On more than one occasion, Jesus rebuked His closest disciples for their lack of faith. When He was in the boat with them, for example, and a sudden tempest arose, they cried out for His help. Rather than comfort them with soothing words, however, Jesus addressed the littleness of their faith: "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith" (Matt. 8:26).
We would hardly be surprised to hear Jesus rebuke the shallow faith of many who came to hear Him. But isn't it striking that Jesus found the faith of His closest disciples insufficient? Those to whom He made this statement were those who probably saw others as needing lessons on faith, not themselves. They would have seen their own faith as being above average.
Personal Application: -- What about you and me? In particular, what about those of us who preach and teach? If the Lord were among us in person today, who would be the individuals that He would single out for this statement, O you of little faith?" Would it be the "multitudes"? Or would it be those of us who've assumed the role of helping others to have a greater faith?
The truth is, we can be shockingly out of touch with reality when it comes to our real relationship with the Lord, as He sees it. It is nothing short of astonishing that the Lord could say to a church like Sardis, "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead" (Rev. 3:1). They didn't see that they were dead. Brethren in other places didn' t see it. And if it had been anybody but the Lord who said it, they probably would have been indignant at the very suggestion. But the fact was, they were dead.
The Need For Honesty: -- If any of us is ever going to develop a deeper devotion to the Lord, we're going to have to be more honest than we sometimes are about our own need for a deeper devotion. We may be the teachers of others, but we still need to confront the fact that our own faith is simply not what it needs to be. "You who teach another," Paul would say, "do you not teach yourself?" (Rom. 2:21).
Yes, we do believe, somewhat. And yes, we could easily find other people who
have less faith than we do. But every one of us needs to have the attitude of
the man who said, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mk. 9:24).
And it needs to be more than mere words with us. We really do need to see our
faith as being such that the Lord could say to us, "O
you of little faith."
Self-Examination: -- It was to brethren that Paul said, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). It doesn't do much good to engage in that kind of self-examination if our minds aren't open to the possibility that we -- yes, we -- might find out that our faith is less than what we thought. If the Lord were to give us His assessment directly, we might find out that our own fiath is actually less than that of those whom we've been trying to teach.
It is possible to preach and teach and even have a reputation for staunch devoutness, and yet have little real faith ourselves! And I believe the way that happens is this: we get into the habit of studying the Scriptures mainly from the perspective of what others need to hear, rather than what we need to hear. When we study, when we write, and when we prepare sermon outlines, we pay so much attention to dangers "out there" that folks need to know about that we have little time left over to deal with dangers "in here," inside our own heads.
So we need to work on our own faith, don't we? I readily confess that I do, and I suspect that many of you do, too. And we can build our faith by learning a different kind of Bible study, studying, first and foremost, to find out the changes that we ourselves need to make. When we hear the Lord say, "O you of little faith," we can learn to ask with painful honesty ...Lord, is it I?
By Gary Henry in Time Magazine, Vol. 50, No 13, July 2006.
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