Reading today in Matthew 7:19-20.
" Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” "
(Matthew 17:19-20 ESV)
I was reading this and could not get past a couple of phrases, one right behind the other. First one is, "Because of your little faith", then, "if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed". Depending on which camp you find yourself in Theologically you would use the first portion of this verse to bolster your idea of "Big faith". You would think, well, Jesus rebuked the disciples for having "little faith", so in response, I don't want to be like the disciples. BTW, why do we and many preachers do it publically w/o adding caveats, we talk about those "dumb disciples", but don't bring it around to us. How many times do we do things that are, for the sake of a better term, 'dumber'. :)
But back to my point, Jesus was talking about a lack for sure but what did they lack? Was it because they did not muster up enough faith to heal the sick boy? Well, we certainly could ascertain that if we stopped at "little faith". But that isn't where Jesus stops, he carries it on that makes a paradox in our minds, you would almost think that he is obligated to say, "you need big faith", leave that little faith behind. That is what it becomes to many, God is the 'sugar daddy' and so you have to apply yourself to get the most out of your faith. It becomes semi-pelagian, God does his part and we do ours. That isn't quite the paradox that I think Jesus was trying to create in our minds and theirs. In fact that would fit in quite nicely with a lot of church programs that are out there, "doing our part".
Jesus wanted them to see the contrast of what little faith it took, even the faith of a mustard seed and if you haven't looked at one of those lately, it is miniscule. So, why would he tell the disciples that they have "little faith" but what you need is even smaller faith. I believe Jesus was trying to get them to see that it isn't the amount of faith as much as it is the object of their faith. So, he could've said, "It is because of your little faith, that you have in me, that is detracting you from the true faith that it takes."
That is what holds us back at times, true little faith that has everything to do with our circumstances or trials and we're gonna 'hold the line' but God is saying, "look at the object of your faith and make sure it is me." Sometimes those trials, sufferings and uncomfortable circumstances make us look too much to our faith and we miss the opportunity to have true faith, even if it is as small as that mustard seed.
May His pleasure in showing us our little faith make us rejoice in the grace and mercy of God.