“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.'” (Luke 17:5-6 NIV)
Faith is so vital to the Christian life that Scripture tells us, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). And yet faith is such a powerful gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9) that with just a tiny measure of it, the size of a mustard seed, Christ told His disciples they could move mountains. So, what does it mean to have “mustard seed faith”?
Certainly, the statement about uprooting trees by faith is not to be taken literally. No one can do such thing, no matter how great their faith. But the key to understanding the passage is the nature of faith, which is a gift from God. The mustard seed is not the smallest seed known today, but it was the smallest seed used by Palestinian farmers and gardeners. Under favorable conditions the plant could reach ten feet in height. Therefore, the conclusion is that the amount of faith needed to do great things is very small indeed. You see, the mustard seed even though small, will eventually grow into a huge tree. So, too, does the tiniest bit of faith, when it is faith in God, grow to immense proportions in the lives of believers and spreading out to influence all those they come into contact with. Thus, the key is not to be consumed with how small our faith is in regards to other people’s faith; but intead is to have faith in God, and trust Him to increase our faith.
“Dear Lord, I come before You in faith, trusting in Your ability and willingness to hear and answer my prayers. And Lord, when my faith is not as strong as it should be; when my faith is shaken by life’s trials, please Lord, increase my faith. Amen.
God Loves You, and Will Use You, Just the Way You Are!
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.” (Psalm 139:1-2;13-14; NRSV)
I once read a story that beautifully illustrates the value of cracked pots: (God Uses Imperfect People Too!)
A water bearer in India had two large pots hanging at the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house. The other pot had a crack in it, and by the time it reached its destination, it was only half full. Every day for two years the water bearer delivered only one and one-half pots of water to the master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments—perfect to the end for which it was made. The poor little cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections and miserable that it could accomplish only half of what it had been designed to do. After two years of what the imperfect pot perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer and said, “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer, “What are you ashamed of?”
“Well, for these past two years, I have been able to deliver only half a load of water each day because this crack in my side allows water to leak out all the way back to the master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all this work without getting the full value of your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot noticed the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because half of its load had leaked out once again.
Then the bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path and not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I’ve always known about your flaw and took advantage of it by planting flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day as we walked back from the stream, you watered those seeds, and for two years I have picked these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just what you are, he would not have had this beauty to grace his house.”
“Dear God, thank you for using me, “one of your cracked pots.” I give You my gifts and talents, and all that I am, to be used in service to You, dear Lord, and to others, as You see fit. Thank You, Lord, for looking beyond my faults and my imperfections, and for seeing my need and desire to be used by You. Most of all, thank You for loving me. Amen.” Pastor Marjorie!