Luke 18:1-8

18 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man[a] returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”  NLT (New Living Translation)

22 comments on “Luke 18:1-8

  1. My initial thought on this passage – to get some conversation rolling – is this: how does persistence and patience work together? Here in Luke 18 we have a great example of being persistent. At the same time Peter speaks of patience. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. … Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.” 2 Peter 3:9, 15

    Personal Implications: Be patient with the return of the Lord because His “slowness” is reaping rewards in souls won.

    Urgent & Messy missions take persistence & patience.

  2. Having just returned from our eleventh mission trip to Kenya, it is evident that all trips require both persistence and patience. Many different necessary parts need to come together for a mission trip to be successful. Successful in this case means relatively smooth transition from a vision to a reality…..publicity, inventory, supplies, tickets, insurance, training, packing, communication both here and with Kenya, etc. etc., and then, most importantly, successfully transmitting the saving faith in Jesus Christ to those across the globe.

    However, this October trip called for extra persistence and patience. Persistence because Satan was active in Nairobi about ten days before we left, and the news media was actively covering the terrorist actions for days, and this evil was successful in frightening some volunteers into backing out of participating. Persistence because Satan has been active within Kenya, causing dissension among God’s people. Persistence because if the trip was to proceed, needs were required to be filled here, in response to Satans’s attacks.

    Patience because when one is following the calling of God, hurdles can be knocked down and stones can be kicked away, but only on God’s timing. Patience because faith is required to rely on the Lord’s promise of being with us always and under all circumstances. Patience because we are all sinners and in need of God’s forgivelness, even as we go forward with His work.

    Persistence and patience because the need is great and the workers are few.

    What great blessings overflow when persistence and patience are combined! Brothers and sisters, black and white, together sharing the love of God…..seeing the work of the Holy Spirit right before your very eyes…..experiencing the grownth of faith in oneself. Persistence and patience – an excellent combination. Let us combine them where ever we may be led.

  3. Upon starting to read “Deep and Wide” by Andy Stanley he indicated there is tension between Truth and Grace and that looking through the New Testament Jesus was not a diplomat in all things but a “put in your face” with letting you know you sinned but gave grace. He indicated Jesus picked some to heal but not others. How does this type of tension affect ways that our church focuses on current issues.

    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer took preaching seriously. For him a sermon was no less than the very word of God, a place where God would speak to his people. “A truly evangelical sermon muse be like offering a child a fine red apple or offering a thirsty man a cool glass of water and then saying: Do you want it? We must be able to speak about our faith so that hands will be stretched out toward us faster than we can fill them… Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic (self-evident)… Do not defend God’s Word but testify to it…Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity!”

      It seems that those that Jesus healed, where those that stretched out their hands and said yes, they wanted the fine red apple or a cool glass of water when offered. Bonhoeffer was convinced that it is our job to speak the Gospel (truth and grace) but it is God’s job to convict the individual.

      With regard to current issues, Bonhoeffer stood on the grounds that the Church should “Speak out for those who cannot speak: This is the very least that the Bible requires of us.” He went on to say, “Things do exist that are worth standing up for without compromise… peace and social justice are such things, as is Christ himself.”

  4. Contemplating this parable . . . hmmmmm . . . What position is this parable askng me to take . . . let me see . . . an unjust judge who fears neither God nor man; a persistant widow who pleas (prays), from her faith, for justice ; an unjust judge who ends up giving justice due to the persistant prayers of the faithful widow; how much more will God, the just, righteous judge, give justice speedily to His people who beseach Him, stregthening their faith through prayer; Nevertheless . . . when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Now that is a good question. Perhaps thee question! Will God find faith when He comes again? Where will God find faith when he does come again? Who will God consider faithful when He comes again? Whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Are we persistant in Prayer? Are we patient in Prayer? Or do we rush out with a full head of steam with our own will before His will? We all want what we want, and we want it now! But God only does things in His perfect timing!!! Will I trust Him and yet be persistant and patient in prayer? I will, with the help of God!

  5. Urgent & Messy missions take persistence, patience and (thank you Chris Hogan) PRAYER!

    • The purpose is in verse 1. Always pray. Never lose heart.
      The application is in verse 7. God will give justice to his elect.

      • Thanks for clarifying the purpose and application statements Chris. As I started comment on text, I realized that I had not fulfilled the purpose, so I pushed back the keyboard and bowed my head and prayed… Amen.

  6. Persistent patience

    Patient persistence

    When I typed both of these out I found I liked ‘patient persistence’ a lot more than ‘persistent patience’. I think it implies that I am still active in the process of making something happen. Whereas, I found myself feeling that ‘persistent patience’ is a waste of time. I’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING!!! Right?!

    Persistence applies to MY ability to meet a challenge. Patience implies waiting; perhaps for SOMEONE ELSE to answer a challenge. I’d much rather do it myself… “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” I’ve always liked this statement, but am just now realizing that when I say that, I’m discounting the ability of anyone else (who is likely more qualified anyway) to meet a challenge. I’ve often thought a person who waits for things to happen is only waiting because they can’t get it done themselves. What a narrow view of my fellow human!

