Remember the struggling Canaanite woman who, although being outside of the Lord’s target audience (Israel), shamelessly sought Jesus’ help for her daughter who was“severely oppressed by a demon”? (Mt. 15:21-28) The beautiful thing about this encounter is her faith. As you recall, the Lord acted as though He didn’t want to help her, yet she would not let it go. Let’s peer over the Lord’s shoulder for a moment and watch as a desperate lady manifests what Jesus calls “great faith.”
So what is great faith? What does this faith look like? First, great faith is Selfless. Here is a mother who is hurting. She’s emotional. She’s crying. She is begging and manifestly desperate. Those of you who are parents, I know that you can relate to the feelings of vulnerability that accompany parenthood. That’s where she is – faced with an insurmountable situation with her daughter, she reaches out to Jesus. Honestly, I never knew what “vulnerable” was until I had a family, especially children. The Canaanite woman’s focus is on her daughter, not herself. She is selfless, and that is a characteristic of “great faith.”
Again, what is great faith? Great faith is also informed. She knew who Jesus was: “O Lord, Son of David,” she says. (v.22) Clearly, she’s certain He’s the answer for the challenge in her life. Friends, Biblical faith is neither a blind leap in the dark, nor is it merely having a belief in something. Rather, it’s a belief that is based upon evidence – evidence of the existence of a Creator and evidence concerning the validity and historicity of Scripture.
Sometimes the topic is approached as if Faith and Knowledge are mutually exclusive. (Knowledge will only take you so far, thus to bridge the chasm between man and God one must take a “leap of faith.”) It sounds good, but it just isn’t Biblical. Peter said that the disciples “believed and have come to know.” (Jn. 6:69) There it is, faith coupled and in full harmony with knowledge – coexisting. John said that you can “know that you have eternal life.” (1 Jn. 5:13) How can you “know” if you can’t know? She is informed, and that too is a characteristic of “great faith.”
Great faith is Selfless; it’s Informed, and great faith is Active. She came and was crying.(v. 22) She came kneeling and seeking to persuade Him. (v. 25) Faith manifests itself by activity. James says that “faith without works is dead” (Ja. 2:14) and that we are“justified by works.” (Ja. 2:24) Hopefully, we understand that through such activity someone doesn’t earn or merit their salvation. Jesus, as the song suggests, “paid it all.” Our salvation is through the work of Jesus, not our own. However, such work is evidence in our lives that true faith exists. She is active; that too is part of what “great faith” looks like.
Another thing about the faith of this woman is its Persistence. She won’t let it go. She knows that He’s the source for the healing and that the problem isn’t going to go away if He doesn’t do something. This brief dialogue powerfully shows how great faith does not easily give up. Do you give up easily? Are you relentless in your pursuit of God? Are you willing to just walk away at the first sign of trouble? Would you be more inclined to surrender than to stand and fight for the Lord? If so, you do not have great faith.
Finally, great faith as presented in the Canaanite woman is Visible. You cannot hide great faith! What a beautiful Bible story where a woman, who didn’t have much going for her from this world’s perspective, sought out the Lord. She in her time of desperation shows mankind for all ages what life is to look like when someone lives a life of faith. Great faith is Selfless, Informed, Active, Persistent and Visible. By the way, it’s in those times of desperation that we see the true nature of the faith inside of us. (Main points taken from a sermon presented by Kevin Moore at the Carolina Lectures 2018.)
You are loved! LB