Summary: God gives us all the faith we need, it’s up to us what we do with it.
“No More Than You Ought To”
By Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
“The apostles said to the Lord,
‘Increase our faith!’”
How many times have we asked the Lord for this same thing…
A couple of times?
A hundred times?
A couple hundred thousand times?
I can hear my own voice jump out of the Scripture and into the air, as I have many times cried out to the Lord, “Increase my faith!”
At other times I’m not even so sure I want to have any faith at all.
And this is because the demands of the Gospel are hard.
They go against the grain of the way the world conducts business.
And they often go against the grain of the way I would like to do business.
The world tells us to make all we can, save all we can, and spend all we can.
And that sounds pretty good to me, but the Lord tells us: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22b)
What in the world is that supposed to mean?
Treasure in heaven?
I want treasure on earth! I want a big fancy house! I want a brand new luxury car with all the bells and whistles.
Do I want treasure in heaven?
Sure, but can’t I have it both ways?
I mean a big fancy house and a nice expensive car will certainly help me to better live out my Christian mission.
It might even help increase my faith.
I could feel pretty good about myself as I drive to visit a poor widow in distress.
I could be more effective if I were able to have all the modern conveniences at my fingertips, and could sleep undisturbed within the folds of the finest French linens in a house fit for a king!
Or would these things actually cause me to stop caring for the poor widow?
Would I come to like these things more than I enjoy visiting the poor widow?
Would I decide that I am too good to bother with ministry and God?
Would I become so wrapped up in me, me, me, that I wouldn’t have time to think about him or her?
At the beginning of Luke chapter 17 Jesus tells us: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come…,” and then warns us in verse 3: “So watch yourselves.”
God knows what is best for us, and God provides all we need to fulfill God’s will for us in this world.
Jesus tells the apostles and Jesus tells us: “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.”
Do we have this faith?
I believe we do.
As Christians we believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
As Christians we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord!
And how did we acquire this faith?
Was it through anything we have done or accomplished?
No. This faith is a gift which has been given to us by God through what God accomplished for us in sending God’s Son into this world to die the death we deserve so that we can be free to live, and do the things that God created us to do.
Our faith may very well be as small as a mustard seed, but God is telling us that this is as big a faith as we need.
This is all we need.
If we needed more, God would provide.
So let’s run with it!
There is nothing as great, and nothing as powerful, and nothing as valuable as the faith through which God saves us and calls us.
As we are told in Ephesians Chapter 2: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so no one can boast.”
Let’s not spurn this faith, which is a gift from God.
Let’s not tell God that God has not given us enough of this faith.
Instead, let us be like the person who found treasure hidden in a field, and then in our joy sell all that we have and buy that field.
Let’s take hold of that mustard seed of faith; let’s claim it as a gift from God, and in joy—let’s let go of all other things we would desire to have in order that that mustard seed will grow and become a tree, “so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches” (Matthew 13:32c).
It’s not how much faith we have that is important, it’s what we do with the faith that we do have.