Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Increase The Master

I apologize, it has been again too long of a time since I've had a post.  Perhaps maybe, I can post a few this week!!! :)  We shall see.  Anyway, I really enjoyed this sermon.  Here's what the sermon kind of wraps around:

Only those who honor the master are able and humble servants.

Here is the scripture:  Luke 17:1-10:   And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”  5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  7 Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,4 and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;5 we have only done what was our duty.’”

Let's jump right into this.  To me, this is a very strong passage.  It throws a burden onto my soul, and I'm sure that's the case with you as well.  The thing that Jesus talks about first deals with this:

I.  The Reality Of The World.

How is the world?  The world throws temptations at us.  It is sure to come.  In our use of words today, we don't use the word 'sure' as a certainty, but that's what Jesus is meaning.  It is impossible for temptations to not come after us.  (Yeah, I know, there's a saying that says, "Even the word itself says, 'I'm Possible!" but leave that for now).  The other thing is that it is better for us to be dead then to lead others in to sin.

A little further down (And really His whole point of the dialogue) is that as humans, we don't like to 'serve' others.  We would rather be served.  We like to rest.  We like to sleep.  We don't like to work.  And we certainly don't like to work on the 'beyond' point that our Lord calls us to.  There are certain things that most of us will lay a line and not cross into.  That leads us really to the next point.

II.  The Role Of The Kingdom Subjects.

What is our role?  I touched on it above.  Jesus went through a description of how it would be better for us to die then to lead others in to sin.  But because we all sin, He calls us to be brothers and sisters to one another.  We must pay attention to ourselves and others.  When we see one of our brothers or sisters sin, we must rebuke them.  But this is rebuking, not condemning.  When you rebuke one another, you do it comfortingly.  Although it is true that they'll be in for a lot of trouble if they don't repent, they aren't destined for Hell just because of it.  We must keep each other accountable to God's commands in love, not in hate.  And after rebuking, we must forgive.  We must forgive and forgive, no matter how many times we're hurt or sinned against.

This all ties together in one knot.  The reality of the world, is that also, as humans...we don't want to forgive.  When someone hurts or sins against us, our first response is to get angry.  We don't want to be friendly with them.  We want to attack them back, but such ways are sinful and Jesus calls us to do the opposite.  We must forgive, which is a very hard thing to do.

Remember that a church cannot grow without rebuke.  It can't mature spiritually.  It cannot, and it will not.  He doesn't call us to just say, "I forgive you." to that person that sinned against us.  The tongue can utter words, but the heart may not grasp or believe the words we send out.  We must say it, and we must mean it.

Forgiveness is hard to do, right?  Well, That's certainly the Disciples' response.  But I want to leave you with something before we move on.  In order to 'be able to forgive', think of Jesus' forgiveness.  He forgave you and I to the point of giving His life for us.  The debt He had to pay for us all was a great sum.  If we can truly understand what that means, we should be easily able to forgive and move on.  After all, our situations against each other are different then the ones we have with our Creator, but the same model applies.  We may not have to go to what Jesus did to forgive us, but there will be sacrifices.  There's always sacrifices.

III.  The Disciple's Response

Their response is truly interesting.  "Increase our Faith!", they cry.  Why?  Because they realize that alone in themselves, they can't do it.  They want Jesus to increase their faith more so that they can handle forgiving and caring for others.  They stayed with Him even when others left.  Perhaps we will stay with Him when others leave and give up, but no matter what, we're all weak.  We all need more strength.  There's no way to do things without Him.

IV.  Jesus' Response

The Lord's response is very stunning.  A mustard seed is a really small thing, and yet, if we had that amount of faith, we could tell a tree to uproot itself and throw itself into the ocean.  Ouch.  If it only required that amount of faith, I'm pretty sure all of us (or at least me, definitely) have no faith whatsoever.  And yet, look at how much God has done for us?  And yet we're unfaithful, and sometimes have doubts.  There are certain thoughts of mine though, that think it's not just a physical thing.  I'm reminded of other things, like the story of when Jesus walked on water.  When they're in the boat in a storm, and they have a lack of faith.  Mountains, storms, trees.  I think that they represent different kinds of 'troubles' or 'trials' that we go through.  If we have enough faith, we can put them aside.  Or we can put them aside into God's ocean, which He controls.  Do I make sense in that frame of reference?

It is sometimes fascinating in how Jesus seems to not answer their questions on things.  Or our questions, for that matter.  And then something odd as well:  He answers our questions.  At least, what we should be asking.  Sometimes we have a habit of not asking the right questions.  We ask for more faith, instead of Him to show Himself more to us.  In order to become 'more able and humble', we have to do just that.

For one moment, Jesus pulls us out of our real position, and gives us the view of the Master.  We are the servants, but He gives us that look.  Should the Master bless the servant who has only done what he's been commanded to do?  Not really, because that's what he's supposed to do.  Not only does the servant have to get everything that he's supposed to do done, but he needs to 'wait' on the Master before he can even think of feeding himself.

So first off, Jesus saves us from doom.  Second, He makes His servants (us) cease causing others to sin and start pointing them to life.  Thirdly, Jesus authorizes them (us, His servants) to do the impossible.  Spiritual troubles won't be too difficult, He gives us the power to overcome them.  Even if we can't do what someone would call 'impossible', the nature of what we are able to do in His power is extraordinary, and all in itself seemingly impossible.


Anonymous said...

Alot of wisdom and thought here. I never quite made the connection of the spiritual trials imagery you were referring to. I couldn't agree more. Keep posting.

B.L.S. said...

Thank you. Really? That's quite interesting. I'll try, if I remember. O.o

Karyn Payne said...

Once again, this is a wonderful and insightful post.

I was thinking, by the way, about our "role." Forgiveness is definitely a huge part of it, but I think mainly it's to love. Sometimes I feel like love and forgiveness are synonyms. Like these two questions for instance:
" Jesus forgave us, so why wouldn't we forgive?" "Jesus forgave them, so why wouldn't we forgive them too?"
Replace the word "forgive" with the word "love", and it seems to work just as well. Forgiveness will come as a result of love.

I was also thinking... You're right, we should always be asking God to make Himself seen by us, but I think it's equally important that we ask him to open our eyes to Him. Because the former would be useless if we forget about the latter.

Those were just a couple of thoughts I wanted to add to this post, but it's still really good. Definitely keep posting. ;)

B.L.S. said...

Right, you explained my thoughts even more. I was thinking the same thing, but I suppose I didn't say it. Love and forgiveness are interchangeable, if you take my meaning. It's almost as if I could see Jesus saying that with one, you must have the other. If you love people, then you'll forgive them. Maybe it's reversible as well: If you can forgive them, then you'll love them. (Perhaps that's stated a little differently).

True. :)

Karyn Payne said...

Hmn, yes, I suppose that's true as well. And then, forgiveness is linked with many other virtues as well... humility, mercy, compassion... I guess love sort of covers everything in a way. Love is perfect. Just like it says in 1 Corinthians 13.

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."