As Christians, we know that we are called to have faith, certainly a faith that saves. (Ephesians 2:8, 9) But Scripture also seems to speak of a type of faith beyond that, the faith we are called to “exercise” daily, a faith that “moves mountains.” (Matthew 17:20) In this area, some Christians apparently have more faith than others. More than once Jesus described the disciples as having “little faith.”
So…how do you know if you are exercising this kind of faith? And more importantly, exactly how much faith do you have? A little…or a lot? Is there a way that you can tell?
To answer this I’ve been drawn to the story that Jesus tells at the beginning of Luke chapter 18. It’s a parable about prayer, and we know this, because Jesus tells us at the outset…
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1 (ESV)
And thus begins the story of the widow and the judge. She needs help against her enemies, and her only hope is this judge who could care less about God, or her or anyone else for that matter. So of course, the judge doesn’t help her, at first. And then, because of her persistence, he gives in “so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” (Luke 18:5 ESV)
Jesus then makes the point…
And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.
So far so good. We understand that Jesus is not saying that God is like the judge. In fact, He is the opposite. So if the judge answers the widow, how much more will God come to the aid of His people.
But what we find almost out of place is the note that comes at the end of the story:
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8 (ESV)
Wait, we wonder, when did this become a parable about faith? We were led to believe at the outset that it was all about prayer. Ah, and there’s the answer to our first question about exercising faith. It is a parable about prayer, but that makes it a parable about faith also…because the way to know if you are exercising faith is by looking at your prayer life.
This is why Jesus can ask this question at the end, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith?” Or, to put it another way, “Will He find people…praying?” Because if people are praying persistently to a good and loving God…it will be the foremost sign that they have faith.
Faith and prayer are inseparable in the Scriptures. So the Psalmist said…
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 (ESV)
Do you see it? The ones who trust God…are the ones who seek Him.
The writer of Hebrews pulls it altogether for us:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
This is the way to measure your faith – look and see how much you seek God, in other words, how much you pray. And therefore, do you want to be a person of great faith?
Then be a person of great prayer.
For Monday, July 27th: Luke 19