Which of the following two attitudes pleases the Lord more?
- “Yes, Lord, I will get the job done. Since you have commanded me to do it, I know you have authorized me to do it and will in fact enable me to get it done in obedience to your command.”
- “I don’t know if I can do it, Lord, but I will do my best. But even if I fail, I know that somehow you will somehow get the glory.”
Matthew 14:28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, and in his zeal wanted to do what Jesus was doing. The Lord was not displeased by this and so issued the command for Peter to “come” to him walking on the water. But although Peter tried and “did his best”, he ended up sinking into the water. Jesus rebuked him for his failure—which was due to his little faith and doubt.
What did Peter doubt? He did not doubt God. He did not doubt Jesus. He did not doubt that Jesus could walk on water. He doubted that he could water on water as Jesus had commanded him.
Some disciples of the Lord today are also zealous like Peter. They want to do the works that Jesus did in the gospels. This is in perfect accordance with John 14:12 where Jesus promised that believers would do the works that he did, especially to demonstrate that he is in fact the way, the truth, the life—the only way to the Father. To reinforce this, Jesus even sent out his 72 disciples to “heal the sick and tell them, ‘the kingdom of God is near you.’”
And so today some zealous disciples “step out of the boat” in an attempt to heal the sick (not simply pray for them) when preaching the gospel to the lost. But often like Peter they fail and no miraculous healing takes place. And the reason they fail is the same reason why Peter failed.
We have little faith and we doubt that we can in fact heal the sick as Jesus commands us. Like Peter we have the best of intentions. But since we have not been trained in the kind of faith needed to move mountains, demons, and infirmities, we more often than not fail.
When the disciples asked Jesus why they failed to heal the boy with the epilepsy in Matthew 17, he answered them, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith 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” (verse 20).
Every believer is taught and understands faith in God which saves us. But rarely are we taught about mountain-moving faith which enables us to heal the sick and cast out demons to demonstrate convincingly to the lost that our God is the only true God.
It is true that love is more important than mountain-moving faith. But love without this kind of faith cripples the presentation of the gospel to those billions of gospel-resistant Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and idol-worshippers around the world who need to see proof that the gospel is true before believing in Jesus Christ. We need not choose between love and mountain-moving faith. We can and must have both for the most effective and scriptural presentation of the gospel to the lost.
“Yes sir, we will get the job done as you commanded.”
This is what every commander-in-chief desires and demands to hear from his soldiers when he sends them out to battle. We disciples acknowledge Jesus Christ as our commander-in-chief. Yet because of a “theology of helplessness” which has seeped throughout the Church, we do not have this attitude of confidence. Instead based on selected scriptures which we misunderstand we go forth to preach the gospel in actual weakness, fear and trembling. We step out of the boat certainly not confident of victory and success, but like Peter in fear and doubt. Somehow it has become a mark of spirituality to confess that we disciples are helpless and can do nothing, and that all we can do is wait on God to show up to demonstrate His power. We think that in such a way all the glory will be His and His alone.
But we have forgotten that we are the body of Christ, and that the Lord does his great impossible works through us who have mountain-moving faith. For such disciples nothing will be impossible.
Matthew 17:20 “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith 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.”
After the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost, things changed dramatically. The very same doubting and cowardly Peter who sank beneath the waves and denied Jesus three times preached Christ with sudden boldness before a crowd of Jews, and three thousand repented. What Jesus taught him in the gospels came to life and fulfillment in Peter’s ministry. The Lord used Peter gloriously as with boldness and faith he ministered with power to the lame beggar at the temple gate, to the paralytic Aeneas, and to Dorcas by raising her back to life. Nor do we see any doubt in Paul (who came in “fear and trembling”) as he traveled around the known world preaching the gospel and healing the sick fruitfully.
Should we not aspire to serve the Lord with power and effectiveness like Peter and Paul? Or is it God’s will for us “ordinary disciples” forever to grovel in the dirt like poor and helpless beggars?
Let us consider which of the following two attitudes is more pleasing to the Lord:
“Yes, Lord, I will get the job done. Since you have commanded me to do it, I know you have authorized me to do it and will in fact enable me and use me to get it done in obedience to your command.”
“I don’t know if I can do it, Lord, but I will do my best. But even if I fail, I know that somehow you will somehow get the glory.”
It’s clear that the first attitude is far more pleasing to the Lord. He desires us to be like Peter, Paul, Joshua, Caleb, and David who faced down and defeated the enemy giant Goliath. These heroes of the faith had no doubt and no fear.
By studying and understanding Scripture and by constant practice in obeying the Lord’s commands, we can become like them.