When I first came to faith in Christ, I received a New Testament in which Jesus’ words appeared in red lettering. As a Jew who had only recently begun to read and study the Gospels, Jesus’ words seemed to leap off the pages and say to me, “Listen carefully, I’m talking to you!” As a new believer, I was paying very close attention to every word.
Years later, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve become way too comfortable with Christ’s words; they are like conversations in seasoned, familiar friendships (or my marriage) where I think I already know what the other person is going to say, and I’m only half listening.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 17:1-6), Jesus addresses the unpopular topic of sin and asks me as His disciple to pay careful attention to how my own sin can affect the “little ones” in my life—my spouse, children, co-workers, friends, and others in my faith community.
It is easy to hear this strong warning from Jesus and direct my attention to others. I can point to Church leaders, authors, public figures, and those who have personally offended me and think, "These warnings are for them!" And while my anger and frustration toward others may be justified, the two-edged sword that Jesus wields is alive and active, discerning the thoughts and intentions of my feeble heart.
Every time I read the Scriptures (hopefully daily), I should hear Jesus say to me, “Hey, I am talking to you!” His words never condemn me, but everything He speaks, whether comforting and affirming, or challenging and corrective, is intended to bring deeper conversion and indelibly imprint upon me His own character.
Lord, today I am paying attention to Your Holy Word, and I hear You say that sin is very serious and there are consequences. I want to be very careful that my actions do not cause others to stumble or lose their trust in You. I also hear You say that forgiveness is not optional, and that I must extend limitless mercy to my brothers and sisters in Christ who repent. Like the Apostles who heard your difficult words, I ask you to increase my meager faith so that in obedience to the Truth and in the power of Your Spirit, I may do the impossible. Speak Lord, Your servant really is listening.
Pray the prayer from our devotion today with us, sister.
Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren. She is a contributing author to our Works of Mercy Study: Misericordia.