Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
In Matthew 6:24 & 33-34 we read:
“No one 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. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today." (NRSV)
In this reading from Matthew, Jesus tells us that we will serve something, it is either God or someone/something else that is not God. What is it that I serve in my life? If we take a simple inventory of where our resources go, that may give us some idea of who or what we serve. We can all ask ourselves, “Where do I spend my time, my talent, and my money?”
Where do I spend my time? For me, it is normally in the yard and in my garden. Now this is a great hobby and I truly enjoy my garden time. But, if my desire is to have the best landscaping on the block, a real showplace of a yard, neglecting all else including my family and my time with God, then my garden is my false god. My free time is also spent watching TV or reading, which often becomes all-consuming for many of us while we neglect our time with God and others.
The same can be said about my work (let’s not mix up church work with God-time, for they are not always the same). I can even make a false god of my family as Jesus points out in Matthew 10:37: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." How often have I missed worship because of my child’s soccer or some other sport or event? Even our "family values" can become a distraction from the love of God.
Where do I spend my money? As I look around my office, I see bookshelves filled with books. Would it have been better if I didn’t buy all those books but borrowed some of them and use those funds to serve others? How about all the electronic equipment that I have at home? Do I need to update my computer, TV, or kitchen? How about all those old “obsolete” gadgets that were so bright and shiny, but now I see them as just more trash for the already overflowing U.S. landfills. Globally, the 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures — the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%. Our unchecked consumerism has taken over many of our lives. Has my desire for newer, faster, shinier become my god?
Whatever we hold vital in keeping our lives intact may be pulled away at a moment's notice. This time of year, my garden is gone. All the stuff that I surround myself with is all subject to decay and someday will be gone. My employment and my work in the church will someday come to an end and eventually be forgotten. Even those in our family will be gone and someday be forgotten, leaving only a name on a stone. We cannot be assured by things of this world; our time, talent, and treasure, will be gone someday.
But, God’s love and grace are eternal. God's compassion for us is like that of a nursing mother toward her infant, (Isaiah 49:15) calling us to the reign of God where we receive faith and love. In this reign of God, we are freed from worry over that which is not permanent. We are freed to care for the other and to reach out and give what God has first given us so that others may also have and ministry continues.
Let us pray: Loving God, thank you for freeing us by your grace. By this same grace empower us to serve others in your name. Use us as your hands in the world. Through your Holy Spirit guide us in living under your reign, loving you and loving others. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen
In Christ's love,