Sunday, August 16, 2015

Luke 22:31-32 (NLT): Forgiveness and Strengthening Others

Luke 22:31-32 (NLT): Forgiveness and Strengthening Others

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus reminds Simon Peter that he will undergo a trial and that the enemy has demanded “to sift” Simon.  As Dr. Charles Stanley states, “When Satan sifts believers, his goal is to damage our faith so much that we're useless to God.” Jesus, however, “[pleads] in prayer” that Simon’s faith not fail but be strengthened.  We know how the story goes.  Peter boastfully tells Jesus that he would follow Him “both to prison and death” (Luke 22:33). Peter, in his weakness, denies Jesus three times. Peter’s faith, although “sifted” does not fail.  Instead, he turns from his sin, seeks the risen Lord, and declares his love to Jesus three times (John 21:12-17).

As humans, we are subject to the same forces as Peter.  The enemy tries to “sift” (vigorously shake) us off of the foundation of our faith. Something much more powerful is at work, however: Jesus is praying for us.  But we are weak in our free will and sometimes choose the easy way out. When the easy way leads to sin, we either egotistically deny it and become desensitized to our sin, or we become aware, like Peter, and desire repentance. That awareness and desire for repentance is God’s grace.  That desire for right is the Holy Spirit guiding our conscience. We must abandon our pride and embrace the humble voice of Christ.  

“So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter is obligated to strengthen his brothers and sisters. We, too, are under the same obligation.  God gives each one of us the gift of forgiveness, and His forgiveness is perpetual when we choose to repent. We, moreover, are to pay it forward, forgive, and love others. We are to witness Christ’s unlimited forgiveness in our unique situations. We are to love others as we are loved and forgive others as we are forgiven, strengthening our brothers and sisters in Christ.

May you all be blessed and encouraged in the love and peace of Christ.