked about, increasing our faith doesn’t really matter.