Do You Have Understanding?

Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20 NKJV
In many translations of this verse “little faith” is substituted for unbelief. Is that reasonable? Did Jesus tell the disciples they had “little faith” and then tell them if they had faith the size of a mustard seed they could move mountains?  Does that even make sense?
The question just posed is a valid question though some might think, “God’s wisdom isn’t man’s. What makes sense to God doesn’t make sense to men.” That way of thinking is what has led many people to surrender their own understanding to that of what ever preacher catches their fancy. In Acts 17:10-11, the writer tells of the believers of Berea. Verse 11; “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
I encourage you to “search the scriptures daily” and to not follow the logic of “God’s wisdom isn’t man’s wisdom” as expressed above.
The Bible tells us we are to “get understanding.”  Psalm 49:3 tells us that as we meditate on God and his word we get understanding. (See also 119:99) 

Psalm 111:10 teaches that those who do what God says have a “good understanding.” 

Psalm 32:9 tells us not to be like the horse or mule which “have no understanding” and must be “harnessed with bit and bridle.” If you listen to the world, we’re all just animals. I don’t know about you, but my Bible tells me I’m created in the likeness of God. He didn’t say that about animals. I sure don’t want to be like an animal that has to have a bit in its mouth to be under control.
The book of Proverbs was written to help give understanding. (Proverbs 1:2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.) And Proverbs 2:2 tells us we should go after wisdom and understanding.
Our country, because we are doing so much to remove God and his word from our society, is rapidly mirroring this verse in Deuteronomy 32:28, “For they are a nation void of counsel, nor is there any understanding in them.” We can see it every day, in the decisions made by our so-called leaders.
Solomon recognized how important understanding was to successfully lead Israel. See part of his request to God in 1 Kings 3:9, “Therefore give to your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of yours?”
In Matthew 15:16 Jesus put this question to the disciples, “Are you also still without understanding?” And Paul told the Corinthians, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” (1 Corinthians 14:20)
We are instructed, and expected, to get understanding. But our understanding needs to be directed by the Spirit and come from God’s word. Paul prayed for the people to get understanding in Ephesians 1:18, and Colossians 1:9. In other words, he was asking God to help them understand, and understand the word. Realize that Jesus put great importance on the word. Not on feelings, and not on voices from heaven. There were voices from heaven in his life, but it was never for his sake, and he said so.
In James 3:13, the Lord’s brother, who was often at variance with Jesus while he walked the earth, shows how important being transformed in our thinking is. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness (teachableness) of wisdom.”
Two things in that verse. We show our wisdom and understanding first, by our good conduct (conduct which lines up with the word of God). And by the fact that we are open to learning and growing in wisdom, and understanding.

So, the problem is not with asking if something makes sense. When we get into trouble is when we define what makes sense without looking to the Bible. When we base our “understanding” on our own experience or education, when we apply man’s logic to God’s word, then we are foolish, or like the “horse and mule, lacking understanding.”

Having said all of that, let’s return to the question, does it even make sense that Jesus would tell them they had “little faith” and then tell them little faith was enough to move mountains?

Of course, it does not!

However, the truth is, Jesus did NOT tell them they had “little faith.” What Jesus told them was that their unbelief prevented them from seeing a successful outcome. Unbelief. Not little faith. Little faith is enough to move mountains and stop the mouths of lions. (Hebrews 11:33)

Today we discussed the importance of getting understanding from the word of God. Understanding has been called the correct use of wisdom, and we all need wisdom and understanding to live rich, full lives. Next time we will look further at this idea of unbelief.

I was reviewing a number of verses in which Jesus used the word that is best translated as “unbelief” to see what other translations did to them. I was pleased to find that if a translation did not use “unbelief” in many cases they still used something that was descriptive of that condition. There were some cases, however, in which little faith was substituted for unbelief. Even once is too often when you are talking about a truth that is absolutely critical to understanding the nature of God’s power that is available to us.

To learn more about God’s love and compassion for us, check out these related posts (click on the title for the link):

Be The Boss!

What’s Your Hurry?

You can also get a copy of my book, a book on the liberty we have in Christ (not nutrition as the title may suggest) on Amazon (click on the title): Eat Healthy…Most of the Time!

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Remember, God loves you just as you are, but he loves you far too much to leave you that way!