Opening Prayer

Almighty God, were it not for the work of your Holy Spirit, I would have no hope in pleasing you. Help me to live in ways that are overflowing with thankfulness and praise.

Read LUKE 17:1–10

Sin, Faith, Duty

17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 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. So watch yourselves.

“If your brother or sister[a] sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 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.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

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.

“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’? Won’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’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 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.’”

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  1. Luke 17:3 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Read 1 Corinthians 10:12,13 as a way of watching yourself. Invite the Spirit to show you where change or a way out is needed.

Think Further

Since Jesus turned to address the crowds traveling with him,1 there’s been no mention of the journey continuing. Instead, we read of different groups crowding around Jesus and being addressed in different ways. For example, Luke 16 switches from addressing the disciples to the Pharisees, presumably in the same conversation. Before the journey to Jerusalem resumes (v. 11), Jesus challenges the disciples to go further than the Pharisees in three ways.

The first challenge is to live grace. The Pharisees weighed down people with heavy burdens,2 making it likely that they would stumble, but the disciples are called to do all they can not to do so (vv. 1–3). Even more than this, they’re to practice forgiveness toward one another, regardless of how often that’s required (v. 4), seeking a right attentiveness before God as a safeguard (v. 3).3

The second challenge is to live faithfully. Now identified as apostles, which means those sent by the King with the message of the kingdom, they ask Jesus to increase their faith. Even a tiny amount is enough to do his bidding. The point is not to ask for more, Jesus responds, but to put what faith you do have to work and see it reshape the world around you. Then it grows of its own accord.

The third challenge is to live humbly. The parable of the servant and the master (vv. 7–10) reminds us that, however beloved we are by God, he remains our Master. It’s not right for us to expect Almighty God to do our bidding. With delight, we get to play our part working with God for the kingdom, but we’re challenged to remember that this is an undeserved privilege.


How are you putting your faith to work in the world around you? Ask God for fresh empowerment in doing so and for inspiration for new faithful risks to take.

Closing prayer

Jesus, thank you for giving me all I need to do your will—faith, your examples, and instruction. Help me to use those gifts to impact the world around me—all for your glory.

Last Updated on January 9, 2024 by kingstar

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