Aug17MonAugust 17, 2020
Good morning Church,
We are home! We had a wonderful holiday - lots of sunshine, fishing, family, food, and relaxing. God is good! Northern Ontario is beautiful with all of its lakes, sunsets, wildlife, and relaxed lifestyle.... We are so grateful to God for the opportunity to get away! Sioux Lookout is a small town of about 5,000 people. My in-laws know most of them through their work and church relationships. Their is something different in a small town, where everyone knows each other; they live much more in community, in closer relationships. One grocery store, only one or two restaurants, two gas stations, etc. People are constantly dropping in to see my in-laws, who are very giving people. My brother-in-law can fix anything...literally. Guys constantly come to him for repairs on cars, machinery, boats, house and the like. My sister-in-law is very loving and generous with her time, caring for and ministering to people in various ways. This is community - life in relationship with one another.
The setting for today's reading is probably similar to a small town like Sioux Lookout. A rich man loans various resources to people, and has someone manage all of these transactions - a steward. This steward was not honest, wasting the rich man's wealth. The steward was exposed and about to be fired, so he devised a plan to help himself when he is unemployed: win the favor of people he deals with, so that they will take care of him when he is jobless. His plan was to reduce the debt of the borrowers, which when studying more about this passage, was just to cut the exorbitant lending charges the rich man had imposed on the people. The debtors would appreciate the steward's generosity and supply his needs when he is jobless. The master is impressed with the steward's shrewdness (wise tactics).
Jesus' message is: "Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. (16:9 MSG)) Being generous does not get you into heaven, but a generous heart is a heart like God, and demonstrates a transformed heart. The lesson to the disciples is: don't be greedy, be giving like the wise steward (16:8-9). Be faithful with what God has given you financially and materially, so that you will know how to handle true riches (16:10-11). There is also an admonition on the issue of debt (vs. 12). Be faithful with all that God has given us, even loans. Don't squander finances. We cannot allow ourselves to be in a position where money controls us and becomes the god we serve (v.13).
My in-laws in Sioux Lookout are very generous followers of Jesus. Their possessions and wealth are freely given to others in need. Their home is available for all to use. This small town mentality of looking after your neighbor is one we see in the Bible often. It is commanded in the Law of Moses, and taught by Jesus to the new Kingdom community. It is what is practiced by the Church in the book of Acts and beyond (see Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:32-37). Greed is a mortal sin (Acts 5:1-10). Friends, let us be generous like God.
"Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life." (1Timothy 6:17-19 NLT)
Have a great week!