Mustard Seed Faith – Matthew 17:20 Explained

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~Matthew 17:20-21

As small as a mustard seed… that’s pretty small. To be more precise, it is about the size of the head of a straight pin—the kind used by seamstresses to pin a pattern to fabric. So yah, that’s pretty small, isn’t it? Yet Jesus says that if we have even that little amount of faith there is nothing we cannot do.

So why, then, aren’t we doing more? And why do so many of us feel God isn’t working in our lives the way we want Him to?

A lack of faith or simply not God’s will?

I consider myself a woman of faith. I believe with every ounce of my being that God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants. I believe with every ounce of my being that God is the one and only God, that He is the creator of the universe, and that He is almighty and all-knowing.

But… there have been plenty of times (and sadly, I’m sure there will be more) that I don’t think God will do what I know He can do. And that, my friends, is a lack of faith. Well, sometimes, anyway. Sometimes I don’t believe God will do something that I know He is fully capable of because I am convinced it simply isn’t His will. This probably leads you to the question of how I know which is which.

A lack of faith is simply not trusting God to keep His promises, believing He can do something, or believing that He wants to bless us and direct our lives. For example, not tithing because we don’t think we can and still have what we need to cover our expenses is a lack of faith

Believing something is not His will comes from studying the scriptures and knowing that there are simply some things God won’t do for us because He knows better.

An example of this would be pursuing a romantic relationship with a non-Christian; asking God to give you this person as your husband or wife, but the relationship doesn’t work out. It isn’t because God was unfaithful or because you didn’t have enough faith. It’s because God doesn’t want us to be unequally yoked.

Do you see the difference?

How to have a mustard seed kind of faith

Jesus uses the mustard seed to illustrate the kind of faith we need because the tiny mustard seed grows into something much, Much, MUCH bigger than its original size. In other words, our faith is meant to grow… a lot.

When I am asked the question of how to have more faith, I point people to these two things:

One: First is the man in Mark 9 who asked the disciples to cure his son from demon possession. The disciples couldn’t do it (because of a lack of faith). But when Jesus asked the boy’s father if he believed, he said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Before I tell you what I think about this verse, I want to clarify what the boy’s father is saying. The Greek word for ‘unbelief’ is apistia. The word literally means distrust.

When the man asks Jesus to help his unbelief, he isn’t saying he doesn’t believe, he is asking Jesus to give him more faith. He knew Jesus could give it, but he needed faith to believe He would.

So… when I am asked the question of how to have more faith, the first thing I tell someone is to ask for more faith. Pray for more faith.

Two: Take the opportunities God gives you to see faith in action. It’s not enough to say you have faith or even believe God is God. True faith grows when you let God be God and do what He does best—the amazing and seemingly impossible.

Our initial introduction to the concept of faith is small. It is a faith that comes from hearing and believing the Word of God. After that, however, the only way for our faith to grow is to use it.

Give your rebellious teen over to God. Tithe. Quit fighting the idea of caring for your aging parents because you aren’t sure your family can handle it. Go on a mission trip and let God take you out of your comfort zone and use you.

Quit trying to fix broken relationships and let God do it for you. Quit holding grudges, forgive, and move forward. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to offer your talents in your church or community so that you can minister to others. Don’t worry about being made fun of at work or school for sharing the Gospel and having a Christ-like attitude that rejects sinful behaviors.

A mustard seed kind of faith is faith that isn’t content to stay small, but one that buries itself in the soil of God’s Word, takes root, and grows and grows and grows and…

~ By Darla Noble

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  1. Reply
    Kasimizi Maxwel says

    We are no where in faith to an extent of even not our faith equivalent to such a tiny seed.

  2. Reply
    Grace Mukama says

    This is awesome… Today have been studying that particular scripture in Matthew 17:20…
    It clear that the remarkable thing that Jesus wanted to point out to the disciples about a mustard seed was not merely the smallness of its size…
    It was it’s ability to grow into a big tree when planted.
    This I got after comparing with Matthew 13:31 and 32…
    Faith which is not planted yields nothing, it will just shrivel up and die, remaining totally insignificant, but faith that is planted, however small grows and moves mountains

    • Reply
      Federico Billones says


  3. Reply
    Valarie hayed says

    Your article on explaining the verse about the mustard seed was: very insightful, informative & uplifting. It really help me to understand the verse much better. Thank you!!!God Bless

  4. Reply
    Jennifer Dela Cruz says

    God led me here, and by His grace, He uses other people to make us understand more of His word and what He’s saying to us.

  5. Reply
    Amado A Gao-ay says

    Very much inspired

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