Today’s Reading: Luke 17-18
Today’s Reflection: Luke 18:7-8
“And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
What is this text saying?
Jesus was teaching His disciples about the importance of persistence in prayer. He tells a parable of an unrighteous judge and a widow who continually comes to him for justice. Eventually, the judge tires of her constant complaint and gives in to her request. Jesus ends the story with the statement in Luke 18:7-8.
Why is it important?
Persistence in prayer is an essential component of the Christian experience. As we look back over many bible stories, people had to wait years or even decades for the fulfillment of promises made to them by God. It was hundreds of years before Abraham’s seed became a mighty nation, as God had promised (Exodus 1:7). Joseph spent 13 years in slavery and in prison before becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt before whom even his brothers bowed, as God promised (Genesis 42:6-7). Moses spent 40 years as a shepherd before he was sent to liberate Israel from Egyptian bondage, as God had promised (Exodus 3:7-10). It was nearly 4,000 years from Adam and Eve’s sin until the sacrifice of Jesus repaired the breach and secured the possibility of eternal life for all mankind, as God had promised (Romans 6:23). And it’s been over 2,000 years since Christ walked the earth, and His followers are still waiting for Him to return, just as God has promised.
None of the bible characters mentioned here would have been able to persevere and hold on to hope without ongoing prayer. Even with prayer, some thought so much time had passed that these promises might come to pass, but would no longer involve them—Moses’ reluctance to accept God’s call provides such an example (Exodus 4:10-13).
God always comes through with His promises. In fact He desires to give His children a just and desirable outcome—good gifts (Matthew 7:11), eternal life (1 John 5:11), even His kingdom (Luke 12:32). We may not receive God’s promises when we would like to. Sometimes the people of faith in the Bible didn’t even live to see God’s promises happen (Hebrews 11:13) but these promises always came to pass. God’s purposes are always fulfilled exactly as they have been revealed to His people. This is as true today as it was in Bible times.
How can I apply this?
Today we live in a ‘microwave culture’. We expect everything to be instantly at our disposal all the time. High speed, 4G, on-demand, wi-fi, mobile phones, handheld digital devices give us instant connections anywhere, everywhere, with anyone, right now. For most of us, the most we’ve ever had to persevere for is to make it through a 2 to 4 year college or university program (which likely included 4 month summer breaks). Job loyalty is at an all time low, in part because if a young employee doesn’t feel they are being promoted quickly enough they simply move to another company that will give them the title and money they demand, even if it costs them the consistency that will allow them to truly grow and develop their skills and abilities. Contrary to popular belief, those who succeed in life are more often not those with the greatest natural gifts, but those who applied whatever gifts they were given most consistently and diligently over time. In other words, persistence produces success.
If someone prays for something once, then forgets about it a few days, weeks or even months later, how much do they truly desire it? How important is it? Our willingness to continually and constantly pursue something is a sign of its importance and priority in our lives. It is also a sign of our faith in God. In the parable the woman continued to petition the unrighteous judge because she knew he was the only one who could give her justice. Despite his delay she retained faith in his ability to act on her behalf and settle her cause. We should rely on our God, who is both perfect and righteous, even more. This should drive us to constant and persistent prayer.
God desires to develop within us characters of diligence, devotion, patience and perseverance. God wants us to learn that what is right is not necessarily right now. Sometimes we need to wait, develop and grow into receiving what He has for us. This requires that faith—holding onto the hope God has promised to us even though we may see no visible or tangible signs of it.
The text says God desires to give His children justice, but what is truly just for us is something we learn as we grow closer to Him and the things that are important to Him increasingly become more important to us. As His priorities begin to shape our priorities we should see a consistency in our prayer lives, a willingness to continually and faithfully keep an issue in prayer before the Lord until we receive a response or see a resolution. The truth is all prayers are answered one way or another. In prayer, as in all things, we should be people willing to see things through to the end. After all this is the example Jesus has set for us.
The challenge we face is the chilling final question Jesus asks at the end of this text: will the son of man find faith on the Earth? When Jesus returns, will He find anyone who was willing to see this epic through to the very end and wait on His soon coming? Willing to continue to pray persistently? Willing to remain obedient and vigilant? Willing to continue on in hope, even under the most dire circumstances? Facing ridicule, persecution, even the threat of death?
If you are here when Jesus returns, will He find faith in you?
Matthew 25:13 – Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.