“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!“
Luke 17:1 KJV
Here Jesus is talking with the disciples to prepare them for the sins they will confront and be tempted of. His warning is explicit that our sins cannot be taken lightly. ‘Woe’, as used in the KJV, is defined as “a ruinous trouble or calamity”, which is to say, any sin can ruin a man, or cause calamity which has ripple effects. Christ tells us it is better that we would literally tie a millstone around our neck and cast ourselves into the sea, then to let our sins and the calamity that follows to ruin others lives. Do you know how large a millstone is? The largest stones in this category would sometimes weigh more than 3,500 pounds. I do not think anyone would be swimming back to the surface of the water to rescue themselves. I think you get his point.
So, immediately, Christ is telling his disciples (us as well), to resist sin at all costs, especially to avoid causing trouble in the lives of others. Romans 14:13 says, “that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”. Here is another thing to consider. This does not simply apply to people outside our circle which we pass by each day. More importantly, and more devastating, is the impact it will have with the people closest to us; our parents, our siblings, our spouse, our children, etc. (the ones we influence the most).
When I consider the impact my decisions have made on others, I sometimes wonder how grace and forgiveness were given to me at that time. In verse 3, Jesus tells his disciples to be sure to give great attention in this area as well. To be sure to forgive those who have sinned against us and forgive them as many times as they offend and repent. Matthew 6:14 confirms this approach. So, I am extremely cautious to ever bring the thunder down on someone else for things they have done against me, when I consider the trouble I have put others in or through.
In late 2008, my young, first marriage fell apart for numerous reasons. Much of what went wrong was my blindness to the things I was doing wrong. To make things worse, I let my indignation rule my conduct. The night after my wife left, I decided to “reintroduce” myself to single life. I went out on the town and decimated myself with alcohol while bar/club hopping. I was arrested that night for a DUI. And not just a DUI, an aggravated DUI as I blew a .22 for a man who weighed 152lbs. The bigger point is the embarrassment and burdens I placed on others. My actions called for rescue. I had to move back in with my Dad and borrow money to get through the legal fees. This put him in a truly awkward place as I was a grown man who, in that moment, could not take care of my own business, or mop up my own mess. It forced my then wife to forgo all considerations for reconciliation and she filed for divorce. The point is I forced people to do things they should not have had to do while I was pleading for forgiveness.
When I read Matthew 17, especially verses 7-9, I think about having thanked my Dad repeatedly for what he did to help me. What I remember, most is his response, “You do not have to thank me, I just want to see you well and back on your feet.” My Dad was doing his duty and expected no thanks from the giving side.
However, Christ points out clearly in verse 10, which is the bottom line of what we are discussing today, we are to do our duty to resist sin! We are to resist and avoid sin as though it were second nature! When one does their duty in Jesus’ name, there is to be no expectation of thanks, or profit, or recognition of any kind. The idea is to be as free from sin as possible to not only increase your influence over others, but reduce, to an absolute minimum, the negative impact of our sins on others lives.
Daily Battle Order:
Kingdom men, we may be saved, but we are still going to face offenses (sin). DO NOT CAVE!! The impact is not with you alone. Other lives are affected, sometimes unseen. Resist at all costs, meaning, make the sacrifices today to be diligent in your quiet times, in prayer, in accountability groups, etc. Fast and pray in order to break the habits and strongholds of sin. DO whatever you must and be reminded of the Gospel every single day! The Gospel is needed for everyone to be reminded what Christ did for you! You need to be reminded to do the same for others.
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants, we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10 ESV