Sun Am 29 September 2019 – Johan Esterhuizen
Luke 17:3-19; Prov. 12:24; James 1:2-8 (Phillips); 2 Peter 1:4; (Deut. 31:6)
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you (Luke 17:5-6). And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’ (Luke 17:7-11). Sometimes it seems like the Lord does not answer the questions. Then He comes and tells a parable about a man and his servant, the parable was a response to the question “Lord, increase our faith”. In fact, Jesus says you can have small faith and do big things. I believe what they were asking was “Lord how do I get my faith to operate?” It is not how much faith we have but it is how we operate or how we get our faith to work. Our faith must be directed into God the Creator, into our Lord and saviour. That is where our faith lies, not in our positive confessions.
Jesus tells an interesting parable of those who worked all day in the field. It is talking about a slave and a servant in those days. It seems unfair that the slave works all day and then still has to serve his master. Life has a tendency to throw you a curveball. We have all failed, we have all had problems, we have experienced attacks, but what we have to learn is to take charge and to take control of our lives. Most of our problems come from making excuses. Work hard and become better; be lazy and never succeed (Prov. 12:24). The obvious lesson here is that the slave and servant have no rights. They must understand that they have a duty to perform and when they perform the duty they must have the attitude that they are not doing this for money but fulfilling the command of their master. This highlights the fact of obedience; the servants’ obedient attitude is how faith operates. Faith operates through obedience.
As they continued onward toward Jerusalem, they reached the border between Galilee and Samaria, and as they entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, sir, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go to the Jewish priest and show him that you are healed!” And as they were going, their leprosy disappeared. One of them came back to Jesus, shouting, “Glory to God, I’m healed!” He fell flat on the ground in front of Jesus, face downward in the dust, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a despised Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the nine? Does only this foreigner return to give glory to God?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19). The Scripture is clear that on the way to the priest they were cleansed, one man saw that he was healed and came back and he worshipped the Lord; the other nine did not do this. A lot of people cannot operate in faith because they do not have a thankful attitude when God does something for them.
What prompted the disciples to ask this question “Lord, increase our faith”? What prompted Jesus to give this parable of the man with his servant working in the field all day? Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:3-5). We love to have self-pity parties, we want to get even, and we want to take revenge. When revenge, unforgiveness, and bitterness come along, they invite their family: discouragement, disillusion, depression, then discontentment, disloyal, dissatisfied then there is depleted that sits in the corner, then demanding, then debt, disenchantment and doubt.
How are these things possible? How can we forgive seven times a day? It is an attitude we have to live by. Why can we do this? Because we can become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). When you are born again, God places the divine nature within you. We constantly try to transform our lives and there are numerous books on the shelves about the art of positive thinking, but these things are just short-lived. In fact it is not our positive confession, it is not our faith, but it is in whom we believe in and whom we trust.
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence (Jam. 1:2-8). How can you understand light if there is no darkness? How can you be in victory when there is no battle? How can you understand victory if there is no defeat? We have to be warriors. We have to push forward, and the Lord will increase and work with us. The Holy Spirit changes us and works through our lives if we allow him. It is up to you to say “I am going to be more than a conqueror through Christ!” This does not happen at once, you have to fight the good fight. Do you know why it is called the good fight? Because we win!
What must we do to increase our faith? We must have an attitude that we are servants and no matter what happens to us, we must obey God. Then our faith will increase! Ten lepers were healed but only one came back to thank Jesus, And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” They were healed and he had an increase in faith and was made whole. When you obey this teaching, God will give you a breakthrough that you never expected. God will give you favour; it is not all doom and gloom, it is not all trials and tribulations; there are breakthroughs. It is an honour and a privilege to serve the Lord!
How is it possible to live in forgiveness and not let what people do to you hurt you? 1) When tempted to say something negative about an enemy, rather say something nice. 2) Remain quiet about the details that you know about the enemy. One of the things about the betrayer is the person who walked with you knows your ins and outs. He knows personal things about you and he uses that against you. Do not be tempted to do the same. 3) Promote civility and functionality towards your enemy and learn how to build a bridge towards the other person. 4) Be honest in your dealings with others, it is so easy to find fault. Do not do what they do. 5) Give your enemy time and allow God’s grace and mercy to work in their lives.
Lord, increase our faith! The attitude of gratitude will really see us through. If you are going through a trial and things are tough, you are disappointed; you are hurting; that is a fact. You can get through this. Remember the Lord is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6).