10 November. Saturday of Week Thirty One
Ph 4:10ff. Thank you for sending a gift to me in prison.
Lk 16:9ff. Maxims about ownership and the service of God.
If yesterday Jesus reproached idle disciples for not showing enterprising initiative, today Paul commends his active co-workers in the service of the gospel and stresses how he himself can cope in all circumstances, whether eating well or going hungry. The gospel, again, clearly tells us to make good use of this world’s goods. How conscious are we of the needs of people who share this world with us?
In his prison cell, Paul has adapted to his environment and even makes a virtue out of necessity. “I know what it is to have plenty and how to go hungry.” In effect, he says, “I know how to eat well when I have the good fortune to do so.” Most of us might cringe at admitting this so publicly; sometimes we also hesitate to acknowledge how others have helped us. Paul shows healthy spontaneity in thanking his “dear Philippians,” for their gifts. These did more than make life more pleasant in his prison cell; they comforted him at a time when no other local church sent anything to supply his needs.
We should accept our dependency on others while knowing how to maintain our dignity and self-respect. Paul advises us to share our own selves, our time, our insights, our ability and our sympathetic listening. Long before Karl Mark, he valued the principle, “To each according to their need; from each according to their ability.”
The gospel says unambiguously that we are to make charitable use of whatever we have and not be slaves of money. If we are faithful in such small matters, we can be trusted in greater things. And in financial matters, very often what humans think important, God holds in contempt.
I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Gospel: Luke 16:9-15
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave 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.”
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your heats; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.