Scripture: Luke 17: 1-3a
As Christians, “born again” children of the Most High God, it’s not hard for us to often find ourselves in peculiar, non-Christian, un-Christlike situations – situations that can lead us to feelings of guilt and torment after realizing that we did something, said something, thought something or caused something we should not have caused!
So, Jesus tells us to “watch yourselves.” Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords tells us to watch ourselves! In this life, the Bible says we will have trouble – trouble in relationships with one another, so watch yourselves!
Be careful how you talk around the little ones. Be careful what you say and how you say what comes across your spirit around the little ones! Be careful acting the wrong way, around the wrong people, at the wrong times! Watch yourselves! We are held accountable for our actions. So, watch yourselves.
Temptations to do wrong come – and temptations to do wrong go – sometimes, we’re pushed! And it’s in our human nature to strike back – verbally, physically, morally. Recently, a six-year-old child was the victim in a car-to-car shooting from someone striking back!
The will to strike pulls us and pushes us. It hurts us as well entices us. So, Jesus tells us to watch ourselves, and for that, we also need to know ourselves! Jesus only had three years to work His ministry, yet He took the time in Luke 17 to tell us to watch ourselves!
Jesus was at a Pharisee’s house and had just taught the parable of the great banquet, the cost of being a disciple, the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, the parable of a shrewd manager and the rich man and Lazarus, and now about sin, faith and duty.
He had just taught examples for the disciples to know their strengths and weaknesses and to have the ability to identify them when they get close. Their lesson? If the problem is using foul language, then use common sense to stay away from circumstances conducive to foul language responses!
Their lesson? If the problem is gossip or stretching the truth, then be responsible enough to not be around an environment that lends itself to the desire to know everything or spread everything. Jesus taught that we are not just accountable for our own actions but accountable in how we influence other people’s actions.
It’s not how the effects that sins have on us, but on our sins’ impact on others! No, you’re not another person’s caretaker, but you are the other person’s Christian example. Especially “the little ones.” Be careful how you are around “the little ones.”
The “little ones” are the ones who just joined the church. It’s not an age or size thing; it’s an experience thing! The “little ones” just came to Christ! The “little ones” are those watching, listening to us, generally behaving like us because we have been Christians longer than they have.
We are living examples! We’re the ones in church on Sundays! We’re the ones on the Steward Board, singing in the choir, holding down church offices! We are the disciples!
We’re the ones who must be careful of how we react, when we react and what we react to! We’re the ones suffering the penalty for leading astray the “little ones.” We’re the ones that the Bible says are the disciples! We’re the ones put on notice for accountability! We’re the ones put on blast about our relationships with each other!
We, the followers of Jesus Christ, must watch ourselves and our injurious remarks, thoughtless deeds, harsh attitudes or mean looks. Because these things happen, we must be careful and watch ourselves, so we minimize that they happen!
There is a penalty. Verse 2: “It would be better for him (her) if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were cast into the sea…” The penalty is drowning – dying. The penalty is death. It would be better if the offender died first than have a millstone around his/her neck! A millstone had a hole in its center, weighed about 100 pounds and placed around an oxen or mule’s neck and used to grind grain.
How do we straighten it out? Start with confession and repentance. Start with the confession we make on Communion Sundays: “Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men, we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness which we from time to time most grievously have committed by thought, word, and deed against your divine Majesty, provoking most justly Your wrath and indignation against us.
We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father for Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake; forgive us all that is past, and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please You in newness of life, to the honor and glory of Your name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
Somebody say, Jesus! “Jesus! There is something about that name!”
The Rev. Dr. Michael Eagle, Sr. is the pastor of Grant AME Church in Long Beach.