Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
Faith That I Can Handle
June 5, 2015
It’s probably not the best thing to admit as a minister’s wife, but there is a passage of Scripture that I have always detested. The sad thing is that it’s a pretty popular verse you often find quoted on plaques, coffee mugs, necklaces, etc. But I can’t stand it! Or at least I couldn’t until about a month ago.
It’s the verse, actually two verses, found in Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6. The NIV Matthew passage says “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move….” The Luke passage talks about a mulberry tree rather than a mountain, but the gist is the same. This is the way I have always heard it, or at least the way I tend to remember it. Any sermons using these passages generally talk about having faith the size of or as small as a mustard seed, which is extremely tiny if you’ve never seen one in person.
But I don’t want to have a SMALL faith!!!!
Then…a few weeks ago as I was reading through my small group study book, this passage was quoted, only I noticed a difference. The version quoted said, “if you have faith AS a mustard seed.” No small. No size of. Huh, that got me thinking.
So I started researching those two verses in many different translations. Not to start a translation debate here, but I love to read and study various translations, because let’s be honest, any English translation is just that—a translation. No matter how hard the translators try to be extremely accurate, it’s still not going to be the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. Many times it doesn’t make that big of a difference in the overall message. But sometimes, minor words like “the size of” or “as small as” translated to “like” or “as” makes a MAJOR difference in my heart!
I don’t want to have a faith the size of a mustard seed. I want to have faith LIKE a mustard seed!!!
You see, a mustard seed has NO power of its own. No matter how hard it tries, it will never be anything but a tiny mustard seed. By itself, it can only hide in the ground and rot away. BUT, when it is willing to give up what it is and instead rely on the indescribable power of the Creator, watch out!! The tiny seed that can fit on the head of a pin can grow to over 9 feet tall!
THAT is the kind of faith I want to have. Faith that embraces my own powerlessness, but lives in the power of God. Faith that claims the end of that Matthew 17:20 verse that “Nothing will be impossible for you.” Faith that says, “though I am only one insignificant person in the vastness of this large world, Your power can use me to make a difference for Your kingdom.”
This makes so much sense to me, because right before those words of Jesus in Matthew, He and His disciples were discussing the disciples’ inability to cast out a demon from a little boy. They didn’t understand why they couldn’t drive it out. Jesus responded, “Because you have so little faith.” So why would He then in the very next breath commend having a teeny tiny faith?” It doesn’t make sense. Maybe the disciples were relying on their own spiritual ability to cast out the demon rather than in the power of God, and Jesus was attempting to paint a picture of how small our own power is in comparison with the Almighty. That it’s only God’s power through our faith where great things happen!
Oh to have faith like a mustard seed! Don’t we so often hold back from sharing God’s message or from stepping out to be involved in something we are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with because we’re afraid that WE might mess it up? What a relief it is to know that Jesus wants us to have faith like a mustard seed where we can speak up or step out with our own teeny abilities and trust that it is the full power of the One and Only God who makes the impossible possible!