Discipleship And Humility | Luke 17:1-10

Discipleship And Humility! by Rev. Shine P. Thomas

How does discipleship and humility go hand-in-hand?

Humility is the hallmark of a true disciple of God. The proud cannot be a disciple of God. In the Scripture, God has said frequently that he hates the proud.

Proverbs 3:34

He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

Jesus said:

Luke 14:11

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke 18:14

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Pride leads the list of attitudes that God hates. On the other hand, humility heads the list of attitudes that God loves.

I want to give four areas of humility that marks a disciples with a sermon entitled:

Discipleship And Humility

Luke 17:1-10

1Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sistersins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6He 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.

7“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Now we know that Luke is presenting that Jesus is on a journey to Jerusalem. There were three groups of people who were predominantly around Jesus all the time. They were the crowd, the disciples and the Pharisees and the scribes.

Jesus was teaching the crowing at large. On the other than Jesus was preparing the disciples for ministry who will take his ministry after his death. The Pharisees and the scribes who were the guardians of the Jewish religion constantly kept attacking Jesus. So most of Jesus discourse during his public ministry was to the crowd, disciples and the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were false teachers, against whom Jesus shows the contrast of true discipleship.

Everything they were, Jesus did not want his disciples to be. Everything they were not, Jesus wanted His disciples to become. And so, these two groups are juxtaposed against one another. What He says to His disciples is the point and what He says to the Pharisees is the counterpoint.

The Pharisees and scribes predominantly were marked by pride. They were very proud of their religious achievement and attainment. Pharisees loved to take the high place in the synagogue. They loved to be at the main table at the banquet. Everything they did manifested this self-exaltation, this pride.

If the defining characteristics of the Pharisees are pride. The defining character of the disciples is to be humility.

In Luke 17, Jesus is teaching his disciples on the subject of humility. See the key statement in this chapter:

Luke 17:4

So watch yourselves. Watch yourselves against the Pharisees.

Watch against the pride of the world.

Pride leads the list of attitudes that God hates. On the other hand, humility heads the list of attitudes that God loves. Coming back to Luke 17. I want to give four areas of humility that marks a disciples.

1. Humble People Do Not Cause Anyone To Stumble

Luke 17:1-2

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Who are the people here? The people of God, especially the new believers in Christ.

Matthew 18:6

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Every disciple is precious. Jesus values everyone.

How You Treat Other Believers Is A Very Important Thing To God.

I also want to add to it, this is the first instruction ever given to the church, Matthew 18. The church is first mentioned in Matthew 16. Instruction comes in chapter 18. The first instruction is a warning not to lead fellow believers into sin.

Matthew 18:6-7

6“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!

Things that cause people to sin are bound to come.

Luke 17:1

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come…

We live in a fallen world. We live in a corrupt world. And there will be stumbling blocks or scandals or offences. We know we live in a world where people are going to be offended. God’s children, believers, are going to be offended, trapped, harmed, hindered.

There will be things that makes people to sin or stumble but verse 1 says:

Luke 17:1

…but woe to anyone through whom they come.

The one who causes others to sin is guilty before God.

Luke 17:2

It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

It’s better to stop him now by an execution than to let him keep doing this. Better that he be dead than to continue to offend and therefore accumulate ongoing damnation.

Jesus here is talking about the kind of example that’s being set by these Pharisees.

Why were they causing people to stumble? Because the Pharisees were spreading lies about Jesus. The Pharisees here told everyone one Jesus is not the Messiah and put a stumbling block from people to believe in Jesus.

You don’t want to do that. You do not want to hinder people’s spiritual progress in the gospel. It will be better for you to die than cause one believer to sin or stumble.

The word “millstone” here, this is a massive stone that had a smaller stone on the top that was turned by an animal. The Jews hated the idea of drowning. They thought that drowning someone was a horrific kind of punishment. They didn’t do that. The Romans did that.

To hinder the faith of a believer is a horrendous and enormous crime.

So back to the point: Humble people do not cause anyone  to stumble. Good believers live their lives in such a way that they do not cause anyone to stumble. Friends, how is your talk? How is your lifestyle? How are your dealings? Is anyone looking at your lifestyle and mocking at your Christian lifestyle?

2. Humble People Are Eager To Forgive.

We don’t want to cause people to sin, but when people do sin, we are also eager to forgive.

Luke 17:3-4

3 …. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

Humble believers do not sin against others, but neither do they hold a grudge when others sin against them.

Do you remember how Jesus taught us how to pray?

Luke 11:4

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

We are marked by forgiveness.

I am not telling “let anyone do anything and you keep forgiving them like you have no say.” See how Jesus balances it: There is something else here first:

Luke 17:3

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.

Hence it means we are to give a strong warning to the ones who sins against us.

Luke gives a principle, “If your brother sins, rebuke him.” Matthew gives the process. This is done out of love.

Matthew 18:15-17

15“If your brother or sister[ sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

There comes a point when we put them out because a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Their sin will produce rot in the church and we put them out. This is a loving confrontation.

By the way, let me tell you a balance. Not every sin is to be confronted, please. If my wife starts picking all the small things in my life and starts confronting me every day or vice versa we cannot stay happy at all. She couldn’t live with me if I had to confront every failure in her life. Love covers. But there are some sins that affect the family or the impact the church, and those have to be dealt with.

Luke 17:3

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.

How generous are we with this forgiveness?

Luke 17:4

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.”

