In our text we see a Gentile mother going to a man from Galilee named Jesus—a man some were saying was the Jewish Messiah. Only a mother desperate for her daughter’s deliverance would presume to go to person from an ethnic group who considered her to be an unclean dog. Yet, before this encounter was over, Jesus said this Canaanite woman had “great faith.” This is significant, because only two times in the Bible does Jesus call someone’s faith “great,” and in both cases they are Gentile.
It is to the faithful flock who remained that John is writing to encourage and assure them that the gospel he preached, and the message by which they were saved, was the truth. He wanted them to know that they could be assured of their salvation through faith in Jesus, which manifested in their love for one another. As you can imagine, some in the church were conflicted. They were struggling to know with certainty that they were right to stay with John and the church, rather than going along with the deception of these persuasive teachers. To the faithful John says, “First of all, you can tell that they are wrong, because they do not live in the light according to the commandments of God, and second, because they are lacking in love.”
What do you have faith for? Do you have faith for God to heal a headache? Do you have faith for God to supply the funds you need to pay a bill? Do you have faith for God to provide employment? We talk about having faith and we say we believe, but there will be times when our faith is tested, and this is part of the process by which God works in us to “purify” our faith (1 Pt. 1:6-9), to take us from shallow faith concerned only about our own wants in the moment, to larger concerns that comprehend the implications of eternity in all that we do, or think, or believe. It is through this process that we become mature believers who endure to the end, who remain faithful when the pressure is on, and who learn patience when everything in us is crying for Jesus to do it now (Ja. 1:3).