Lord Increase Our Faith
In Lamentations 3 the writer says to the people of Israel “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord.” Their lack of faith and faithfulness to God was what brought on the punishment that they had endured and were continuing to endure at that time.
In the New Testament there is a similar thought and charge given by Paul to those who were in Corinth when he said to them “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
Have you ever sought to do just that, examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith, and the conclusion that you come to that day or that period in your life is that you’re not where you ought to be? Have you ever thought about how long you’ve been a Christian or how you were raised and deep down you know that you should be a lot stronger in your faith or further along in your faith than you really are?
What do we do when the answers to those questions aren’t what they should be? What do we do when we’re struggling and though we realize we ought to be further, better, stronger…we’re not? I’ve sure felt that way at times in my life. There are still times that I seek to really look into that mirror and perfect law and I don’t always like what I see. The question is what should I do about it? How can I change that?
The answer to those questions I believe is found in Luke 17:1-6 when Jesus said “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. (Luk 17:1-6)
The key phrase in that text is when after hearing this charge against sin, the charge to rebuke others when necessary, the charge to forgive others consistently, their response was Lord increase our faith. there’s no doubt that hearing the words of Jesus caused some self reflection and examination. They realized they weren’t where they should be. They realized that they were found wanting in the ways of true discipleship.
Their response wasn’t to keep doing as they had been doing and just hope for the best at the judgment. Their response wasn’t to just give up because they could never fully be like the Savior. Their response wasn’t to try and justify why they weren’t currently at where they should have been. Instead of those things it was simply a humble and desperate request to the Lord to increase their faith.
How many times have we hit our knees and made the same request? How often have we genuinely asked the Lord to increase our faith knowing that it may mean enduring hardships or persecutions of some kind in order to produce the steadfast faith that He desires as James 1 speaks about?
The apostles weren’t perfect men. Yes we typically hold them in very high regard because of who they were and what they accomplished but God has shown us through His word that they were ordinary men just like you and I. They struggled with their faith, with humility, with sin, and commitment. But…they wanted to be better and they asked to be better.
In Lamentations 3 just before the writer wrote those words we began with he said of the Lord “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Isn’t that beautiful?
Maybe you don’t feel like your faith is where it ought to be because your commitment hasn’t been what it should be. Maybe it’s because you haven’t been spending time in His word like you ought to be. Maybe it’s because the temptations to sin still plague you each day. God remains faithful and His mercies are new every morning.
Let’s all seek to want to be better and do better and have a stronger faith. Let’s begin by asking our Lord to increase our faith and trust in the one who remains forever faithful to us.