And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’” Matthew 17:20
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6
I can only imagine what the disciples were thinking now. On two occasions Jesus talks to His disciples about faith and a mustard seed. Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6. The former regarding casting out demons and moving mountains and the second, regarding forgiveness of sins and uprooting trees. In both cases Jesus is referring to faith, a mustard seed, and a small amount that can do great things.
The more we look at these verses, we find it is not just about seeds, mountains and trees, but Jesus is imploring His disciples to look to Him in all things. Difficult times were coming. So, for this blog, I would like to talk about a mustard seed-type faith that allows us to see obstacles as opportunities.
I am sure all of us at one time or another in our lives have experienced obstacles: they may be physical, financial, spiritual, cultural, racial, economical, or political, just to name a few. I think several of us are dealing with big obstacles daily.
How about the obstacles of fear and insecurity? The obstacles of ministry and family? For some of us, how about the obstacle of CHANGE? That can make you crazy inside. Since we are by nature creatures of habit, change is probably one of the biggest obstacles we face daily. So, then, how are we to deal with these obstacles by seeing them as opportunities?
Going back to the original verses mentioned, and for the sake of time, we will put aside casting out demons, uprooting trees, and moving mountains. Let us look at the issue of faith the size of a mustard seed. Jesus didn’t say, “Have faith in a mustard seed,” but He said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed.” Jesus is inferring that a small amount of faith can do great things. Then, the issue is not the amount of faith, but what your faith is in. This is the faith in a BIG God. There are those today that talk about your faith being the issue and what brings about change. It is off-base and not Biblical. Jesus was clearly saying minimal faith objectively placed in the God of all creation can accomplish great things.
The life, the crucifixion, the resurrection of Jesus demonstrates it is not us that can do anything, but in John 15:5, it says apart from Him I can do nothing. Paul says also in Philippians 4:13 that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” In Matthew 19:26, it says, “with God all things are possible.”
It is consistent that Jesus is telling His disciples that He is the focus and they need to be humble and willing to increase in faith as HE grows them.
Think about this in today’s terms. If your employer told you this amazing thing just happened and you have a tiny, tiny part of it, what would you think? If you are humble, you would be glad. If you are prideful, you would want a bigger piece.
So, whether it is moving mountains, forgiving sins, or uprooting trees, we must not take the credit for it—God does. As our faith grows, it will grow as we rely on Him more, not less!
As I mentioned earlier, this is the problem with those teachers who have taken faith out of the bounds of Biblical orthodoxy. They have turned faith from the objective that God designed into a subjective, ever-increasing, self- seeking, man driven spectacle of human wisdom and desires.
Mustard seed faith is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Mustard seed faith is characterized by seeking the Kingdom first: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Mustard seed faith is characterized by: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
In life we will have our obstacles, but let us have a mustard seed type faith that we are able to see those obstacles as opportunities for the Gospel, for discipleship, fellowship, evangelism and the greatest of all: worship.