Fruits of Faith
I thank You, Lord, for a mind that can think, a heart that can feel, and hands that can do.
Read Luke 17:1-10
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“God is not a legalist, a divine book-keeper, who watches us like a hawk to see if we keep his rules…God is… passion and life and fellowship” (C. Baxter Kruger).
This is a passage in which many readers struggle to find a clear narrative thread. Some scholars suggest there isn’t one, that Luke has simply taken three or four things that Jesus said on different occasions and thrown them together. But Luke, as we have seen already, is a careful historian. He writes with intention and purpose, with the goal of offering a reliable portrait of Jesus. What Luke is trying to show us is that Jesus is different from–and often in conflict with–the religious teachers of his day.
The Pharisees are not directly addressed here, but it is almost certainly to them that Jesus is referring. They are the ones who set stumbling blocks before others, tripping them up with the complexity of their rules and rituals, and refusing them grace and forgiveness (3,4). This is why the disciples respond with the request “Increase our faith” (5). The Pharisaic approach to faith is the dominant model of the time. The more faith you have, the more rules and rituals you will obey. “But if this is not to be the way,” the disciples ask, “what is?” Jesus answers by painting a picture of a faith so potent that the tiniest amount will explode your life: a faith not of rules but of relationship, rooted in the knowledge of God. This is a faith not of quantity, but of quality. In the Kingdom of the Messiah, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. Obedience is not a system by which to gain approval (9); it is the outworking of a relationship (10). Centuries before the breakthrough “discoveries” of Luther and Calvin, Luke already understood Jesus’ teaching that good works are the fruit, not the root, of faith.
Ask yourself: What is your motivation for obeying God? Is it just rule keeping or joyful, grateful obedience?
Heavenly Father, rid me of a devotion where I choose the rules and obedience is optional. Refresh and renew my spiritual activities so that they may be channels of Your grace today.
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