If we take whatever little bit of faith we have and present it to Jesus to work on, He will cause it to develop. In Matthew 25 we read about the talents, different proportions of money loaned to each of three people. The first two invested and doubled it, bringing joy to their master. But the one who did not invest, but buried his him to be punished. He was punished, not for stealing, but for leaving his money to yield no interest. A sin of neglect is sometimes worse than a sin of act (cf. James 4:17).
If we donít develop the faith that is given us, weíll suffer the consequences. If we donít invest and grow in that faith we may become smugly satisfied, claiming that we havenít wasted or lost our faith; weíre still practicing our faith, but weíve buried it in some way. We will have to render to God an account of our neglected stewardship. God expects us to grow, not simply to stagnate. Letting our faith deteriorate is bad, but letting it grow stagnant isnít much better. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). But without growth in faith, it is impossible to do Godís Will as productive stewards of His gifts.
We all have some degree of faith. We have to learn how to let it grow, and even to make it grow, in the sunlight of Godís grace. We do that mainly by living our faith to the fullest. Faith has to be a lived-out thing, invested, involved, activated. Romans 1:17 "The just man will live by faith" (cf. Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11).
Faith will grow if we give it a chance. We donít have to be upset if we notice that we donít have faith that moves mountains. I have really not met anyone with that level of faith. But we might let ourselves feel a bit guilty about the negligent way in which we exercise the faith we have. God may touch us with the realization that weíre not really developing our faith, that weíre on a kind of faith plateau, living day by day in a routine way. Colossians 2:7 reminds us that just as we had faith to believe in the Lord to save us, now we must go on beyond that to believe in Him to help us handle our many daily problems.
Paul suggests that we give ourselves a test of faith (II Corinthians 13:5): "Do you feel Christís power and presence more and more within you?" (More and more signifies growth.) "Or are you just pretending to be Christian when actually you arenít at all?" Ask yourself, apply the test to "see if you really be of the faith.
Next Installment: Vertical Growth: Fertilizing Faith - second part.
march 10, volume 9, no. 49   DAILY CATHOLIC - COLUMNS