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About Great Faith

In the passage below (Matthew 15:21-28), Jesus makes the emphatic statement that he loves it when we have “Great Faith“:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes, it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Many of us settle for “enough faith” (surely a risky gamble) or “average faith .”Jim Collins, the author of the book Good to Great, famously reminds us that “good is often the enemy of great .”We settle for good, and in doing so, we fail to achieve that which is great. Through his teaching in this challenging passage, Jesus gives us some pointers as to how we can cultivate and develop a “Great Faith”:

  1.   Great faith often needs to withdraw to be developed. Jesus (vs. 21) takes his disciples to Tyre and Sidon. Why? To get away from the crowds and excitement surrounding him so that he could build into his disciples before he went to the cross. We all need to withdraw and reflect for our faith to become great.
  2. Greater faith is found in moments of desperation. The Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus for her great love and concern for her daughter. While she needs help for her daughter, and because of the closeness of their relationship, she exhorts Jesus to “help her .”Her faith becomes great in moments of dire need. Many don’t have great faith because we don’t realize our need for Jesus.
  3.  Great faith has a purpose beyond pacifying. Jesus’ silence (23) is hard to understand until we realize he is trying to strengthen her faith. With nagging persistence, she continued to shout after them. Jesus would heal her, but not just to make her stop nagging. Great faith has a purpose beyond pacifying!
  4. Great faith is constantly growing. As the conversation with Jesus developed, so did her faith (27). She moved from addressing Jesus with the distant title “Son of David” to falling on her knees. Her increasing faith led her to worship. Her faith was grounded in humility, and the level of humility often correlates with our level of faith.
  5. Great faith is persistent. The lady simply refused to be discouraged. Prayer was not a ritual for her but a passionate outpouring from her soul. She was quick-witted—perfectly willing to take whatever Jesus could give her to help her kid. Her faith was also cheerful. Hers’ was a faith with a smile that could lift the gloom. 

How would you rate your faith? Would Jesus describe it as great? Which of the above disciplines must you build into your faith experience to move to the next level of trust?

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith so that I can see you do greater things and watch you receive greater glory! In Jesus name, Amen.

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