You might have heard the expression "we should have faith like a mustard seed". I have heard it a few times after I started listening to Christian ministers. I had never heard it before then.
For those interested, it seems to be in 2 places in the Bible:
- Luke 17:6 : "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you"
- Matthew 17:20: "(...) if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Today I will share 2 different interpretations of what that means, and why we don't see the results we ask for.
Interpretation #1 - The Problem is the Unbelief
According to Andrew Wommack's teaching, having faith the size of a mustard seed means that even if you have a little faith, that is enough.
Additionally, he says that everybody has the same amount of faith. According to Andrew's teaching, when God made us, he put the same amount of faith in everyone. We all have faith the size of a mustard seed.
The reason why some people see more results (ie, what they ask for comes true), is because they have less unbelief.
According to Andrew, as you grow in the Lord, you remove your unbelief, and your wishes will more easily come true.
Interpretation #2 - Quality and not Quantity
Watch this video from 11:27 to 17:38.
What a beautifully emotional and passionate segment!
In it, Joe Amaral explains that it is not the quantity of your faith that matters (ie, is it big or as small as a mustard seed), but rather the quality (are you as strong and tenacious as the mustard plant?).
Besides explaining, he also does a wonderful job of motivating the audience to be strong. If you need faith and encouragement, do watch that segment!
I understand Andrew's point, but at the same time, I see unbelief as lack of faith. In my opinion, he is still saying that the issue is the lack of faith. What he calls faith is the constant faith (as in "he is a man of faith") and what he calls unbelief is a temporary lack of faith (maybe due to stress, fear, etc).
For Joe Amaral, my criticism is regarding the requirement of understanding the culture in order to understand the passage.I believe it is important to understand the culture of Jeseus, but that alone doesn't help us fully understand what the Bible meant. One of the reasons why Christianity has so many denominations is because there can be many different interpretations to the same passage of the Bible - even after understanding Jesus' culture.
Some more food for thought:
- Do we ever fully understand a culture? Even when we were brought up in a certain culture, we sometimes only fully understand it once we travel and spend time in another one. Then what about a culture that is 2000 years and many continents removed from us?
- We will never clearly know what Jesus meant because He is not here to explain it to us. The Bible was written by the apostles (if I'm not mistaken) many years after Jesus gave the lessons. It was also written in one language, then translated into a few different languages before it was translated to English. A lot can be lost through time and translation, including cultural nuances.
I believe both interpretations are in fact complimentary. Having lack of unbelief (Andrew's interpretation) means being strong in your faith (Joe's interpretation). In other words, it means striving towards consistent faith.
My message is the following: be as persistent and as strong as a mustard plant, by working on building a consistent faith inside of you.