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Stronger Faith

I’ve worked out pretty much my entire adult life, more strenuously in some seasons along the way and less so in others. Yet in all these years, I’ve not added a single muscle to my body; I’ve grown some mass at times and watched it atrophy a bit at others, but the muscles I have today are the ones that accompanied me at birth. In a way, faith is like this, too.

Often times, we underestimate our faith, and lament not having more of it. Yet, faith is a gift from God, and as we saw in last week’s post, “The Gift behind the Gift,” He assigns each one of us a measure of it.1 This way we can neither despair nor boast over the size of our faith, for God himself has apportioned it, and we can be certain our portion of faith is sufficient. Jesus said even faith the size of a mustard seed moves God to move mountains for us.2 And of the mustard seed He also observed, “Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants …”3 Just as one tiny seed contains everything it needs to eventually become a sturdy tree, so we likewise grow by strengthening the faith we’ve already been assigned.

Then how do we grow in the assurance of what we hope for and become ever more convinced of what we do not see?4 How do we increasingly entrust ourselves to the character and promises of God? More faith was precisely what Jesus’ disciples wanted for themselves, so they implored of Him, “Increase our faith!”5 Did Jesus enlarge their allotment? Did He give them seconds at the dinner table of grace? No, He told them to use what they already had. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed,” He answered, “you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”6 Use what you have. Put it to work. “Live by faith.”7 Then just as muscle size increases when continually challenged—even when pushed to the point of pain—so too will our faith grow when we exercise it. In some future posts, we will look at the means by which we exercise and strengthen our faith, but for now, we rest and strive in this: God has graced us with faith—it is enough, for it will grow.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Father, thank You for the faith You have given me. Lead me through today’s challenges and opportunities, and find me faithful to You and a blessing to others. My faith will become stronger—I know this, for You are good. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Romans 12:3
2 Matthew 17:19-20
3 Matthew 13:32
4 Hebrews 11:1
5 Luke 17:5
6 Luke 17:6
7 Hebrews 2:4

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The Gift behind the Gift

“Can I have the car, Dad?” “Sure, Son,” I replied, and with that I tossed him the keys. How many times we went through this little ritual, I cannot say, but when he’d ask, I’d give him not only the use of the car, but also means to start it. He had neither; I owned both. He asked in hope; I gave in love. Likely, you can relate as well, whether as the parent or as the son or daughter.

So it is with God—He gives us not only what we seek, but also the faith to receive it. In other words, faith itself is a gift from God. To the crowd astonished at the healing of the lame man, Peter said, “It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed [the man].”1 Writing to the Philippians, Paul similarly taught, “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ … to believe in him,”2 And to the Ephesians, this bold apostle explained we are saved by grace through faith—“this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God,3 he emphasized. Salvation is a gift, grace is a gift, and faith is a gift. Apart from God, we owned none of these; alive in Christ, we have all of them.

Isn’t it ironic that, though faith would overcome our fears, we actually fret over our faith? We are tempted to think either that we have none or that we possess an insufficient amount; then succumbing to this deception, we condemn ourselves for our lack. Now if faith were something for us to create and replenish by our own means and in incessant supply, then our inner angst would be understandable, for entrusting our all to Him lies beyond our natural desire or ability. But the God who saves us from condemnation, He who gives us good gifts, this One who “is able do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”4—He has given us faith in whatever measure He has assigned.5 And whatever measure of faith He has assigned to each one of us, it is enough. For we ask in hope, and He gives in love.

Father, thank You for the measure of faith You have given me. It is priceless, and it is enough. Grace me to live and thrive in faith in You. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Acts 3:16
2 Philippians 1:29
3 Ephesians 2:8
4 Ephesians 3:20
5 Romans 12:3