Lord, increase our faith.”

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”  (Luke 17:6 KJV)

Jesus did NOT say, “If ye have faith THE SIZE of a grain of mustard seed ...” He said “AS ...”  Again, I don’t believe it was the seed’s SIZE that Jesus was referring to as a simile for faith, but what the seed has inside—its HEART.

What is INSIDE a mustard seed?

It is COMPLETE:  The Creator has pre-programmed every mustard seed to have everything it needs to fulfill its role in His Perfect Plan: a spark of life to sprout roots, a tiny stem, and leaves—eventually bark, boughs, flowers and mustard fruit—plus more seeds identical to the first one for multiplied generations of trees. If each of those second, third, fourth generation seeds is planted and a tree grown, eventually you will have a whole orchard—even countless orchards—of mustard trees. A seed is NOT a tree, but God makes sure every seed is perfect and fully equipped to grow a tree—even an orchard—according to His Will.

It is COMMITTED: Every single time a mustard seed is planted, it listens to the Voice of its Creator, it obeys without question, and it follows through with the instructions that God designed inside it. It’s prepared to not only produce a tree, but also infinitely more SEEDS, all equally committed. It trusts that the life cycle that God ordained will work, just like it has countless times before. It doesn’t hesitate—it doesn’t resist. The seed is absolutely committed to its task.

It is CONVINCED: A mustard seed “knows” ONE thing: that it is a mustard seed, and its ONE job is to produce a mustard tree. A mustard seed is never confused about what it is—it will never try to produce a rose or a corn stalk or an olive tree. All of its life and energy is used to develop the biggest, strongest mustard tree that the growing conditions around it will allow. No matter what!  A seed will never rebel—it might be “overzealous” and produce an overly big tree, but a mustard seed will never grow a thistle. It is convinced that God’s plan for IT is perfect.

Faith “as a mustard seed” is NOT small faith. It’s faith that:

  • Trusts always that God is in complete control, even when one feels buried, forsaken, and forgotten;
  • Knows God is always working, even when it seems that progress is incremental and slow. It remembers that He’s proven His power innumerable times—and He’s about to do it again!! and
  • Believes and is fully persuaded in the eternal faithfulness of God—desiring only what God has planned for it. It’s completely committed and convinced that NOTHING that God ordains will be impossible!

“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4 KJV)

True “mustard seed faith” speaks to what’s INSIDE it—a heart that’s focused on its God-ordained potential and future. God put the ORCHARD in the seed and “ETERNITY in (our) hearts.”  (Eccl. 3:11 NKJV)

Prayer: Dear LORD, increase my faith! Teach me to have the UNLIMITED faith of a mustard seed. Let my heart listen to Your Voice and behold Your unfailing faithfulness. Let me be complete, committed, and totally convinced of Your power that makes the impossible become possibleby FAITH in YOUR name. Amen!


Barbara Hilderbrand and husband, Derrald, live in Wausau, Wisconsin. They’ve served in various ministerial roles within the UPCI over the past fifty years – pastoring in Illinois, Alaska, Wisconsin, and Global Missions’ Europe/ME region. Barb also served in Ladies Ministries in Alaska and Wisconsin. They now eagerly await their next assignment and/or the NEXT stamp on their passports. She also posts devotions and articles regularly on her website: BarbHilderbrand.com.


  1. Anne E Johnston

    Thank you for these articles on the mustard seed faith. I have never heard it explained in that way before but it makes sense.

    • Barbara Hilderbrand

      Thank you for your kind words! I agree—it makes sense. Jesus often rebuked His followers by saying “O ye of little faith” (oligopistoi). Why would Jesus then use a mustard seed to advocate “small” faith? It’s clear. He was talking about something else. Something deeper.

  2. Dodie Woolem

    I haven’t read anything that describes this verse as well as you have! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us!

    • Barbara Hilderbrand

      Thank you, but it’s the wisdom of The WORD. “Light is sown for the righteous.” God puts truth and light deep in the soil of His Word. We will never get the all the wisdom available to us by skimming the surface—-some truths will only come to light by digging!

  3. Miriam Sponsler

    Love your writings! Hope you can compile these devotionals in a book. Blessings!!

    • Barbara Hilderbrand

      So thankful that mere words can be a blessing to the heart and a refreshing to the spirit!! When a word is inspired by The WORD!!