Sunday, August 03, 2008

Forgiveness and Faith

Luke 17:3-10 is our passage for today. Jesus tells his disciples that if one of their fellow Christian brothers does them wrong multiple times in the same day, they are to forgive each time. Keeping in mind that a brother who sins against you may not know that they have done something to offend you, you should humbly let them know what they did.

But, the point of what Jesus said is that we should forgive them over and over again for doing the same thing. For example, if you have a Christian brother who is your roommate and he always forgets to do certain things like he leaves dirty dishes in the sink or he forgets to flush the toilet. We are to rebuke him but never hold a grudge and to forgive immediately.

Let's say that every time you go out to eat with a particular brother in Christ that he seems to always forget his money. You should tell him that he should remember his money next time and asks you to pay, you should let him know that he needs to bring his money but that you forgive him and will pay this time. But what if the very next day he does the same thing, what should you do? Tell him that he needs to wash dishes for the restuarant so that he learns his lesson? Well first of all that would be pride on your part if you did and that is a sin. Should you just pay for his food that time and never eat out with him again? No. That would not be forgiveness. Love keeps no record of wrongs as stated in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. You should pay, let him know that he needs to remember his money and continue being friends with him and eating out with him. That is the impossible obedience that Jesus demanded.

To this command, one of the disciples responds, "Increase our faith!” What he was saying is, "Give me enough faith to be able to do that because with what I have now, that is impossible!" Jesus responds by telling him that if he had a very small amount of faith he could do what seems impossible. He was not telling his disciple that every person who has even a small amount of faith is going to be able to have a very successful tree removal service business, but that something that is impossible can be accomplished with just a little faith.

We don't need a huge amount of faith to do impossible things. We do however need to be obedient to what Jesus tells us to do in his word. The next passage explains this in verses 7-10. We are servants, Jesus is the Master. A servant is to be working all day in the field and then, when he gets home to the master's house where he lives, instead of to be served by the master as a reward for working so hard, he has to prepare the master's food, fill up his drink when it gets empty and wait till the master is finished eating before he can sit down to eat. But the servant, before eating must be properly dressed to sit down in the master's presence to eat his food.

We must remember that we are not worthy to have God serve us. This is the attitude that is required when we are dealing with other people. We are serving God who is our master when we are instructed to forgive those who sin against us. It is not enough to do what we are called to do and work faithfully in pastoring people or evangelizing the lost. We are also called to serve our Christian brothers and sisters even the weak ones. We do this as if we were serving God himself (Matthew 25:40).

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