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The littleness of our faith
- Jacob Ninan
The twelve disciples of Jesus were given authority to heal the sick and cast out demons as they went from place to place preaching the Gospel (Mt.10:1). They must have been amazed when demons obeyed them when they commanded them in the name of Jesus. But there came a time when they could not cast out a demon from a young man, and they were perplexed about it (Mt.17:19). Jesus' explanation was that it was because of the littleness of their faith (v.20).
Many people think of their 'small' faith in contrast to the 'great' faith some others have. They think that somehow the others have 'more' faith, in terms of quantity, than they. So they try to increase their faith by 'positive confessions', repeating God's promises, etc. But to explain what He meant by 'littleness of faith', Jesus made a very curious statement. He said if we had faith even the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. This is quite contrary to the common thinking that greater faith meant more faith or bigger faith.
It looks as if the disciples had begun to be used to their ability to cast out demons to the extent they forgot it was God's power. So possibly when they saw a violent manifestation from a demon they felt they couldn't handle it. But they didn't realise that for God no demon was a match, and if they looked at God instead of themselves, even a mustard seed faith would have sufficed.
Can we understand that if we want to move a mountain and we muster up all our 'faith' and gather up many friends to pray for us, the mountain will still not move unless God wanted it to move? The kind of big faith that people like to build up has no power in itself to move anything. Only God has the power to move anything. When we place our faith in Him, it is not the size of our faith that matters, but in whom we have faith. Many people try to manipulate God by gathering up 'faith' and 'claiming' things from God as their right in exchange for their faith! Some people wrongly teach that faith is the currency of heaven, and that we can get whatever we want from God if have enough of it.
It is God who has power, and He will exercise it on our behalf when we ask Him, if it is according to His will (1Jn.5:14). Since it is His will always to do what is best for us (Je.29:11), many times He will not give what we ask for! That's a good thing! Of course, if we don't have faith in God, there is no guarantee He will give us anything (Jas.1:6,7). We cannot insist that because we have faith God has to give us what we ask for.
A mature, godly man trusts God enough to willingly submit to His will, knowing that His will for him is the best that can be. He does not depend on his faith, but rather on God's goodness (Jn.2:11). He trusts God rather than look at how much faith he has. Even though he knows God can do anything, he is happy to pray 'in Jesus' name' bowing to His authority and His will, and not demand that God has to give whatever he asks for.