In the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-7) Jesus compared himself to a rotten judge. Jesus described the judge in the parable as someone who did not fear God or care for other people. Hardly the type of guy you would want to rely on for justice or the kind of person that you would expect Jesus to use as a comparison to himself.
A widow kept going to this rotten, uncaring judge for help. Eventually he gave in and helped her. He did not want to help, but her persistence wore him down.
Jesus concluded with the point of the parable: If this rotten judge would listen and help, what do you think God will do? God loves and cares for his people. His love led him to send Jesus, who would give his own life to save us! God’s love is so great that he wants to have us with him for all eternity in heaven!
The verse that introduces this parable is significant. Luke wrote, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”
Unfortunately, it is easy to stop praying. If we do not see the immediate result that want, we may wrongly surmise that our prayer was not heard. Or perhaps we have prayed for a long time, but have not received the answer we want, so we are tempted to stop praying. Or sometimes we might just forget to pray.
It is also easy to give up, isn’t it? The word Jesus used for “give up” is translated in other contexts to mean “to give in to evil,” “to lose heart,” or “to become a coward.” After years of struggling against a sin – and failing to achieve perfection – it might seem easier to “give up” and stop fighting the urge. We might normalize the sin so we can continue it. Or perhaps we are tempted to “give in to evil.” Rather than continue to be patient and forgiving when someone does not change to act the way we want them to act, the evil of anger comes much easier.
Or after weeks of staying at home, we might be tempted “to lose heart.” Pessimism and frustration control our thinking and our view of the future, turning us bitter and unhappy.
I think we forget to pray, or we give up, because we forget who we are dealing with. The Lord, who made the heavens and the earth, is the God who watches over us! He is far greater than the rotten judge in Luke 18. God’s plans for us are always based on love. So great is his love for us that Jesus died and rose from the dead to save us. He promises – countless times! – to save his people from troubles. Just one example: In Psalm 107, the Psalmist writes about “the redeemed” (v. 2). He says about the redeemed, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (v. 6). We cannot give up; the Lord will deliver us! That deliverance will be guided by his perfect wisdom and his perfect love. He will do what is best for us – that is the only option for the Lord.
You can leave your problems with God and be confident that he will sustain you. His forgiveness for your failures not only assures you of his love, it also makes you more eager to forgive others. His Word will strengthen you to continue to struggle against sin and to seek to act according to his will. There is no reason to surrender to our troubles; our God will deliver us!
By giving us the right to pray to him God did not give us the right to be God. Our prayers are not orders to God, telling him what he must do. Our prayers are an expression of a faith that sees that God is good. He is always good! He is good in everything he does!
So “always pray and [do] not give up.” Our loving God will preserve and protect his people, which, of course, includes you, both in the past, the uncertain present, and the future.
Pastor Tim Wempner
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