The disciples cried out to Jesus, “Increase our faith!”1 But he did not! 😲 Instead, he rebuked them for having a faith so small that it was almost impossible to see! (Read the August 10th blog for more information.) The question is, then, if Jesus does not give us faith, or even help us grow our faith, where does faith come from? Are we born with it? No, but the writer of Hebrews says “without faith it is impossible to please [God].”2 Therefore, if we are interested in pleasing God, we should pause and ponder the concept. 😬 That verse tells us, actually, what faith is: “for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists.”2 It sounds quite simple, really. Faith is believing that God is real! But since God is invisible and intangible and mysterious, we, who live in a finite world, struggle with it! We demand to see evidence of God, even though we read that faith is “the conviction of things not seen.”3 For the sake of time (and writing space), I will bypass the fact that the evidence of God is . . . well, it’s everywhere! 🙄 Let’s just focus on faith: its definition, its benefits, how to get it, and how to grow it. All in a few paragraphs! 😏 What a deal!
Faith is so simple that most people do not believe that all we are required to do is believe! Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and a very learned and respected religious man was amazed and impressed at what Jesus was doing. He told him, “No one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”4 And then Jesus told him that he needed to be “born again” before he could “see the kingdom of God.”5 Which confirms the fact that we are not born with faith! Nicodemus was totally confused with the idea, and they had a great discussion about spiritual things.
And then Jesus drops this little nugget into the conversation: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”6 Eternal life!! And that’s only one of the benefits (albeit, the best one! 😉) for “whoever believes” (whoever has faith). Wow!
Okay then! So. We are not born with faith. God does not give us faith. Jesus will not increase our faith. Where do we find faith? 🤔 Here it is: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”7 That’s the answer: “hearing through the word of Christ.” Listening to Jesus. Reading the Word of God. Faith begins there. And then if we want our faith to grow, we must continue reading and listening. Take a look: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers.”8
Faith takes root “like a tree” as we meditate on his Word and ponder its truths and apply its lessons. Faith only grows if we feed it, like watering a tree. Therefore, we are in charge of our faith growing or not! And this explains why most people have little faith! They do not meditate and ponder his Word. Oh, they may own a Bible, read it occasionally, even go to church faithfully—but they depend mostly on others to study and explain God’s Word to them. As a former English teacher, let me report that few people in our world actually read. They skim; they scan; they scroll; they read SparkNotes! 😠 And they justify that they are just “not readers.” Really? 🤨 Okay then. Don’t read novels, or biographies, or history, or poetry, or newspapers, or magazines, or textbooks. Stop learning from the written word, if you wish. 🙄 I am aware that we can learn “stuff” in other ways. I get it. 🧐
However . . . However, if we want our faith to grow, we must read and ponder and meditate on God’s Word. And let me add something else to my unpopular list of things to do: we must memorize and recite God’s Word as well. It is our protection and guide for life. The psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”9 God’s Word will show us the way (the way to live and which way to go) and our faith will grow when God proves his Word can be trusted over and over again. However, we can only learn what God’s Word teaches, if we read it! 😕 If we practice what it teaches, we will be able to withstand the storms when (not if) they come. But don’t take my word for it. Jesus told his followers: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”10
Jesus is our rock! The foundation of our faith! He is God’s Word in the flesh. How strong our foundation is, how grounded our faith is, how much our faith grows—all depends on us. Not God—although we love to blame God when things are rough for us! (It’s usually our fault when things are rough, by the way! 😒) When the storms come, we will be able to determine the strength of our faith. If we are “like a wise man” and have prepared ourselves for them, we will “not fall.” Guess what happens if we are not wise?
I’ll let you read that one for yourself! 😉
1Matthew 17:5 2Hebrews 11:6 3Hebrews 11:1 4John 3:2 5John 3:3 6John 3:16 7Romans 10:17 8Psalm 1:1-3 9Psalm 119:105 10Matthew 7:24-25