5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”
Reflection: So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’
In his song, Hard, Rich Mullins sings about all the good things he does in life, before admitting: “Well, I do get a little much over-impressed // ‘Til I think of Peter and Paul and the apostles // I don’t stack up too well against them I guess // But by the standards ’round here I ain’t doing that awful.”* He describes a familiar experience for Christians – when we judge ourselves by the standards of the world, we tend to slip into pride, forgetting that we are simply called to be humbly faithful.
Why do you think we try to puff ourselves up so much? Perhaps we try to build ourselves up to counteract our true feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. Until we truly and fully submit to the reality that God loves us unconditionally, we will find it difficult to do the work of the kingdom from the right motivations.
Think about what God has called you to do for the furthering of the kingdom of God. What are your motivations for participating in this holy work? What might you do to build faithfulness into the regular rhythms of your life, so that such faithfulness flows out of a natural engagement with God’s love? How might you stop striving to do what is right and instead let God work through you? You see, you are not special to God because you work in great and powerful ways for the kingdom. You are able to do great and powerful things for the kingdom, because you are already special to God.
Journaling Focus: The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Jesus appears to give the disciples an answer of humility to their request for more faith. Why do you think he would respond with a call to humble work? Think about a time in which you exercised great faith. Did humility play a part in this act of faith? How so? In what ways might you experience humility in your life this week?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (sometimes in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Explore: If you would like to explore the Scripture more deeply, go to our Exploring Scripture page!
Listen to the song Hard by Rich Mullins. Listen to all the struggles he sings about – struggles we all face in leading lives of faithfulness. Which of these struggles can you identify with? What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’?
This verse is slightly amusing, because this is exactly what Jesus has said to us – his servants whom he now calls friends! Jesus has set the table of God’s blessing for us and invites us to come and feast on the goodness of the kingdom. Who do you know that needs to come to the table? How might you be called to be the one to lead them there? Pray for this person this week and ask God to use you to help gather them into his presence.
Meditation Focus: The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Look at the image above and imagine God planting each of these seeds within your spirit. When they bear fruit, what will they look like? Are these seeds of love, mercy, compassion, or faith? Ask God to plant within you many diverse seeds and prepare for a harvest of God’s goodness in your soul. Ask God to uproot whatever is unfruitful and replace it with good seed. Watch as the Lord prunes you, nourishes your spiritual soil, and places each potential harvest within you with gentleness and grace.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- In what ways have you exercised faith?
- What kingdom work is God calling you toward?
- Where have you struggled with pride?
- How have you been humbled?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Plant a seed somewhere this week. It can be a literal seed (my tulip bulbs will be planted in the next few weeks!), but it will most likely be a metaphorical seed. Encourage someone as they begin a big project. Pray for someone who is facing a difficult struggle. Teach someone a new skill. Do something that will help a fellow child of God experience the fruit of God within their life.
Breath Prayer: LORD God, employ us for your kingdom.