And the apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come in from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:5-10 KJV)
In response to Jesus’ teaching on forgiving those who offend us, the disciples were overcome with the enormity of their responsibility, and cried out, “Increase our faith.”
Jesus’ reply teaches us that it does not take enormous faith to obey, in fact if our faith is only the size of a mustard seed we can accomplish great things.
He then goes on to teach us that as His servants obedience is our duty, it is the least we can do. A master expects this from a servant, an employer likewise expects his employees to do what their job requires. In the same way we are to obey our Lord Jesus Christ.
We often pray for strength and willingness to obey, and this is not entirely wrong, as we do need God’s help in our battle against sin in this world, and he encourages us to seek Him for grace in time of need (Heb 4:16). Yet we often substitute prayer for obedience, waiting for a sudden burst of heavenly energy, or for God to somehow make us obey. This is a subtle trap we must endeavor to avoid.
God does not command us to do that which we are unable to do, and therefore it is only reasonable and right that we do as He commands. Often it is our own unwillingness, our selfish wills desiring to gain mastery that stands in the way of our obedience. Yet God is faithful in strengthening our hearts, and establishing us in our walk with Him. We can depend on His grace to give us all we need as we obey Him from day to day (2 Peter 1:3-8; 1 These 5:23-24).