DEVOTION: Call of Duty



Luke 17:1-10

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”


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In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Whatever position you have in life you have certain duties to fulfill. A soldier is called to defend his country. A doctor’s chief duty is summed up in the Hippocratic Oath where they promise to care for all people without bias. A teacher’s duty is to serve the children entrusted to their care to the very best of their abilities. The duties of a parent are as various and numerous as the starts in the sky! Whatever job or responsibilities you have, there are certain things that are expected of you. You have duties.

In our lives as Christians we also have a call of duty. In our Gospel for this coming Sunday, Jesus gets at the very heart and core of our lives as Christians. Jesus speaks to us about repentance and forgiveness.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

Of anything else in all the world there really is nothing harder than to say, “I have sinned,” and “I forgive you.” To say “I have sinned” means that we have to confess before our God Almighty and before the one that we have sinned against that we have loved ourselves more than we have loved them. That we have failed in our duty to love God first and our neighbor before ourselves.

And then equally, or sometimes even more difficult, is to say these three words, “I forgive you.” Jesus says we are duty bound to forgive those who repent. Yet so often we despise this duty. Our sinful hearts do not want to forgive and forget. Our sinful hearts want that person to feel the same pain we are feeling. Our sinful hearts want to hang that guilt over their heads, maybe even for years to come. And that is why it is often times so hard for us to point out someone’s sin in love instead of suffering from plank-in-the-eye syndrome (Mt. 7:3-5).

Christ tells us that if someone repents, we are duty bound to forgive. This is what Christians do. Christians forgive. Being unwilling to forgive shows a lack of understanding, appreciation, even personal denial of one’s own forgiveness in Christ! If we live this way and lead others astray, Jesus says it would be better if we would have died a violent death!

The disciples hear the call of duty from Jesus and are terrified. We hear Jesus call us to do our duty and we too are terrified. We are terrified because we know that, on our own, we do not have the power within us to keep ourselves from sin—the love to point out another person’s sin in love—the love to forgive. We realize that for failing to carry out our duty we deserve to have that millstone tied around our necks and to be cast into the depths of hell! And so, because of this we cry out with the disciples, “Increase our faith! Increase our faith that we might turn from our sin and also have your love, dear Jesus, to forgive!”

Jesus hears our cry and answers us with his perfect keeping of his call of duty. Think especially in the Garden of Gethsemane. Three times Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but what you will” (Mk. 14:36). But it was the Father’s will that Jesus carry out his duty. And so Jesus let himself be arrested, mocked, beaten, and finally crucified.

And then the full call of duty took effect. Jesus took every sin, each one of them like a large millstone tied around his neck, and was spiritually dragged into hell on the cross. He did this to satisfy God’s anger and wrath against every one of those sins. When he had finished suffering for them all he took all those millstones off from around his neck and he left them there at the cross proclaiming, “It is finished!” As he took those countless sins and left them at the cross, all paid for, he also took them off from around our necks too! The great burden of our sin has been removed! Yes, even our faithless unwillingness to forgive, Christ has forgiven!

With this comforting knowledge we are now motivated to carry out our duties as well, our duties to repent of our own sin, in love point out the sins of others, and in love forgive and forget just as Christ has forgiven us.


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Devotion by Pastor Ben Enstad

Copyright (c) 2022, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Green Bay, WI 54301

Bible text, NIV (c) Biblia, 2011

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