Updated: May 25, 2020
By bro Paul Lim
Have you ever wondered how life would be like without much faith in God? The power of one’s faith is often undermined by Christians. When Christ spoke to the apostles about the need to forgive seven times in a day (Luke 17:4), they asked Him to increase their faith (vs 5). The verse does not mean for us to count the number literally but to develop the heart to forgive others. The apostles saw the willingness to forgive that many times truly remarkable, and deemed that only someone with so strong a faith could do so. In response, Christ spoke to them about having the faith as a grain of mustard seed.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. - Luke 17:6
In Matt 10, Christ makes another mention of having faith as a grain of mustard seed. In this instance, his statement came after his disciples asked him why they were not able to cast out the devil from a lunatic boy (Matt 17:19).
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. - Matthew 17:20
Clearly, having faith as a grain of mustard seed is a powerful and desirable thing. What exactly are the marks of such a faith? To better know what such a faith means, we can look at what Christ says about the mustard seed.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. - Matthew 13:31-32 (similarly expressed in Mark 4 and Luke 13)
1. A faith that Grows. Having faith as a grain of a mustard seed implies that it is a faith that develops and increases. It is a faith that gets stronger over time. Such a faith is rooted in Christ Jesus and over time, it gets even more firmly planted in the Rock of our salvation. Our faith cannot be “borrowed” — we cannot always depend on our parents or someone else’s faith to have a close relationship with God. What are we doing to increase our personal faith? Christ associated the faith as a grain of mustard seed to prayer and fasting (Matt 17:21). While it is not mandatory for us to fast today, we must take active measures to ensure that our faith grows, such as by praying.
2. A faith that Bears fruit. Having faith as a grain of mustard seed also means that we become more fruitful. In the contexts of Luke 17 and Matt 17, this referred to the remarkable and seemingly incredible things that the disciples back then would be able to do. In fact, the stronger the faith, the more one can do greater things for God. Take, for example, sharing with others the gospel. With greater conviction after one has learnt more of God’s word, one will be less worried about reaching out to friends, relatives, employers and strangers.
3. A faith that Shines. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, we will be able to influence those around us positively. We can be good examples of faithful men and women to those around us. Just as how the birds of the air can lodge and find shelter in the branches of the tree when the mustard seed grows, others can look to us as examples of faith and gain encouragement to run the Christian race. Have we been good examples to one another in word and deed in the Lord’s church? Are we provoking one another unto love and good works (Heb 10:24)?
In conclusion, let us make it our top priority to develop the faith as a grain of mustard seed. There are limitless possibilities of having such a faith. It is not only rewarding for a Christian, but also for those around him or her. May 2020 be a fruitful year in which we all take leaps of faith in our Christian walk with God!