I had one voice student who could scarcely carry a tune. We spent a good deal of the lesson practicing matching pitches. The next student was singing Italian art song and learning to trill. One I applauded for simply getting through the song in key, the other I reprimanded for breathing in the middle of a word. A five year old piano student would walk in with her eight bar tune, followed by a senior in high school working on a concerto. One I praised for playing the right rhythm while only missing two notes. The other I castigated for poor phrase shaping and improper execution of an appoggiatura. It would have been unfair to expect a five year old to understand an appoggiatura when he didn’t even know key signatures yet. It would have been cruel to try to teach a voice student with a challenged ear to trill.
So I should not have been surprised at what I found in this study of faith that has consumed the past year of my life, but I was. I wonder if it will surprise you too. Every time Jesus said, “O ye of little faith,” he was talking to his disciples. Sometimes other people heard it too, but if you check every account, he was addressing those who followed him daily—“ye of little faith.” Yet the only times I could find people praised for their “great faith” they were Gentiles!
That tells me a lot. First, faith isn’t just a one-time first principle. If even those who had enough faith to “leave all and follow” could be told their faith was “little,” then faith is something alive and growing. Jesus expected it to carry them through their lives and become an asset to them, not a burden that might be “lost.”
Perhaps the most important thing we learn is something Jesus said in another context: To whom much is given, of him much shall be required, Luke 12:48. Those men had been with Jesus 24/7 for a year or more and he expected them to have matured. I know a lot of people who like to claim they have “strong faith.” Be careful when you do that. God may just test your claim: “and from whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
So examine your faith. Is it growing? Can you handle more adversity today than you did a decade ago? God expects quick growth. The people in the first century committed their lives to Him, knowing they might be thrown to the lions the next week. I worry that too many of us commit our lives to Him expecting all of our problems to disappear in a week. It’s supposed to be an instant fix to all earthly woes, instead of what He promised--an instant fix to our sins.
What exactly are you expecting of your relationship with God? Some of us try to hold God hostage with our expectations. “I have faith that God will…” and then we sit back confidently waiting for him to do our will, instead of waiting on His will.
Which would the Lord say to you: “O ye of little faith,” or “I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel?”
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12.