We get more forgiveness from God. Humble disciples of Jesus Christ then are marked by their forgiveness.

Not all sins are at that level. There are sins that are not premeditated. Example in marriage you cannot pick everything thing. Even in church you cannot attack every mistake in public confrontation.

There’s an illustration of this unconditional, unilateral forgiveness.

When we forgive, we are demonstrating the relationship that we possess with God.

Some reasons to forgive

a. Forgiveness Is The Most God-Like Act A Person Can Do

Matthew 5:44-45

44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Loving enemies, forgiving enemies is God-like. It’s what makes you sons of your Father, who is in heaven. Jesus said that when he said to those who are killing Him, “Father” Forgive them.”

b. Whoever Has Offended You Has Offended God More

Do you know God forgives your offenders? And if God forgives, who are you not to forgive?

Remember, David sinned against Uriah by having adultery with his wife. Later David killed Uriah. Both these mistakes requires capital punishment. David is guilty of two counts of murder. In the process David sinned against Bathsheba. He sinned against his children. He sinned against his country for whom God appointed him as king.

See what David prayed to God:

Psalm 51:4

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

All sin is against God primarily. God is the most offended because of sin because all sin is against him. Whoever has offended you has offended God more. If God can forgive them, why don’t you forgive your offenders?

d. Failure To Forgive Results In Divine Chastening

Until a believer forgives, he remains unforgiven by God.

James 2:13

…judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

I think there are Christian people who are undergoing discipline from God because they don’t forgive others. Failure to forgive results in divine chastening.

d. Unforgiveness Makes You Unfit For Worship

Matthew 5:23-24

23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

You can’t pray until you’re forgiven, and you can’t worship until you’re forgiven.

d. Forgive Because The Offenses Against You Are Allowed By God For Your Perfection

The offenses against you are allowed by God for your perfection.

James 1:2-4

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

1 Peter 5:10

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Forgiveness then marks true disciples of Christ.

3. Humble People Recognize Their Weakness

Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Remember, five times Jesus said to the disciples, “Oh you of little faith.” Now the disciples are saying, “Lord, increase our faith.”

The disciples were finding it tough to forgive. The humble live with a sense of their own inadequacy. This marks true saints.

The true children of God, the true disciples of Jesus Christ are humble. The humble are quick to understand their inadequacies. Increase our faith, we have it but we need more faith to live up to the Lord’s teachings.

Well, the Lord understood their question and He agreed with it.

Luke 17:6

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.

If you just had a small amount of faith, you would have enough faith to have a powerful life.

Mustard seed kind of faith is growing faith. Some of the rabbis used to say that the mulberry tree had roots that would survive for 600 years. And so to uproot a mulberry tree would be a significant thing to do.

The point of our Lord’s lesson is simply this: You have will trust Me and trust My strength, you will be able to do what you cannot do humanly.” You can do supernatural things that the world cannot do, you can forgive in this context. My power through you will accomplish all of that.

What are we saying? We’re saying that the disciples are honest. They’re humble enough to say this is beyond us, this isn’t natural. And the answer comes, “If you just put your trust in Me, I will empower you to live that way.”

4. Humble People Reject Honor As Unworthy Servants

Jesus then tells them a parable:

Luke 17:7-10

7“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

The Pharisees loved to be honored. They love the place of honor at banquets, the chief seats in the synagogue, respectful greetings in the marketplace, to be called teacher, to be called father, to be called leader. That’s completely contrary to the followers of Jesus Christ.

As God begins to use you, as you live a life that honors Him some may begin to think to themselves, “I am better than others. I know the word. I have led some to Christ.”

It’s easy to get to the place where you become arrogant about your spiritual progress. This is spiritual pride. So Jesus addresses this with a very simple story.

Now this is the picture of a small farm, probably there is only one servant. This is a guy who sort of does everything. He has to take care of the sheep. He has to take care of the field and then his job is also to prepare a meal. Now which of you are going to say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Wow, you’ve done so well, sit down and take a load off your feet and let me serve you?’

What was required by the job was you work a long day. You take care of the field and you take care of the sheep. Then you come in and you give the meal to your master. This is the 3 o’clock meal in the afternoon. So everybody knows the answer. Which of you is going to say to him, come immediately and sit down to eat? Nobody

Luke 17:9

Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?

And so, everybody knows that he just did what he was supposed to do.

Luke 17:10

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Don’t pat yourself on the back and think that God’s really impressed and that He owes you some special favor. You’ll get your reward in heaven.

I don’t like all these honors, awards, and formalities. It’s fine for some things; but not in the kingdom of God. You respect men of God but do not honor them above anyone else. We are all one.

Humble people reject honor. They know they’re still living under grace. But on the flip side, when Jesus brings us into His banquet and our labors are done, He sits us down and He serves us. That’s totally against our expectations. But that’s going to happen in return of Jesus.

Why has God called us, as disciples of Christ, to lead a life of humility?

We are called to a life of humility today. Be humble so that we will not lead anyone to stumble by our life or doctrine or behavior. Humble so as to always forgive those who sin against us no matter how many times. Be humble so as to be aware always of our own weakness and have a growing dependency on the power of God. Humble so as always to recognize that even our best service falls far short. We are unworthy servants who have only done what we have ought to have done and hardly even that, ascribing all God’s gifts then to grace.

Humble yourself like this and you will manifestly demonstrate that you are a true child of God and one day God will exalt you and the Lord will seat you at His table and serve you.

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