Chapters 17 and 18 in Luke are all about faith. They're not about BIG faith, or PLENTIFUL faith though, they're about GENUINE faith.
Sure, big faith is great, but: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you." (v6)
An abundance of faith is great too -- faith that never runs out -- but for those of us who are too weak to be full of faith sometimes, and who pray again and again for more and more faith: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves" (2 Cor. 4:7)
My study Bible, true to its brilliant form, added this in reference to Luke 17:5, after the apostles told Jesus to increase their faith: "We do not need more faith to comply with the Lord's instructions, but genuine faith. It's not the amount that matters -- even a mustard seed of faith will do. However, it must be based completely on the Lord's ability, not our own. The almighty power of God can work in an amazing way through a willing vessel."
That's actually a relief to me. Is it to you? Because sometimes I feel like I have such little faith when it comes to certain things, but then again I have an abundance of faith when it comes to some other things. Then I end up struggling internally, and shaming myself for the small amount of faith I have, or for where I'm distributing it.
But here's the thing: if I have mustard-seed faith in one situation, and a mountain of faith in another, as long as my faith is in Christ and not in myself, and as long as my faith is genuine, I'm good to go. And all of the glory is His.
We need not more faith, but for the faith we have to be genuine. And all of the glory is His.
In chapter 18, we read the parable of the widow who keeps bothering a judge to give her legal protection against someone (like a restraining order, I suppose). The judge doesn't give it to her, so she keeps going back again, and again, and again, until finally the judge is just like, "FINE! Okay! Goodness, Woman! Here! Have it!" (I may have paraphrased.)
This is an example of genuine faith and perseverance! And God isn't annoyed by us like the judge was by the woman -- it says in verses 6 and 7, "And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?"
We should be so faithful that we keep asking, and pleading, and trusting that our Father will take care of us, because He loves us. So until God makes it clear that you should stop praying about something in particular, KEEP PRAYING. Keep trusting. And keep the genuine faith.
YOUR TURN: Do you ever struggle with the amount of faith you have? Or is someone telling you to "have more faith?" How will you respond to yourself or to others when you're feeling down about how little faith you have? How will you remember now, that even if your faith is small, your genuine faith can move mountains?