Matthew 25:22,23: The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
Jesus is telling a story here about people who were given money for which they were responsible. Two traded with the money (like the person mentioned above) and one just hid it to keep it safe. One of the interesting things about this story is the reward that the trading servants received- more responsibility. We would rather have a vacation or a party, and those can be great things. But Jesus says these folks were given the opportunity to be a bigger part of the action. Athletes understand this. They want to carry the ball more or be up to bat with the winning run on base or take the winning shot with time running out. Artists understand this. They want their success to lead to new opportunities for creativity. According to Jesus, life with God is like that. Finding joy in what God is doing and seeking to be faithful to the role we’ve been given. Even with setbacks and challenges living this way is full and rich. Too many people live their lives each day wishing they were somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else. I’ve been there and done that myself. It’s not a great way to live. This week look at your life from the perspective of what God is doing in you and those around you. See if there isn’t some goodness in living this way that you’ll want to be a bigger part of!
Matthew 18:12: “If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one?”
Another sheep story. It may be hard for us to relate to shepherds in this day and age but the massage is clear. There are things we love so dearly that we would risk the safety and comfort of the rest of our lives in order to pursue their welfare. If you have children this is a no-brainer. Parents regularly set aside the maintenance of daily life to tend to the problems and pains of a child in need. There are two implications here. First, God loves and seeks us out in this way while we are lost and wandering away from God. Even when the world feels like a cold and heartless place, God is calling us into God’s care. The second implication is that God is doing the same thing for those around us. God’s heart goes out to them no matter what our assessment of them may be. In fact, we even get to be junior shepherds, God’s agents to show the way back to the flock. Where are you this week? Do you need to listen for the voice of love calling you back? Do you need to be the voice of love for someone else? As the Psalm says, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Matthew 12:11,12: Jesus replied, “Is there a person here who, finding one of your lambs fallen into a ravine, wouldn’t, even though it was a Sabbath, pull it out? Surely kindness to people is as legal as kindness to animals!” Then he said to the man, “hold out you hand.” He held it out and it was healed. (The Message Version)
There is an old story about a person that went to a hotel needing a room for the night only to be told there were no rooms available. Being really tired and not wishing to look further the person asked, “You mean to tell me if the President was coming here tonight you would have a room for him?” Thinking the person might be an advance worker for the President the clerk replied, “Why certainly, for the President we would find a room.” Triumphantly the customer responded, “Well, I’ve got news for you. The President’s not coming tonight so give me his room.” The point is that we find a way when we want to badly enough. That’s the point Jesus was making to the people in this passage. They were on his case about healing on the Sabbath. His point was that you don’t use rules as an excuse for not doing good or not caring for people. We make excuses in our lives all the time and certainly we can’t do everything. But maybe we look for excuses at times because we just don’t want to do the right thing. I think most of us know what God wants from us in most situations but we might not want to develop the habit of looking at life from God’s perspective. Yet when we feel the need for God we somehow find the time and the way to try and get God’s attention. It is possible to make those times more the norm than the exception. That is, if we don’t simply make excuses. Maybe this week you can get one of your lambs out a ravine.