Daily Reading & Meditation
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 the temptation to sin and cause harm and the power of faith to overcome obstacles and difficulties that stand in the way of loving God and our neighbor. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is 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).
Jesus commands us to not give bad example or lead others into sin
The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he or she 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.
The power of faith for overcoming obstacles
While Jesus warns against the danger of giving bad example and causing scandal, he also demonstrates the power of faith for overcoming obstacles and temptation to sin and wrongdoing. What did Jesus mean when he said that our faith can move trees and mountains as well (see Matthew 17:20; Mark 11:23)? The term “mountain remover” was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties.
The Holy Spirit helps us to grow in faith and to rely on God’s strength
Don’t we often encounter challenges and difficulties which seem beyond our power or strength to handle? What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God’s power. Paul the Apostle reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Do you trust in God’s help and rely on his strength when you are put to the test or led into temptation?
Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth clearly, and to live in the power of his love and mercy freely. God calls us to be like him – holy, loving and wise. God expects more from us than we can simply do by ourselves. That is why the Lord Jesus unites us to himself through the gift of faith so that we may live in the power of his love through the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (Romans 5:5). The Lord gives us the strength of the Holy Spirit who helps us to grow strong in faith, persevere in hope, and endure in love.
Faith is the key that unlocks God’s power in our lives
Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing his will. We belong to God and our lives are no longer our own. Our joy and privilege is to follow the Lord Jesus and to serve in the power of his love, truth, and goodness. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to work in and through us for his glory. For our faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and with obedience – an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. Do you trust in the grace and strength which God freely gives to help you resist temptation and to overcome obstacles in doing his will?
“Lord Jesus, you give us victory over the destructive forces of sin and harmful desires that keep us from doing your will. Give me the strength to always choose what is good and to reject what is wrong. May your love and truth rule my heart that I may give good example to others and guide those who need your wise instruction and help.”
1 The earth is the LORD‘s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein;
2 for he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. [Selah]
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: To increase faith is to strengthen it by the Holy Spirit, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
“They ask, ‘Add faith to us.’ They do not ask simply for faith, for perhaps you might imagine them to be without faith. They rather ask Christ for an addition to their faith and to be strengthened in faith. Faith partly depends on us and partly is the gift of the divine grace. The beginning of faith depends on us and our maintaining confidence and faith in God with all our power. The confirmation and strength necessary for this comes from the divine grace. For that reason, since all things are possible with God, the Lord says that all things are possible for him who believes (Mark 9:23). The power that comes to us through faith is of God. Knowing this, blessed Paul also says in the first epistle to the Corinthians, ‘For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, and to another faith in the same Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 12:8). You see that he has placed faith also in the catalogue of spiritual graces. The disciples requested that they might receive this from the Savior, contributing also what was of themselves. By the descent upon them of the Holy Spirit, he granted it to them after the fulfillment of the dispensation. Before the resurrection, their faith was so feeble that they were liable even to the charge of being ‘little of faith’.” (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILIES 113-16)