Faith Is Selfish
Isn’t that a catchy title? I know that messes with some of your heads and sounds pretty blasphemous to some, but I almost mentioned this in a previous entry on faith, and realized I needed to devote a whole entry to it. This is a detour on the ‘speaking’ theme, but I’ll get right back to it in the next post.
Believe it or not, I honestly try to keep my entries short, and multiple-part entries are more favorable to me than big long ones. After positive, but private feedback I got through Facebook in response to my previous blog entry on moving mountains with our words, I knew I had to visit this subject just a little bit more before continuing and hopefully feed the pit bull in you all (see last post). So allow me to say that faith is ‘selfish’–or at least it’s persistent and doesn’t care what anybody says or thinks, but goes for what it’s seeking. Nothing can or will stop it.
But immediately a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
For comparison see Matthew 15:21-28 where it says he healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter and some other details are different. You’re probably already familiar with my style, so notice some observations and comments on what we know from other Scripture texts:
- She came to him because of what she had heard he’d done (v.25). An example of how faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).
- She was a Gentile, and not of the house of Israel, to whom Jesus had been sent to first. She had no reason from evidence yet that Jesus would heal her–a Syrophoenician’s–child.
- She begged. She didn’t take NO for an answer. Even though this is one of the only times in Scripture Jesus said “no” to anyone who came to Him for healing (v.26-27), the healing was still obtained
- She didn’t get offended when Jesus implied she was a dog (v. 27-28).
- Her confession–her words/her reply, is how Jesus told her the demon left her daughter.
- It is not explicitly said that Jesus the Son or God the Father did anything themselves to cast the demon out of the girl–Jesus said ‘for this statement, you may go your way, the demon has left your daughter” (v.29) Again the importance of our words and the power they yield can possibly be demonstrated in this account.
It should be noted, this woman was not of the house of Israel. I’m not sophisticated enough to know if the woman in Matthew is the same one as the one in Mark, or if Syrophonecia is in Canaan, or they’re the same place or what, but fact of the matter is in both accounts, this is someone not in covenant between God and Israel (yet). This is someone who heard Jesus was healing people, and she had faith that she could get some of that for her daughter.
In Matthew’s account, Jesus doesn’t answer the woman a word, and the disciples get annoyed and ask him to send her away. They wouldn’t have gotten too annoyed if she only asked once. So obviously, this is persistence and repeating her plea with the Son of Man. This is pit bull faith. This woman was asking again and again. How many reading have always thought if you ask God for something and you don’t get it, it means that it’s God’s will that you don’t have it, so you best not ask again. Nevermind that this contradicts the passage on seeking and knocking, but many evangelicals and charismatics think it’s a sin to pray more than once for something. But faith perseveres until it gets what it’s seeking.
Jesus basically called this woman a dog. I know some of you reading get offended if the pastor of your church doesn’t shake your hand when you leave after the service, let alone that you’d keep your pride if you went to him for a need, and he were to say ”no” and call you a dog! But that didn’t phase this woman. Her daughter’s healing was more important than her pride.
I’ve heard people say Jesus told her ‘no’ because He was testing her, that he was baiting her. I don’t think so, nor is that even really like the character of Christ to begin with. I’ve heard that this location was totally out of His way from where He was and where He was going which was Galilee. Again, if pressed for it I will look it up on a map, but I’ve heard from these two texts that this area was totally out of his way, and yet he walked the day’s walk or so, and the only thing he did in that area, was have this woman come up to him and beg him to heal her daughter. I don’t think Jesus withholds anything to get us to beg it from him the way people misteach it in this passage–He’s certainly not that way in the new covenant which we believers reading this are in with Him! But the new covenant that included the Gentiles had not been established yet. Jesus had not yet been to the cross to fulfill it.
So again, how do I know faith was what did it? Because of what Jesus says to her. “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” (Matthew 15:28) Does it sound blasphemous to some of you to get ‘what you DESIRE from God? Well, that is what Jesus responded to her, and the rest of the verse says her daughter was healed instantly. These accounts in Mark and Matthew don’t involve Jesus visiting the sick person for Himself. They technically don’t even involve Him proclaiming with his words for the healing to come to pass over the person. In both accounts, he tells the woman it was her faith that accomplished it.
What do you think about that? What does your faith accomplish? Are you ready yet to move mountains? Are you ready yet to obtain things that don’t look like you can obtain in the natural realm? Can you believe against all hope? That is pit bull faith.
Forgive me if this doesn’t sound doctrinally correct, but like I said, faith is selfish. This woman didn’t listen to what she was initially told. She had the faith to reach forward and receive a promise from the future covenant that was not even established yet. I think Jesus loves that kind of faith. It says in Romans, that God loved Jacob but hated Esau. What was Jacob like? Tenacious. He did whatever it took to get what he was after, and there’s something in that spirit–in a holy way–that God loves and finds irresistible. Many giants of the faith would be considered heretics by the theology of much of the Church today, but yet many of God’s generals who operated mightily in the miraculous knew this principle of faith. Smith Wigglesworth said he didn’t wait for the Spirit of God to move him, but He moved the Spirit of God. John G. Lake said that if a minister can’t produce the Spirit of God at will, he shouldn’t be in ministry. Then he said this applies to all Christians, not just ministers. Guess most of us would need to quit!
But friends,we don’t have to guessor hope for God to do things: we have His promises written in our Bible. I know for a fact more of us reading this blog entry are way more familiar with Jesus’ ministry than this woman was, so how much more faith we ought to be able to have that He will have compassion on us in our sicknesses or the diseases of loved ones. We don’t have to ask and beg, we’ve been given the Holy Spirit to do the things Jesus did and said we’d do ourselves. Mark 16 says two of the signs that accompany believers is casting out devils and healing the sick. He never said this was for apostles, or gifts for certain people in the body of Christ and not others. So now you’re without excuse to heal the sick.
Have confidence in the promises of God. Don’t be afraid to have faith either.