“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
My previous post was on the nature and causes of “little faith” as expounded upon by Dr. Martynn Lloyd-Jones. I continue on this topic of faith to present Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ prescription on how to make one’s inadequate faith grow.
The three-step process for increasing faith can be found in the verses of Matthew 6:31-33.
Jesus exhorted the multitude to “take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, how shall we be clothed?”. The Lord gave two distinct reasons: First of all, food, drink and clothing are the very things that occupy the minds of Gentiles, and second, the Heavenly Father already knows we have need of these things.
The first key to increasing faith is understanding what type of people the “Gentiles” are, as described by Jesus. The word “Gentile” is synonymous with the heathen. Jesus was preaching to the Jews, God’s chosen people, who had the oracles of God, and had special knowledge of Who God is. As Christians, we can lay hold of and apply this teaching to our lives because we have become privy to the revelation of God’s Kingdom through Jesus Christ. The heathen, on the other hand, have no knowledge of God, and live their lives limited in their own thoughts and “without God in the world”. (p. 136)
Jesus asserts that the Christian view of life is to be different from the heathen’s mindset. What are the world views of the heathen? At one end of the spectrum, there is the belief that everything that happens is accidental: the theory of contingency. Dr. Julian Huxley and others who hold this viewpoint allege that there is no purpose whatsoever in life, there is no design or order, and that everything happens by chance. The other end of the spectrum is the fatalistic view that a person can do nothing about life because everything has already been predetermined by some higher power. Both contingency and fatalism lead to worry because one is never certain what is going to happen next. (p. 137)
The Christian view can be described as the “doctrine of certainty”. Life is not controlled by “blind necessity”, but certain things are definite and well-grounded because we are in the hands of the living God. So as Christians, we are to put this certainty over against the pagan doctrines of contingency and fatalism. A person’s beliefs are evident by the way one behaves when the crises of life come. According to Jesus, we are to be different in our thinking, not to adapt the heathen philosophy of worry over food, drink and clothing. If we think that way, then we are but spiritual worldlings. One way to increase our faith, therefore, is to see that children of God are to live the life of faith, not to face the difficulties of life as the heathen do, but live in the light of that faith that they profess. (pp. 137-138)
The next key lies in the second reason put forth by Jesus about not worrying about material necessities: “For your heavenly Father knows you have need of these things”. Hence the second principle by which one can increase and enlarge one’s faith is implicit faith in and reliance upon God as our heavenly Father. We are not alone, God is always with us. Earthly fathers care about their children: multiply that by infinity and that is how God cares and thinks about us, whatever our circumstance. (pp. 141-142)
The third key is found in verse 33: to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. In other words, “we are to concentrate upon perfecting our relationship to God as our heavenly Father”. Jesus implicitly says, “if you want to seek anything, if you want to be anxious about anything, be anxious about your spiritual condition, your nearness to God, and your relationship to Him.” The Gentiles are seeking the worldly things. Seek ye rather, seek ye first and foremost and above everything else, the Kingdom of God. This should be top priority. Jesus added that we also need to seek God’s righteousness. This essentially means we are to seek righteousness and holiness. Hence this is the way to increase faith: “The more holy we are, the nearer we shall be to God. The more holy we are, the greater will be our faith and our assurance and therefore our claims and our reliance upon God.” And this comes with a promise that if we truly seek God first, then “all the other things will be thrown in the bargain”. (p. 145)
In conclusion, these are the ways to increase faith: Do not be like the heathen in their views about life, remember that God is your heavenly Father and knows everything about you, and seek to be more like your Father, and live your life to be closer to Him each day. (p. 145)
*** Reference: David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, Martino Publishing, CT, 2011, pp. 135-145.
*** Photograph by Artemis