During my 40 years of ministry to the sick, I have realized that one very common problem often plagues those seeking healing from the Lord. That problem is fear concerning their own faith and whether or not it is too weak to receive the help they need. So let me address the problem from two different directions. First of all, we will see from God’s Word that “little” or “weak” faith did not keep Jesus from performing extensive miracles for people when He ministered in person. And secondly, we will look at how to make sure our faith grows stronger on a continuous basis.
Many people look at the scripture in Mark chapter 6 where Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth and teaches in their synagogue, but is rejected by the people. Verses 5 and 6 of that chapter say, “He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid his hands upon a few sick fold, and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief.” If we are not careful, we can be easily deceived by the enemy Satan and the lies he has managed to slip into religious doctrines, and this situation offers an excellent opportunity for such deception. Many people who need healing read these words and say to themselves, “Well, Jesus could not do any big miracles there because those people did not have enough faith. If they didn’t have enough faith with Jesus standing right there, then I’m sure I don’t have enough because I need a really big miracle.”
But dear one, that is not the case at all. This passage does not say the people of Nazareth had “weak” faith. Look again. And look at the story as it is told in the other Gospels as well – especially, Luke, chapter 4. Each Gospel writer emphasized a different aspect of the story – as they did with many of the events they described – because each had a different job to do with his Gospel. Luke makes it clear that these same people totally rejected Jesus as the Messiah – or even a true prophet of God. They so rejected Him that they pushed Him to the brow of the hill on which the city was built and tried to throw Him off the hill to kill Him. We are not dealing with “weak” faith here. We are dealing with total unbelief, rebellion, and absolute rejection of Jesus as an anointed prophet of God. And, yes, in the face of such absolute unbelief and rejection, He cannot perform much in the way of miracles for them because God as instituted His covenant with man in such a way that man always has a part to play in the work of God in his life. These people made their choice not to receive miracles from Jesus.
But what is interesting to me is that, even with all that unbelief and rejection, the one thing Jesus was still able to do was heal some sick people. Now, isn’t that something to think about? He was not able to do any “mighty miracles,” but He was able to heal a few sick people – obviously some who did believe in Him. So doesn’t that tell us that, as far as God’s power is concerned, healing sick people doesn’t really count as “mighty miracles” ? In other words – it’s some of the easiest work God does. Now, of course, as far as God Himself is concerned, it’s all easy. But, you understand, these explanations were written in terminology that we can all relate to.
But does the Word have anything to say about people with “weak” faith getting something from Jesus? Most decidedly, yes! Let’s look at just a few. First of all, in Luke 17:5-6, Jesus’ disciples ask Him to increase their faith. But Jesus’ answer to them is, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, ‘Be thou plucked up by the root and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.’” Now, a mustard is extremely tiny. In fact in other places in scripture Jesus refers to it as one of the smallest of seeds. So if that is the measure of faith we need for a miracle as big as uprooting a tree and moving it into the ocean, getting healed doesn’t take a whole lot.
But Jesus follows this statement with a short sermon about how servants act, and He makes the point that we expect our servants to work. He indicates, by tying those two points together, that the amount of faith is not the problem, but rather being diligent to put that faith to work. We must remember that James says “faith without works (corresponding actions) is dead.” (James 2:17-26). The word “works” from the Greek literally means action that corresponds and bears out the truth of that faith that we claim to have. In other words, we must make sure we plant our faith in God’s Word and then act and speak in agreement with the Word if we expect our faith to bear fruit.
Now let’s look at Matthew 6, where Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, is telling His followers not to fret about food or clothing or other material needs because God will take care of them as surely as He does the birds and the flowers. In verse 30, He says, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Now, consider this dear reader. Even though their faith is “little,” God is going to be able to provide all their material needs – if they will just put that “little”faith in Him and let it work there.
And Jesus proved that what He said was true when He fed more than 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. In Matthew 14, He has compassion on the multitude who have followed Him and listened to His teaching for several days, and when His disciples suggest He send them away to find food, He says to the disciples, “They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto Him,’We have here but five loaves and two fishes.’” (Matt.14:16-17). You see, He was giving His disciples the chance to use their faith to feed the crowd. They could have done so, or He would not have told them to do so. But they did not yet understand about putting their faith to work so Jesus had to go ahead and work the miracle Himself. But notice: He worked this huge miracle for them even though their own faith was too “little” to do the job.
