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Break the power of fear

Light for the Way seriesWe invite you to peek inside our weekly Light for the Way devotional series provided for staff.

By Optage Hospice Chaplain Nick Matchefts
 
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted.” —Luke 12:32-33, NIV, 1984
  
Take it from a worrier. It is easy to worry about money. Especially when inflation is squeezing budgets more tightly every day, when staring down a recession, when fuel prices are the way they are. Surely Jesus' words were intended for someone else — someone in a different time and place!
 
Well, yes and no. First-century Palestine was certainly a different time and place. Yes. And it was probably far worse than 21st century United States about many aspects of life, including money. We're not off the hook. But is the hook such a bad one? What does Jesus offer here? 

Luke 12:32-33 presents a major theme in the Gospel of Luke: the spiritual dynamic of one's relationship with resources. Luke challenges his readers on this issue repeatedly. He records Jesus telling the rich ruler: "Sell everything you have and give to the poor.... Then come, follow me” (18:22). He introduces Jesus' parables about handling wealth (e.g., Luke 16, the Parable of the Shrewd Manager). He warns that riches can choke out God's activity in our lives (Luke 8:14, the Parable of the Sower). Taken as a whole, these references to money issue a challenge for those who would follow Jesus. 

In today's verse, Jesus presents possessions as a kind of litmus test for one's trust in the Lord. To what extent does one believe that in Jesus, one has "[been given] the kingdom”? To that extent one will be open-handed with one's possessions. One's trust relationship with God is reflected in one's relationship to money. How does one know when possessions have eclipsed our trust in God? 
  
Fear may be the sign. Note that Jesus begins, “Do not be afraid.” And Jesus follows with the advice to use one's treasure (a temporal asset) to deepen one's trust in God: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be." Sell what you have. Give to the poor.

In a sense, Jesus is saying: Don't allow money to enslave you. Use resources to break the power of fear in your lives. And what happens when we do this? We become vessels of God's providence to others. A double blessing. 
 
"Don't be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." You know what to do.

Chaplain Nick MatcheftsRev. Nick Matchefts serves as a hospice chaplain with Optage Hospice. He is an ordained Baptist pastor. Prior to Optage, Nick served in seminary education (Bethel Seminary), congregational ministry, and a long time ago, the US Air Force. He, his wife Lori and daughter Catelyn live in the Twin Cities and dream about canoeing and star gazing in the lake country of Northern Minnesota.

The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.

Find more in the Light for the Way series:

The pattern of calling
Always there for you
Get to know us: a Christian ministry
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series

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