Give me more! At the buffet my friend Dave Lynema and I say, “give me more prime rib!” At the bank we say, “give me more money!” More is also something we want for personal development. I want more patience, more love, and more wisdom. Today we say to God, “Give me more faith!” By helping me to see when I’m the problem and by helping me to see Jesus.
The center point to this lesson is on the words of the disciples to Jesus, “Increase our faith”. But the reasons why they asked Jesus this is key. Have you ever been presented with a seemingly impossible task? Professor comes up to you and says you have to get this 12 page essay done by tomorrow! Your boss gives you a deadline that you don’t think you could meet! You raise your eyes up to the sky and say, “oh give me strength.” If you’ve been there then you know the feeling of the disciples. They have just been presented an impossible task by Jesus. Check it out.
“Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come…If your brother sins against you rebuke them…if they repent forgive them even if they sin against you seven times in a day you must forgive them”.
So Jesus tells them that they shouldn’t cause anyone to sin EVER. Forgive people EVERY time they sin and make sure little one’s are learning the Word. The disciples give that look up to the sky. That’s impossible. But the problem was not the impossible task. The problem was that they thought that accomplishing all this was something they could do. Look inside to find more of whatever it is to get the job done that Jesus asked of them.
Jesus knows how they get in the way of God’s power. So, he gives them a lesson about faith. It has nothing to do with you but the object of faith HIM. Jesus makes even small faith work in seemingly impossible ways.
Jesus makes his point by talking about the small seed of faith given by God that can uproot a tree and plant it in the sea. He says to the disciples – you think this task is impossible because you don’t have faith. You’re looking in your heart…you need to get out of the way and see how God works seemingly impossible things for you.
As I go through the commands that Jesus gave the disciples here I can see why they thought they were impossible. When you and I look at our lives those tasks are impossible for us too.
Jesus said, “don’t cause anyone to stumble”. How many times have you said something that hurt someone in your family or in the church even if unintentionally. How many times someone saw our actions and said, “I don’t want to believe in a God like that if that’s what his people do.”
Jesus talks about the punishment for those who would stand in the way of little children learning about Jesus. Sometimes it’s tuff when you work on a Saturday to get Jonny up for church on Sunday – he wants to go…but maybe you don’t.
Here’s the hard one for me, “if a brother sins against you rebuke them.” I have no problem pointing out mistakes to people that I don’t like…but point out mistakes to a friend?
And perhaps this one takes the cake – I want you to think of the person who has done the worst thing to you. Someone that you said is so toxic you don’t even want them around anymore. Someone who actually damaged you. Look them in the eye and say I forgive you and when they hit you again say I forgive you again.
We look at these commands of Jesus and a sinful person throws on their WWJD bracelet and says I’ve got it. I’ll dig deep – I just gotta have faith. I just gotta believe harder. I just gotta read my Bible more. You know what I have noticed about those “I just gotta phrases”? They usually fail in the end. They break us – we can’t hold them. Because that’s us looking at God’s commands and saying I keep this. I can do it and we can’t.
See when we say to Jesus, “increase our faith.” That phrase is an acknowledgement that we are the problem. The commands that we don’t keep are because there is not one thing in here that can hold up our end.
Jesus held up though. Forgive 7 times…how many times did he forgive in one chapter while he was hanging on the cross, Judas, Peter, the disciples disown him, spit on, murdered he says forgive them.
Jesus never caused anyone else to stumble. He said I’ll face temptation for them and beat it.
We think of the impossible commands of God that we fail in when we are the problem and we see that the solution is found in HIM. You look at your life and say I am the problem and Jesus says I’ll give you faith…faith that means something because it is rooted in me the one who did the impossible to give sinful people heaven.
Jesus disciples ask him this pointed question, “increase our faith!” Jesus gave them and you the answer to that request.
He tells this story about the identity of a servant and a master. The servant does all his tasks and the master doesn’t say thank you – the servant doesn’t get to eat before his master. And it sounds really harsh. But the point of the story was to say to his disciples, if you want to increase your faith you’ve got to be seeing who the master is!
As you then ask Jesus to increase your faith. See that same answer…see Jesus as the master.
And friends you aren’t going to see that looking in your heart. You aren’t going to see that in the wind or the sunshine. You see it by opening up this book.
Let me give you a bit of an illustration. I told someone recently what makes me really respect someone. On a personal level I respect people that show up. That’s stability its somebody you can count on. Their faithfulness to get tasks done proves something to you and increases your “faith” in them.
How can you expect to grow in faith and trust in difficult situations if you are not looking at how God shows up? If you aren’t seeing him?
Take this word of God and yes read it but then remember the verses and say on a daily basis what is God doing for me today. How can I see how God showed up for me exactly the way he said he would in his word.
The more I grow in the Word of God I realize something pretty clear. As much as God has blessed me and you – the best we can do in life is simply get out of the way. We pray with those disciples, “increase our faith”. Lord help us to rely on you and to take ourselves out of the equation.
Help me to see how God always shows up for me.