Luke 17:1- 4
Text: “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!”
Here is Jesus is addressing His disciples. Btw, who are the disciples? Folks, if you are a Christian then you are a disciple. You certainly are not an apostle. There are only twelve apostles. There are Apostolic Churches today who believe in the succession of Apostles. That’s certainly is not in the Bible. This is far from my topic but I will take time to explain this for our learning. Are apostles disciples? Yes they are, but disciples are not apostles. There are only twelve Apostles of Jesus.
In fact, when Judas fall into a huge scandal in selling off Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, he was replaced with a man called Matthias. It was God’s choice because when the eleven were asked to make a choice, they could not. So where do you put Paul if there only has to be twelve?
As far as I know, Paul is an Apostle also chosen of God but not associated with the twelve. He was an apostle sent to the Gentiles. He will be different from the twelve to rule over twelve tribes of Israel. I hope it’s not getting complicated. We’ll study this some other time.
But do not differentiate a Christian and a disciple. Do not define “disciple” differently from a “Christian.” If you are a Christian learning the teachings of Christ then you are a disciple, belonging to Christ and in relationship with God through faith in Christ.
There mustn’t be a distinction between the two. Others are tempted to separate them because they believe that a “disciple” is someone truly living Christlikeness…. whereas, the name “Christian” had been given the bad rap by some who are not really walking in faith.
There shouldn’t be any difference between a Christian and a disciple. They should be the same. To prove my point, when Paul and Barnabas were preaching in Derbe, Acts 14:21, 22 says this: And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith. If you remember, these disciples were called Christians in Antioch.
Paul and Barnabas encouraged them to “remain true to the faith.” Why? Because when you hold fast to faith in Christ, the life of Christ gets produced in you and you live out the resulting life of discipleship. Faith in Christ produces good works. Again, this is not really what I am going to talk this afternoon.
Let’s go back to our text. Here in Luke 17, Jesus warns the disciples (that’s you and me now as I have explained) that they will have to deal with personal attacks and dishonours. He says, “It is impossible but that offences will come…” The word “offences” means “violations.” God then gives a warning through whom they come or to the person who would start the attack or violation. He says woe unto him and it would be better for that person to drown at sea than offending the little ones.
One common interpretation for the words “little ones” refers to children. However, that is not really clear in the context. There are many other possibilities what little ones is referred to, it could include new believers still growing in the faith or doubters, or everyone as children of God.
However, at first look, you would think that God is warning the disciples that they would have to endure such attacks; however, when you continue to study the next few verses, you realize that Jesus is warning them not to be offending just because they have been hurt. This is why Jesus says in verse 3, “Take heed to yourselves…” It was a warning to the disciples not to be retaliatory, not to be feisty and vengeful. The Scriptures show us five things we can do to crush the urge to retaliate.
First, watch your spirit that it doesn’t become vengeful and vindictive. Taking “heed to yourselves” is a warning to carefully guard our spirit. We must be careful that our spirit doesn’t become one that wants to get even with someone because of what they have done to us. Yes, you may have a right to do so, but you must “take heed” to yourself that you don’t become vengeful.
Learn To Ignore. In 1 Samuel 10:27 But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
In Scriptures, some people opposed the anointing of Saul as king. They made fun of him. And he could have easily become distracted and lost his focus as to why God had placed him in position of power. He could have defended himself saying, “I’m a good leader. I have what it takes to rule Israel.” Instead, he kept silent. One translation says, “He paid them no mind
Second, go to the person who has wronged you and try to settle the situation. Nothing is settled until it’s settled. You cannot just say it will disappear. It will not. When it is bothering you, you must go to the person who has wronged you. If it did bother you at all, well and good but be prepared because it could be tested with another wrong.
That’s why verse 3 says, “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him…” You will find that many differences could be settled if you approach the offender in person in humility; not a prideful rebuke but in a loving way. Prov 15:1 A soft answer turner away wrath but grievous words stir up to anger. Dealing with someone face to face with soft words will helps you crush the urge to retaliate.
Third, be willing to forgive. Verse 3 charges the Christian to forgive if that person repents. You must be willing to forgive if that person realizes their wrong. God is big on forgiveness. Look at Ephesians 4:32 – And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
In fact Jesus gave this instruction in Verse 4, And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. If they don’t accept they are in the wrong, be forgiving anyway and commit that to the Lord. There is no better person to handle such than the Lord Himself.
So then you will have peace. Some Christians are so set on wanting revenge that they would be disappointed if the offender truly repented of their wrong. Never run out of forgiveness; you are going to need it. Offences will always happen while we are still in this world.
Fourth, not only that you commit it to the Lord, but pray for God to settle the situation. Psalm 55:16 says, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.” This is a psalm about dealing with those who attack you. The psalmist understood that only God is capable of dealing with the situation and settling it properly. You are going to have to surrender the situation to God. As much as you would like to retaliate, you must exercise faith in God and allow Him to save you from those who attack and desire to destroy you.
Fifth, pray for the offender. Job 42:10 says, “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends…” God stepped in for Job when he prayed for those who maliciously attacked him. You will be caught up in bondage to bitterness and revenge until you learn to forgive and pray for those who hurt you.
Don’t allow bitterness and revenge to keep you in prison of your own making. Unlock the doors of your personal prison by praying for God to help those who have hurt you. Bitterness and the feelings of revenge will flee away when forgiveness steps in and you pray for the offender.
As Jesus said, it is impossible that you can go through this life without being offended. Let these five steps help you to crush the urge to retaliate in the day a brother or a sister offends you. Resolve to keep your testimony and influence intact for Christ.