READ: Proverbs 29, Luke 17, Revelation 9
When the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5), He responds in two unlikely ways. First, He compares faith to a mustard seed; second, He links faith to doing our duty (v. 10). In His answers Jesus reveals an understanding of faith that runs counter to our perception.
Small Faith Is Big Faith. Biblically you either have faith or you don’t. You either trust Jesus or you don’t. When the disciples ask for increased faith, Jesus responds that you don’t need big faith to do large things, for even mustard seed-size faith (tiny faith) can move mulberry trees to the sea. When Jesus rebukes His disciples for having little faith, He essentially tells them they don’t trust Him. When Jesus commends seekers for their great faith, He applauds the beauty of their trust. In other words, if we don’t fully trust Jesus, it is as if we don’t trust Him at all. Jesus does not delight in reserved trust or trust with qualification. What delights the heart of God is when we take Him at His Word. Trust is not only sweet to us, it is sweet to Jesus. Jesus wants us to come to the place where our little hearts trust His great heart implicitly.
God Himself Is Our Reward. Jesus’ answer to the disciples request for increased faith helps reveal their motive. It appears that the disciples wanted great faith in order to do great miracles, and great miracles were desired for great attention and great reward. Jesus goes right to the heart of the matter and tells the disciples that they are looking for reward and gratification in the wrong place. Servants are not served by their master. They are not thanked for doing their duty. They are not even rewarded for doing their duty well. This seems unfair until we realize that we are looking for reward in the wrong place. We look for reward post-service, post-obedience. Jesus tells us that our reward is in the obedience itself. We are looking for rewards that are physical, and Jesus tells us that He Himself is our reward. Faith and duty yield the same reward: Christ Himself.
Missionaries don’t serve to be rewarded, for our service is our reward. When we serve in Jesus’ name, we begin to take on Jesus’ image. We become like Jesus as we obey Jesus. When we actively share in Jesus’ passion, He actively conforms and chisels us to look like Him. Becoming like Jesus is a reward far greater than any material post-service benefits. Jesus is our reward and we find Him in our obedience. A lesser understanding of heaven views it as a post-obedience retirement where Jesus caters to all our whims, washing our feet and plopping grapes in our mouths. Heaven is our ongoing obedience, our ongoing service to Jesus–delightful and rewarding because we are eternally given more of Him.