THEME: Our attitudes toward, and our use of, money
We can trust God in all circumstances and with all aspects of our lives.
In the midst of enemy occupation and on the brink of exile, the prophet Jeremiah trusts that God has a promising future for the Hebrew people and their homeland.
A seemingly irrational act in enemy-occupied territory, Jeremiah buys the deed to a piece of property as a statement of radical trust in God.
Psalm 91 is a litany of trust in the face of dangers—a trust answered by God’s own words of reassurance.
Timothy reminds us that even in settled times, wealth and status, rather than war and physical danger, often lure us away from placing our faith and trust in God.
Luke emphasises this point through the picture of a rich man who does not trust God.
The unnamed rich man is so wrapped up in his status and wealth that even in the torment of death, he still is trying to take charge of his life and of God.
Trusting in God, we find the peace that passes all understanding and the strength to heed Christ’s call.
The Bible has a lot to say about money and how we use it.
Saying: To “put your money where your mouth is” means that you’ll show with your actions that you mean what you say.
Our bank statements and budgets are important spiritual documents that reveal a lot about our priorities and our level of commitment to the principles of God’s Reign.
This week the readings challenge us to recognise that the material blessings we enjoy are not just given to us but are given through us to share with others.
As we grow in obedience to the values and mission of God’s Reign, we inevitably find ourselves becoming increasingly compassionate and generous, and we discover that whatever measure of wealth we possess can make a significant contribution to building God’s Dream among us.
It’s important to realise that our use of money is rooted in our attitude toward it. When we work to develop the Christ-like attitudes of humility, simplicity and love, we will automatically see our money not as an end in itself, or a source of security and happiness, but as a means to the end of building community, of seeking to spread blessing and sufficiency as widely as possible, and of manifesting the life of Jesus in our world.
This week we explore our attitudes toward, and our use of, money.
1 Timothy 6.6-19: putting wealth in its place.
Contentment: Many religions were offering contentment by pray to this God for rain, pray to this God for wealth. The selling of contentment was quite popular. But Christianity was empathetical to this way of life. We look at the teaching of Jesus, sell everything you have and give it to the poor. This does not do well for your contentment. Some preached prosperity to use the Church/faith for monetary gain – sounds familiar? Church giving us security – because that is fleeting it is temporary not eternal. What is enough money? There is always more that we can attain.
Christian expectations with wealth: Paul gave people with wealth some Christian expectations: to do good. To be rich in good works, generous and ready to share. Storing up for themselves a good foundation for the future – riches in heaven. So that they may take hold of the life that really gives life!
Seek contentment in God: Perhaps not to seek contentment at all. Contentment – comfortability – drowsiness – death. Paul urges us to fight the good fight. Striving to find peace in the struggle against evil. Constantly seeking the good fight, constantly solving problems and looking to bring about God’s reign. We are not mean to be content. We are meant to live life and live abundantly. God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Luke 16:19-31 Reflect: The opening verse of this Parable: , (Parable: a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels) 16:19, has the same phrase as 16:1, the opening of last week’s text; “There was a rich man …” The repetition of the phrase, in a Gospel full of references to wealth and its use, suggests engagement with this figure, the rich man, is important to understand what it is saying to us and how we live.
This text follows the parables in Chapter 15 The son who wastes his father’s possessions (last week 15:11-32), the dishonest steward who wastes his masters’ possessions, and now the rich man (Dressed in purple and fine linen) who wastes his own possessions. This is also coming on the heels of the Pharisees being described as lovers of money who scoffed/turned up their noses when they heard Jesus’ teaching about money (Luke 16:14-15)
I will note: The parable we read today is not about what happens after we die, and to apply this story to that question is to miss the point entirely.
Jesus was and is today, addressing how we live in this life and, in particular, how we use our wealth and treat others.
There are two surprising features of this story that drive the point home.
The first is that, in a world where it is usually the rich and famous whose names are known, Jesus names the poor beggar and leaves the wealthy man nameless.
This is an indication of where God’s primary concern lies.
The second point to note is how, even in death, the rich man’s attitude remained unchanged.
He still expected Lazarus to serve him by bringing him water, and for his family to receive special treatment by having someone return from the dead to speak to them.
The sense of entitlement, self-importance, and self-centredness that is often a by-product of wealth is clearly demonstrated here.
Notice that the parable does not blame the rich man for his wealth as such.
The blame lies in that he denied Lazarus even the scraps from his table.
The excess that he would not use and did not care about was kept from someone whose life would have been changed by it.
This lack of compassion and kindness is shocking. No matter how much or how little we may possess, we have no excuse for withholding compassion from another person.
So where is the Good News here? The idea of “it’s all up to us” doesn’t sound like the Gospel.
There is the focus on the authority and power that are given to each of us, if not in equal measure. The parable serves to refocus the hearer on what we do with what we have, how our gifts and abilities serve our neighbours.
Righteousness is not determined by wealth, type of employment, gender, immigration status, or body type. Goodness is borne out in deeds.
The answers to these questions, both then and now, are likely messy.
There are some needs that can be met, and others that cannot.
There are things we can and things we cannot control.
Regardless, alleviating the suffering of our neighbours is a clear calling for those who wish to follow Jesus.
Our responsibilities to one another in this life are real. Fear may not be a good motivator.
But compassion, time/talents, stewardship, and gratitude can be.
Everything to be done has already been done. We have been given all we need.
How can you grow in your capacity for compassion today?
Compassion is about awareness. When we refuse to even notice those who struggle around us, our hearts are unable to respond with generosity and kindness.
But, when we make the effort to notice the needs of others, we are automatically drawn to feel their pain with them. Today seek to be aware of others and to show compassion at every opportunity.
As you have noticed my need and shown me compassion, O God, teach me to show compassion to others