During the fall months of the year, my wife Shelly and I are tasked with collecting pinecones from the lawn. The cones can make mowing up the leaves more difficult, and so we get to work. The pinecone is a seed-bearing organ that is woody and has signature scales. These scales are arranged as a protective umbrella that close, when necessary, to protect the tender seeds, and open when the time comes for the seeds to take to the breeze to find hospitable soil. As children, my friends and I would pretend that the cones were mini-American-style footballs and play epic games.
Pinecones are yet another example of God’s perfect design. They have a purpose and are a beautiful reminder of the growth that occurs for all of God’s creations. God created trees of all kinds for their beauty, shade, and the wood as a resource for construction and for heating, and more. My point is that the pinecone nurtures the seeds, and, over time, enables them to mature.
When we moved to our town years ago, Shelly and I wanted to contribute to the community. We did not have a lot of money to donate, but we met with a colleague of mine who ran a community foundation. She described a fund that we could contribute to—we would give a specific amount each year for ten years and could then help guide the uses of the fund that grew with our contributions and the interest from investment earnings. The foundation referred to these as Pinecone Funds because they are protected and grow over time.
We appreciated the idea that something modest could be nurtured and become significant. Turning to Scripture for a powerful analogy, Philippians 1:9 reads: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” Paul wrote this to the Church at Philippi, a former gold-mining area, to counter what he saw as a growing problem of disunity among Church members. He wanted the Church to continue to grow and the members to focus on the mind of Christ. Paul believed that this was the only way to address the divisive nature of humans and have the Church thrive.
We know that Jesus Christ was and is not limited in any way. In Matthew 17, we read the account of Jesus, Peter, James, and John encountering a crowd. A man came to Jesus and fell to His knees and begged Him to heal his son and drive out the demon that possessed him. The three apostles were troubled that they had previously been unable to drive out the demon. They asked Jesus about this, and we see His response in Matthew 17:20: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”
Faith as small as a seed, and yet with the power to move a mountain. Imagine then what we can do when we focus on the mind of Christ and increasingly discern His power and majesty. As carnal beings, we cannot compel ourselves to follow God—we must first be drawn by Him and, through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we, as true Christians, can begin to grow if we obey and follow His commandments.
The key therefore to growing in faith is to obey God and study the Bible to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of God and His Son through the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11:1, we read: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Let’s continue reading in verses 2 and 3: “For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
Let’s reinforce this and consider the following biblical examples of the power of faith as the enduring foundation of our lives. In Hebrews 11:7-12, we read:
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
Much like the pinecone releasing its charge to the soil, as true Christians, we must nurture our faith through our obedience to God and His Son, sincere prayer, and our study of the Scriptures.
I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus Christ who perfectly captured the importance of our working to perfect our faith. Let’s read John 20:29: “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” This is a glimpse into the mind of Jesus and the importance He places on faith.