Jesus is teaching his disciples things like the woes of leading people to sin, the importance of confronting a brother in Christ who sins against you, and forgiving people over and over...and over again when they sin against you. Tough stuff.
Apparently the disciples agree. In exasperation, they respond to Jesus by saying, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5)
Sounds like a great request, right? I've prayed that many times myself. But Jesus sets us straight in just one verse (albeit a long one).
(Jesus) replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.' (17:6)
Now that would be impressive!
But Jesus uses this to make a huge point. It's not the size of our faith that makes the difference--it's the object of our faith. (Object = Jesus, here)
Notice that in his example, Jesus says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed." His point is that faith in Jesus is powerful not because of how much you have but in whom you have it. When we exercise faith in Jesus, we can move heaven and earth because he is Lord of all creation. He's huge!
Why does God do it this way? Good question!
To have faith to tell a tree to move and it happen really is impressive! Again, my tendency is to think that the person who can do that has a lot of or big faith. They are impressive! But therein lies my problem.
Did you catch it? In my response I exalted the one who demonstrated the faith instead of the object of their faith (Jesus). When it's about how much faith I have, I get the glory. When it's about my little faith moving mountains, it becomes about my great God. And since I exist for his glory, this makes much more sense. It exalts the One who is the object and source of our great faith!
So maybe I need to adjust my prayer. Maybe instead of, "Lord, increase my faith" I need to pray, "Lord, increase my awareness of how big and good you really are." When I see my problems beside my massive God, they take on their proper perspective and I find I have an easier time trusting God.