weekly word – 4/11/24

How Do You Measure Faith?

Most of us are familiar with the story of Peter walking on the water. We find one account in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus had just fed the 5,000. He sent the disciples ahead of Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and went to pray. Late into the night the disciples were hit by high winds and waves that battered the boat. Jesus approached them, walking on the water and they were terrified thinking that He was a ghost. Jesus called out, "Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." By Peter's request, Jesus calls him out of the boat and onto the water. He was doing great until he focused on the wind and the waves. As he was sinking, he cried out to Jesus, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately took him by the hand and said, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

That may have seemed harsh to Peter. Peter could have thought, "Well, I had more faith than the other 11 who were still crying in the boat. When you think about it, in all of history, there were only 2 people who literally walked on water. Jesus and Peter! So why did Jesus point out that Peter had little faith?

I looked up the definition of 'a little', and as expected it defined it as something small in size or stature. That's what I always thought Jesus was telling Peter, that he lacked faith. He didn't have enough faith to do what he wanted. 

I found a second definition for 'a little'. It defined it as something short in length or duration. Peter had faith! Faith as big as a mustard seed could move mountains. His faith brought him out of the boat, his faith allowed him to walk on water, but he could not sustain that level of faith. 

We might find ourselves in similar circumstances. One day, we might be unwavering in our faith, then find ourselves faltering at other times. It's ok if we don't have huge faith. It's more important that we have long-lasting faith and that it keeps growing. I view this in the same way as someone involved in long-term conservative investing. As you look at the history of their investments, it is continually climbing on a rising trajectory. But if you take a closer, more detailed look, you will notice minor setbacks and dips, but the overall trajectory continues to climb. Our faith should look the same. We do have days or times when we're struggling in our faith, but we don't give up or continue on that downward trajectory. When we keep our eyes and hope fixed on Jesus, those dips get us to a higher point in our faith.

Faith is vital to our sanctification, just as it is for our salvation. Scripture gives us many reminders of this. Here are a few.

Hebrews 11:6, Now without faith it is impossible to please God. It's not something that can be difficult...it's impossible!

Our faith can't be dependent on our intellect or wisdom, as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God's power. We need to remember the source of our faith.

1 John 5:4, Everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.

Romans 1:17 says, The righteous will live by faith. It doesn't say, the righteous should or should strive to live by faith. Living without faith doesn't produce righteousness and living in a righteous way will increase your faith.

We need faith in God that depends on Him and faith that endures the test of time.

Pastor Bryan