    Obviously, the lesson for me here is to learn patience. Being patient allows my fellow Christians to be involved in making a better product (mission work). It will also allow God to fulfill his work in the world and in me. (Thankfully, God is patient, otherwise I’d be screwed.) This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings (which I don’t follow as much as a say it) – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I often find myself going fast. Being patient and waiting on the Lord to work has value – perhaps it gives one time to view The Mission more accurately, i.e. through the lens that God is using!

    My confirmation verse is Isaiah 40:31. “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. “ I have a new perspective of this verse today. I’ve always viewed this verse as one that gave me the license to be persistent… I can do anything – I will not grow tired! Now I see the word ‘wait’. Be patient in the Lord. Patient.

    At the end of the day, my ability to be persistent in The Mission is only as good as my ability to be patient in the Lord. God’s timing is perfect. Lord, give me patience. Similar to the prayer of the father in Mark 9: “I have persistence, help my patience!”

  7. How many will He find faithful? Definitely not a bad thing, to think and ponder about how we can do better and be more faithful. But, extremely sobering to truly consider the number of souls which have already been lost, and how many more will be lost in the time that remains.

    True that God would prefer that none perish, but the sad truth is that most will, and many already have. The lost far outnumber the found, new or old math. The mission field is vast, but the workers are few. Not unfair, but still quite sad. Spurs one to try a little harder to be the salt and the light.

    As mentioned before, I surely need to spend ample time trying to better myself, improving my behaviors, attitudes, thought processes, and so on and so forth. The list of things about me that need improving is endless.

    But I also need to bear in mind that the main task that Jesus left the disciples with, and thereby left me with was not about self improvement, but to get out of myself, off my hind end, and do the work of spreading the good news. I need to do more and do better for others, especially for those who might not be found faithful if He were to return tomorrow.

    • Jeff,

      I was blown away by one individuals way of explaining the Good News of Christ. He said that the Good News is showing people that our God rules and reigns through Jesus Christ. This means that in the midst of struggles, we can have hope because we know that our God reigns. This means that when all is well in life, we can rejoice and give thanks because our God reigns. This means that our neighbor who is going about life without out knowing this is missing something huge – that God is reigning in over all things. When we show our neighbor God’s reign by helping him experience reconciliation, justice, beauty and wholeness they come to see life in a whole new light – the light of Christ.

      The cross & resurrection is the crux of His rule. It is the proof that He truly is ruling and reigning and that because he overcame sin and death as our King – sin and death hold no power over us, “O death where is your sting!”

  8. We are to be persistent in prayer and never give up (be patient in hope). ESV says that “we ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

    It is easy to become discouraged by my weaknesses. As Jeff said, they are many. St. Augustine wrote “Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer obtains the strengthening of faith…So far temptation advances as faith gives way: and so far temptation gives way as faith advances.”

    I recall seeing a distraught man in the back of the church during a Christmas Eve service some 20 years ago. I sat with him after the service an listened to his story. He had lost heart because in his words, “he had lost his faith”. The reality was that he had not lost his faith, but his faith had given way to temptation for so long that his faith was inactive. We prayed that his faith would be strengthened and that hope would be restored. I encouraged him to find a church home and be in fellowship with other believers. We cannot do it alone. Persistence, Patience, Prayer and Partnership.

    Luther summed it up well in his Morning Prayer, which I learned at Grandma’s country church when I was 7 years old, and which started the day in Kenya last week:

    I thank thee my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ thy dear son, that thou hast kept me this night from all harm and danger. And I pray thee, that though wouldst keep me this day also, from sin and every evil, that all my doings and live may please thee. For into thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things. Let thy holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

    • I had just read that same St Augustine quote this week. I am encouraged by you example of faith in action. I have occasionally been the “man in the back row” in my life. Sadly, I have sometimes experienced a lack of “faith in action” in places where it should have been overflowing. Happily, I have also had moments where a man of faith took the time to “sit next to me” and pray with me. I can only trust that the faith of people is strenghtened by their receiving of His Word and Sacraments, bible study, prayer and trials (persistence, because our flesh desires not the things of God). Then the abundance God works in them will overflow through their vocations, to others, in acts of mercy, like taking time to notice the “man in the back row” and give him what he needs, namely Christ. (Patience, as they don’t seek their own will but put all things in God’s care and accept His timing and His will.) Grandma’s church did right by you! And now I am going to go have my morning prayer, which I forgot to do :-)

  9. The last several days I’ve been thinking of the variety of accounts in the Bible which reflect patience and/or persistence.

    Joseph’s persistence in the pursuit of the call God had for him and the patience with which he carried it out are incredible to me.

    Obviously, Jesus had much persistence and patience on the way to the cross.

    Abraham and Sarai showed little patience in regard to God’s promise when it came to having a child, but showed great faith at other times in their life.

    What are the stories that stick out to you?

    I’m learning that because God is faithful and his plan is perfect, we can persist in the mission to share the Gospel and do it with patience – it is HIM working though us. We are the hands of God – he will use us when and how he sees fit, we just need to make ourselves available. By grace we can be faithful to the mission.

