I think the Charismatic brand of faith preachers have probably done more to destroy faith in Christians than actually increase it. They have convinced many of us that all we need is “more” faith and we can do the miracles of Jesus and drive around in Aston Martins.
But is that what the Bible really teaches?
Luke tells the story about a day the disciples asked Christ to “increase their faith” (Luke 17:5). They watched Christ perform great miracles and they wanted more faith so they could do the same miracles.
But the answer Jesus gave them was shocking.
6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6)
Instead of telling the disciples what great miracles they could do with great gobs of faith, Jesus said they only needed an ounce of faith — mustard-seed sized faith — and they could cast a mulberry tree into the ocean.
Mulberry trees run from 32′ to 64′ (10 to 20 meters) in size, and mustard was the smallest grain seed planted by the Israelis.
It was so small that in the disciples’ minds anything smaller and you would have nothing. Which is exactly the point Jesus was making.
Jesus was telling His disciples that they could accomplish incredible miracles with the smallest amount of faith.
Quantity was not the issue.
So what is the key to faith?
To answer this question, we need to study the story of the Canannite woman, one of the few people in the New Testament who Jesus described as having “great faith” (Matthew 15:21-28).
During their travels, Jesus and the disciples had temporarily veered into gentile territory — near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Maybe they were taking a bit of a break from the crowds that hounded them in Judea.
When they arrived it was obvious Jesus’ fame had proceeded Him. A Canaanite women with a demon-possessed daughter spotted the group and began crying out for help.
Enjoying the peace and quiet, the disciples tried to shoo her away.
But when the woman ignored them, the ever-merciful disciples finally asked Jesus to tell her to leave.
This is where it gets interesting.
The first thing Jesus told the woman is that it was not God’s will for Him to heal her daughter.
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Jesus said.
But the woman refused to back down and bowing at Jesus’ feet implored, “Lord, help me.”
Jesus responded with an insult. He purposely tried to offend her.
“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” Jesus answered.
The woman respectfully replied that even dog’s are allowed to eat the crumbs that fall off their master’s table. Didn’t she have the same right?
When Jesus heard that He marveled.
“O woman, your faith is great [Greek megas]; it shall be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was instantly healed.
Jesus uses the Greek word “megas” to describe the Canaanite woman’s faith. It has different shades of meaning. In Matthew 27:60, it is used to describe the “large” stone covering the opening to Jesus’ tomb. it is also translated “surprising” or unexpected as it’s used in (2 Corinthians 11:15).
But the word can also refer to an extended period of time (Acts 26:29).
So was Jesus telling this Canaanite woman that she had a great quantity of faith or that she had persistent faith — she refused to quit believing?
Even when fear gripped her heart that God would not hear her plea, she continued to believe.
Even when thoughts appeared that maybe it was not God’s will, she continued to believe.
Even when she could have been offended, she chose instead to believe.
So the lesson is simple. Take whatever quantity of faith you have — keep praying and keep believing for your miracle.