Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we ask that You continue to strengthen our faith. Cause each of us to examine our lives and root out any sins that may cause others to reject You and Your divine truth. In so doing, make us humble, honest Christians who rejoice in letting our light, which is really Your light, shine! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH!
TEXT: Luke 17: 1-10
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Death and taxes are inescapable. So is sin. And although all of us are forgiven by Christ and saved from its eternally destructive effects by Christ’s blood, we still struggle with sin and succumb to it more often than we’d care to admit. Weak sin-tainted Christians sometimes commit adultery, steal, misuse God’s gift of language, drink too much, gossip, and play around with greed. When confronted with such sins, however, Christians also repent and humble themselves before the Lord Almighty. For the bluntness of the commandments, drummed into us from Sunday School days on, are inescapable. Because of them, we cannot rationalize away such hurtful behavior.
That being said, we can and do try to rationalize away a sense of smugness that sometimes afflicts us. We eagerly point to another’s sin and often get on our high horse of condemning them for it behind their backs, but fail to take the time to talk to them personally about it and to forgive them when they repent. We do this because it makes us feel superior, better than they are. But in reality it only makes us worse. For it reinforces the modern stereotype of the “better than thou” Christian. That’s what Jesus is addressing in His opening words when He says: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”
Recently our nation has been riveted by the various political debates on TV. No doubt, we all have opinions on who won and how the candidates projected themselves. I’ve read that the debate coaches for each candidate not only prepped them on talking points, but also prepped them on how they come across to the American people. That’s because a sense of smugness simply turns people off, whereas a sense of dedication coupled with humbleness touches hearts. Well, the same is true for us. We’re all in the public eye each and every day. How we act. How we speak. How we conduct ourselves and handle difficult problems speaks volumes. So, today I want to remind you that:
Christians care about people. We care about their physical well-being and especially about their souls. We care because Jesus cared enough to offer up His holy life as a sacrifice for them and for us. Thus, we owe Him a debt of gratitude and love, don’t we? So, when you see another person engaged in sin, in hurtful behavior, what should you do? Armed with His love for self-destructive souls you need to speak to them about their sins. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
We often think that forgiveness is our own private possession. That is, we can choose to hand it out if we wish, and we can also choose to withhold it—after all, it’s our forgiveness. But, that’s the wrong attitude! Forgiveness belongs to Christ, not us. It’s His forgiveness, not ours. We’re simply the humble vessels of clay that He uses to announce and convey it to another. So, when we speak up and confront sin and repentance ensues, we need to forgive—again, and again, and again.
Personal feelings about another really have nothing to do with forgiveness. Elsewhere Christ says: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” He says that about both His friends and enemies that surrounded Him at the foot of the cross. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be pals, or go out to eat, or even like another person. What it does mean is that you must care about their soul more than their persona. No doubt, the difficulty of this was present in the disciples’ minds as they listened to Him. That’s why they blurted out: “Lord, increase our faith!”
Many Christians think that the pious, high-minded attitude about forgiveness outlined by Jesus can only take place if they have a stronger faith. Certainly the disciples felt that way as their comment indicates. And yet, it isn’t true! The apparent amount of your faith has really nothing to do with honoring Christ. That may be an eye-opener for many of you, yet it’s true. Listen to His next words:
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” In other words, small faith is saving faith. Small faith, weak faith, still clings to Christ. He is its object. And He is always strong! Knowing that truth is comforting. For at times we’re all weak and at times we’re stronger. But, as the old song goes: “I am weak but He is strong! Yes, Jesus loves me.” Knowing that truth is also humbling, isn’t it? But, no matter. A living faith is a humble faith.
Humble Christians have a duty toward God. A duty caused by Him going above and beyond in giving His life for ours on the cross. And to make sure we remain duty-bound in humbleness, Jesus goes on to tell a story. A rich man (God) has a servant (us) who is looking after his sheep and plowing in a field. The servant works all day long doing his duty. When he’s done, he returns to the main house. Should he expect the master to wait on him and feed him first? Or should he expect that the servant would do his duty and wait on his master first? “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Most of you know that in reality God serves us, doesn’t He? He’s more concerned with our souls salvation than with His own life. On the cross He put our welfare first vs. his own. But, here’s where humbleness comes in. We may know that truth and take immense comfort from it, but that doesn’t mean we abuse it. Yes, we dare never forget in dealing with others that “there but by the grace of God go I.” So, as you go about the business of living this week, don’t ever forget where your faith comes from or what it cost your Savior. Don’t forget that a living faith is a humble faith. Amen