Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Giving Thanks in Uncertain Times

From Messiah Lutheran Church's November 2011 newsletter

These are uncertain economic times. The Tea Party movement decries our enormous national debt. The Occupy Wall Street movement protests corporate greed. Taxes are high. Wages are low. Jobs have been lost. Social Security seems like it is on the rocks. Will our economy continue to sputter or will it recover?

If all continues as it currently is, it appears that there may be more financial hardships ahead for many people … maybe for you. Of course, whatever is ahead of us certainly does not compare to what many people face around the globe. Just this morning I was looking at the pink tiles in our shower, thinking how much I hated the color. Then I stopped and realized how foolish that was. There are multitudes who have no running water in their homes, no potable water, and no hot water heaters to give a comforting, soothing, steaming cleansing such as I was receiving inside my pink-tiled shower.

With all the chatter about the evils of corporate greed, you and I ought to take a serious look at the greed in our own hearts. Our own insatiable desire for more, better, newer things causes us to be discontent and ungrateful for the blessings we have already received in our lives.

In his first letter to St. Timothy, St. Paul wrote,
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1Timothy 6:6-10)
Moreoever, Paul equates covetousness with idolatry in Colossians 3:5 and says that it deserves the wrath of God. It is spiritually dangerous to one’s faith and eternal destiny to be greedy and covetousness. Therefore, we must all repent and turn to Jesus who forgives even these sins which to some are virtues and not vices. He is the One who became poor for us so that we might become rich … rich not with material blessings, but with the blessings of life, forgiveness, and salvation through his suffering, death, and resurrection (2 Cor. 8:9). And when he does pour material and financial blessings into our laps, then we are called to assist those who are suffering due to financial hardship. For example, Paul commends the saints of Macedonia and Achaia for helping their fellow believers who were suffering in Jerusalem and says, “For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.” (Rom. 15:27) Likewise, you can also share material blessings with those with whom you share spiritual blessings … not to mention sharing with those who are outside our Christian fellowship, doing acts of mercy for them because Christ has been merciful to us.

None of knows for sure what’s going to happen with the economy. Other than the opportunity to vote, things often seem to be out of our hands. Whatever lies ahead – whether good times or bad times – may it lead us to turn to the Lord. May it lead us to repent of our own sins of greed and covetousness and turn to the Lord who gives us the riches of heaven. May it lead us to give thanks in all circumstances and to be content with what God has given us, even in uncertain, leaner times.

We have much for which to give thanks.

Yes, even for pink-tiled showers.

In Christ’s service and yours,
Pastor Onken

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