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September 30 Today’s Reading: Matthew 15-18
Seven Characteristics of True Faith
The purpose of God the Holy Spirit in revealing to us the story of the Syrophenician woman is to give us an object lesson about faith. What does this story show us about faith?
1. Faith is given to the most unlikely people (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). This woman was a Gentile, a godless pagan and a Canaanite, the child of a cursed race. But she was an object of God's eternal, electing love in Christ.
2. Faith is born in the heart by hearing the Gospel, by hearing of Christ (Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23). I do not know how she heard, or how much she heard. But I do know what she heard. She “heard of Him” (Mark 7:25). No one in this world can believe on Christ until he hears the Gospel of Christ.
3. Faith always seeks what only God can give — Mercy! This woman never attempted to tell the Lord what to do. She simply cried, “Have mercy on me!” That prayer implied an acknowledgement of sin, hope of pardon, submission to the sovereign will and power of God, and confidence in Christ’s ability to bestow mercy.
4. Faith cannot be silenced. Though the Lord seemed to ignore her cry, though the disciples treated her contemptuously, though she was confronted with God’s sovereign election, though she knew and owned her own unworthiness, she would not give up her plea. — Mercy! She must have mercy! Blessed be His name, every sinner who must have mercy finds mercy abundant and free in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 4:16).
5. Faith takes its proper place before God. This woman acknowledged the truthfulness of the Lord’s description of her and the justice of His sovereignty in dispensing mercy. Faith does not argue with God. Faith submits to God.
6. Faith makes need an argument for mercy. This dear woman took the ground the Lord gave her. He called her a dog. And she not only owned the name, but made her base character an argument for His mercy. Dogs must be fed. Dogs under the table suggest that the Master has plenty. Dogs will settle for any morsel, be grateful, and come back for more. And, being His dog, she was altogether dependent upon His care.
7. Faith always obtains what it seeks. Faith seeks nothing but mercy, and always gets it. Faith deals with and seeks necessities, healing, freedom, life, mercy. And the Lord Jesus always says to faith, “Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt.” Faith honors Christ by believing; and Christ honors faith by giving.
Oh, let us come out of all the coasts of the Tyre and Sidon of this world and look to Christ for mercy this day! Beholding his mercy here, let us hope for mercy for all the Israel of God; for with Him is “plenteous redemption!” Dear Lord Jesus, have compassion, as You had in the days of Your flesh upon this poor woman; and give us mercy this day! — Mercy for ourselves! Mercy for the fruit of our children! Oh, God of all grace, show Yourself gracious this day!