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O Ye of Little Faith
Fear is the enemy of faith.
Each morning, during my time with God, I feel ready for the day; ready for “battle”. However, as the day goes on and difficulties set in, bad news comes, and fear sets in, I don’t feel as strong or as ready to face life’s troubles or even the work set before me.
I know that we have all faced fears at one time or another. We aren’t the only ones. We know that Peter has faced it, too! (more on that in a bit)
The phrase “oh ye of little faith” and “oh you of little faith”, depending on the translation you are using, appears four times in the King James Bible and the English Standard Version, but what does it mean for someone to be of “little faith?” If we examine these references, God’s Word will define it for us.
Jesus called those with little faith “Ye of Little Faith.” The phrase means that in the present moment your trust has been tried and found wanting. Ouch! This must have hurt tremendously for the apostles to hear, but Jesus assured them it would be worth their while if they simply put forward more faith in Him–and so good things come in small packages after all; this is just one example among many others which shows how true his words were.
Jesus knew that the storm was going to arise, but he also wanted his followers’ faith in him tested. When they were faced with danger and trial, it would show how much learning has been done since coming together as one group through following Jesus.
When the men didn’t pass this trial, he did not cast them aside. Instead he demonstrated how they could trust in Him and helped to strengthen faith in these weak souls.
God wants to work with you and help your faith grow so that next time, when the test comes around again, it will be easier for you. We don’t serve a God who throws people away when they fail; he strives in us instead because of his great love towards those He calls His children.
It is interesting to note that even though the disciples had heard him teach and see miracles, their faith was still small. This situation revealed this fact as well-they needed more work on it before they could be considered mature enough for what would come next in Jesus’ ministry
We start by looking at the following verses:
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” – Matthew 6:30 (ESV)
“But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?” – Matthew 16:8 (ESV)
“But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” – Luke 12:28 (ESV)
To clarify here. We either have faith or we don’t. We can’t be a little saved. We are just saved. We trust someone or we don’t. It really is black and white. So, we can’t have a little faith. We either have faith or we don’t.
Faith cannot be measured in degrees. That aside, let’s take a closer look at the phrase “oh you of little faith”.
Worrying About Our Physical Needs
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Matthew 6:30 (KJV)
“If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
Luke 12:28 (KJV)
In the above verses, when mentioning “oh ye of little faith”, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about their fear of not having their physical needs met. They are worried about not having enough food or clothing, but Jesus is telling them that they are looking at it all wrong. Materialism is not important, and they should have more knowledge.
He is illustrating God’s plan for them and that He will always provide what they need. Jesus is reminding them that if they were willing to give up their possessions to follow Him, He will take care of their every need.
No matter the circumstances, they (and we!) should not be distracted or discouraged. If we stay in the Word and keep our eyes on Him, God will see us through our hardships, and He will always reign. Don’t be the one Jesus is talking to when He says “oh ye of little faith”!
Keeping Our Eyes on Him
Nowhere in scripture do we see the disciple’s lack of faith more than we do in the well-known boat scene.
Jesus and the disciples were in the boat. Jesus had fallen asleep and a terrible storm rose up. The disciples feared for their lives. The disciples woke Jesus from his sleep shouting “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” – Matthew 8:26 (ESV)
For most of us, this would seem a normal reaction, I mean, after all, if you can’t cry out to the Lord during a storm, what else would you do?
There’s more, however, to this story. In order to truly understand this story, we need to look at the events before the storm.
And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. – Matthew 8:26 (ESV)
Compare that to the parallel passage:
“He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” – Mark 4:40
In these verses, the disciple’s eyes were on the storm and not Jesus or God’s Word.
Now, take a look at Luke 8:22:
“Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.” – Luke 8:22 (ESV)
This preceded their boat ride. Jesus had already told them that they would be going over to the overside of the lake. They should have put their trust in Him and what He said, but they got distracted and took their eyes off Him and watched the storm, instead.
God has told us, through His Word, that He will safely get us to the other side (of difficulties, circumstances, and even our earthly lives), yet, we sometimes take our eyes off of Him and start to feel ourselves sinking. We aren’t looking at the Lord, we are looking at our storm!
Beware of False Teaching
If we read, Matthew 16, we start to form a clearer picture of this and how it relates to the phrase “oh you of little faith”.
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.”
But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. – Matthew 16:1-2
What is the issue here? The disciples’ understanding is distorted. They are thinking in terms of physical things (for example, leaven in physical food) when, in fact, Jesus was speaking about spiritual issues (leaven in a figurative sense, false teaching spreading as yeast causes the entire lump of dough to rise).
Now let’s look at the parallel verses in Mark 8:
Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them,
“Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”
“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” – Mark 8:14-21
If only the disciples had listened and understood what Jesus was saying previously, they would have understood the spiritual truths.
The form you have selected does not exist.
Despite following Jesus, they did not have faith.
Wrapping Up Oh Ye of Little Faith
“O you of little faith” doesn’t mean that they believed God a little bit. It is not that their trust was just a mound when it should have been a mountain. Instead, they only understood God’s Word a small amount.
They didn’t understand what God was saying to them and doing through them.
Instead of grasping His Word, they took their eyes off Him and His Word and looked at their circumstances.
Dear friends, keep your eyes on Jesus and not your circumstances. He will always carry you through.
Prayer to Help Us Keep our Eyes on Jesus
Father God, thank you for the reminder that we need to put all our faith, all our trust in You. Don’t let me be like Peter. Allow me to dive into life with full faith. Lord, please don’t let me be distracted by the troubles of this world and cause me to take my eyes off You.
I can’t do this life alone, God. Let me cry out to you before I start to sink and I know, deep in my soul, that you will reach out your hand, hold me close and walk me through. Heavenly Father, I pray that if I am facing something that causes me to get that sinking feeling of fear and helplessness, I will focus my eyes on you – the only one who can save me. In your Son’s precious name, Amen.
You may enjoy this video by Solemn Existence featuring part of a sermon by Pastor Tony Evans:
Or you may enjoy this recommended resource:
Oh, Ye of Little Faith is a 40-day devotional for your times through the wilderness when you need to focus on your faith to survive. This devotional is written through the eyes of a woman whose husband has been accused of a crime he did not commit, and her child has been taken into state custody. When the storm around you is too much, you will soon find you can only get through it when you cling to your faith in God.
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”