The Practice of Humility

“Humility is not my virtue? False – as per everything else, I excel at being humble.” ~ Dwight Shrute

In our study of Luke this Sunday we’ll be reading ch 17:1-10. We’ll move into a section where Jesus will give a warning, a command, an encouragement and a parable – all with an underlying theme of humility. It’s interesting because the word “humility” doesn’t appear in the text, but the only means of experiencing what he calls us to is by setting our self-will aside for the sake of another.

The warning starts in v1-2, about causing a “little one” to fall into sin. Who do you think a “little one” might be? The word for “sin” in this text is scandalidzo (σκανδαλίζω) – and it means to put an obstacle in someone’s path causing them to trip up. What things might we put in someone’s life that would trip them up in their intent to follow Jesus? We can think of all sorts of temptations in this world – but think also about the Pharisees in ch 15:1-2 – in what ways could those types of attitudes trip someone up? What is necessary on our part to keep from offending our fellow believer?

V3–4 provides a warning and a command – don’t cover-up or dismiss an offense, but be quick and consistent in forgiving the repentant. Humility plays a large role in being willing to forgive – and forgiveness is a really big and nuanced subject, something we’ll be taking some time to consider and qualify in our teaching on Sunday. All of this is in a community context – so what sort of attitude do we see Jesus promoting among his followers?

Jesus also exhorts us to believe God in v5-6 after the disciples start wondering how they’re gonna’ achieve these things he’s commanding. He makes is clear we don’t need a big faith…instead, he implies the opposite. If we had great faith to rely on, what might we be tempted to trust in?

Finally, Jesus tells a parable in v7-10 which sort of wraps up the section. In some ways, the picture the story paints is sort of bleak for a disciple – described as a self-effacing servant of a task master. But remember, parables aren’t meant to be one to one comparisons – he’s making a point. There are plenty of places where our value as God’s children is emphasized in Scripture, that part is supposed to be assumed in this parable. How might this parable prompt us toward humility?

I’m looking forward to this study! Lavished Ministries will be sharing a missions update about the important work they do for an abused and marginalized segment of our society. I hope you can join us!

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