Sunday, July 24, 2016

Luke 17:1-6

Luke 17:1-6
And He said to His disciples, “It is impossible for places of stumbling to not come, and woe through whom they do come!  It is better for him if a millstone is hung about his neck and he has been cast down into the sea lest he should make one of these little ones to stumble!  Watch yourselves!  If your brother should sin, rebuke him.  And if he should repent, forgive him.  And if he should sin into you seven times in a day, and seven times he should turn to you while saying, ‘I repent,’ you will forgive him.”  And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  And the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you were saying to the mulberry tree, ‘Uproot and plant yourself in the sea,’ and it obeyed you.”

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

Jesus tells his disciples a very deep truth.  It is impossible for stumbling to not come.  In other words, sin will cross our threshold.  We can try to not sin.  We can aspire to live according to God’s Law.  We can seek after God’s own heart.  But sin and temptation will come across our path.  We are fallen human beings living in a fallen world.  If we think that we can avoid sin by building walls and shutting out the world, we lie and deceive ourselves.  What we should do is prepare ourselves to resist the sin and come up for a recovery plan should we succumb.  That will be far more fruitful than building walls in a foolish attempt to keep sin at bay – as if we could even do that.

Why can we not build enough walls to keep sin out?  Why does sin and temptation always come calling?

Second Thought:

Since sin and temptation is so close at hand, it is important that we learn how to forgive.  Since sin is so prevalent in all that we do, we need to learn to be masters at forgiveness.  Jesus tells us that if someone – even a brother in the faith – sins against us seven times and asks to be forgiven each time, we will forgive them!  This is unthinkable, really, but it should be our identity.  Usually we get tired of forgiving people and we learn to not trust people who sin against us repeatedly.  But those who continue to ask for forgiveness – those who acknowledge their sinfulness before others and ask to be forgiven – are to be forgiven unquestionably.

Do you forgive easily?  Do you forgive the repeated failings of others easily?  What makes it easier to forgive repeated offense?  What can make it hard to forgive?

Third Thought:

In response to this, the disciples say an incredible thing.  They ask to have their faith increased.  Stop for a second and make sure that you let this sink in.  The disciples haven’t asked for more faith when Jesus healed someone.  They didn’t ask for more faith when he created food for thousands of people.  What compels them to ask for more faith?  The idea that they have to be forgiving!  This should tell us something about the human condition compared to the divine condition.  Human beings need help forgiving.  We need a lot of help if we are forgiving a lot.  If we really want to be like god in His ability to forgive, we need to rely upon God to grant us more faith.  Nothing is as difficult as being a person who forgives and forgives again.

Would you say that the biggest stress on faith is having to forgive?  Are you surprised that the disciples pick this moment in Jesus’ ministry to ask for faith?

Passage for Tomorrow: Luke 17:7-10
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