Lectionary Readings for Sept. 1. Ps. 112, Proverbs 25:6-7, Hebrews 13: 1-8, 15-16, Luke 14: 1, 7-14
There's a problem in Psalm 112. Verse 3 says; "Wealth and riches are in their houses..." It sounds like prosperity gospel teaching that says if you are good then you will be rich.
Ick. Bleah. I need to read further to get a fuller picture of what's going on here.
There are so many faithful people who are poor that it's quite astounding to me that anyone would read a verse like this and feel justified or condemned based on their financial state. (My own experience, in the encounters I've had with poor people, has shown that the poor often have faith that dwarfs mine. They know how to rely on God for everything!)
The "problem" tends to fade into the background when the whole text, and all today's readings, are taken into account. The psalm goes on to define the righteous as those who are gracious and merciful. They share generously and justly. They give to the poor. These verses "dwarf" the idea that the "good" are wealthy.
The Hebrews reading goes on to list more characteristics that should be found in the Christian community, and again, sharing, caring, and justice feature prominently. Verse 5 urges that lives be "kept free from the love of money".
Luke urges the faithful to be generous too, and specifically generous to those who cannot reciprocate. Verse 14 says; "you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Wow. Riches are important in all these passages, but only when they are generously shared in ways that lift up those who cannot help themselves. I'm struck again and again, when reading almost anywhere in the Bible, that it constantly talks about dealing justly with our wealth. When we in the church argue over all sorts of other issues (important as they might be) I can't help but suspect we are spending time on specks and ignoring logs.
Yesterday I bought shoes and clothes for our growing (very fast) boys to go back to school. Today we have to pay (upfront for the year!) for bus passes for them. It's very expensive. We can manage, but many cannot. Maybe this is a direct call from the scriptures to me. I'm lucky enough to be able to pay, I think I should help someone else who can't.
Where do you feel called to give generously where you cannot be paid back?