The Essence of Faith

Matthew 17:14-20
14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
     When we face the mountains of our life—those daunting challenges that seem insurmountable—it's easy to think that if we had "more" faith, then we could move those mountains. But what if faith isn't as much about the “amount” of faith we have, but the quality of our trust in God? This week, we're diving into the story found in Matthew 17:14-20 to explore this idea, shedding light on the true nature of faith.
     In this passage, a desperate father approaches Jesus, asking for the healing of his epileptic son. The disciples had tried and failed to heal the boy, and Jesus responds by rebuking them for their "little faith." At first glance, it seems like Jesus is saying that a greater "quantity" of faith would have gotten the job done, but the message is a bit more nuanced than that. Jesus often used parables and analogies to get His point across, and the mustard seed is a prime example. In the ancient world, a mustard seed was a symbol of something tiny that could grow into something large and impactful. The takeaway here isn't that you need a huge amount of faith; rather, even a tiny seed of sincere faith can grow to move the metaphorical mountains in your life.
     We often fall into the trap of thinking that more faith equals more miracles—or more of God’s favor. However, even a small amount of genuine, heartfelt faith can do wonders. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:2, "If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." It's not just the size of your faith but the quality of your faith, wrapped in love and sincerity, that truly counts. A more apt description of faith is trust. It's not just about believing God "can," but believing God "will," according to His purpose. Like any deep, meaningful relationship, your relationship with God is built on trust and grows stronger over time.
     In the words of Charles Spurgeon, "True faith is never found alone; it is always accompanied by expectation." This expectation isn't a mere wish; it's rooted in a genuine relationship with God. When Spurgeon speaks of expectation, it's crucial to understand that he's not talking about a vague hope or wishful thinking. Far from being a whimsical or unfounded desire, this expectation is a settled conviction, a confident assurance. It’s like knowing the sun will rise each morning—not because you hope it will, but because you've seen it happen day after day. This is expectation rooted not in a whim but in established fact and experience.
     What gives this expectation its solid ground is its foundation in a genuine relationship with God. Your expectation doesn’t hover in the air; it is anchored in the unchanging character of God, in His promises, and in His track record of faithfulness. When you look back at your walk with God, you'll often find a breadcrumb trail of answered prayers, delivered promises, and miraculous interventions that build and affirm this expectation.
     Expectation also means that you believe the God who performed wonders in biblical times—and maybe in your past—is the same God who will continue to act in your life today and in the future. It's based on the understanding that God’s character is unchanging; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This historical perspective deepens our expectation by showing us that we're part of a much larger story of God's faithfulness across time.
     Expectation isn't passive; it influences how we pray, how we act, and how we approach challenges. When you have a faith imbued with expectation, you'll find yourself praying bold prayers, not just safe, small requests. You'll also take steps of obedience with greater courage, trusting that God will honor His promises. And when challenges arise, you’ll face them not with dread but with a sense of anticipation, eager to see how God will move.

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