Today’s readings present to us a very straight forward question. “Who do you trust?” American currency bears the phrase, “In God We Trust.” There is irony in the placement of this motto on our coins and bills. It seems that the meaning of the motto has faded as more and more people trust in the currency rather than the Creator. They are more apt to rely on their money than on their Maker.
Jeremiah and Jesus present strong cases for following the teaching of Proverbs 3:5-6 which implores us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
We all need to grapple with this question. Read on…
Read Jeremiah 17:5-10 – Who do you Trust?
God wastes no time getting to the point. Any one who places his or her trust in humanity, or relies upon their own strength, or depends on any other source but the Lord, that person receives God’s curse. Those in the covenant with God would be blessed if they obeyed God’s Word. However, turning away from God results in a curse. In other words, God’s judgment would fall on those who came to rely upon themselves or the things of the world rather than relying on God and His provision.
Paul speaks of this kind of perversion in Romans 1:21-25. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Jeremiah says that those who place their trust in the things of creation rather than the Creator are like a barren bush in the desert. They do not experience the refreshment of the spring rains, or summer’s fertile season of growth. They do not bear a harvest in the fall, or return to restful dormancy in winter. Instead, this withered weed is planted in a volcanic stream, and dries up in a desert of salty death.
Conversely, blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. He is like a fruitful tree planted near a river which provides a constant source of life giving water. His root system drinks deeply from the ever flowing supply of the life giving stream. Even when the heat comes, it remains verdant and green. Even when the drought comes, this tree produces fruit.
The human heart, the seat of the will, is not dependable. It will lead us to trust in things of man. It will direct us to rely on our own ingenuity and intelligence? It will convince us to have confidence in accruing money and possessions? Our hearts will even trick us into thinking that there is salvation in man-made art, aesthetic beauty and the works of our head and hands. In the end, God will test our hearts and He will reward us according to our ways and the merits of our deeds.
Simply put – trust yourself or the things of creation – you should be warned! Trust God – you have blessed assurance! Read on…
Read Luke 16:19-31 – Where will you Go?
In speaking to the religious elite, the Pharisees, Jesus offers an illustrative story. In this amazing narrative, was a rich man who lived a lavish lifestyle. He dressed the part and he ate sumptuously. Lying at the door of the rich man was a very poor and horribly sick man named Lazarus. He was in detestable shape. Lazarus skin was covered with sores. His only comfort was when a scrap of food might fall off the rich man’s table. Or, when the dogs would come and lick his wounds. There could not have been a more stark contrast between the gaudy man of means, and the humble man of deprivation and disease.
When the poor man perished, he was raised up on the wings of angels to reside in the bosom of Abraham. When the rich man died, and was buried, he was ushered into the “netherworld” – the place of the condemned.
Before we move on in the story, consider two things. First, the poor man was sitting in close proximity to the rich man. Not only was the opulent man oblivious to Lazarus hunger, he didn’t offer any medical attention to help heal his hurts. Selfishness and self-reliance had hardened his heart to the plight of the poor lying at his gate. Second, when Lazarus died, there is not mention of his burial. Even though he didn’t help Lazarus in life, surely he could have offered him a proper burial. Apparently, not even this most basic human dignity was afforded Lazarus. The rich man was all about himself. He trusted himself. He fed himself. He loved himself. He lived for himself.
Jesus addressed the condemnation of those like the rich man in Matthew 25:41-46. “‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and …you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
From his place of torment, the rich man saw Lazarus and Abraham across the great divide that separated them. He so wanted relief from the anguish he was experiencing. Even a drop of water on his tongue would have provided relief. How ironic that Lazarus survived on the occasional scrap that fell from the rich man’s table. Now, the tables have been turned. Abraham reminds the rich man that he received his reward on earth. He experienced a “heaven” of his own making while relegating Lazarus to a living hell. Now, their positions are reversed. Lazarus would be comforted in the bosom of Abraham while the rich man languished in his spiritual and poverty. From the depths, the tormented man cried out that his brothers be warned of this curse. Abraham responded that they have the Scriptures – Moses and the Prophets – to teach them. The accursed man pleaded that someone from the dead must arise and go warn them. Abraham said, “If they will not listen to the Scriptures – the Word of God – they will never be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”
The self-reliant, self-trusting folks, who look to the creation and what it has to offer as their salvation, have no need of the Scriptures. They have no need of a resurrected Savior. No, they have themselves and their opinions. They have their own discoveries. Even if Jesus were to die and rise again, it would not be enough for some. It all comes down to the question we posed at the beginning. “Who do you trust? “Jesus said, ‘For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?'” (Mark 8:36)? As the rich man discovered so tragically, who we trust determines where we go when we die!
As we make our way along the Pathway to the Passion, I pray that with each step, our trust in God is growing. We really have nothing else that will last. All we have is His provision for us – a cross, a tomb and a resurrection. In God we trust.