Fri, 9 November 2018
(Phil.4:10-19; Ps.112:1-2,5-6,8-9; Lk.16:9-15)
“Well for the man who is gracious and lends.”
“Lavishly he gives to the poor; his generosity shall endure forever; his horn shall be exalted in glory.” Such is the man who knows the proper use of this world’s goods, that is, to give them all as “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” This shows that he “fears the Lord,” that his heart is not set on the things of earth but the riches of heaven; and so to these shall he come.
“Make friends for yourselves through your use of this world’s goods,” Jesus instructs His disciples, “so that when they fail” – when the goods of this world have faded into eternity – “a lasting reception will be yours” in the kingdom which does not pass away. Our life on this earth serves indeed as a kind of test. The Lord needs to see if He “can trust [us] in little things,” in the passing things of this passing day; then He will know that He “can also trust [us] in greater,” in the eternal graces of our heavenly homeland. How well shall we prove ourselves?
The Philippians prove their generosity well. The Apostle Paul commends them for their repeated gifts to supply his needs as he preaches the Gospel. Here we see a perfect example of wise use of this world’s goods, of their being given in service of God and man. And because of their generosity, there is “an ever-growing balance in [their] account,” not of silver and gold, but of the “magnificent riches in Christ Jesus.” As they empty themselves of what they have, as they give of their riches on this earth, the Lord gives them all they might desire of the true riches; as Paul says as he assures them he has been “fully paid” by the fruits they have offered: “My God in turn will supply your needs fully.”
“No servant can serve two masters.” We either amass wealth for our own benefit in this world – and toward our own condemnation – or we give what we have for the benefit of God and others. We love God or we love money; there are no two ways. “The Pharisees, who were avaricious men, heard all this and began to deride Him.” Does your heart tend to deride the generosity to which the Lord calls you, as do these? Is there yet mockery upon your tongue and lips against the preaching of the emptiness of this world’s possessions? Do you also “justify yourselves in the eyes of men”? Know indeed that “God reads your hearts” and “what man thinks important, God holds in contempt.” And if you would have it go well with you in the heavenly kingdom, you must practice the abounding generosity that is the heart of that kingdom (shown in our Lord’s limitless mercy upon our souls), here with what is at your hands.
O LORD, take all that we have, all that we own,
for your use and that of your Church.
YHWH, let our hearts not be set on the wealth of this earth but let us rather use the goods at our hands to serve your kingdom. A fragrant offering let us make to you of our wealth and of ourselves that we might be acceptable in your sight.
How shall we come to your kingdom, LORD, if we cling to this earth and its goods? How shall we share in your glory if our hearts are not generous as your own? We cannot be blessed if we are not a blessing to others, and your everlasting wealth, your eternal graces, we shall not find if we grasp at the possessions at our hands. We must indeed give generously of the things you provide here, and we will have the love that lasts forever.
Your love let us know even now, O LORD; your joy let us take in providing for the poor, in supporting your workers in the vineyard. And you will lavishly bless us when the last day comes.