Luke 17: Faith Requires Forgiveness

It is much easier to believe in Jesus than to forgive those who mistreat us.

The problem is that Jesus requires both.

In Luke 17, Jesus taught:

“If your 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.”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

6 He replied, “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.”

Seven times? In one day? I often struggle to forgive the person who offends me the first time. By the seventh time, I’m not interested in hearing someone even apologize, much less offer forgiveness in return.

The apostles struggled with this idea, too. That’s why we find that their response is, “Increase our faith!”

It takes a lot of faith to forgive those who hurt us, especially when the same person habitually offends, abuses, or sins against us. As the original followers of Jesus discovered, it takes more than human willpower; it takes faith in Christ.

The good news, according to Jesus, is that forgiveness does not take a lot of faith, just a little.

When I find myself thinking, “I don’t want to deal with that person…” these verses remind me, “You just need a little faith. Depend on God; he can get you through this.”

If you see mountains blocking your path today, remember that faith moves mountains, but faith requires forgiveness. These two spiritual values are inseparable partners, working together to make us more like our Lord Jesus.

Faith requires forgiveness.

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Dillon Burroughs is the author or co-author of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of the New Testament in 2011 at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.

Luke 15: Jesus Gossip

“1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

The life of Jesus attracted sinners and repelled religious hypocrites. The result? Something I call Jesus gossip.

Jesus gossip is when people spoke negatively of Jesus for reasons other than something he had done wrong. In this case, it was hanging out with those considered sinners with a capital S. At other times, it was for healing on a holy day when work was not allowed, or speaking well of someone who was not Jewish. Again, nothing sinful, but rather socially unacceptable in Jesus’ religious culture.

But does Jesus gossip still occur today? Oh, yeah. Sometimes religious figures actually do something wrong and there is a public outcry, but that’s not what I am speaking of here. Jesus gossip occurs today when people who truly attempt to live like Jesus are accused of wrong by the status quo religious establishment of our culture.

An example? I once became friends with a guy who was gay (He had not made this public at the time.). When he later made his orientation known, I was considered a bad guy because I didn’t turn and run.

Another time, I started investing in the lives of some troubled teens and was told to spend more time with “the kids I was paid to help” (I worked at a church at the time.). I had done nothing wrong; my goal was to model a better way of life to the modern equivalent of tax collectors and sinners.

Now I write and talk with people of all kinds of backgrounds and people sometimes launch into the same Jesus gossip. I haven’t been called a vampire-loving, Satan-worshiping, closet-Harry Potter junkie, Glee-watching, NPR-listening heretic just yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time (only the NPR part is true).

So how should I (and we) respond?

Jesus responded with three of the best stories in all of the Bible–the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. What is the theme? The lost part. He came to seek and to save the lost.

When Jesus left earth, he told his followers (including us) to do the same (Matthew 28:18-20).

He simply left out in that spot that there would be Jesus gossip about us, too.

Our goal cannot be to please everyone; we will fail every time. But if our goal is to please Jesus, then we would do well to focus efforts among the tax collectors and sinners of our time, responding to those who spread gossip about us with a reminder that we are here to seek and to save the lost.

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Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at readdB.com.

Luke 13: The Narrow Door

It’s increasingly unpopular to believe anyone will spend eternity apart from God in an eternal hell. I would be quick to take the universalism approach, too, except I believe what Jesus says is true, including his teachings in Luke 13 regarding the narrow door. He states:

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

This is a parable, or story, but includes some specific (and disturbing) features. First, a lot of people will spend eternity apart from God, including many religious people.

Second, this eternal place apart from God will be sad and painful. I’m still not sure about a red Devil with a pointy tail (although the Bible is clear Satan is a real being), but “weeping” and “gnashing of teeth” are clear signs of anguish.

Third, God in His perfect mercy and grace will include people in heaven from all corners of the planet. In contrast with Christ’s opponents who believed law-observant Jews would dominate the comforts of the afterlife, Jesus made clear there is room for all who will run to Him as Lord.

If our decisions in this life determine where we spend the next, we would do well to live with eternity in mind–both for our own sakes and for those God brings our way today.

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Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at readdB.com.


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