The Gospel of Luke: a commentary & meditation 
  "Do not cause one of these little ones to sin"

Scripture:  Luke 17:1-6

1 And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.  3 Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, `I repent,' you must forgive him." 5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" 6 And the Lord said,"If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the  sea,' and it would obey you.

Meditation: What's the driving force in your life?  Jesus speaks of two forces at work in our lives -- the power of temptation to sin and the power of faith to overcome obstacles.  The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal.  The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall.  The scriptures warn us about the snare or enticement to go astray and to do what is evil.  Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers! (Psalm 141:9) Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling (1 John 2:10). The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.

While Jesus warns against the sin of bad example and scandal, he also demonstrates the power of faith for overcoming temptation and obstacles. What did Jesus mean when he said that our faith can move trees and mountains as well (see Matt.17:20; Mark 11:23)? The term "mountain remover" was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties. Don't we often encounter challenges and difficulties which seem beyond our power to handle? What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God's power. Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. God expects more from us than we can do by ourselves.  Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing his will. We are his servants, and he is ever ready to work through us and in us for his glory. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience an  active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. Do you trust in God's grace and power to resist temptation and to overcome obstacles in doing his will?

"Lord, help me in my weakness and increase my trust in you and in your power to resist temptation.   Give me the grace and strength to choose what is right and to set a good example for others, especially to those who are young in the faith."

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 (c) 1999, 2000 Don Schwager