‘Blessed are the poor, …. woe to the rich’. (Lk 6: 20-26).
Poverty and riches are very much in the news at the moment and are clearly as much an issue for us today, as they were for Luke’s first hearers. Here in an affluent part of an affluent country; far too many struggle to furnish themselves with the basics.
Centuries before Luke, Jeremiah, remembered more as the original ‘doom and gloom’ merchant, had this to say; Blessed are those who trust in the Lord while cursed are those who trust in mere mortals, make mere flesh their strength, turn away from the Lord. (Jer 17:5, 7) Echoes here, surely, of Jesus’ words recorded by Luke, Blessed are you when you are excluded on account of the Son of Man. It seems that our attitude to material things reveals our attitude also to spiritual.
Simple though it sounds, Luke is more subtle than to simply praise poverty and damn wealth. The question posed both by Jeremiah and Luke’s account of Jesus’ teaching is ‘where do we place our trust?’ This is a recurring theme for Luke. Think of Mary’s words in the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), and the parable of the farmer who, faced with a bumper crop, built a new barn and retired; only to die before he could enjoy his wealth. (Luke 12:16-21). So it is with those who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich toward God. (Lk 12:21) and the oft quoted For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Lk 12:34).
However, before we give all our money away and apply for heaven, remember Paul’s warning If I give away all my possessions, … that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:3); beware spiritual pride.
Who do we trust? Are our riches truly ours, to do with as we please, or gifts of God; given to enjoy certainly, but to enjoy in his service; not to hoard for our own security.
Rev Philip Payne Notice Sheet for13th February 2022 can be found here