Increase Our Faith
“And the apostles said unto the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5.
Who said this? The apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Men who knew Jesus Christ intimately and personally. Surely if these men who lived in His very personal presence needed to pray for more faith how much more do we who are removed by so many years from the day when He walked in this world, and who have none of the physical proofs that they enjoyed. We learn from these men that they were unashamed of their need for more faith. They were honest with themselves and with Christ concerning their need. This is the only way to make spiritual progress. The thin veneer of pretended piousness will never last. Shame on the Christian who has never confessed his need for more faith. To acknowledge one does not want more faith is to admit having no faith.
To whom did they say this? To the Lord. Faith is a free gift from God. No one can muster faith in Christ simply by stirring himself up to believe. You may believe your history teacher that way, or you may accept certain facts of logic in this manner, but this is emphatically not so in spiritual matters. God gives us the very faith with which we believe in Him. “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” It is a gift we can ask for. We don’t get faith by working — that is the mistake of so many sincere people.
Why did the apostles ask for more faith? The occasion was when Christ had been telling them that if a brother offended seven times in a day and came seven times asking forgiveness he must be forgiven. You wonder then why the apostles asked for faith. Why didn’t they ask for humility? or the spirit of forgiveness? or love? or patience? Well, the apostles simply knew a principle some of us have never got into our hearts; what we need is not more knowledge or more patience or more humility, but more faith. They knew that if they had more faith they could forgive an offending brother seven times in one day and if they had not more faith they would never forgive the brother.
All Christian graces spring from faith. Show me an unforgiving Christian and I will show you one who has little faith. Show me an unloving Christian and I will show you one who has no faith. You see, faith brings me to Christ. Faith keeps me right there. You just get ideas of the “higher life” out of your head, and get a few ideas of the lower life in there. You and I have enough high ideas; we need a few lowly ones. We need to know how dependent we are upon Christ for very move. High-life people can do so much they need Him hardly at all. These apostles were lowly men. They saw they could never love, could not have patience and could never be forgiving except Christ gave them faith. True faith in Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forgiveness.