Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Proportion of Faith

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8)
Every believer in Jesus Christ has been given a measure of faith, and a gift with which to function in the body of Christ. The Greek word for “gift” is charismata, and refers, not to natural talents and ability, but graces given by the Holy Spirit. No one has been left out in this distribution; all have received a gift and the faith by which to exercise it.

We are to operate in these gifts only in proportion to the faith we have received. We are not called to function apart from faith, for it is faith — believing the Word of God — that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Nor are we to go beyond the faith that we have received; that would be nothing more than presumption. Rather, we are to exercise the fullest extent of our faith, whether we are prophesying, teaching, exhorting and encouraging, giving, leading, sowing mercy, or anything else the Lord has given us to do.

With God, it is always about faith. Jesus likened faith to a mustard seed.
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a 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 17:20)
Notice that it is not the size of the seed but what you do with it that matters. Until you sow it, it makes no difference how big the seed is, but once you release it and put it to work, even the impossible can happen. Another important thing to understand is that when you sow a seed, it multiplies and brings back a harvest that is much greater than what was sown. For example, a seed of corn will bring a harvest of 6-8 ears of corn, each ear with a couple of hundred seeds. Faith is the same way; when you exercise your faith, you will grow and develop in your faith and end up with more than when you began. It is really quite enough to operate in proportion to the measure of faith God has given each one of us. As we do, it will increase, and there is always room for us to grow. That is what discipleship is about: learning to walk in faith.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, Paul tells us (Romans 10:17); the more we hear and receive the Word, the more developed we will be in our faith. Faith is also a fruit of the Spirit (Romans 5:22-25). God has given each one of us the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, reveals the life of Christ in us, and enables us to love and serve God and others. The more we learn to yield to Him, the more all the fruits of the Spirit will come forth in our lives, including faith.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, God has given you all the faith you need. The more you use it, the stronger you will become in it. The more you hear and obey His Word, and yield to the Holy Spirit, the more your faith will increase.