The most important thing that people can and should do is to obey God. More than anything else, God wants our obedience. He does not want the kind of obedience that the Pharisees demonstrated, an outward obedience to man-made laws; He wants an obedience that springs from a heart that loves Him. Because obedience to God is so important, anything relating to obedience in our lives is also very important. Jesus talked about the importance of several of those related things in our reading today.
First, disobedience usually begins with a temptation, so God is very opposed to anyone who tempts others to sin. Those kinds of people will incur worse punishment in hell than anyone else because they will not only be held responsible for their own sins, but will also be held partly responsible for the sins of others. Many people make their living at tempting others and causing them to sin, such as publishers of pornography and sellers of illegal drugs.
Second, the opposite of one who helps others to sin is the one who hinders other people from sinning. One way God wants us to help others not to sin is by rebuking fellow believers if they sin against us. Of course, a rebuke such as that should be given gently in love. If the fellow believer repents, we are supposed to forgive him or her. If we don’t, we are sinning.
Third is the relationship between faith and obedience. Like the apostles, we would like to have more faith, thinking that the primary result of greater faith would be the working of miracles in our lives. Jesus said, however, that even a very small amount of faith can produce a major miracle. So miracles aren’t the evidence of great faith. In fact, there are instances in the Gospels of people who performed miracles in Jesus’ name who weren’t even followers of Jesus. They may have had a little faith in Jesus in regard to His ability and power, but they didn’t have faith in Him as being the Savior, Lord and Judge before whom all people must one day stand. Thus, the working of miracles is not what proves a person has faith in all that Jesus is. Rather, it is obedience that indicates a person has that kind of faith, which is why Jesus then immediately proceeded to talk about obedience.
Finally, a fourth issue related to obedience to God is the danger of becoming proud when we are obedient. Because pride is a sin, there exists the danger that not sinning can lead to a sin! So, as Jesus instructed, we should always view ourselves as servants who deserve no praise. When we obey God, we are only doing our duty, not going above and beyond our duty.
Q. If a fellow believer sins against you seven times in one day and you forgive him seven times, what should you do if he sins against you an eighth time that same day?
A. You should forgive him. Jesus wasn’t placing a limit of seven acts of forgiveness per day per believer. He was saying that there should be no limit to our forgiveness. It is very unlikely that you will ever have an opportunity to forgive one person seven times in one day, and Jesus knew that!
Q. What sin can most easily originate from obedience?
A. The sin of pride. People who don’t sin can easily become proud of it, which means they’re sinning again!
Application: What is the most important thing in life? Obedience to God! This should be on our minds all the time.