On the surface, their request seems commendable. However, I believe the disciples asked this of Jesus because they were confused. In the previous chapter, Christ had baffled them by saying, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12).
Jesus knew his followers’ flesh wanted to avoid what they considered to be the lesser matters of faith. So he told them, “If you’re faithful in the little things, the foundational matters of faith, you’ll be faithful in the greater things too. So, prove yourself trustworthy in the basic requirements of faith. Otherwise, how can you be trusted with a deeper measure?”
If we are honest, we’ll admit we’re much like Jesus’ disciples. We also want to proceed straight to the larger matters of faith, to obtain the kind of faith that moves mountains. Like the disciples, we often judge faith by visible results.
True faith, in God’s eyes, has nothing to do with the size or amount of a work you aim to accomplish. Rather, it has to do with the focus and direction of your life. You see, God isn’t as concerned with your grand vision of how you plan to serve him as he is with who you’re becoming. God is more interested in winning all of me than in me winning all the world for him.