Luke 13:18-19 He said, therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like, and what can I compare it to? It's like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches."I've been thinking a lot about mustard seeds. Specifically, I've been thinking about what the Word of God says about mustard seeds. Consequently, I've been required to think about my faith (or lack thereof). I've been asking myself questions like: where am I keeping my mustard seed, or have I planted it? Do I believe that God will cause it to grow and flourish into a great tree? Do I actually think my mustard seed will wither and die? In our modern, western context we're probably unfamiliar with mustard trees, much less mustard seeds. But a mustard seed is a small, endearing little pit. As Luke says, when it's planted it grows tall and wide and full. Humble, small beginnings don't determine the future; God does. When Luke says that the Kingdom of God is like a small seed that grows in maturity, He's relaying to us that God's power in Christ Jesus is meek but enduring, unassuming, but promising. The mustard seed will grow. And this isn't the last time we hear of it.
Luke 17:6 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed," the Lord said, "you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.Our faith, like God's kingdom, starts as a small seed. But our faith, like a mustard seed, will grow in boldness and hope until trees are uprooted and tossed into the sea. In my own experience and struggles with faithlessness, I can say my faith has been smaller than a mustard seed. I find myself crying out like the centurion, "I believe, help my unbelief!" When prayers seem to go unanswered, when the truth of Scripture can't travel from your brain to your hearts, when sorrows abound–my faith just seemed to shrink more and more and more. I'm comforted, though, by Jesus' disciples' bold inquisitions: "increase our faith." What a simple and poignant prayer. God is the giver of our faith, and every day I'm painfully aware that I need more. Jesus' response isn't "here's your newfound, robust faith." It's a segue about a plant's pit. The response to us asking for greater faith is planting our mustard seed. We plant, God waters, God grows.
Romans 12: 3-4 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each onePaul tells us in Romans that faith is a gift and God is the giver. God distributes grace, doling it out to his people. He does so for the benefit of His Kingdom and His church. He takes seeds and grows trees. He takes the smallest seed and raises triumphant trunks with sturdy boughs and numerous leaves. God causes our unbelief to turn to belief and turns our doubts into sturdy faith. He gives faith out to His people. It's a gift, and we are called to steward it. Will we not be caused toward greater worship and affection of God when we see something small and frail grow into something strong and mature? When we look with discerning eyes into our hearts and see the doubts tangled up in it, we are drawn even more toward the Father. When we acknowledge that we can only act according to the faith that God so graciously gives, we are compelled to continually ask for more. When we take an honest look at what our hearts say about our little faith, we can let Scripture fill in the blanks and deficiencies. So whether you're prayer is "help my unbelief" or "increase my faith" plant your prayer as a mustard seed.