I wouldn’t say this is one of Jesus’ favourite phrases, but He does use it a few times.
When the disciples got anxious in the storm: And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26)
When Peter started to sink after walking on water: Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)
And when the disciples completely misunderstand Jesus when they think He is talking about physical bread: “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?” (Matthew 16:8)
And lastly the parallel passage to the verse today in Luke 12:28
The other examples are Jesus talking to individuals. But today He is talking to a whole crowd from many different backgrounds. Did they all have little faith?
Jesus knows we have little faith, He knows because He made us. He knows our weaknesses and failures. I believe this phrase is a very gentle rebuke, where Jesus is tenderly pointing us in God’s direction and saying you can have more faith if you simply look towards Him. When you take your focus off your concerns and instead fix your gaze on Him as a loving heavenly father who is passionate about us and wants to provide for us abundantly, then faith will grow.
Jesus is not judging us, He is pointing us to the truth of His commitment for us. When we lose our trust in His commitment to us, it causes us to worry. Worry is doubting God. It is saying “I don’t think you can come through for me this time God” We often sort of believe that He can but doubt that He actually will. This is sin. This is placing the problems above our trust in God and doubting His willingness to help and His ability to fulfil His promises.
God never rejects those whose faith is weak, He wants to inspire them and to increase their faith
a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not quench (Matthew 12:20)
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him (Romans 14:1)
But he does commend those who are strong in faith:
When Jesus heard this, he marvelled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. (Matthew 8:10)
Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:28)
I am convinced that the more time we spend in Jesus’ presence; praying, reading His word and worshipping, the stronger our faith will become. Because our focus is on Him rather than the problems we are worried about. It’s all about shifting our focus.
It’s important to recognise that Jesus didn’t say “O you of no faith” as Christians we have enough faith to save us. That is the easy bit. To grow stronger we need to develop that faith by recognising that God cares for every area of our lives and is ready, willing and able to provide for us in every aspect of life.