“Pay attention to yourselves . . .”
— Luke 17:3
What has your attention right now? (Hopefully, this message for the next few minutes.) All joking aside, your attention is the hottest commodity on the planet—everyone and everything is competing for it.
But in this passage, Jesus tells us that we should pay attention to ourselves . . .
When he makes this statement, Jesus is teaching us how to rebuke and forgive others. At first glance, “pay attention to yourselves,” feels like a misdirection—I thought this was about helping others get their stuff together . . . why is Jesus telling us to pay attention to ourselves?
But the more I meditate on this passage, the clearer it becomes that Jesus is charging us to be prayerful during conflict. Here’s the whole verse,
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, “I repent,” you must forgive him. (vv. 3–4)
If we’re honest, we will admit that we can struggle to rebuke or forgive in a way that honors God. Jesus knows how important forgiveness and correction are to our development and flourishing, so he tells us that when it comes to matters of who is right and wrong, we should first pay attention to ourselves. Once we do that, we won’t complicate the situation by projecting our own pains and insecurities onto the other person and will be better positioned to rebuke, forgive, and love one another.
The disciples’ response to Jesus’s words was “increase our faith” (v. 5). This way of living seemed too great for them, and they realized that they needed faith beyond what they had known. Let’s be the ones who pray “increase our faith” this week, especially when searching to understand the difficulties within and without.
Our pain that isn’t transformed is often transferred to someone else. We don’t want to live unaware of our disappointments, fears, and doubts. “Increase our faith” is a cry of surrender to the Spirit who searches and knows the truth of all things. When rooted in this God-awareness, we can navigate the complexities of failure, whether they’re our own or another’s.
Praying with you,
P.S. If you know friends or family who are struggling to connect with God, please invite them to join us as we explore and embrace prayer as a way of life. They can subscribe to the Sunday Entries by visiting wordswithgod.org/entries. And if you don’t have the Words with God book yet, I think today is the day to get your copy. Just click here to get it via book, ebook, or audiobook