1 Jesus said to his followers, "Things that cause people to sin will happen, but how terrible for the person who causes them to happen! 2 It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large stone around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So be careful!There's so much packed into these 10 verses that we could spend several days discussing it, but when I read it today, something in it made me laugh.
"If another follower sins, warn him, and if he is sorry and stops sinning, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in one day and says that he is sorry each time, forgive him."
5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Give us more faith!" 6 The Lord said, "If your faith were the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Dig yourself up and plant yourself in the sea,' and it would obey you.
7 "Suppose one of you has a servant who has been plowing the ground or caring for the sheep. When the servant comes in from working in the field, would you say, 'Come in and sit down to eat'? 8 No, you would say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat. Then get yourself ready and serve me. After I finish eating and drinking, you can eat.'9 The servant does not get any special thanks for doing what his master commanded. 10 It is the same with you. When you have done everything you are told to do, you should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done the work we should do.' " Luke 17:1-10 (NIV)
Jesus is teaching his disciples here. First he talks to them about the dangers of causing another person to sin, then he gets into the subject of forgiveness. Both of these are important, even crucial topics that are at the very heart of being a Christian. You would think the disciples would have been asking Him some questions concerning sin and forgiveness or at the very least, they would have been quietly contemplating the seriousness of the topics...I mean, if someone tells me that it would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around my neck than to cause someone to sin, I'd be thinking long and hard about that. I'd be tattooing it on my brain!
So, what was the disciples' response? "Increase our faith!"
They asked Him for something for them, totally unrelated to what He had been discussing. Had they even been paying attention? Or had they been daydreaming about all the miracles Jesus had been doing and wishing they had a little more faith so that they could do a few miracles of their own?
Jesus' response? First he tells them they have all the faith they need, they just need to exercise it a little, then he launches into the part that made me laugh. He tells them a little story about a man and his servants. Pointing out that the Master is the the one to be served, not the servants. Then he points to them and says...
"The servant does not get any special thanks for doing what his master commanded. 10 It is the same with you. When you have done everything you are told to do, you should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done the work we should do.'"
Jesus reminds the disciples that He is the Master and they are his servants, not the other way around. He was not there to meet their demands, He was there to teach them how a follower of Christ should conduct themselves. They seemed only interested in what He could do for them, not what they should be doing for Him.
Of course, we are not like that, are we?
There's nothing wrong with asking God to meet our needs - about talking with Him about every little thing that affects our life. We are his children, after all and He did tell us to talk with him (pray) about everything, but we must be careful that we are not so focused on what we want that we are not paying attention to what He's trying to teach us. We must remember who is the Master and who is the servant. We are here to serve Him, He is not here to serve us.
Yes, I was laughing at those silly disciples until I realized that I sometimes behave just like them.
Father, forgive me for the times I have been so focused on wanting you to change my circumstances that I am not paying attention to what you might be trying to teach me through them. Help me to remember that while you have graciously made me your child, I am still your servant. A child must listen to and obey their parent and a servant must listen to and obey their master. Please make me aware of the times that I may be treating you like my servant - just there to do my bidding. Forgive me, Lord, and help me not to be prideful about being a child of God, but to remember that I am also an unworthy servant who has been blessed by Your gracious kindness and that serving You is just me doing my duty. Amen
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)