The disciples made a very important request of Jesus in Luke 17:5, “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” I heartily second the request. As I go through life I find myself increasingly insufficient for the tasks set before me. We always need God, but the further along I go, the more I realize it, and the more insufficient to the task I realize I really am.
Faith is the necessary part of the Christian life that allows God access to our life. You may say, “God doesn’t need permission!” And I’ll agree with you, but God won’t impose on your will until you submit your will to Him. Until you humble your will, the only thing you find from God is resistance.
James 4:6 – But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Faith is an exercise of your free will. Faith is a choice! Faith is the acceptance of our need and reliance upon God for any given situation or circumstance. And it seems as I face more difficult and interesting situations, I need more faith. But how do you increase your faith?
FAITH COMETH BY HEARING
Romans 10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Interestingly enough, faith begins with what you hear not what you see. So many people I talk to say, “I won’t believe until I see it.” But then it wouldn’t be faith. It would be fact. Faith is the hope, in its strongest sense, of something that is yet to come, something you are relying upon to happen, but has not yet.
Romans 8:24 – For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
Besides, words are more powerful and impactful than what someone does. The words people say have done us more emotional damage than what a person did to us.
In fact, we are more defined by the words we say than the actions we do. We look at a person’s action to verify their words; we never look at a person’s words to verify an action. We hold words against a person more than we hold an action against them. Obviously, we can do both. But good word choice can redefine and shift an action into a different perspective.
How many times has the explanation of an action changed the scope and impact of the action for us? I dare say, frequently. With a 30 minute conversation, I’ve been able to shift the perspectives on God by many atheistic teenagers. With a 30 minute conversation I can shift a husband’s entire attitude towards his wife’s actions. Words are powerful. They change our conscious thoughts, our perspectives, and our understanding.
So, read your Bible. Listen to preaching. Go to Church more.
People with great faith also spend time listening to God’s Word. The more you listen about God’s power, His might, His grace, His mercy, and His love, the more hope you have in what will, but has yet to, happen. It will bring confidence that God will come through, that He will intercede in some way, that He will keep His promises.
DO MORE THAN THE BARE MINIMUM
When the Disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, Jesus responded with a parable about a master and servant. He asked this question about the servant’s performance:
Luke 17:9 – Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
This parable is in response to their request to increase their faith. Yet at first glance it doesn’t appear to be. Jesus then made a very impactful statement:
Luke 17:10 – So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
So it appears, to increase your faith, you must get more involved with God than just doing enough to get by. We spend too much time trying to walk the line instead of getting as far from it as we can. It is going beyond mere duty that will increase your faith. Most of us understand the basics of what God requires of us:
Micah 6:8 – He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
That would be, in essence, the basics. If you want an increase, or a profit, in faith, you are going to have to go beyond that. To whatever extent you perform the Word that you hear, to that extent, you will increase your faith.
James 1:22 – But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
So what started as hearing of the Word needs to transform to doing of the Word. If you want your faith to increase, don’t just get by with the bare minimum.
DON’T QUIT WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH
This is important. Faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). There is a little formula for gaining hope found in Romans 5. The first two verses begin with faith and then launch into how to increase that faith.
1. Tribulations, or difficulties, will come.
2. Tribulations bring patience.
3. Patience brings experience.
4. Experience brings hope!
When trials come our way-and they will come-you need to stick it out. Too many people run when God intended to use the problem to build your faith. Rarely in Scripture does God remove a problem from the lives of those who trusted Him. The promise isn’t peace from problems. The promise is a mental peace through the problems.
Psalms 23 doesn’t say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou shalt take me outta here!” No, it says, “…I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”
It is through the problems that you gain experience in God’s abilities, God’s love, God’s mercy, and God’s grace. You’ll have to be patient though. Let the work that God is trying to do in your life happen. But this experience brings confidence the next time you need God. Having seen God work once, gives you confidence that God will do it again! This is nothing less than an increase in your faith!
To learn more, or to get the Author’s book, Fitly Spoken, a book on developing communication and social skills for relationships, visit: www.fitlyspoken.org