‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’ – Matthew 17:20
We all face mountains – they may block the way, intimidate and seem impossible to climb let alone move. What mountain are you facing? What did Jesus mean when he linked faith to a mountain, even faith as tiny as a fragile little seed compared to the largest solid dark mountain?
When the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary with the news that she would become pregnant before union with Joseph, she replied: ‘May it be to me as you have said’. Why? Because she trusted the angel’s words: ‘For nothing is impossible with God’. Do you also truly believe this?
Whilst it’s true that physical mountains can move with earthquakes and volcanoes, you will find it impossible to show where Jesus or any of the disciples decided to rearrange God’s mountains! So what are the mountains Jesus is referring to? Perhaps the Lord could have been referring to Roman occupation, to poverty, to injustice? The actual context was the inability of the disciples to heal a little boy who Jesus then healed before referring to the greatest matter for which all future disciples would need faith – the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus (Matthew 17:22-23).
Faith is the vital ingredient in our relationship with God – it’s not to do with our ‘works’ or how good we are. The truth is we’ll never be good enough or do enough to become righteous: ‘For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith”’ – Romans 1:17. This is faith in the promises and goodness of God to meet all our needs, all our mountains and fulfil all our hopes.
Before we can go forward in properly grasping this, we need to go back to Genesis where we find Abram believing God for a son who would bless the nations: ‘Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness’ – Genesis 15:6. By faith, Abram had already rearranged his life and moved ‘to a place he would later receive as his inheritance … even though he did not know where he was going’ – Hebrews 11:8. So Abram (meaning ‘exalted Father’) had his name changed to Abraham (Father of many nations) and became ‘Father of us all’ who have faith in God (Hebrews 4:16).
‘Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification’ – Romans 4: 18-25
- ‘I believe if you keep your faith, you keep your trust, you keep the right attitude, if you're grateful, you'll see God open up new doors’ – Joel Osteen
- ‘No matter what has happened to you in the past or what is going on in your life right now, it has no power to keep you from having an amazingly good future if you will walk by faith in God. God loves you! He wants you to live with victory over sin so you can possess His promises for your life today’ – Joyce Meyer
- ‘Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams’ – Ben Carson
- ‘The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith’ – Billy Graham
- ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase’ – Martin Luther King Jr
- ‘In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t’ – Blaise Pascal
- ‘To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible’ – Thomas Aquinas
From Abraham right down the generations to us today, faith has never been harder and it’s never been easier but it’s how we see mountains move.
‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible’ – Hebrews 11:1-3
- ‘Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists’ – Blaise Pascal
- ‘Faith is a deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time’ – Oswald Chambers
- ‘Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to grow in its fullness, firmness and simplicity’ – Charles H Spurgeon
- ‘Keep your faith in God but keep your powder dry’ – Oliver Cromwell
Faith is a gift but it is also a choice to believe in the faithfulness and goodness of God’s character to keep his promises. There can be serious knocks to our faith in the journey of life and we can be tempted to walk away or resort to our own efforts, but that just allows the mountains to hem us in. By faith there is always a way through but without faith there is no hope.
- ‘I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful - for all of it’ – Kristin Armstrong
- ‘You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense’ – Rick Warren
- ‘My faith has always been important to me. It defines who I am’ – Katie Ledecky
- ‘Faith given back to us after a night of doubt is a stronger thing, and far more valuable to us than faith that has never been tested’ – Elizabeth Goudge
- ‘Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation’ – D Elton Trueblood
- ‘Have a little faith. Don’t give up’ – Fantasia Barrino
- ‘My reason nourishes my faith and my faith my reason’ – Norman Cousins
- ‘No matter what we face, put your total faith in God, and in time – not our time, but his time – He’ll bring us through’ – Lex Luger
God will bring through all who look to his son in faith – looking anywhere else is pointless and second best. Only Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith can sustain us and we should not settle for anything else.
There is a mutual encouragement that comes from being around people of faith, especially when they have battled through as they can inspire us. Paul encourages us in this: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness’ – 2 Timothy 4:7-8. So here’s a few more ‘faith boosters’ to encourage you to press on walking by faith and never give up.
‘Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified’ – Galatians 2:16
‘The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ – Galatians 2:20
‘Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith’ – Galatians 3:11
‘For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope’ – Galatians 5:5
‘For we live by faith, not by sight’ – 2 Corinthians 5:7
‘But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit’ – Jude 1:20
Often there’ll be some lines in a ‘pop’ song that could apply to our relationship with God. Here’s some from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell:
‘… there ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you’
One day coming, you won’t need faith for you will see the Lord face to face and you ‘shall know fully’ even as you are’ fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13). But for now, we walk by faith, not by sight – look not at the size of the mountain but at the power of God.
TAGS - faith, hope, mountain, law, works, mustard seed, promises