Summary: As Jesus discusses Christian living we can’t help but ask him to increase our faith as he faithfully assesses our lives with his law and gospel.
It’s tough to live as a Christian in this world. It’s tough because it’s not always so clear what path is right and what path is wrong. Even when the choice is clear it’s not always so easy to make the right one. When I’ve made the wrong choice it’s not always easy to admit my sin to God. Nor is it easy to admit that as a sinner there have been many times that I’ve been responsible for bringing pain and anguish into my life and into the lives of other people.
In the text for this morning Jesus is talking to his disciples about what it means to live as one of his followers in this life. As we listen to what Jesus says to his disciples of the first century we hear his words ring true for us his disciples of the 21st century. We listen as he urges his disciples of all time to deal with sin seriously and as he assesses their lives honestly. As we listen to Jesus discuss Christian living we too will be moved together with Jesus’ disciples in the text to urge our Savior to: Increase our Faith!
As Jesus talks to his disciples he tells them that as his disciples he wants them to deal with sin seriously. Just listen to the serious way in which he speaks: “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” (Luke 17:1,2). The sin Jesus is addressing is the sin that occurs in the lives of each of his disciples. Jesus is telling his disciples to conduct themselves at all times and at all places in a way that is God-pleasing and appropriate. Why is that important? Because people will be watching, and some of those people may be young in the faith or new to the faith. Should those people observe the disciples living recklessly or speaking carelessly it could become a stumbling block to their faith. As Jesus speaks this serious threat against those who cause others to stumble in their walk of faith he shows how serious he is about dealing with sin. Jesus wants each of his disciples to remember this threat whenever their sinful nature flares up tempting them to be hasty with their words or irresponsible in their actions.
Jesus also wants his disciples to deal seriously with the sins of others. Jesus tells his disciples to be ready to rebuke other people’s sins. The word “rebuke” carries the idea of a frank but gentle admonition, in other words, politely tell the person what he has done wrong. Jesus wants his disciples to rebuke other people’s sins with the goal of leading them to repentance. Jesus is so insistent on this goal that he says, “If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:4). Of course, Jesus isn’t setting a limit at 7. He’s making this strong point: always be ready to seriously deal with sin however often it occurs – by pointing it out, leading to repentance, and pronouncing forgiveness.