Jesus said then…” assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20
Jesus is the master of the metaphor. He often used common items to illustrate important spiritual principles, and the one he uses here is one of the most powerful beloved. In a farming culture, people were very familiar with all kinds of seeds. The smallest one used in a family garden was a mustard seed, but in time, it grew into one of the largest garden plants – up to 10 feet tall. Like a mustard seed our faith may start small, but God causes it to grow tall and strong.
How large can it grow? Large enough to ”move a mountain” Jesus used this metaphor to mean a mountain of problems, so the implication is that if we believe God, He will move a mountain of difficulties and bless us. He doesn’t require that we have mountain sized faith at the beginning – just enough to get started. As our Faith grows, we trust God for more and bigger things. Before long, we see Him “move mountains” in our lives and in the lives of those we love.
We marvel at people who have faith. They seem to be able to trust God when the rest of us shrink back in doubt. Jesus’ explanation, though, gives us hope because all of us can start where we are, even if we have only the smallest seed of faith. God will water it, weed it, and fertilize it, and before long, our faith will grow strong.
“ Faith is your reaction to God’s ability.
“ Faith is different from proof: the latter is human; the former is a gift from God.” Blaise Pascal
I have found in my own life that desperation produces faith. Usually as long as we can cope, manage, or live with a situation, we don’t tap into to wonderful gift of faith. Far too often, we only turn to God after all our other resources are exhausted. And we wait until we are in the crisis to try to operate by faith,
Most of us have to some degree a “rainy day” fund. We set aside some money for those unexpected needs. We may think about that someday we may need to replace the roof or prepare for medical expenses or other such things. If possible we don’t wait until we are in the middle usefully of a crisis to start putting some funds aside. Instead we put a little into a fund over a period of time when there is excess that we can spare. I’ve learned over the years that storing up faith is just as vitally important. What I mean by this is that as often as we can we hide the Word of God in our hearts. We develop a prayer life and a relationship with God. We allow God to develop our character and we pre-choose our responses to adversity. I call this “banking faith.” When the storm comes-and it will- we draw from the stored up strength, faith, and peace. Because we have been walking with God, experiencing His presence in our lives, we are sure that He is with us. As we have brought everything to God for direction and instruction we know that we are walking according to the will of God and when we find ourselves in the storm, we will find the same Jesus speaking to the wind and waves.
Every Christian has been given faith, otherwise we couldn’t be saved. We didn’t generate enough faith to save us, God gave it to us. And we don’t generate faith to face challenges for the same God who gave us saving faith also gives us sustaining faith and overcoming faith.
Like tools in a box, if we leave faith in the box and never take it out and use it, it’s useless. James calls it dead faith, for living faith produces action. Like the rainy day fund we can store up and build up our faith. Jude says that we can build up our faith through prayer- not any old prayer- but praying in the Spirit. Spirit led, Spirit directed and Spirit powered prayer avails much. Romans tells us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. We might also say by reading the Word of God.
In every situation it always pays to consult with God before acting but once God speaks we act in obedience. Faith isn’t some magical button we push or something controlled by feelings. Faith is the choice to believe what God says is true and to act on that truth before it becomes visible.
Far too often we operate on the principle of seeing is believing but biblical faith is believing and then seeing.
Notice Jesus didn’t tell us to have large faith. He told us to act on the faith we have. Mustard seed faith acted on is sufficient to move mountains. We can talk great faith but talking about faith isn’t the same as living by faith. And it like nitroglycerin it doesn’t take a lot, it just needs to be out to proper use.
Dr. John Thompson