KEY THOT: When the disciples ask Jesus to “increase our faith” (v.5), Jesus’ reply is that they don't need more faith. A faith like the mustard seed is enough to move mulberry tree and mountains. The disciples think that their issue is lack of faith, but Jesus says that lack of faith is not the issue. The real issue is lack of obedience because ultimately it is not us who move moutains but God himself. As long as we are obedient to his command, he will back us up with his power. So we need to put our trust not in our faith but in God’s power. And the only way to achieve that is to adopt a bond-servant attitude of absolute obedience to God's command. The real challenge for all of us is not having more faith but learning to obey God as a true bond-servant. Jesus then went on to describe what the bond-servant attitude is like in verses 7-10.
Jesus uses the Greek word doulos to describe the bond-servant. Unlike hired servants who are paid by the hours, bond-servants are bought and sold as slaves and have no rights and no fixed "working hours". Because he is a slave, he expects no special treatment from his master: he does whatever is commanded and does not expect to eat with his master or rest after coming back from the field. He expects no consideration for his welfare, no appreciation for his work and no "time-off" to rest and have some "me-time". He expects to work until the master has eaten and is full and has no more work for him to do. After that, he may eat or rest. At the end of all this hard overtime work without appreciation and thanks from his master, he is to simply say, “We are unworthy servants (doulos); we have only done what was our duty” (v.10). Bond-servants who are working hard and overtime without rest have not doing anything great--they are just fulfilling their duty as bond-servants.
Similarly, if we have a bond-servant attitude, we have no time to indulge in self-pity because no one appreciates our work or thank us for it. We act in obedience to our Master because that is what bond-servants are expected to do. But when we are slack or slow in our obedience, we are in fact irresponsible. We are forsaking our duty and no amount of faith can compensate for lack of obedience. So the issue for all disciples of Jesus isn't the lack of faith but lack of obedience. What we need is not additional faith but absolute obedience. Obedience is in fact faith in motion. In a paradoxical way, it is only when we obey that we receive faith from God to move mulberry trees and mountains. We cannot wait for more faith before we obey, for the Spirit is "given to those who obey him" (Acts 5:32).
Father thank You that we don’t need additional faith to do Your work, but absolute obedience. Help us adopt a bond-servant attitude towards You and Your work. Amen.