Aug31MonAugust 31, 2020
Hello Family of God,
While on holidays two weeks ago, there was a day when I drove my brother-in-law's boat to take some visitors out to see the sights. My brother-in-law was not with us, but my sister-in-law was. Northern Ontario is a series of lakes that run into each other, with small connecting channels. The water is particularly low this year, so many obstacles that could normally be navigated are even more dangerous due to the low water levels. Protruding rocks and shallow land masses are the biggest threats. Hitting any of these would cause great damage to the boat, and certain danger to the occupants. I had two things with me that should prevent me from these dangers: my sister-in-law who knew the waters really well, and the obstacles to avoid; and a GPS system that could allow me to keep the boat exactly on the safe course that the boat had travelled before.
17:1-2 Today's' reading is about offenses, obstacles, and things that cause people to sin, or stumble in their walk with the Lord. The Greek word used is "skandala" from which we get our word scandal. It was used for the stick that would trigger the trap to catch the animal. In other words, offenses that cause to stumble are those things that trap us in sin, and prevent us from being able to follow Jesus - like heresies, false teaching, religious practices, etc. Jesus says that it is inevitable that dangerous obstacles will come into our life, but "woe to him through whom they do come!"(Luke 17:1). It is better for the one guilty of causing young believers to stumble in their walk with Jesus to suffer a horrible death, rather then face the consequences of tripping someone up (vs. 2). Now before we start thinking of names, let us first remember the context. There were always two groups in the crowd: the disciples and the religious - Jesus here, is talking to His disciples. He is warning them about the religious Pharisees, who loved to put obstacles in people's way to trip them up so they could look more righteous and holy. Lesson: We never want to be one who causes another follower to stumble, or be ensnared by others. Be careful who is giving you guidance and what voices you are listening to. My sister-in-law was not a pharisee - she did a great job of pointing out the obstacles, and navigating me around danger so that we could follow the path and arrive at our destination.
17:1-6 There is a very strong command Jesus gives to His disciples, "Watch out!" "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." (vs. 3) Be aware of sin; deal with sin; forgive the sinner. If the sinner will not repent, you cannot offer forgiveness. But if he or she is continually repentant, than continually forgive. Don't allow yourself to be trapped by unforgiveness - a trap that many fall into and ruin their walk with Jesus - that's the way Pharisees handle things. Friends we ought to forgive others the way Jesus forgives us. How is this possible? More faith! Not a ton of it; just a small amount of faith in the right Person. Lesson: Believe in the power of Christ in you - the presence of Holy Spirit - through whom you can do all things. Holy Spirit can give you wisdom and revelation, conviction and guidance, so that you can deal with people who have sinned against you. He is your GPS that keeps you on the right course so you avoid the dangers and obstacles that could cause your walk to be shipwrecked.
17:7-10 Don't be proud and pat yourself on the back for doing things the way God wants you to. That is pride, like the Pharisees. All you did was avoid the obstacles and dangerous stumbling blocks, and forgive like you were supposed to do. There is no reward in doing what you are supposed to be doing. And remember, it isn't you who can take the credit for your success, when Holy Spirit navigated you through those dangerous waters, just like I could not take credit for getting us safely back to shore. My sister-in-law and my GPS guided me. I just did what I set out to do... take people for a boat ride. Lesson: We are just servants who do what the Master has commanded us to do. Let us not be proud and look for commendation and honour. All glory be to the captain of our vessel - even Jesus!
Stay humble, and have a great week,