Day 161: First Things First

Luke 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

The Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you would tell this sycamore tree, ‘Be uprooted, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. But who is there among you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say, when he comes in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down at the table,’ and will not rather tell him, ‘Prepare my supper, clothe yourself properly, and serve me, while I eat and drink. Afterward you shall eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded? I think not. Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty.’”

Jesus displayed a remarkable amount of patience when He lived with us here on earth. When the apostles spoke about these things to Luke, we see that they didn’t hold back the parts of the story that demonstrated their foolishness and how it was offset by the wisdom and righteousness of Jesus. It’s easy to think that the simple request to “Increase our faith” would be a righteous request, and in once sense it is, but it appears to me here that Jesus saw it as asking for steak before baby teeth had been formed. To Jesus, we were all like foolish children and it must have taken more patience for the Son of God to live here with us than we will ever know.

The problem here appears to be that faith isn’t really something you need a lot of as much as it is something simply need to have. It’s a “have or don’t have” sort of thing. I believe that is what Jesus is communicating here when He talks about uprooting the tree by faith, but then He immediately goes on to tell a parable. The parable describes a situation in which servants who were responsible for the meal are asked to sit and eat without having first done their job of making and serving the food.

Could Jesus be telling this parable in response to their request to increase their non-existent faith? It’s a bit ridiculous to ask God to increase that which you don’t have. The first step would be to believe the simple things that God says in His word and act upon those things first. After we act upon those things, then an “increase” might be more meaningful. I am not sure if this is what Jesus intended to communicate by this parable, but I do believe it is a good lesson. It isn’t very consistent for us to seek a special “message from the Lord” without first reading the Bible, believing it, and obeying it. When we accomplish the basic tasks that God already expects, then we can continue on to special privileges that come with an “increase.” I believe that God has already given us what we need to have faith and we just need to believe the simple things He has already told us. After that, He may choose to tell us other things as needed for the good of His household.