Daily Reading & Meditation

  Wednesday (October 22): "Who is the faithful and wise steward?"

Scripture:  Luke 12:39-48

39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour." 41 Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" 42 And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and  drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.

Meditation: What lesson can we draw from Jesus' parable about a thief in the night and the parable about the master of the household who surprises his stewards with an unexpected visit? Both parables confront us with the possibility of losing everything we presently own and treasure and losing our the future inheritance as well. 

The thief in the night
Jesus' story (parable) of the thief in the night brings home the necessity for constant watchfulness and being on guard to avert the danger of plunder and destruction, especially under the cover of darkness and secrecy! While no thief would announce his intention in advance, nor the time when he would strike, lack of vigilance would nonetheless invite disaster for those who are unprepared to keep their treasure and their lives secure at all times! The intruder strikes when he is least expected!

What treasure does the Lord expect us to vigilantly guard in this present life? It is the treasure of the gifts he has won for us - the gift of salvation purchased by his blood on the cross which has ransomed us from slavery to sin, Satan,and death - and the gift of his Holy Spirit who works in and through us to make us a a new creation refashioned in the image of God. The Father and the Son through the gift of the Holy Spirit come to make their home with us. But we can ignore their presence, close our ears to their voice, or reject them through pride and unfaithfulness.

Satan comes like a thief in the night to rob us of our faith and to draw us away from God. He works with the world (that society which is opposed to God) and with our flesh (our sinful inclinations) to make us believe that we can find treasure and happiness apart from God and his will for our lives.

And we can deceive ourselves by putting off for tomorrow what must be done today. God offers us grace today to turn away from sin and rebellion. We must not presume that we can wait another day. The day of the Lord - when he returns again at the end of this present world - will come like a thief. We need to be spiritually alert and watchful at all times. The Lord comes to us - each and every day - to draw us to himself and to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love.

The faithful and wise servant
Jesus ends his teaching on watchfulness and vigilance with another parable about a master and his servants (Matthew 24:.45-49). The storyline is similar. There is an element of surprise - the master suddenly returns home unexpectedly, probably from a long journey. He rewards one servant for his faithfulness to his master. He has performed his service dutifully and has done all that the master required of him. 

He punishes the other servant who behaved wickedly. This servant was not only irresponsible - he was frequently absent from work and spent his master's money by partying (eating and drinking) a lot with his friends. The wicked servant also abused his fellow workers with physical force and violence - probably to make them do the work he was supposed to do for his master. The master not only throws him out of his house (he fires him from his job!). He also throws him into the worst possible place - a prison of no return where there is nothing but torment and misery. Should we be surprised to see the master acting with such swift judgment? He rewards faithfulness with honor, blessing, and promotion, and he punishes unfaithfulness due to laziness and abuse with demotion, dishonor, and imprisonment.

The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God's way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord's warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory.  God's judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

"Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart for you. Make it strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory.  Keep me ever watchful for the coming of your kingdom."

Psalm 124:1-8

1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, let Israel now say --
2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6 Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us  as prey to their teeth!
7 We have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;  the snare is broken, and we have escaped!
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: God's great promise for faithful and wise servants, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

"'Blessed is the servant whom the Lord will find so doing when he comes. A great promise is extended to the Lord's faithful and wise stewards. It is like the promise he made to those to whom he said, 'Take authority over five cities' or 'take authority over ten cities' (Luke 19:17-19). For to be made the head 'over all his possessions' is nothing other than to be made an 'heir of God and coheir with Christ' (Romans 8:17) and to reign with Christ. The Father has given him everything he himself possesses, as Christ said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me' (Matthew 28:18). The Son of the good Father who is given authority over all his Father's possessions also shares this honor and glory with his faithful and wise stewards, so they also might be with Christ above every creature and authority. This is what he meant when he said, 'Truly I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.'"  (excerpt from the COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 62)


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author Don Schwager 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
 

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