Great Faith or Great God?
Jesus taught his disciples: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Lk. 17:3,4). The next statement of the apostles was “Increase our faith” (v. 5). The Lord’s reply was not what we might expect. He did not go into a discussion of how faith should grow, but said: “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (v. 6).
The power of faith is not in a powerful faith, but in a powerful God. If the faith is in the right source, it will not take much. In fact, Jesus said “as a mustard seed,” and that is not very great!
When Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, he showed faith in a great God, “one who answers by fire” (1 Kgs. 6:11). Later, his faith in God was overcome by his fear of Jezebel and he asked to die (1 Kgs. 19:4). Elisha, who took the place of Elijah, showed a God-centered faith in dealing with the Syrians. When the Syrians would make a move, Elisha would tell the king of Israel where they were. The king of Syria asked, “Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?” (2 Kgs. 6:11). One of the servants said, “None, my lord, O king, but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom” (v. 12). God is not only omnipotent, but also omniscient.
When the Syrian army surrounded Dothan, one of Elisha’s servants asked, “Alas, my master! What shall we do? So he answered, Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kgs. 6:15,16). Who was with Elisha? The Lord! He simply asked the Lord to strike them with blindness and led them into Samaria, the capital of Israel and then asked for their sight to be restored. Imagine how they felt! But, Elisha fed them and sent them back to their master. “So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel” (2 Kgs. 6:23). The great God had responded to a small faith.
We need to strengthen our faith, but more than that, we need to have our faith in the right place. Jesus said, “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt. 17:20). We do not have to wait until we have a great faith to overcome “mountains” that obstruct us, but we do need trust in the great God that we serve.