Faith and Unbelief. Day ten...
A few years ago Sherrel and I met an exceptional young couple. I was so impressed with their talent that I could easily see them as superstars for God. But as we began to develop a friendship, all the stuff coming against them began to surface. We counseled them intensely for a few months, but eventually they distanced themselves from us. I found out later that they had divorced.
Back when we still had some influence in their lives, one night while praying for them I was overcome with grief. They had so much potential to impact the world, and they were blowing it with their own selfishness. I couldn't understand how so much talent could go to waste. As I was grieving, God spoke to me:
“Don't be so impressed by talent. Be impressed by obedience. When you see potential, you see talent. When I see potential, I see obedience.”
We mistakenly take the credit (and the blame) for both our abilities and inabilities—as if any talents we have (or don't have) must be of our own doing, rather than realizing that our talents are the gifts and calling of the Lord.
And if you are a conscientious person trying to live by faith, this attitude will drive you to some sort of neurosis.
Faith, however, is not about acquisition. It is about utilization.
You do not need to acquire faith. You already have the measure of faith.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:3 KJV)
If God warns us to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think—but to think soberly—isn't it reasonable to assume He doesn't want us to think less highly of ourselves than we ought to think, either?
We only need to utilize our faith by allowing Jesus access to perfect the faith that he has authored within us.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV)
Let's take a look at two examples of “great faith,” according to Jesus. What conclusions can we draw?
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21–28 ESV)
Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.” Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick. (Luke 7:1–10 NKJV)
Notice that neither the mother nor the centurion were Jews; they were both Gentiles. And there is no indication that either of them ever practiced the Jewish law. They certainly weren't following all of the religious practices of that day. Isn't it reasonable to assume that not being able to follow all of the religious practices of today won't disqualify us either, from having great faith?
Notice that both the mother and the centurion humbled themselves before the Lord. The mother fell at his feet; the centurion did not consider himself worthy for Jesus to go to his house. No great talent or ability is required to humble oneself before the Lord. You and I have at least that much talent and ability, don't we?
Having the kind of faith that Jesus would call “great” does not require us to go out and get something we don't have. Having the kind of faith that Jesus would call “great” does not require any talent or ability on our part.
Having the kind of faith that Jesus would call “great” simply requires obedience.
Have a good day,