Word at Work September 24, 2016

Scripture: Luke 17:1-8, Matthew 18

Luke 17:1-8 says, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, “I repent,” you shall forgive him.’ And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. 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”?’” In Luke 17, Jesus is teaching on the issue of offenses and forgiveness. When someone offends us we are supposed to confront them. If they are a believer and they repent, we forgive them and if they do not, we may be directed to retain the sin and move on to the next dimension of the judicial. The same parallel passage is outlined in Matthew 18. If we go to someone and they do not hear us, that is when we are supposed to rebuke them. Next, we are instructed to take another believer with us. If they still refuse to hear, we are supposed to retain their sin instead of forgive and tell it to the church. We are instructed to continue to higher levels of judgment if someone continues to refuse to turn. We have to remember that bringing correction takes a high degree of personal purity. Finally we end up in Matthew 18, praying a prayer of agreement that will bring a measure of justice or judgment on them that will cause them to repent. Paul turned people over to satan so they would experience adversity or affliction so that they might repent. Another major issue of this passage is who faith serves or benefits. Why do we go through four steps of Luke 17 and Matthew 18? It is a difficult process confronting someone, bringing other believers into the process, announcing it to the whole church and even praying prayers to find out if God wants to bring them into affliction. Who does faith serve? Our faith serves God’s ultimate purpose – which is a harvest. His purpose is a harvest and that means people turning from sin and back to Him. God so much wants a harvest He is willing to tell us we have to walk through these steps to try to turn people who run away from Him. We need to understand that our faith serves God and His purpose is a harvest of individuals, even when they are in sin. The higher purpose of judgment is salvation. God wants sinners to be restored. And faith serves God to offer repentance that sometimes comes through judgment. We are His representatives and we need to understand that redemption is at the core of this process.

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