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"Little Faith"

April 28, 2019

 

The book of Matthew contains the most references to the word "faith" amongst the Gospels. It is also the 4th book overall in the whole Bible. It does seem like Matthew did have a theme of faith that he wanted to include in his Gospel!

 

Matthew is also unique in that his account covers 4 times that Jesus says, "you of little faith". Luke is the only other gospel where this appears, and only once at that.

 

The first occasion, Jesus was teaching about dealing with worry, and he says, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matt 6:30).

The second, Jesus was in a boat with his disciples and a huge storm whips up. The disciples feared for their lives, but Jesus was asleep. So his disciples wake him, and this is what is said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matt 8:26).

The third, again with the water theme, the disciples were in a boat and they see Jesus walking on the water towards them. In the middle of the night (I don’t know if this is awesome or creepy). Peter decides he’s going to take his chance and asks Jesus if he can walk on water too. Jesus says yes, and Peter does. At least for a little bit. Then he gets scared and starts sinking. This is what Matthew writes, “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”” (Matt 4:31).

The final account, Jesus was chilling with his disciples and he told them to be wary of the “yeast of the pharisees”. The disciples thought that Jesus was being literal and telling them not to take bread from the pharisees because they forgot the bread. Jesus corrects them and says, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matt 16:8-12).

 

At first glance I couldn't find the link between these statements. But when I went deeper into the words translated "little faith", I discovered that perhaps I've been looking at faith wrong. I used to think that growing faith was about adding more "faith blocks" to my life. It was something tangible that I had. But instead of a numerical amount, the word "little" can also be used to describe an intensity, when something is light in intensity. And the word faith, which I think might have lost its meaning in our culture, has the connotation of persuasion.

 

In other words, when Jesus was saying that someone had "little faith", He could be translated as saying that they had a light persuasion towards the goodness and love of God. Our faith is linked to how deep and strong our persuasion is toward God.

 

When we look at these 4 occasions that Matthew quotes Jesus saying, "you of little faith", I think we see 4 things that Jesus points out that can seek to persuade us away from God.

 

1. Worry and anxiety.

Are there things you are worried about that is stopping you from seeing God's provision?

 

2. Jesus' seeming inaction. 

Jesus was sleeping in the boat while a storm raged on. There is nothing like waiting for an answer from God to stop us trusting him! If you are still waiting for a response, it doesn't mean that God isn't there for you!

 

3. Difficult circumstances.

Peter was literally walking on water! But he took his eyes off Jesus and onto the waves and his faith wavered (pun totally intended!). What crazy situation threatens you from seeing the miracle God is working in your life right now?

 

4. Our mistakes and lack.

The disciples mistook Jesus' teaching because they thought that they had made a big mistake forgetting the bread. They thought Jesus was telling them off basically! Our lack and mistakes can cloud our view of God, and we can read things into His words and actions that were never there.

 

 

What is trying to convince you that God isn't for you? What is decreasing the intensity by which you are trusting Him?

 

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