Increase Our Faith (Luke 17:5)

“You have to have faith!”

This is the clarion cry of the secular and the religious to encourage one another. Faith means to completely trust something or someone. Before I became a Christian, my faith was centered upon myself. If I failed, I alone was to blame. Conversely if I succeeded, I should receive all the accolades. I did have faith in myself and not infrequently, I would wonder how I could increase this faith in myself. It seemed a worthy request. Wouldn’t that make me a better person?

Years later, through God’s grace and mercy, He led me to confess my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I understood the self-centered and egotistical life that I led, relying upon faith in myself alone. My faith was now centered upon Jesus Christ and I lived for Him. Yet, I still found myself asking the same question, how do I increase my faith in God? Thankfully, I am in good company because even the apostles of Jesus Christ asked their Lord the same question. Wouldn’t that make me a better person to serve God?

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Luke 17:5 (NASB)

It seemed like a simple and straightforward request. It was noble, even praiseworthy. What could be more fundamental than asking God for more faith? The answer that Jesus Christ gave was startling.

And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

Luke 17:6-10 (NASB)

Say what?

Perhaps the apostles were thinking that Jesus would tell them something like pray more frequently or earnestly or read and memorize the Scriptures. That’s the kind of answer I would expect if I wanted to increase my faith, after all, wouldn’t that make me a better person and please God? Instead, Jesus turned their expectations on its head. To increase their faith, the apostles were instructed to serve God and others without any expectation of reward or recognition. Jesus’ answer is a sobering reminder to all of us about how small and incomplete our understanding is of what true faith means.

Lord, increase our faith. 

Indeed, but are we willing to accept the answer?

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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