Summary: Jesus was amazed at the lack of faith in His own hometown. By contrast, and rightly so, His apostles appealed to Jesus to increase their faith. Following their example, we too can grow in faith to receive great things from God.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more.
•• That’s something to thank God for — that is, that we are steadily growing in faith.
•• Like Jesus’ original disciples, that should be our personal goal — ever-growing faith.
• Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Matthew 9:29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.”
•• This is grounds for hope, for great optimism — that is, that things will be done, even great things like healing of blindness, in proportion to our faith.
•• Many years ago I was praying for people at the close of a church service. A young man came up to me and said, “The Lord told me that if you pray for me, He will heal my eyes.” So I prayed, and the Lord did indeed heal his vision, as Jesus promised, “according to [his] faith”.
•• If this is the case — that our faith levels affect what we receive — then we see how vitally important it is that we grow in our personal capacities to believe God for His goodness and His divine intervention in our lives. Let’s look at some biblical principles that will cause our faith to grow.
Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”
•• Doubt! — a great defeater of faith. Jesus said to Peter: “You of little faith ... why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) Doubt and faith cannot coexist. Doubt tears down faith.
Mark 6:6 And [Jesus] was amazed at their lack of faith.
•• I don’t want to amaze Jesus in this wrong way. He clearly expects the normal condition for a Christian to be lots of faith.
•• Rethink faith — Having much faith is what Jesus expects of us. It’s our lacking faith that amazes Him.
Mark 11:22“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.
•• Faith is a choice of our will. It is something we can determine to do. Personalize it: “I will have faith in God.” Why should this be difficult? In hundreds of instances in your life, over and over again, God has proven Himself to be faithful.
•• You can settle for a mindset like this: “Groan! I feel sick. Let’s call the doctor.” That’s OK, and what you will get is the doctor’s best effort. Or ... you can choose to have a better mindset — “I’m going to have faith in God!”
John 8:30 Even as He spoke, many put their faith in him.
Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
•• The message, the Gospel, God’s Word — that is where “faith comes from”.
•• Aware of this, my wife and I have developed a habit to help us grow in faith and grow in our relationship with the Lord. We take time each day reading the Bible out loud to each other at a pace that will cover the Bible at least once a year. Even though between us we have about 100 years of following the Lord, we are well aware that we need to be continually striving to grow in our faith. We take very seriously the command of the apostle Peter to “...grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, KJV).
Romans 1:12 ...that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
•• You can have a beneficial effect on my faith levels, and I on yours. I find that I am encouraged, and my faith is increased, by being around men and women of great faith. Choose to fellowship with those who have shown the ability to believe God for great things. It will have a tendency to “rub off on you”. Likewise, choose in turn to be a faith role model for the blessing of others.
•• Mark 5:35-36 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
• Jesus gave us a great example here — Ignore the naysayers, the doomsayers, those whose words would tend to defeat your faith. Rather, “Just believe!” Because just as our faith can inspire others, our unbelief can diminish the faith of others.
Ephesians 6:16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
1 Timothy 6:11 But you, man of God ... pursue righteousness, godliness, faith...
•• Pursue faith, take up the shield of faith. Don’t let situations rule you. Don’t become passive or fatalistic. You be the aggressor in faith.
•• Remember the example of the two blind men in Matthew 20:30-34. They kept shouting out to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on us!” Unfeeling people in the crowd rebuked them, but the blind men shouted to the Lord all the louder. When Jesus asked them what He could do for them, they replied, “Lord, we want our sight.” And Jesus immediately healed their blindness.
• Several things stand out about the blind men’s faith. They were not inhibited by the magnitude of their need. They were not discouraged by the resistance and rebuke of the crowd. To the contrary, in the face of the crowd’s scolding, they “shouted all the louder” to Jesus. They remained the pursuers, the aggressors, and Jesus honored their faith. What is the takeaway for us? — Don’t give up! Keep pursuing the Lord. Let your faith be always active; don’t settle for passivity.
1 John 5:4 ...This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
•• Develop this mindset: “I am an overcomer. The world doesn’t defeat me; rather, through the Lord I overcome the world. How? By my faith!”
•• Believe God, trust His promises. Remember to always “...believe that ... [God] rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Summary of some keys to ever-increasing faith:
• God wants our faith to grow.
• Much of what we receive from Him will be “according to” our faith.
• Embrace the apostles’ attitude: “Lord, increase our faith.”
• Determine not to doubt God’s faithfulness to His word and His promises.
• Remember that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. In other words, Jesus expects us to be people of faith.
• Determine, as Jesus exhorted, to “have faith in God”.
• Let the example of other faith-filled people inspire you.
• In turn, purpose to be a role model of faith to others.
• As the apostle Paul wrote, be proactive — take up faith, pursue it.
• As you walk in this troubled world, remember “the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith”.