Sunday, September 22, 2013

Serving God

Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' Then the manager said to himself, `What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, `How much do you owe my master?' He answered, `A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, `Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' Then he asked another, `And how much do you owe?' He replied, `A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill and make it eighty.' And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

Luke 16:1-13

I have often heard people testify to the fact that if we are faithful and prayerful God will richly reward us. Sometimes it is called the prosperity Gospel. And yet, I have known many wonderful servants of God who have been living at the poverty line, struggling to make ends meet for their families. They continue to be loving, humble and devout people, serving God by caring for others. I cannot imagine that God loves them any less in their poverty. Their hearts and minds are focused on God and they are often the least worried people I know.

Jesus tells a parable to his disciples about a dishonest manager who gets into trouble due to his corrupt practices. He shrewdly resolves the problem and is commended by his master. This passage could be interpreted by some to tell us to make money dishonestly. And yet Jesus, always pushing us further and deeper, is asking us who we will serve. Are we willing to judge our and others' faithfulness by their status and wealth? Or, are we going to be drawn deeper into the heart of God to put love of God and neighbor as our true wealth? We are invited by God today to do the hard work of examining our motives, and to know where our hearts truly are.

Today I ask God to help me not worry about the cost, but rather give my all to be a disciple of Jesus. May we worry only about the needs of others and our faithfulness, so that God's love can radiate from all our actions. May we be known as servants of God only, so that God's love and light might shine through us today.

The Collect

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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