Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is from Luke 17:1-4 which Jesus says,    

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”


When I’m speaking to congregations around the country, I often run into people who lament “How things have changed.” They reminisce about TV shows that one could watch with the family;  Newspapers that one could read without today’s endless vitriol and spite in print. They yearn for a time when leaders would lead for all, when parents would parent their children, and when the most vulnerable among us didn’t have to live in violence and fear. I see their point.

Jesus is especially concerned for the vulnerable and the broken in our reading for today. He talks plainly about what it means to live in a sinful world with a sinful heart. He says, “Temptations to sin are sure to come.” No doubt! But such things are to be faced, taken seriously. Pay attention! Temptation to sin is temptation to rebel against the one who created and redeemed you for abundant eternal life. Temptation to sin, falling into sin, loving the life of sin is ultimately cutting oneself off from the source of life, God. Repentance is turning around from such foolishness by the power of the Spirit of God. It’s struggling with temptation, yes. But’s it’s also living boldly the new life of grace, earned by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, lived by faith towards God and fervent love towards one’s neighbor!

Jesus is giving good counsel, counsel that all of us need to hear. A reconciled relationship with God, a life of repentance and forgiveness, that life is so precious that it calls us to focus even as is calls us to faith. This matters most of all. It matters so much that even sharing that repentance and forgiveness is essential to our friendships, our relationships in this world. If you have someone struggling with sin (even sinning against you), struggling with temptation, and they repent, forgive them without measure! Why, because that’s how God does you! And here’s Christ’s backhand warning to “pay attention.” If you are one who doesn’t take temptation and sin seriously, you better not be one of those who leads the vulnerable and the weak into sin. God especially hates that.

Good counsel, bad counsel….when it comes to sin and temptation, it really matters. Listen up!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me courage to listen to your word, your counsel even when our culture bids otherwise, even when my heart tempts me to go astray. Your counsel is for my life, now and forever. I believe, help my unbelief. AMEN

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