Summary: As part of the warning against the dangers of materialism and worldliness Christ emphasizes that each of us have an unwavering duty to both Christ and to fellow believers.
Introduction: In our study of the Gospel of Luke, we have seen the importance of our being conscientious in our stewardship as servants of the Most High God. As stewards, Christ repeatedly warned against the dangers of materialism and worldliness. In chapter 16, He stated that we can not have a divided allegiance between God and the world. As part of that warning in chapter 17 Christ emphasizes that each of us have an unwavering duty to both Christ and to fellow believers.
I. It’s your duty to not cause offenses. (17:1-2)
A. We’re not perfect as long as we are in this body we will sin.
1. Luke 17:1a "Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come:
2. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) The greatest fault is to be conscious of none.
3. James 3:2 "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."
4. Ecclesiastes 7:20 "For there is not a just man upon earth, that does good, and sins not."
5. I John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
B. We should live in such a way as not to snare others into sinning.
1. Luke 17:1b-2 "... offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones."
2. No one’s behavior is entirely his or her own business. Even slight departures from health have their unseen eventual consequences. In our day of prized individuality and "it’s nobody’s business but mine" attitude, we trip each other up in more ways than we recognize.
3. I Corinthians 10:23 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."
4. I John 2:10 "He that loves his brother abides in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him."
Transition: But what about when it’s the other guy who offends us and trips us up?
II. It’s your duty to forgive offenders. (17:3-4)
A. When someone does trip us up, we are to be forgiving.
1. Luke 17:3 "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him."
2. C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) We all agree that forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have to practice it
3. Luke 11:4 "And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."
4. The heaviest load any man carries on his back is a pack of grudges.
5. Erwin W. Lutzer (1941-) You must choose to forgive whoever has wronged you. Forgiveness is not an emotion; it is a decision of the will.
6. Furthermore, it is an act of obedience.
B. Our forgiveness should be unending.
1. Luke 17:4 "And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."
2. A man complained to his pal that whenever he argued with his wife, she got historical. His friend said, "You mean hysterical." He said, "No, historical. She dredges up the past and reminds me of every time I’ve failed her in the past." How often when others wrong us do we bring up all the previous that they did have offended us?
III. It doesn’t take a great deal of faith to do the job Christ has called us to do (17:5-6).
A. It seems impossible to fulfill our duty.
1. Luke 17:5 "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith."
2. The disciples moved by the challenge of Christ felt that in order to meet these standards they needed a stronger faith, which would supply them with sufficient strength and grace to carry out the task set before them.
3. G. K. Chesterton, in What’s Wrong with the World, wrote "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried."
4. God never calls us to do anything which He does equip us to accomplish.
B. Little faith will win the victory over self.
1. Luke 17:6 "And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine (black mulberry) tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you."
2. Matthew 13:32 The Mustard seed "... is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."