Lessons from a Persistent Widow

Consider Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:1-8   1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.  3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’  4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man,  5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'”  6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.  7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

 

I. The Reason for the Parable:  vs. 1 – that men always ought to pray and not lose heart..

 

A.  This parable is obviously about the value and necessity of constant prayer to God. Jesus often used examples of pleadings between people to portray the pleadings and requests involved in prayer. (A son who asks his father for a piece of bread (Mt. 7:9-10); a neighbor who comes to his friend as midnight with an urgent request.(Lk. 11:3ff)

1.  God desires that we rely upon Him constantly. To do this we need to understand God’s (Our  Father) nature. He is not reluctant to help us.

B.  Another lesson that seems to come through here: To teach Christians how to react when life is unjust & unfair. The judge exemplifies the character of society when people don’t care -“feared not God” – no religious morality; and he “did not regard man” – had no human compassion or social conscience.

 

II. The character of the Judge: Although the judge is this story is meant to represent God, the lesson is fond in the contrast, not the similarity. –  God is nothing like this judge.

 

A.  God cares about his worldabout people.

  • Jer. 9:23-24 -” Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD. As we considered this morning God is merciful and good by nature. He cares passionately.
  • This parable helps us see our God clearer through the contrast of one who is not like Him. But what is the lesson? God will respond to our prayers with out hesitation. If this woman can get this evil judge to listen, then surely our persistence will be effective in getting our loving Father to hear our requests. Our confidence in prayer lies in the character of God, not the persuasiveness of our words.

 

III.  The Lessons of the Parable:

 

A. “vs.1-  “ought always to pray …” the emphasis of this passage is on the word always -(pantote) Paul used the word in  I Thess. 5:17 -“Pray without  ceasing” – (shortest verse in the Greek N.T.) – pray without intermission, or interruption. Col. 1:3“praying always for you”, and also in 4:12 – “always laboring fervently for you in prayers”  How can we do this?  Augustine said, “There is another interior prayer without intermission, and that is the longing of thy heart.”   Must understand what prayer is-

1.  To pray comes from a compound word meaning to “wish” or “vow” toward. – It is an inward communication, an activity of the heart, and no one outside can prevent it. This presents to us a real intrinsic value of prayer to the Christian:

 

B. Wicked men cannot separate us from God.  Our ability to pray always is evidence of this blessing. No gov’t or society, no matter how atheistic can separate the believer from God. The vertical relationship cuts through the horizontal.

1.  The decree of Darius in the time of Daniel is a clear example of the impotency of wicked men to disrupt prayer, or its power. The enemies of Daniel coerced Darius into signing a law prohbiting prayer to Jehovah. Notice Daniel’s response:  Dan 6:10-11 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. 11 Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.  Daniel’s prayers could not be prevented. After God rescued him from the Lion’s den it was obvious that his prayers could not be disarmed either.

2.  It appeared to those watching this widow that she was wasting her time. The wicked judge was in control. But in the end her persistence (consistent obedience)  was more powerful than his evil.  

 

C. Do Not Let Evil Overcome You – The second reason He gives for teaching this parable is that they ..”faint not” (vs. 1) this phrase is from a word meaning “bad”  or “worthless” The compound verb means to bring out one’s badness or worthlessness, or stifle one’s good qualities. – Not let your light shine before men. To not do what one can do through Christ – The NASV translates it not to lose heart. To despond in difficulty rather than continuing to do what you know is right. This woman did not allow this judge’s indifferent & evil attitude deter her from pleading her cause.

1.  Compare Paul’s admonition in 2 Thess. 3:13; Be not weary in well-doing.

  • 2 Cor. 4:1Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.- Paul determined not to give up his ministry because God had given him the mercy (comfort) to endure evil.

 

D. The Indifference of Others Cannot Cause Us to Quit.  Much evil comes in the form of indifference. This woman had a “continual coming” implies constant action (not just desire) and therefore received her justice.

1.  Have you ever been intimidated by the indifference of others? You see a problem, hear a word, or are called upon to engage in some questionable activity – so you question it and you get:  What’s the big deal? Whatever?  Its harder next time to bring it back up. We have to keep bothering them with our morality.

2.  The indifference of others to morality causes us to let down our guard – We start to think.. Maybe it isn’t such a big deal.

3.  Many in the church will discourage you by their indifference. Their level or maturity and zeal becomes the standard by which we judge ourselves. This woman demanded justice – for the sake of justice- she did not ask someone to do it for her.

 

F.  God Avenge You: If this evil judge will respond, so will our loving Father. The world makes us think that no one is listening. Prayer is seen as superstition or mysticism. But to the Christian prayer is as real and effective as the character of God Himself. There is no power in prayer that is not the power of the one who answers the prayer.

1.  How did Jesus survive in  an unjust world – no one has been treated any more unjustly than Christ? 

  • 1 Pet. 2:21-23For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
  • Jesus had the faith to trust in the justice and righteousness of His Father. Do we have this faith? – Jesus concluding question: “When the Son of Man cometh will He find faith on earth? The evidence of faith will be the consistency of prayer. It is an important response of the Christian’s to the evil world he lives in. Pray always and do not quit.