  10. “Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

    I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

    Wow, scripture is so rich! Just this one small quote fires off so many thoughts. It reinforces how important it is to continually read The Bible. The words are the same, and have been so for millennia, but every time you read it, YOU are in a different place and the words have different meaning. Thus, The Word is living and breathing for ever. Amen.

    I am no theological scholar (and only a freshman Lutheran), so please guide my path if my thoughts are misguided :)

    First, “always pray, and never give up” – what is appropriate to pray for? When is a matter so small, that you risk rebuke for asking for something silly, something selfish? Is it only for justice?

    There are certain things that I yearn for, but are they life changing? Will they complete my life? Are they life and death? No. Do I still yearn for them? I’d be lying if I said “no”. This world, this life, is not the endgame. I still would really like a new kitchen though ;)

    Second, “A widow of that city came to him repeatedly” – I am very much like a child. When I want something, it can consume my whole purview. I want, I want, I want. Oh, and now, now, now. It’s very hard for me to turn that off. I need to pray that God would help me see his plan as just, and that I would be at peace with His decisions for me.

    Historically, He has “made me to lie down in green pastures, He walks me beside still waters”. I must trust that he will “restore my soul” and let my “cup overflow”.

    • Good question, Roman, about what is appropriate to pray for? Jesus spoke about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount:

      “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matt 6:7-8

      Empty Phrases – Augustine wrote that “Gentiles… make it their endeavor to exercise their tongue rather than cleanse the heart.”

      Your Father Knows – Economy of expression in prayer is acceptable to our Father because he knows all of our needs. Prayer is based on trust, not magic or manipulation. Make your request, and trust that He will act.

      The Lord taught us to pray persistently from our hearts. God wants to move in a powerful and dynamic way in our lives, but He is patiently waiting for us to prepare our hearts in a way that brings glory and honor unto His name.

      So pray with a heart that brings glory and honor to His name.

    • Roman, great question, and something I struggle with as well. Does He really want to be bothered with my trifling little problems and desires?

      Jesus taught us the Lords Prayer, not just as something to recite, but as a template for our prayers. But He also tells us to bring all things to him in prayer. I think much as we would like our children to bring all things on their minds to us parents. It builds relationships stronger. Also, when my kids have unrealistic or selfish requests or wants, I can lovingly explain to them how it would not be best for me to grant their request, or show them an alternative.

      God can do the same for us. Often His answer is NO, but then he sheds light on a better alternative. In the process, I grow closer to Him, become more trusting of His guidance for me and learn to pattern my will closer to His. No different really than our kids using us parents as sounding boards as such.

      So, I dont think any prayers are necessarily trifling or inappropriate, its just a reflection of where i am at the moment. If I share it with God, then I open the door for Him to be able to give me the help and guidance I so desperately need.

  11. As I reflect on my prayer life, I can identify with Dietrich Bonhoeffer when it comes to decision-making. Bonhoeffer said:

    “I myself find the way such a decision comes about to be problematic. One thing is clear to me, however, that one personally – that is, consciously – has very little control over the ultimate yes or no, but rather that time decides everything. Maybe not with everybody, but in any event with me. Recently I have noticed again and again that all the decisions I had to make were really not my own decisions. Whenever there was a dilemma, I just left it in abeyance and – without really consciously dealing with it intensively – let it grow toward the clarity of a decision. But this clarity is not so much intellectual as it is instinctive. The decision is made, whether one can adequately justify it retrospectively is another question.”

    I would like to think that the “abeyance” Bonhoeffer mentions is a form of patience, and that the instinctive clarity which he describes is trust in a plan revealed by God.

    Bonhoeffer recognized later in life that he needed to spend more time in prayer. I find myself deficient in this important act of faithfulness. At the expense of repetition of a prior post, I close with Luther’s morning prayer:

    I thank thee my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ thy dear son, that thou hast kept me this night from all harm and danger. And I pray thee, that though wouldst keep me this day also, from sin and every evil, that all my doings and live may please thee. For into thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things. Let thy holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

  12. Patience and persistence….

    Seems like everyone has the latter these days. Maybe not in the areas of what God has intended for us but certainly in the other aspects of our lives. I think Roman summed it up best we are all like children…I want, I want, I want, now, now, now….

    Patience doesn’t seem to be in our vocabulary even with our waiting for the Lord to return… How many times have we prayed for Him to return and just rapture us into heaven… And yet how many times have we prayer not today Lord, for I am not ready…

    This tends to be an area where we sometimes just don’t get it… We tend to forget part of the principles of prayer… We get the first two principles relatively easy.. “We speak”, “God listens” the second two principles “God Speaks” , “We listen” doesn’t always happen…we tend to lack the patience and the persistence to wait for The Lord to speak to us…and we often time just don’t listen…just like children…

    How great is our God in heaven who sent us His only Son to die for us that we might live eternally with him in heaven….

  13. Yikes! After a week of reading the scripture and reviewing Pastor John’s initial thoughts and the individual comments, I finally grasped the meaning that our Lord’s patience means salvation, because His “slowness” is reaping rewards in souls won.

    Thank-you brother John for this insight!

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