Pentecost 17 – Proper 22
06 October 2019
"Lord increase our faith"
The disciples upon hearing Jesus’ instruction cry out, “Lord, increase our faith!” These demands the Savior places upon them is nothing we should not expect. The faith that the Savior demands of us to be disciples dedicated to His cause should call each of us to pray this petition also, “Lord, increase my faith.”
Stumbling Blocks are Inevitable. Vv. 1-2 “Temptations to sin are sure to come.
It will happen. What will happen is also unsettling. It is not possible. That those stumbling blocks will not come. Temptation to sin is inevitable. Those that will seek to entice you to spiritual and moral failure are unavoidable. The danger is serious. Salvation as taught in the Bible is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Adding anything to this foundation of faith poisons it. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:10) Because of sin and its allure Jesus addresses how we need to deal with one another.
Forgiveness Must Be Extended Vv. 3-4 “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
The Savior’s words are strong. But not harsh. Be humble. Recognize of your own weaknesses and sin. Be motivated by love. Take the log out of your own eye so that you can help your brother with the speck in his own. Trust in Jesus. Who became a man. Lived a sinless life. Then voluntarily died on the cross as the sacrifice and substitution for your sin. His resurrection proved His sacrifice was sufficient. All His claims and promises are true. His price of redemption is applied to all who believe in Him. They are forgiven. And adopted into God’s family. Assured of eternal life with Him.
Christians forgive in the same way that God in Christ has forgiven them. As a reflection of what God has done for you in Christ. Offer forgiveness. To those who have offended you.
To Rebuke. (ἐπιτίμησον) To Repent. (μετανοήσῃ) To Forgive. (ἄφες) Are each serious. And difficult. But until that person repents. That is. They change their mind and accept the responsibility for their offense. They will not accept your forgiveness. For they have no recognition they have done anything wrong. The relationship will remain hindered. Or even broken. Although forgiveness remains offered. But until that person repents. That is. They change their mind and accept the responsibility for their offense. Repentance. And forgiveness. Are a serious business. But not impossible.
Someone will argue. “It can’t be true repentance if they keep doing the same sin!” Perhaps. But how often does God forgive you for the same repeated sin? Some sins are easy to turn from. And not repeat. But be honest about those you have difficulty with. And keep repeating. What about lying? Less than gracious language? Selfish attitudes? Pride? Coveting? Idolatry – letting something else be more important to you than God?
Failure to fulfill the many “one another” commands the Lord has given you – Love “one another.” Be devoted to “one another.” Be patient with “one another.” Be kind with “one another.” Be hospitable to “one another.” Comfort “one another.” Encourage “one another.” etc. We are to forgive in the same manner and same frequency as God. As a reflection of Him controlling our lives.
Faith Must Increase Vv. 5-6 5 “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Faith is not a commodity. By which you fill a larger bucket. Faith is belief and trust in God Himself that grows stronger.
The measure of faith is its trust in Christ. It grows stronger as knowledge of Him and His promises increase. It strengthens. With greater trust in Him. That He will fulfill His promises.
Christians do not need additional faith. They only need to exercise what they already have to make it stronger.
Service is Expected Vv. 7-10 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”
Perhaps the greater tragedy is that sin blinds people to the truth of God’s character. Though He owes us nothing. Not even a thank you for service rendered to Him. Yet out of His own character. He provides for all of creation. He sustains life.
The Lord is longsuffering. Patient. And kind. He then goes further. To redeem sinful man. By paying the penalty of sin Himself in Jesus Christ offering forgiveness, eternal life and adoption into His family to all that will believe.
I do not understand such love. But I am very glad it is true. I am but a creature. Redeemed by Christ. An unworthy slave. Whose every service is at best only what I should do. Yet my Lord forgives my sins against Him. And invites me to join Him at His table as His adopted son forever. To which we each must say, “Lord increase our faith!”
Recognize the danger of stumbling blocks. And those who set them. People will sin against you. And you will sin against others. Forgive others as God has forgiven you in Christ Jesus. Forgive others. The same way you would want them to forgive you. Seek to grow in the knowledge of Christ. And His will so that your faith will grow. And exercise it. So that it may become stronger as your trust in God grows. Seek to follow and serve Christ. Grateful for the opportunity and in praise of Him that He is a merciful master who loves and cares for those who belong to Him.
Passive Sentences – 2%
Readability – 77.3%
Reading Level -4.4