2015-4-12 Doing What Is Necessary

LUKE 17:1-10                                                                                            APRIL 12, 2015


Years ago my sister and I gave my dad an honorary doctor’s degree from the school of Hard Knocks University. My dad never got the opportunity to get a college education. My father served in World War II and married in 1945. He immediately went to work to provide what was necessary to support his wife. He went to work for his father-in-law and ran the family business until his retirement. My father often worked seven days a week and went weeks without a day off. My father did what was necessary to support his family. I am grateful to my father for the example he set before me.

I have found out the hard way that for a Christian to be faithful in living for his Lord he must do what is necessary. It is necessary for a believer is to have daily devotions in the Word of God; where one reads, studies, and prays. Too many Christians think the Christian faith is all about having an emotional experience with little or no commitment to being a disciple of Jesus. This section in Luke contains instructions on how to be a disciple. A disciple is one who lives a changed life and lives according to the instructions and example of Jesus, our Lord. This passage contains four parts.

Jesus calls us not to become one who leads others into sinful habits. Luke 17:1 (NIV) 1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.” We do not live in isolation, cut off from all people. In fact, in our electronic age we are even more connected to people than we have ever been. We are either a negative or positive influence. I have learned many good things from other people. Yet I have also learned bad habits as well. Jesus tells us to not become one who teaches others sinful habits. Jesus warns his followers of the terrible judgment that awaits a person who leads others into sin.

Luke 17:2 (NIV) 2 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.” We have often limited this verse to referring only to harming children. Yet, every young believer is considered a little one. This verse does not have an age limit. We have grown so accustomed to our sins that we minimize the danger we face in being a bad example. I truly don’t think anyone wants to have a millstone put around their neck and be drowned. Yet, Jesus says we would rather face this punishment than face God on Judgment Day. Matthew 18:7 (NIV) 7 “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”

The warning of Jesus is meant to be ongoing. Too often we become complacent and fall back into sin so Jesus says don’t let your guard down. Just as important as setting a good example of faithfulness is our need to excel in forgiveness. Luke 17:3-4 (NIV) 3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Forgiving others is to become a part of our daily living. It is wearisome to see someone sin against us over and over. Yet forgiveness must be a character trait we must obtain. Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV) 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Did you notice the connection between repentance and forgiveness? People want forgiveness without ever changing their behavior. Their unspoken attitude is “Forgive me but I intend to do it again”- so deal with it! But, if the person indicates that they are attempting to change then we must forgive. We expect people to forgive us when we blow it, so we must be patient and loving. I also think we need to be praying for them as well.

The third area we need to work on is the deepening of our faith. Luke 17:5-6 (NIV) 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 He replied, “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.” We keep thinking, just like the apostles, that we need more faith. Jesus says it is not that we have a deficit of faith; but that we need to use what faith we have and trust God to do the work for us by his power and strength. All we need is the smallest kernel of faith and trust God to do the rest. Our greatest problem is that we are being self focused instead of God focused. We think we can live the Christian faith by our strength of will and we cannot! Until we learn this vital truth we will continue to fail. It is learning to trust God to do what he has promised in his Word.

The fourth part of discipleship that we need to understand is having the right attitude. Many Christians still come to God in prayer focusing mostly on their needs and wants. We treat God like he is Santa Claus whose sole purpose is to provide what we want, whenever we want it. Jesus seeks to confront this attitude with this parable.

Luke 17:7-10 (NIV) 7 “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 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.'”

A master would never think of eating with his slaves or servants. Romans 6:22-23 (NIV) 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We owe our lives to Christ, and as such we should become faithful followers. We all want to hear our master tell us these words from Matthew. Matthew 25:21 (NIV) 21 ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

One of the hard facts that we have to face in this life is that we will never be perfect in living for Christ. We have to depend on the righteousness of Christ to save us. Romans 3:21-23 (NIV) 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  As followers of Christ we are called to be a faithful disciple who seeks to set a good example by not harming others, by forgiving others, by trusting God to keep His Word and by obeying our Lord out of love and grateful hearts.

Jesus calls us to a life of obedience. Obedience is not optional. Obedience brings peace and joy, which cannot be purchased in any store. May our attitude be one in which we have learned to say: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

Let us pray.

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