February 21, 2019

Lord, Increase Our Faith

Lord, Increase Our Faith

By Mark Mayberry


In Luke 17:1-11, Jesus offers very challenging instruction. He warns of the danger of becoming a stumbling-block and the need for personal forgiveness. He speaks of the power of prayer and the proper perspective of a servant.

When Pushed Beyond Our Comfort Zone

When pushed beyond our comfort zone, we should say, "Lord, increase our faith." In this context, the Lord challenges us in two opposite extremes. On the one hand, considering our influence, let us never be a stumbling-block to others. On the other, may we show compassion when another person does us wrong (Luke 17:1-4). Consider similar instruction in Matthew 18:21-35, where Jesus sought to expand Peter's understanding of forgiveness exponentially.

When the Truth Seems Unbelievable

When the truth seems unbelievable, we should say, "Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17:5-6). Sometimes the demands of faith seem out of reach. For example, God instructed Abram, saying, "Leave your home, move to an unfamiliar land, and dwell in tents the remainder of your life. Despite your advanced age, you will have a son. Take that son and offer him as a burnt offering to the Lord." How would we have responded?

Consider Christ's command in this context. Disciples of Christ must have strong and unquestioning faith, trusting in God's provision (Matt. 6:28-30; Luke 12:27-28), power (Matt. 8:23-27), and precepts (Matt. 16:5-11).

Consider Christ's illustration in this context. The Greek word sukaminos, of Hebrew origin, occurring only here, refers to "the mulberry tree" or "the sycamine" (Thomas 4807). While it is derived from the Hebrew word for "the sycamore," BDAG say the Greek word refers to "the mulberry tree, which is evidently differentiated from the sycamore in Luke 17:6 (compare 19:4), as well as in the ancient versions." Louw and Nida describe the mulberry tree as " a deciduous fruit tree growing to the height of some six meters (about twenty feet) and bearing black berries containing a sweet reddish juice" (3.6).

Note the importance of believing in God's promises (Matt. 17:14-21). Through the Holy Spirit, they were inspired to reveal God's mind, and empowers to confirm the message through signs and wonders. Nevertheless, at this point they failed, lacking sufficient faith and focus.

When We Forget Our Place

When we forget our place, we should say, "Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17:7-10). When we have done all things which are commanded, we are naught but unprofitable servants, having done only that which was our duty to do.

Consider the disposition of David who recognized his mortality and helplessness apart from God (1 Chron. 29:14-19). Reflect upon the outlook of Isaiah who was filled with self-loathing in the presence of a holy God (Isa. 6:1-13). Ponder the perspective of Paul who counted all past accomplishments as rubbish in comparison with the privilege of knowing Christ and sharing a relationship with Him (Phil. 3:8-11).


Lord, increase our faith when we are pushed beyond our comfort zone. Help us to trust in God when the truth seems unbelievable. Let us not forget our place; yet, if we do, chasten us gently, bringing us to repentance and renewal.

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