It is a great joy to me, in the Lord, that at last you have shown some concern for me again; though of course you were concerned before, and only lacked an opportunity. I am not talking about shortage of money: I have learnt to manage on whatever I have, I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In the early days of the Good News, as you people of Philippi well know, when I left Macedonia, no other church helped me with gifts of money. You were the only ones; and twice since my stay in Thessalonika you have sent me what I needed. It is not your gift that I value; what is valuable to me is the interest that is mounting up in your account. Now for the time being I have everything that I need and more: I am fully provided now that I have received from Epaphroditus the offering that you sent, a sweet fragrance – the sacrifice that God accepts and finds pleasing. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him. He said to them, ‘You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.’
‘And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?’
I used to report to multiple bosses whose instructions were sometimes conflicting with one another. It was really complicated and confusing because we could move forward unless they were all in agreement. One boss wants to change this part. Another boss wants to alter another part. Then there is another, who wants change to the same part with a different content. Well, it was an adventure.
I definitely agree with “No servant can be the slave of two masters.” Well, in my case, I experienced more than two masters. Similar with our spiritual life, we can only serve our one and only God.
“You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.” This line reminds us that our love for God and money should not be the same. We know in our hearts that we must always put God first. However, we tend to do otherwise sometimes because of our job demands. There can be instances that we neglect our Sabbath because we have other things to do like work and stuff. But it does not mean that we should be lazy. The analogy is that we work in order to earn more so we can serve the Lord more. Our material wealth will just be supplementary to our spiritual life.
When we give more priority to money, it is a way of isolating ourselves from God. It makes us more vulnerable to sin and thus wanting more material things. This expanded desire for earthly things pushes us to be greedy and causes us to do anything for the sake of money. Who does not want money? I agree that it is a necessity to live. But physical need is not the only thing that we need to fill. We also have this spiritual need. And we must fill this need even more.
“If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?” Money, in itself, is not bad. But things we do for the sake of money like stealing, cheating, corruption, etc…, is not good. With money, we can have companions and not friends. True friends stay even though we have nothing anymore. Those true friends trust us and we trust them.
We must prepare our life to receive those genuine riches. It is our eternal life. Our eternal gift from God. Little by little we can do simple things. Simple things like refraining from telling small lies. Those small lies are dangerous because there may come a time that we will think that it is the truth. Let us be sincere with what we can do and not promise anything unrealistic.
We can never know other people’s story. Hard as it is, let us pray to God to trust and be trusted. A simple step of honesty goes a long way.
(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)
Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, please help us be honest with ourselves, with others, and with You. Teach our hearts to be always sincere and faithful.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for Your love and mercy. That as sinful as we are, you still love and forgive us.