The Work Of Faith - Luke 17:1-10
Intro - We come to a passage not often preached upon in today’s churches. The disciples ask, “Increase our faith.” Jesus gives them a list of things to do. We have always struggled between faith and works. Even in Bible - Paul vs. James. 1500s - the great protest. The truth is that both faith and works are needed. We are saved by faith alone. But our Christian faith grows as we work on our Christian… faith!
Five Tasks In Our Christian Journey:
#1. Protect my ______________ . Be sensitive to others.
“[Don’t] cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.” Luke 17:2b-3a NIV
Rule #1 - don’t mess up someone else’s faith. We are not an island unto ourselves. Christianity is community. We are affected by others’ actions. We impact other people’s faith by our actions. “So watch yourselves.” Be careful how you live, what you say, what you do. Not just when you are in public, but all the time. We never know who may be watching. Balance your freedoms with your obligation to protect another person’s weakness.
#2. Be quick to______________ . No limits.
“If your brother sins, rebuke him and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3b-4 NIV
Rebuke versus Forgive. Notice that Jesus spends very little words on the rebuke side and is quite expansive on the forgive side. Why is that? Because we are very quick to rebuke or criticize another person. It just comes so naturally. We wouldn’t have any trouble rebuking 7 times even for just one sin. But forgiving? No limits!
Why is this considered work? Because you have to think to do it. You have to be purposeful. There is a work - an effort to forgiving. What’s the significance of seven times repenting? We don’t give up on someone. We don’t quit on someone’s intentions. We give grace. Not easy. One way to increase our faith is to forgive, because to forgive multiple times when someone repeatedly offends takes faith to really believe in them.
#3. Exercise my __________ . Start small. Move up.
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:6 NIV
Faith is believing the reality of something that hasn’t yet become real. The greater the impossibility, the greater the need for faith. Jesus did not have a lot of patience for his disciples’ lack of faith. Why would we think it would be any different for us today? Consider just a few significant impacts of Jesus’ words here.
A. Just a little bit of faith can get very big results! Not talking about throwing a mulberry tree into the sea, but being planted in the sea!
B. We don’t have to start with a huge amount of faith - just a little will do.
C. It’s not about the size of our faith, or the impossibility of the task - it’s always about God and what He can do. Our faith in God is what it’s all about!
#4. Remember to ____________ . Don’t forget Who is Lord.
“Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?” Luke 17:9 NIV
This is one of the biggest problems we have with faith today. We forget Who is Lord. Especially true in our prayer lives. We treat God as if He were a genie who should grant our wishes.
Is Jesus just demonstrating royal smugness? Looking down on those who should be His servants? NO! He is the greatest servant of all. To become more like Christ is to be more of a servant. “Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God to be used for his own advantage.” So what is Jesus talking about here?
One of the greatest obstacles to our faith is the person in whom we have our faith. Many of us say “God” with our mouths, but believe in ourselves in our brains. We say things like “I pray like it’s all up to God and then act as if it’s all up to me.” As if there is something positive to our self-reliance. But this actually damages our faith. Because we let ourselves down all the time. We easily can be discouraged by our own lack of performance.
God, on the other hand, constantly surprises. He amazes us by what He does. By how He answers our sincerely and utterly dependent prayers.
#5. Just do my ___________ . Nothing fancy.
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” Luke 17:10 NIV
Here is another way to say it: Remain faithful! Want more faith? Then keep faithfully doing what you know to do. Faith grows by the way we do what we know to do. The more we know, the more we do… right up to the place when and where we STOP doing. Then we wonder why God does not reveal more of His plans and working upon us? We stop working and perceive it as God ceasing to work.
God is always present. He is always working to fulfill His will. We call this His Omnipotence. His power to do His will. The really cool thing is He loves to express His omnipotence through us, but He doesn’t have to do it this way because, after all, He is still omnipotent without us.
To remind ourselves that we are only “unworthy servants” is not a put down of us. The truth is (and we all know this) - we are not worthy of God’s love and care of us. Yet we receive His love and care anyway. Not because we are worthy, but because He is. And thus we worship. Not by our singing and going to church, but by our living out our daily lives according to Godly principles. Just doing my duty. Nothing fancy.