Now, lets’ look at one more. To my mind, it is one of the greatest examples because, to me, this miracle was enormous. Again, for God, it was everyday stuff. But looking from the human perspective, this is something extraordinary. When Jesus came to His disciples walking on the water, in Matthew 14:25-32, His disciples become fearful. He calls out to them to be not afraid, and Peter says, “Lord, if ti be thou bid me come unto thee on the water.” Jesus, without any hesitation, says, “Come,” and out Peter hops. Now the extraordinary thing is that, according to the Word, Peter, “walked on the water to go to Jesus.” This ordinary human being walked on the water. Was it because his faith was so “strong”? Let’s see.
We all know the story, don’t we? “But when he [Peter] saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’” And what does Jesus do? Does He say, “Sorry, Peter, your faith is too weak for you to get this miracle. If you can’t believe better than that you’ll just have to drown.”? Of course not.
“Immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’” So there you have it, friend. Jesus says Himself that Peter had “little” faith, and we can see that he most certainly did. But Jesus was still able to perform miracles for him – and did so – even with “little” faith. In fact, I believe Jesus knew Peter well enough to know that He didn’t really have strong enough faith to make it on his own when He told him he could “come.” But that did not cause Jesus to tell Peter not to try. And even though Peter’s faith was “weak,” He still managed to walk on water for part of the way. Then even when he started sinking, Jesus was still able to work on His behalf and deliver him – even though his faith was only “little.”
So, dear one, don’t be burdened with fear concerning your faith because you think its small or weak. Just plant that faith into Jesus – and His Word – and it will be enough to give Him what He needs to work for you.
However, we do not want to be satisfied with faith that is not as strong as possible. So we need to realize that God has provided a way for our faith to increase and grow stronger on a consistent basis. That way is His Word. Now don’t get led astray by multiple religious doctrines that try to tell you that trials and tests will create or strengthen your faith. They will not! There is absolutely no scripture that even hints at the idea that trials will create faith. On the contrary, the Word of God tells us of only one thing that will create faith in us. Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the WORD OF GOD.” You see, God’s Word is the only thing that will show us those spiritual things that are real. We cannot see them, touch them, taste them in the natural. We couldn’t believe in God by looking to our natural senses to tell us He was there. It took the Word. When we heard the Gospel – either by reading it, hearing it preached, listening to someone’s testimony – or in other ways – that Gospel (Word) convinced us that God was real and that He loved us. In other words, it created faith in us, and we were able to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior.
In the same way, all of the things God has provided for us – all of the victories He has accomplished through Jesus – are in the spirit realm. Our faith – by our own confession of that Word – and our own acts of obedience to that Word – bring those spiritual things into the natural realm. Salvation in all its forms (cleansing from sin, healing, deliverance, material provision, peace) is established in the spirit realm and moves into the natural realm – to manifest in our bodies, our minds, and our circumstances – through faith.
So if we want more faith – or we want our faith to grow stronger – we must get into God’s Word faithfully and apply it to our lives. We must not only read it; we must obey it – be doers of it.
Jesus talked about people who were dull of hearing and who had hardened hearts and could not believe. Do you know how they got that way? They heard the Word, but they made no response to it. In actual fact, every time we hear truth from God’s Word and just toss it aside and don’t apply it and obey it, there’s a film that begins to form over our hearing and over our hearts. The next time the Word comes forth, we don’t hear it quite as easily, and therefore, we can’t believe it quite as easily. Then if we do that again, the same thing happens again. After a while, our hearing becomes dull, and our hearts become hardened.
Contrarily, every time we hear truth from God’s Word and do apply it and obey it – make it a living part of us and our lives – our hearing becomes even more sharp, and our hearts are opened up even more by that Word becoming active on the inside of us. Life begets life. That’s why Jesus had so much to say about being careful how and what we hear, as in Mark 4:24-25. “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath. [A more clear translation of this last line is “from him shall be taken even that which he thinketh he hath.”]
So we do not want to be casual in our care of the faith God has given us. We need to be diligent to get into His Word and obey it so that our faith will continually increase and grow stronger. Remember, we are not interested in just having enough faith for our own needs. We want more than “little” faith because we want faith strong enough to help the other people in our lives receive their miracles from God’s hand as well.
Image courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy: