Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Lord, Increase My Faith

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

Do you ever feel that your faith is weak and shallow and that you need some help increasing it? If so you are in good company because the Apostles felt exactly the same way. In Luke 17:5 ‘The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"’ to which Jesus responded by saying,

"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' " (Luke 17:6-10)

Now how does what Jesus say here help the Apostles, and us today, to increase our faith? Well first of all Jesus is showing what is of primary importance; that it is God as the object of our faith and not how much faith we have that really matters. To accomplish great things to advance the kingdom of God depends not on the quantity of our faith, but the power of God.

Notice that Jesus says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."

By referring to the tiny mustard seed after being asked about increased faith, he deflects attention away from the quantity of faith to the object of faith. It is God who moves mulberry trees, not how much faith we have. And whether a mulberry tree is moved does not depend decisively on the quantity of our faith, but on his power and wisdom and love.

When we grasp this important principle about faith we are helped not to worry about our faith but rather are inspired to trust God's free initiative and power.

Jesus then goes on to help their faith grow by telling them in verses 7-10 that when they have done all they are commanded to do, they are still radically dependent on God’s grace.

To demonstrate this Jesus gives an illustration. The gist of it is that the owner of a slave does not become a debtor to the slave no matter how much work the slave does. The meaning is that God is never our debtor. Verse 10 sums it up: "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' "

Whatever we have done for God we are always in his debt; we will never be able to pay off this debt, nor are we ever meant to. We will always be dependent on His grace. We can never work our way into a position where God is in our debt. As Paul writes in Romans 11:35, ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’

When Jesus says in Luke 17:9 that the owner does not "thank" the slave, it is because the slave is not giving the owner more than what the owner deserves. In other words he is not the one treating the owner with grace, since grace is being treated better than you deserve. So it is with us in relation to God. We never treat God with grace. We never give him more than he deserves; which means that he never owes us thanks. God never says "Thank you" to us. Rather He is always giving us more than we deserve and we always owe Him thanks.

The lesson for us is that when we have done all we should do as Christians – for example: prayed, read the Bible, given to the poor, worked on our marriages, and boldly proclaimed Christ - God owes us no thanks. Instead we are still in His debt, totally dependant upon His grace. And Jesus says this should be a great encouragement to faith. Now why is that? Simply because it means that God is just as free to bless us before we get our act together as he is after. Since we are "unworthy" slaves before we have done what we should, and "unworthy" slaves afterwards as well, it is only grace that would prompt God to help us. Therefore he is free to help us before and after. This should be a great incentive for us to trust him for help when we feel like our act is not together.

So Jesus is telling us that two things increase our faith: First, remember that God himself and not the quantity of our faith is the decisive factor and second, free grace is the way God treats us before and after we have done all we that we ought to do. We will never move beyond the need for His grace.

Let us, therefore, trust in God and His grace for great things in our little faith, and let us not be paralysed into inactivity by what is still to be done in our lives and in our church.

Have a good week placing your little faith in God and trusting in His grace.

Pastor Barry

1stNovember 2009

Back to top