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Alan Shelman, with Stand to Reason, offered an interesting perspective on faith in a recent editorial.
“Too many people believe faith is blind, wishful thinking,” he wrote. “Scripture, however, defines it differently (see Hebrews 11). Biblical faith is best characterized as trust. We don’t put our trust in something for no reason. We don’t blindly believe anyone. Rather, we put our trust in what or whom we have good reason to believe is trustworthy.”
I understand where he is coming from. People talk about having “faith” in finding a new job, without doing any of the work to seek one out. They have “faith” in ending their financial problems, as though a check will arrive unexpectedly without controlling their spending or having any buckets to collect new revenue.
“The efficacy of (power to produce) faith is dependent not on the subject who expresses faith, but on the object of faith. It doesn’t matter how much or how little faith you have. It only matters in whom you place your faith,” Alan wrote.
As an example, he compared two types of airline passengers who have their eyes shut. One is a frequent flyer who is already napping before the aircraft even takes off and the second is a first-time flyer who has his eyes shut out of fear.
“The former finds flying so mundane, he’s sleeping. The latter is so scared, he’s saying his final prayer. One has total confidence, while the other has total trepidation,” he explained.
One has faith in the aircraft and pilot while the other has doubts.
“The same is true with our faith in Christ. It doesn’t matter how much or how little faith you have. What matters is who you put your faith in,” Alan wrote. “You could struggle with doubt, while another believer is confident in his faith. Neither one is ‘more saved’ than the other. So long as you both put your faith in Jesus, you will be saved.”
That’s why Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed is so important. It’s not the size of faith that matters as much as the presence of faith and the source of that faith. If you genuinely believe God is powerful enough to effect change to your situation, that’s all that is needed.
If you truly believe that your sins are forgiven and that you’ll enjoy eternal life when your mortal body give out — because Jesus said so — that’s faith. But, if you continuously doubt whether you are “good enough” to get into heaven and rather keep striving to make up for that perceived deficiency through YOUR good works, then you haven’t put your faith in Jesus.
As Alan noted, Jesus commended two people for their “great” faith:
- The Roman soldier, in Matthew 8:5-13, who was convinced that Jesus could heal his servant by simply speaking it into existence.
- A woman, in Matthew 15:18, who begs Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter simply because of who Jesus is.
“In both cases, it wasn’t about how much or how little faith they had, but in whom they placed their faith. Jesus was the object of their faith, and since he was a trustworthy and capable person to carry out their request, their loved ones were healed,” Alan wrote.
Faith of a mustard seed can accomplish mighty things.