GREAT FAITH VS. LITTLE FAITH

The Problem of Little Faith

Passages in Matthew

Jerry A Collins

12/29/02

SCC

® What kind of faith is little faith in our lives?

Why is little faith such a problem for us?

How can we overcome little faith and have great faith?

At this stage in my Christian walk God requires more faith from me. Godís expectations toward each of us will vary depending on the depth of our relationship with Him. While He may be more accommodating toward my lack of faith in the earlier days of my Christian walk, he will be less so as my walk progresses. For instance, when Thomas was not present when Jesus first revealed Himself to His disciples, skeptical of what they had seen, Thomas exclaimed he would not believe Ďexcept I shall see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand in His sideí. When Thomas and Jesus met, Jesus said Ďreach here...and be not faithless but believe. Jesus accommodated his unbelief but also cautioned at the same time that those that can accept by faith are blessed of God. As we close one year and enter into the next, our maturity will be dependent upon an increase in our faith. So when God requires more faith from us He is simply forcing us to grow into maturity. No one enjoys the discomfort of walking by faith but it is an essential ingredient in the life of His disciples. In the book of Matthew there are four instances where the disciples of Christ are challenged about their little faith. This may be the same challenge awaiting all of us in the next year. The challenge to increase our faith and go on to greater maturity in our lives. We will learn what causes little faith and how we can mature toward a greater faith in our lives.

1. BEING ANXIOUS ABOUT OUR LIVES SHOWS LITTLE FAITH 6:30

A person who worries about those things may have saving faith but he does not have mature faith. First He talks about food and clothes but then about worry. Worry occurs 6 times in these verses. It means to be anxious, to be in trouble or to take thot of or to take care for. The point is Ďdonít trouble yourself about your life. That includes your food, clothes, your life stature or about tomorrow. Worry is believing God is not in charge of meeting my needs. Imagine believing that God can redeem you, save you from your sin, break power of Satan, take you to heaven where He has prepared a place for you and keep you there for eternity and yet you cannot trust Him to supply your daily needs? Worry is not a trivial sin because it strikes a blow at Godís integrity. Worry declares God to be untrustworthy in His promises to us. It shows we are really mastered by our circumstances than an understanding of Godís Word. Those who have no hope in God naturally put their hope in themselves and the things they can enjoy here. They have nothing to live for but the present. They have no God to supply their needs so anything they get they must get for themselves. No heavenly Father cares for them so they have need to worry. But this would be foolish for one who heavenly father knows that they need these things. So the maturing believer is anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving requests be made known to God Phil 4:6. Further, God is God of tomorrow as well as today. Tomorrow will take care of itself Jesus assures us because it is in the Fatherís hands. If you put yourself in charge of your needs, you will always be anxious for tomorrow. Have greater faith.

2. BEING TIMID AND AFRAID WHEN TROUBLE COMES SHOWS LITTLE FAITH 8:26

Jesus gets into the boat. There was a great storm on the sea. Jesus was asleep and the disciples wake him and cry out Save us. We are perishing. Jesus said they had little faith. It is the disease of discipleship. It is not Ďno faithí but it is Ďlittle faithí. He tells them this rite in the middle of the storm. The same is true of the storms in our lives. The disciples concluded that because of the storm things were out of Godís control. We are perishing. Which is what we often conclude when there is trouble in our lives. Things are out of Godís control and we are perishing. The storm brot them to Jesus because they had no other option. They needed His protection just as much

before the storm but they did not realize that or come to Him until they were convinced they were perishing. That is why there are storms in our lives to show us what was true all along, that without Christ we are perishing. To increase our awareness of our desperation for God manifested by an increased dependence upon Him. Faith needs constant strengthening. After Jesus miraculously calmed the storm and sea they marveled and were amazed at Him. They were now more afraid (Mark 4:41) of the one who had stilled the storm than they had been of the storm itself. Donít stumble over what God is or is not doing in your life when you are suffering without explanation. The disciples stumbled over Jesus sleeping while they were perishing in the boat. They thot Jesus did not care, He was no longer with us, involved in our life. Jesus told them they had little faith. When you are in a suffering situation donít have little faith, donít respond to that by having less faith in God.

3. WHEN OUR FOCUS IS DIVERTED TOWARD STORMS AROUND US ITíS LITTLE FAITH

Jesus could have come sooner even before the storm. He came to them thru the storm, thru the danger. They were not lost or in trouble they just thot they were. Christ knew exactly where they were. It was Christ who kept Peter from sinking. He took Peter as far as his faith would take him. Peter began to sink when the wind took his focus off of Christ. We do not call people to have faith but to direct their faith toward Christ. The question is what is your faith in? Doubt is to lose focus. His faith was eoungh to get him out of the boat but it was not enough to carry him across the water. faith is strengthened by its being taken to extremities it has never faced before. Such strengthening is basic to Christian maturity. The Lord takes us as far as our faith will go and when it ends we begin to sink.. As we trust God in the faith we have, we discover its limitations but we also discover what it can yet become. Faith is to focus and that focus is on Christ. Little faith is when our focus gets diverted into the storms around us. Have great faith.

4. SEEING THINGS WITH AN EARTHLY PERSPECTIVE IS LITTLE FAITH 16:8

Forgetting to bring bread Jesus uses occasion to tyell them to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and they think Jesus is talking about bread. They still thot and functioned primarily on a physical level. Their earthly orientation was a barrier to spiritual vision. Jesus rebukes them about this and tells them plainly He is speaking of spiritual matters. We need help to interpret lifeís struggles, perploexities, problems,and opportunities in lite os spiritual truth and resources. Donít be concened about bread but what is truly important. Only Godís Word and Spirit can raise us above the confusion and live abpve a purely human dimension.