Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Pentecost 22

"Persevering in Persistence"

Luke 18:1-8

October 16, 2016

In today's Gospel reading we have an example of political corruption. When we lament the lack of justice in our courts because of corrupt or highly politicized judges, we are reminded that there is nothing new under the sun. The widow in today's Gospel was dealing with a corrupt government official who admitted he didn't care about doing his job.

The widow had a legitimate grievance. She wanted justice. Rather than sit around and stew, she became proactive. She went to the one person who could bring her justice. However, the results were not what she expected. Even the judge tried to blow her off. Because she had no social status or political clout, the judge thought he could ignore her. Wrong!

Read: Luke 18:1-8 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

Initially, the widow probably thought that since her case was just, the judge would hear her out and do the right thing. Once again she was disappointed. The judge ignored her. Since ruling on this case didn't benefit him, he wasn't moved to do anything. You can see it in his very honest and cavalier response, "I don't fear God or respect men." What an attitude! Sadly, it's an attitude we see all too often all around us.

Now, the widow could have given up. She would have retreated to her home and felt sorry for herself. She wasn't that kind of person. This widow had only one tool, persistence. Again and again, she kept going back to the judge demanding justice. Again and again, the judge kept sending her away. Finally, the judge gave in and did the right thing. In the end, it wasn't because he was a judge or because it was his duty. He acted purely out of his own self-interest. "This woman is going to wear me out!"

Jesus contrasts the love of God with the jerk of a judge. While the widow is nothing and remains nothing to the judge even though he eventually vindicates her, we are and remain precious to God. While the judge refuses to listen, the Lord is ever ready to hear us. While the unjust judge had no interest or desire to do the right thing, the Lord has our best interests at heart. We are not to give up even if it seems that God isn't interested in our pleas.

The Father is ever ready to hear our prayers. When our prayers are not answered in the way and time we want, Jesus wants us to understand that the Father is NOT like the unjust judge. He is listening to us. Our problem is that we don't pray with the same perseverance of the widow. How often is our prayer life half-hearted and lackluster? We don't devote the time and effort in our praying that the widow did in her pursuit of justice.

It's wrong to think that we have to wear God down with our coming before He will finally tire of us and give in. God loves us. He wants and even commands us to pray. He doesn't tire of our coming. Unfortunately, we seem to tire too easily and give up to quickly. We lack the widow's determined perseverance.

Now, you may be thinking, "I pray. Why doesn't God answer?" The Lord is above time. With the Lord everything is in the present tense. We need to remember the words of Peter [2 Peter 3:8, 9] "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

We are stuck in time. We move along the time line of life. While we pray, we also wait. This is the hard part. We hate waiting. Our society is one that wants and demands instant gratification. "I want what I want and I want it right now! Does that sound familiar? Because of this, we lack patience and, therefore, perseverance in our praying. Because our prayers are not answered right now, we assume that we're not getting what we want.

Think of it this way, for whose benefit is prayer: ours or God's? Prayer is for our benefit. As we pray, we move along the time line. In your praying, the Lord uses that time to help mold, shape and refine your prayers to His will. Eventually, we move along the time line to the point where the answer awaits us. As we wait, our prayers are being refined by God as we can His answer.

In the mean time we continue our journey. We walk by faith and not by sight. So, we are reminded to persevere in prayer. The key is persisting in perseverance. Our model in this is Jesus. During His time on earth, He persisted in perseverance. He faced all kinds of opposition. He was despised by His enemies, falsely accused of every sort of evil and sentenced to death. Thus, He fulfilled the Father's will by being obedient to death even death on a cross. Yet, because of His perseverance, we will share in His victory of the resurrection on the Last Day.

You would think we would have learned from Him. It doesn't seem to be the case. Because we hate waiting, our prayer life also suffers. Since we don't persevere, we begin to think prayer accomplishes nothing and God doesn't really care. Paul warned Timothy that the temptation would be to seek spiritual answers elsewhere. That would be disastrous to your soul.

The Lord encourages you, "don't give up!" Jacob didn't give up until he was blessed by God. The widow didn't up until she received justice. Don't you give up. Although you will continue to hate waiting in lines or in traffic, you may find that those times of enforced waiting are God's gift to you as opportunities to pray.

As the world changes so rapidly around us, we wonder if we have the strength and stamina to keep praying. When we are constantly faced with condoning the immorality that the Bible condemns, honoring corrupt politicians, and being told our beliefs no longer matter in today's materialistic social culture, we're tempted to give in and give up. Is it any wonder our Lord asked if He would find even a remnant of faith on earth?

In Jesus we have an Advocate and accessibility to the Father. God assures us that He hears and will answer our prayers. This is why we are called to persevere in prayer. Like the widow, we, too, will persist in our perseverance. By God's grace we will be transformed from whining wimps to persevering people of prayer. Amen.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014