God’s economy presented here to the Israelites seems to be very generous. If you are in debt to another, that debt is cancelled every seven years. From the reading, it appears the cycle is the same for everyone (except foreigners). On a given day, all debts with other Israelites are forgiven and life goes on. Can you imagine doing business like that?
God’s promised blessing was for those who obeyed. Who wouldn’t want to obey God to have their debts forgiven every seven years? I realize I’m writing these words in a time when the economy has taken a big hit from a pandemic. Many are wondering how they are going to make their mortgage payments and car payments. They are watching their credit card debt skyrocket. Oh, to have a year of release coming up would be like answered prayer! Some communities around the world are doing something to lessen the financial blow by not expecting payments for rent or other debts, no interest or penalty charges to be applied, and so forth. That will be a huge relief to many.
When we think of sin, greed is one of those that comes to mind for me. What keeps people separated from God? Their desire and preoccupation with money and wealth. How we view money and the acquisition of the same speaks volumes. Some people are so focused on that that they lose sight of God and what God wants for us. Our infatuation with money can be sinful when it keeps us from a relationship with God.
Money can also be a great asset used to do great things. It
can be used for ministry, for feeding the poor, for leaving a legacy. When we
use our wealth to further the kingdom, our priorities are in the right place.
We are no longer greedy wanting the money only for our own selfish desires. God
will bless that. It again comes down to the heart. What is our motivation? How
will God be honored?
Where do you find your security? Is it in your wealth? Are you driven to succeed only to have more money in the bank? Do you cut every corner imaginable just so you can make ends meet? Jesus is talking about our relationship to money, our need for money, and how we should view money. You may have seen before how this passage can be misinterpreted leading people to a wrong understanding.
Again, Jesus wants us to be relying on our Heavenly Father and focusing on building that relationship. When we distract ourselves with money, having more of it that is, we are keeping ourselves from having more of God. Again, the attitude of our heart is what God is watching.
We have arrived in another section of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. We have been focusing on how we should relate to other people, and this section will focus more our on our relationship with God. We know that when asked Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. Second to that is to love our neighbor. We must never forget what’s most important – to love God.
Jesus starts with a discussion on giving. This assumes that the hearers are already giving. It’s not a recipe for how much to give here, but the way we give. Jesus warns us to be careful and not be like the hypocrites. Apparently, when they give, they do so to be seen and get recognition for what they are giving. Their satisfaction must come not in the act of giving, but in the act of being seen as generous.
I hope we all know the most important thing is to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Beyond that, this passage reminds us of others who should receive our affection as well. As our author closes this letter, he wants to remind us all of what should be obvious but often forgotten.
Love one another. That can sometimes be hard. Especially loving those who are hard to love. We all had someone come to mind just now. Maybe it’s the crotchety neighbor or the busybody at church or the obnoxious, loud-mouth co-worker. We are brothers and sisters after all, and we should love each other as family. Love as Jesus loves. Continue reading “Hebrews 13:1-5 – Be a Better Lover”