Monday, 2 September 2013

Day One of 'Loving Like Jesus' : Don't let others fall into sin!

Breakfast with the boys, reading about the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar. Really God's timing is perfect. Had a great discussion about how God humbled Joel and was teaching him not to be proud but to fully rely on him in an incident yesterday (with karate block breaking- aren't you glad you asked!?), something so mundane it's crazy. We do have an awesome God!

Blessed with times with my stepsons this summer! 

Reheated cup of tea and a sit-down after zipping Joel through town this morning to school, actually avoiding roadworks :D They are back at school and I can't seem to get my head around how fast summer has gone!

Prayer: God would you change me through your word today and give me strength to do your will through my weakness of will, ability and faith. Have mercy on me. Cut through my busyness and be with me through the day. Amen

Open up the bible: Luke 17 v 1-4

Read the bit just before to get some idea of context: The Rich Man and Lazarus is, from a cursory reading, about the division of people between those who live for riches and perhaps ease in this life and those whose hope is in eternal riches and live an uncomfortable life (a place besides Abraham in God's kingdom). The rich man, who is unnamed,  has a lifestyle that leads him to Hades (a kind of fiery grave, or place of the dead). The man pleads for Lazarus, who has found comfort in the afterlife, following a life of discomfort covered with sores and poverty begging outside the rich man's gates, to tell his brothers about the comfort they too could have if they turned from their lifestyle of treasuring riches now. There is a great shocking difference between the two end-points for these two men - the rich man doesn't even have a name. The Rich Man begs Lazarus to go back to tell his brothers what the reality is for them both, and Abraham says that they would not believe a man coming back from the dead to tell them, just as they do not listen to Moses or the Prophets about God's kingdom.
Murray's just pointed out to me that the main point of this is: Will I listen to God like Lazarus did or will I be dead to his voice like the Rich Man and his brothers, even though God has raised his Son from the dead.

Reading verses 1-4:

17 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 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. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

I read this in my stepsons' bible too for some extra comparison:
17 Jesus said to his disciples: There will always be something that causes people to sin. But anyone who causes them to sin is in for trouble. A person who causes even one of my little followers to sin would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their neckSo be careful what you do. 
Correct any followers of mine who sin, and forgive the ones who say they are sorry. Even if one of them mistreats you seven times in one day and says, “I am sorry,” you should still forgive that person.

Write out the SOAP scripture:
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if her repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent', you must forgive him.

1. Jesus is speaking to his followers (or to those who would follow him). He's saying that there will be lots of things that bring sin into the lives of other followers, but don't let it be you that's the influence for them to sin! He says the extreme thing that it would be better for us to have a heavy weight around our neck and fall into the depths of the sea. Woah! Hold on! What?! I think this extreme picture is meant to make us realise how powerfully we can affect others and how dangerous we therefore are to the lives of others. We can be so influential in their lives for good or for bad, that it would be better we were far away (at the bottom of the sea) if we are tempting others into sin.Just as an aside, what is sin?! The bible defines sin as living as if God were not in the picture. That means living as if your opinion reigns supreme, like you are the king of the universe. We will see more of the bible as we go through this study, but what we'll see is that it is foolish to treat God like this!
This caution reminds me of a song I learned from Romans 15 v 1-2 - the end point being that all of Gods people may glorify God with one voice! What a great thing to strive for!
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” Forwhatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:1-6, ESV)
 2. How do we react to their sin? He calls them 'these little ones' which is evocative of speaking about a child. Humanly speaking we desire goodness in the children around us - we would stop them if they were about to do something harmful to themselves or others. The way we would stop them would be with compassion and in love! Even if one of my stepsons had really crossed the line beyond what's acceptable I would still gently take him to one side and say 'please don't do that sweetheart, it's not good for (insert reason/person/you)'.  It would be sincere, (I would not want to see them carrying on!) but it would also be gentle and caring (mainly because it is important that we maintain a loving relationship!). We care about them (and maybe we care a little too much about our furnishings that they are in the process of wrecking in said incident!) and it shows in the way that we reprimand/rebuke them.
Likewise we're there to help our church family to see the sin in their lives and to respond by pushing it out of their lives. We're called to forgive one another. I know that can be the hardest thing to forgive (and keep on forgiving) your close family as they are the people who are meant to love us, right?! And it hurts!! Oh it really hurts!
But Jesus says even if it's seven times in one day that they hurt you and come and say sorry then you should still forgive.
This is challenging stuff!


  1. Examine my life - am I encouraging my church family into sin in any areas. Am I doing my best to keep them from sin?? Do I see them as precious children of the Lord and treat them like this? Pray for the radical reorientation of my heart in this!
  2. Does the way that I aid others who are struggling with sins show sincere sisterly affection for them?
  3. Do I forgive as Jesus has totally forgiven me, or do I keep a secret record of how others have treated me? Is forgiveness real and flowing in my life? 
  4. Am I open to the rebuke (or perhaps criticism, constructive or less constructive) of the church? Or am I protecting and defending myself from any of that by hiding at the back and having superficial relationships.
Lord help me to love others like you. Help me to encourage others and see the horror of leading others into sin, or letting them go that way.
Have mercy on me as I have a hard heart for forgiving others.
My husband is a special brother who you've given me to refine me with his gentle encouragements and to point out where I'm not walking in obedience to you - let me not be angry and defensive at his loving words.
Your precious children are walking alongside me, keep me from causing any temptations or stumbling, and help me to graciously build together alongside them.

This study is based on Luke 17-24 and you can download the study guide here if you would like to join in:

Questions for you to discuss:

How open you are to being part of God's plan to shape his people, that their true desire would be for God's glory?

Or put in less florrid language (sorry!)

Do you want others to live for God? Are you actively pursuing this in your relationships?

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