God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28 - Luke 16-17:10: God's Crafty, Forgiving People

Today’s Reading: Luke 16-17:10

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Jesus wanted His Chosen People to be as crafty as evil people—but for the opposite purposes.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus presented a parable of a manager cheating his employer to bank favors. Jesus summarized, "Be similarly crafty for setting things right."
Liars always cheat, regardless of responsibility.
Jesus told the Pharisees, "God's Law never loses Authority. He sees through your legal loopholes."
Jesus told a parable about a rich man punished at death. He wanted someone to warn his family; however, since they would not listen, no one was sent.
Jesus told His Disciples, "Forgive liberally during trials."
The Disciples cried for more faith. Jesus countered, "There is no such thing as 'more' faith. Do your job with humility."

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Jesus wanted His Disciples to be crafty about setting things right.

The story of the dishonest manager is strange. He praises a dishonest person in order to show the reason for his dishonesty. Then He tells His Disciples they should also be crafty. The difference, obviously, is that He wants them to be crafty in setting things right. Exploit loopholes in the law—to set things right. Challenge cultural norms—to set things right. Do favors for others so they need to do favors for you—to set things right. God's Chosen People should not be naïve when it comes to ways of exploiting the system to get God's Way. Find ways around existing barriers to set things right.

Honesty does not pop up when a person has more responsibility.

We all have some form of this in our lives: that part of us that we vow to fix when we need to use it. Jesus tells His Disciples they should be honest in everything, big or small. Honesty in small acts may translate to honesty in large acts. Dishonesty in small acts means dishonesty in large acts. If you find yourself being dishonest about something small, remember you may not be given more responsibility until you develop integrity in small things. Having more responsibility does not fix any part of our lives.
I remember a congregation that I worked for who had a member that only came once in a while to worship with us and when he left the building he also left his faith. One of the men thought if we gave him more responsibility he would shape up and be more involved. Needless to say, it didn't work.

The Pharisees wanted to be exonerated of their sins by technicality.

The Pharisees loved money. They wanted to keep their lifestyles intact. Part of having money was the ability to find a new wife when they were finished with their current one. So they found a loophole in the Law and exploited it to legitimize their lust and adultery. This is the exact opposite of what Jesus meant when He told His Disciples to be crafty in setting things right. Jesus had to tell them their actions were not acceptable because God knew their divorces were selfish attempts to get around God's Law. God sees through our pretenses and actions to know our heart's intentions for everything we do.

God's Law would never go away.

The Law of Moses has often been considered antiquated or "abolished". Earlier we read how God's Message stays the same—God wants rivers of mercy and oceans of justice. When we began the laws portion of the Pentateuch, I mentioned that when the laws were read as a whole they retained respectability. In our reading today Jesus added that the focus of the Law may have changed from sacrifice and prophets, but "The sky will disintegrate and the earth dissolve / before a single letter of God’s Law wears out" (16:17, The Message). Although we may not be under the literal demands of the Law of Moses, it is still relevant for today.

Abraham understood the rich man's family would not listen to Lazarus any more than Moses or the Prophets.

The rich man wanted Lazarus, a poor invalid who lived on the rich man's steps, to return and warn his family of their fate should they continue going down the same path. This could be considered the ultimate compliment for Lazarus and the ultimate humiliation for the rich man. Abraham, on the other hand, would not allow it. The reason he gave is chilling—they would not have listened. You may wonder why he would suggest such a thing, but he knew that people who have no trust in God and desire a sign will not believe that sign. Moses doubted himself, not God. Gideon also doubted himself. Signs are not meant to stop a person from doubting God. They are meant to show God's Authority resides in the person giving or receiving the sign, depending on the situation. God has provided sufficient witnesses for the world to trust Him. They do not need personal signs.

Forgiveness is the way to hold the bond between friends.

Today is the second time this thought has surfaced. In the first, Jesus told Peter to forgive in excess of 70 x 7 times. Today's reading urges His Disciples to forgive each other as often as needed. This is meant to keep the peace between Chosen People so they can endure their trials.

There is no such thing as "more" faith.

There is only "trust" and "mistrust". You either trust God to set things right or you don't. Either you are willing to obey His Way or you aren't. Either you are His Servant or you are not. Do not ask God to increase your faith. Trust God and your bond will grow.

How crafty are you in setting things right?

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