While we’ve each been given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3), sometimes we’re found measuring things by our doubt and unbelief rather than by the faith we've received. What do I mean? Let’s follow Peter out on the Sea of Galilee as we attempt to evaluate and compute what happened there.
“‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters.’ He said, ‘Come.’ Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the water and went toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he yelled, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’ Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?'” (Matthew 14-28-31 NHB).
A Small Measure of Faith
A Measure of Doubt
“We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete” (Hebrews 12:2 CEV)
As it is said, “We become what we behold.” Paul says that we’re transformed into Jesus’ likeness as we gaze into his glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and what is possible through our faith in him and put his eyes upon those things devoid of Jesus' glory. When he began to sink, believing that he needed to be saved, that's when the measure of his doubt outweighed the measure of his faith.
Measuring Contrary Winds
The strong winds enticed Peter to lose his focus, but it is easy to see why he had begun to remeasure the situation, despite his success thus far. The evening before, the disciples had been serving as waiters, helping Jesus feed over 5,000 hungry people. Afterwards, Jesus sent them off in a boat, rowing across the lake. By the time Jesus caught up to them, walking on the water, it was sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the morning. They had been rowing against the wind for many hours.
A small amount of faith is nothing which we should be ashamed. We can, according to Jesus, accomplish great things as long as we do not measure our situation by doubt and unbelief. It is Jesus who gives us our measure of faith and the means by which it is applied. How we measure and apply doubt and unbelief to a situation, however, is totally upon us. Peter had seen Jesus walk on the water and applying a sufficient amount of faith (little), he walked out on the water. But once Peter's doubt based upon his own experience became his focus, the measure of his faith became inconsequential in relationship to the measure of attention he gave to doubt.