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Pointers along the way #286

Great is your faith
- Jacob Ninan

The faith that is being promoted by many preachers is characterised by 'quantity' rather than 'quality.' Many teach faith as a means to get things from God, and the bigger the faith, the bigger the expected return. By this calculation, it requires more faith to get a house than a pair of shoes, and an extremely high level of faith to raise someone from the dead! Preachers try to stir up 'faith' in the hearers by whipping up their emotions, telling them examples of what happened to those who exercised faith, etc. People also try to increase their faith by repeating the promises of God, refusing to entertain negative thoughts or words, focussing on what God has done for others, etc. And when they believe that they have reached the level of faith that is necessary for the expected answer, they say they have faith for such and such a thing. What a distortion and mutilation of faith! Yet this is the only faith that many people know of.

True faith is in God (Mt.11:22;Ga.2:20;Ac.26:18). It is a trust and a confidence in God that results in relying on Him in and for everything. It denotes a spiritual relationship with God knowing who He is, the kind of Person He is, what He means to us, etc. This faith helps us to hold on to Him even when things are dark around us, when we don't know what is happening or how things are going to turn out. Job, at the lowest point of his life in a natural sense, held on to this faith that irrespective of what happened to him, he would continue to trust in God (Job.13:15). The three friends of Daniel held on to being faithful towards God even at the risk that God might not save them from the furnace (Da.3:17,18). Jesus found it extremely difficult to bear the fact that His Father had rejected Him on the cross when He bore our sins, but He trusted the Father enough to hand over His spirit to Him (Mt.27:46;Lk.23:46). This is the faith that pleases God, and without this it is impossible to please Him (He.11:6).

If we have 'great' faith, it means that our confidence in God is great. It shows that God is really great in our eyes. If we say our faith is 'weak,' we may think that we are being humble to admit that our faith cannot accomplish great things. But what we actually imply is that our God is small -- our knowledge of God is small.

There were two occasions when Jesus praised people for the greatness of their faith. When a Roman centurion requested Him to heal his servant who was away at home, Jesus said that He had not seen such a great faith even in Israel (Mt.8:10). What the centurion expressed was his confidence in the authority of Jesus to do whatever He wanted (and not the faith he had to get this request from Jesus). When a Gentile woman asked Jesus to cast out a demon from her daughter who was at home (Mt.15:28), the greatness of the faith was in believing that Jesus would meet her need even though she did not deserve it. Both had to do with the Person of Jesus rather than the person who made the request.

Let's not say our faith is small. Let's get to know our Lord better.