Bob Dylan sang it: “You gotta serve somebody.” He was partly quoting Jesus:
“No servant can serve two masters; for a servant 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."
I’ve said before that the realm of God is a “both/and” kind of place, not “either/or.” Why can’t we serve God and wealth? I know an awful lot of people who are trying like crazy – including me and the institutional church structure of which I am a part. Where’s the Good News for us?
Jesus tells this story about a dishonest employee who gets caught, lands on his feet and earns commendation instead of condemnation. He suggests that the “children of light” are to look for eternal returns, not play the world’s games. And then we get the wrap-up:
Is he talking to the temple leadership, raking in fees from the bloody business of animal sacrifice? Is he talking to the Pharisees, focused on minutia of the Law instead of its heart? Is he talking to religious leaders who turn a blind eye on dishonest business practices, such as the prophet Amos decried: “…you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land…,” who “make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances?”
Is he talking to us? Can we enjoy our wealth without serving it? Share it without letting it run us? See it as God’s gift entrusted to us to nurture and grow, not as ours to keep and hoard? The tradition of the tithe suggests we enjoy 90 percent of what comes our way, and return 10 percent to support the mission of God in the world and in our communities. 90 percent – that’s a pretty good return!
In what gifts and areas do you feel you are being faithful with what God has entrusted to you?
Give thanks for that freedom! Would you like God to give you more of any of that to nurture? Ask!
What things in your life might you be holding too tightly, too anxious to trust?
You might even visualize holding those things/people/assets in your open palm, putting them in a beautiful box without a lid, and handing them to Jesus. He's not going to take them away from you. He’s going to join you in the tending and nurturing of what you hold precious, as you allow him - just as he tends and nurtures you, precious as you are to him.
We worship a God who wants to fill our lives with blessings. We need open hands to receive those gifts. We need open minds to imagine the grace that commends us, even when our performance isn’t so good. We need open hearts to love even a fraction as much as we are loved. That’s the wealth that is God – we can serve that whole-heartedly.