The disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5) The Lord made no direct answer to their request; however, His whole subsequent course with the disciples was a fulfillment of it. And so it is with us. The increase of faith will come, not by a miraculous infusion, but in the natural process of following the Lord’s leading and training. In the school of experience, in following his leading and in the blessed results of each step, faith develops and grows.
We begin by daily seeking to serve the Lord in the little things. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10) As we deny our wills to do God’s will (Matthew 16:24), study the Bible, commune with God throughout the day, and develop the fruit of the spirit, our faith will grow.
In Luke 17:6, Jesus talked about the power and desirability of faith. He showed that even a weak, but genuine, faith could lay hold upon the power of God as to instantly root up and replant a tree. Again, in Matthew 17:20, Jesus said faith could move a mountain into the sea. Is the suggestion preposterous? No, not to faith.
Faith is not imagination, nor self-will, nor ignorance. It is a reasonable thing founded upon good and substantial evidence that something is God’s will. (John 15:7.) For example, if the least disciple were assured, on good evidence, that the removal of a tree or mountain would be God’s will, and that it was his duty to do the commanding, he should have equally strong faith in the results.
Presently, there is no basis of evidence for faith that it is God’s will to remove literal trees or mountains. God will not answer any self-willed or ignorant commands of men. A genuine faith in God’s willingness to do this now is an impossibility.
But if we consider the tree and a mountain as symbols of difficulties in our individual Christian course, or in the general course of God’s work, we know that “miracles” are experienced for those who exercise faith. Their prayers are going forward in the strength of the Lord. The prayers are indeed permitted to overcome difficulties and to work righteousness otherwise impossible.
When our services are blessed, we should not consider the blessings as evidence of our superior or special position. We have only done what was our duty – to obey God. As His servants, we owe God the full measure of our ability. Therefore, we may not feel we have merited or earned the great blessings of heavenly rewards. We have merely done our duty – imperfect as it is – but acceptable through the blood of Christ.