“Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 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. 3 So watch yourselves.  “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 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.”  5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  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.” (Luke 17:1—6)


            Jesus is speaking to his disciples.  He is not speaking to the general public of how they should behave and the kind of attitude they should have.  We often take lightly who we are and our living and behaving will cause some people to fall away from the faith.  Jesus said, it is inevitable that things that cause people to stumble are bound to come.  It is inevitable that people will be offended, but woe to the person through whom the offenses come.  There is a severe consequence against those who causes the offenses.  As disciples, it is so important that our lifestyle does not become a trap for people to be offended because of how we live and behave in a manner unworthy of being a follower of Jesus.  A disciples counseling of other can cause people to be offended, especially the people Jesus called, “these little ones.”

Little ones are those who are new to the faith, are still growing and are taking que from older believers.  Sad to say, many older believers and disciples of Jesus are not aware of the impact their faith have on new believers who will be affected tremendously by how they live.  Jesus said to his disciple, it is better for the person in whom the causing the offending to die a terrible death by hanging a millstone tied around their necks.  These how passionate Jesus is about protecting those who are just young in their faith. 

Jesus gave his disciples these warning; SO, WATCH YOURSELVES.  If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Disciples even to us who are following Jesus today, STILL struggles with FORGIVING PEOPLE who have fallen short of our expectations.  Jesus is not saying just let their action fly.  He is not saying don’t do anything with the mistakes.  He said, if there is a mistake or a sin against me as a believer, I must love my brother and sister who sins against me by rebuking them.  Rebuking doesn’t mean condemning, it means to admonish, to give correction with love and the intention to restore them when they repent. 

Love is the rule that is in play here when there is a sin.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  Rebuke them, and if they repent, then there is no other option but to FORGIVE.  And it doesn’t matter how many times they have sin against you, YOU MUST FORGIVE THEM.  That is a behavior of a mature believer in dealing with his brothers and sisters in the Lord. 

So many “LITTLE ONES” have walked away from a relationship with Jesus because of the behavior of older disciples.  The littles ones will continue to fall because they are still learning.  I am reminded of Paul’s exhortation when he said these to believers in Galatia saying; Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 NIV)

The Apostles struggle with forgiveness for they often fight among themselves while others are watching.  They too are still learning what the life of faith is.  They said to Jesus, INCREASE OUR FAITH!  But Jesus 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.   Jesus is saying, you have enough faith to deal with unforgiveness.  Faith is a choice.  Faith is something we already have, but I must appropriated accordingly.  Faith increase and grow when we hear Jesus’ words and choose to OBEY it over our judgmental attitude toward the ones who have failed our expectations or sin.  Jesus, said, it doesn’t matter the size of your faith, it matters that you obey the truth that we know about forgiving people and restore them to Christ rather than driving them away from Jesus because of our unforgiveness.  As a disciple and a believer in Christ, I must stop being easily offended by new believers and start to learn how to help them grow in Jesus grace.  Often it is not the problem of people who have sin and couldn’t measure up to my expectations, but how I TREAT them when they fail my expectation. 


            I am convicted of this truth that Jesus is speaking to his disciples.  I, too, tend to be someone who is judgmental and quick in my response to the sin and the mistake of others who are on their journey to know Jesus more.  I must learn how to have a heart like Jesus, whose love covers the multitude of sin.  I must learn how to rebuke a person in love and grace with the intention of helping them grow toward Christ and be restore to him.  I need the heart of Jesus for his people and for all people. 


            Jesus teach me to be a disciple that love people and desire to see them grow closer to you.  I know that there are many times I do not see people with your eyes of grace when they have fallen in sin.  Help me to have a heart of forgiveness and a desire that wants to help people grow in you.  Teach me how to rebuke people in grace and love and not condemning them because of their shortcomings.  Give me your heart of a Shepherd so I may love people as you do.  Amen!