I suspect that most of us, at some time or another, have cried out in desperation like Jesus’ disciples did, “Lord, increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)
Why is faith so vital? Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The Bible condemns the “faithless” and chides those with “little faith.” We understand that salvation comes through God’s grace (His gracious gift) through faith (trusting) in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 2:8-9). We also know that living in relationship with Christ is a life of faith—from beginning to end. (Romans 1:17)
But many have a flawed understanding of faith. Some see faith on par with positive thinking and self-talk. Others are mystified by faith seeing it as an elusive yearning towards a desired outcome. Still other view faith like the courage they might try to muster before skydiving or bungy jumping. And many view faith as something always associated with miracles and the supernatural.
Faith is not positive thinking, nor something we try to muster in dire situations. The faith that the Bible refers to is a relational expression. Faith is synonymous with trusting and believing God and Jesus Christ. This is a relational belief, not merely a factual one. James explains, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder!” (James 2:19)
Biblical faith focuses on the Person of Jesus Christ. We place our trust in Him for forgiveness of sins, for salvation from eternal death, and for living a life of purpose in Him. As we grow in relationship with Him, our faith or trust in Him grows. To increase our faith means to deepen our relationship with Christ, so that we trust Him implicitly in all things. As James argues, faith always expresses itself in relational actions: “Faith without deeds is useless.” (James 2:20)
In other words, if we put our faith in Jesus to forgive us and deliver us from sin and make us more like Him, then our behavior must demonstrate that. If we believe Him that He is coming again soon, we must live in anticipation and expectation that we will soon be united with Him. Our trust in Him has everything to do with our relationship with Him and with others.
When Jesus’ disciples begged Him to increase their faith, it was in the context of Him telling them that they needed to forgive others: “Even if they sin against you seven times a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them. The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’”
Jesus then told them a parable about a servant serving his master. The point of the parable was that they needed to simply obey Him because of who He is. (Luke 17:6-10) We don’t need more faith in ourselves to obey. Even just a little faith is enough to warrant obedience to Christ because of who He is.
In light of what we’ve said, here are six ways to increase your faith:
- Seek to know Jesus better every day.
- Read God’s Word with the expectation of meeting with Him and hearing from Him. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17 NKJV)
- Spend time daily communing with the Lord in prayer.
- Obey the Lord always.
- Trust the Lord in little things and you’ll trust Him in big things.
- Read about and talk to others who exhibit strong faith in Christ and follow their example.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)