Early Valentine’s: The Heart of Faith

Psalm 119:165 KJV - Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Matthew 15:21-26 ESV - And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

In one of the most amazing and intentional encounters in Christ’s ministry, we see a Canaanite woman seek the power of Jesus to heal and deliver her afflicted daughter.  As a Canaanite, this woman was not just a non-Jewish Gentile but of a cursed nation compared to the people of Israel.  She was the only reason Jesus made this quick trip north of Jewish territory into pagan Tyre and Sidon, but you’d never know it at first glance.  Consider this:

  • She was completely ignored by Jesus, who kept silent when she pleaded with Him…

  • She was openly rejected by Christ’s Apostles - His handpicked Church leaders…

  • She was told that she was not eligible for the “miracle list” because of her ethnicity…

  • She was called a dog (an unclean animal for Jews) - by Jesus Himself - as she knelt before Him, begging for help…

How quickly might you give up your faith or confidence in Jesus to help you when your prayers are met with stone silence?  How would you respond when Christians - even church leaders - reject you?  How would you feel if a church used your ethnicity to prevent you from receiving help for your child?  What if you were mocked or called ugly names by Christians?  How would you respond?

Matthew 15:27-28 ESV - She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!  Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

The heart of faith - real faith in God is expressed in our humility.  This woman humbly took all the rejection and offenses that were heaped upon her by Jesus and His Apostles.  That was Christ’s point.  He went on a healing mission that also served as a teaching mission for the Apostles.  Faith is not only trust in God but also confidence in Him no matter how painful, confusing, or humiliating your circumstances.  

If humility is at the heart of faith, then pride must be destructive to true faith.  Had this woman lashed out at Jesus and the Apostles in her wounded pride, had she become so offended as to storm away from the Apostles, or had she proudly screamed at them all about her self-esteem and self-worth in some defensive tirade, her daughter would not have received her miracle.  How many potential miracles have we - or our loved ones - missed out on because we would not pass the test of humbly, patiently, and calmly keeping our confidence firmly in God rather than acting offended, angry, or entitled?  Is it possible God intentionally allows us to be in situations we cannot understand simply to reveal our heart of faith to others?

Stubbornness, refusal of correction, feelings of victimhood or entitlement, slander, and extreme insecurity that manifests itself in “drama” or pity-parties… these are all pathways to spiritual devastation.  How often have we witnessed people get easily offended by someone or something and make spiritually foolish or destructive choices?  Don’t we normally hear people more often resort to slander and self-justification more than we hear them say, “Yes, I’m a dog, but even the dogs get the Master’s crumbs”?   Tragically, how many people have abandoned Jesus altogether because they were wounded or offended by something related to the church (including its leaders) or by those who claim to be Christians?  These humiliations and misunderstandings are often intended to reveal your faith.  Jesus did this to John the Baptist.  God may indeed test you by letting you be offended by Him - by His silence, by His refusal to act, by His confusing ways, by His word, or by His people.

Matthew 11:6 ESV - “And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.”

Will you maintain your confidence in God, even if He Himself offends or wounds you?  Will you retain humble trust if His people, including Church leaders, disappoint or offend you?  What about if the wounds are deeply personal and seem to demean or devalue you?    Is it possible that God has put you in a situation to reveal your heart of faith to others - showing them the humility of a Christian whose confidence in God, and who refuses to live offended?  Will you pass that faith test?  

This Canaanite woman - like Job in the Old Testament - was only tested this way because of God’s confidence in her!  Perhaps you should view your offenses and disappointments with God or His people as God’s demonstration that He wants to showcase your faith.  Because the heart of faith - real trust in Jesus Christ - is always showcased by our humility.

1 Peter 5:5b-7 ESV - Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.