Contractual . . .

Hosea 13:4-6

“Yet I have been the LORD your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.”

I read, ‘ . . . And being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.” And I think that Christians need to remember those words. Not because we need to tell others about the words of warning God spoke, but because Christians need to warn each other. God makes a promise and we all know he’ll keep it. We certainly balk if we feel he hasn’t or won’t; yet how easily we forget that long ago we agreed to uphold our part of a binding contract.

We are a government, people, society, even world of contracts. Paper work to verify other paper work to ensure promise of words written and said in processes of purchases, acquisitions, and agreements of all kinds. And we have laws that force any who would dare usurp such paperwork as this.

How hypocritical we all are. Christians descended of Jews who are descended of Abraham, Father of nations made a promise. To follow God, worship only Him, and to do so by obeying His will. Which, I might add, only looks to provide us the best and safest option. In other words, His will would never wish His people harm or leave us wanting. Yet we’ve strayed, and forgotten over and over that our God loves us and that we also made a promise. We have grown comfortable by the blessings He gives and in our comfort and satisfaction we forget who gives it. We think it must have been our own doing. That the ‘stars aligned’ and all our efforts came to bear fruit of prosperity and peace. But from where did we get the money? A job, the employer, the company, a city, the state, country; have all those things including the political web of red tape and regulations, with the world chess pieces of military power all been a product of our own hand?

God might ask us as He did Job if we laid the foundations of the earth and hung the stars and moon. No, we simply reap the benefits if we only obey putting one foot in front of the other. We must be cautious, and not forget when we sit on our soft couch in our warm homes just who made it all possible. Good for us we have a really big note a.k.a. the Bible, so that we can read it and remember not just God’s promises which are faithful, but our own.

Putting Others First

 

Years ago, in Economics 101, I was taught that self interest is the primary motivator of economic activity. Although we may have a number of reasons for working, going to school or deciding how to spend our money, at the core every decision we make is personal well being, or gain. You might say self interest is our default position.  Adam Smith put it this way in his book, The Wealth of Nations”:

 

“It is not from the benevolence (kindness) of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

 

In other words, the seemingly helpful things we do for others are not really selfless. Deep down we do the things we do out of a desire to make life better for ourselves. You could say that self interest is just a nicer way of describing selfishness or sinful behavior.  It comes naturally because it’s built into our DNA – at least, that’s what Lutherans believe. We are sinful creatures from the moment of conception. It is indeed, our default position. That doesn’t mean we are just to accept it. Christianity calls us to consciously reverse our natural inclinations. We are called to live sacrificially, which means putting others first.  Compare Adam Smith’s quote to what St. Paul has to say:

 

“Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal self interests, but also the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

 

For a look at what this means in daily living, read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.  Here’s what Martin Luther King Jr. said about this parable:

 

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But … the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

 

Can I change my default position? Can I put others first, even when it requires a sacrifice of my own needs and wants? Not on my own! “Wretched man (or woman) that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”(Romans 7:24) Only Jesus Christ!

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

1 Peter 2:21

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!