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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Luke 17:1-4 Stumbling and Forgiveness

1 Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves. "If a brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying 'I repent,' you must forgive them."

Millstone in Capernaum- probably for olives

Thoughts: Things happen that encourage people to stray off the path.  But when people stray off, there is always room to come back.  In fact, Jesus says when they try to turn around we must allow them to do so.  He runs the risk of people abusing His grace- and just saying "I repent" without meaning it.  Our forgiveness does not depend on our ability to gaze through the crystal ball and see the other person's motives.  When someone asks to be forgiven, we should not be all wrapped up in whether they mean it or not- just saying it is a step in the right direction.
     Also, this is a tough lesson for those who advocate passively or actively leading people away from God.  Those who act as if sports is their god- advocating their children skip church rather than a sports practice- who make football or any other game their god- could learn a lesson from Kenny McKinley.  McKinley, NFL returner for the Denver Broncos, said when injured that he didn't know what he would do if he couldn't play football because that was all he knew- and he took his own life (  As our society moves away from the true God, we turn to other gods to fill the vacuum of our soul- money, sports, gambling, knowledge, sex, drugs.  Those who lure people to forsake god and substitute other things are the millstone wearers.  There are tons of blog sites out there advocating people to turn away from the true God and make something else their lord.  There is a line between enjoying the gifts of God- things, sports, knowledge, sexuality et al. and making these things our lord and god- where there is no meaning without them.
Prayer: Lord, give me wisdom to enjoy life, but not make anything or anyone else my god.  May my heart be true to you so that I may not only glorify you, but enjoy you in life.
John Calvin abridged: Christ is elevating modesty and encouraging the disciples to endure the contempt of those who treat them disdainfully and trample them for their simple, focused life.  Even if the world insults them, God does not despise them. Christ also warns here of building up oneself by treating the already-humbled poorly.  The person who shows no concern for the weak does so because they do not render them the honor which they deserve.  The offense here is causing another to stumble on the path, to be slowed on the path, or drawn astray on the path to God.  We are encouraged to actively stretch out our hands to those in low estate, and help them to keep their duty, staying on the right path.  The millstone punishment was reserved for the worst offenders.  Therefore we should see how precious are those to God who are simple and despised by the world.

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