Well, it’s here ready or not! We rang in the new year last night with our church family and I must confess I ate way too much but it was really yummy! I had some organic eggs and gluten free blueberry Van’s waffles so, at least it wasn’t all bad despite being too much. Good food is even better with great friends!
I’m sure many of you are now reviewing your list of resolutions and telling yourself this year will be different, I will make myself accomplish these! Our New Year’s Eve service at church was different this year and I’d like to share what I learned from this lesson we were taught.
Normally when I hear “turn to Luke 16,” I think of the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, in fact I recently read a blog that discussed this very same passage on the two men. I have heard a lot taught on the rich ruler who begged for even a drop of water while he was tormented in hell and how he asked for someone to be sent back to his brethren to tell them and warn them of the awful place called hell. I was taken a little off guard when we went to Luke 16:1-9 and I was a little ashamed to admit I had almost forgotten that the chapter doesn’t start at verse 19.
Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
In verse 4 we find the one and only use of the word “resolved” in the Bible which is about as close to “resolution” as we can get. Let’s see what we can glean from this selection of scripture as we consider our plans for the new year.
First let us look at a definition from dictionary.com about the word “resolve” which means “1.to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something) 2. to separate into constituent or elementary parts; break up; cause or disintegrate 3. to convert or transform by any process and 4 .to reduce by mental analysis” In order to prevent being redundant I used the most common uses of the word listed.
Now, the servant here is wicked and dishonest with the goods and wealth he has been entrusted with. I get the idea he was managing the wealth about as well as Bernie Madoff in our current day. The steward was caught presumably by one of the other people employed by the rich man and like most people who are caught doing wrong he began to panic regarding his future. Notice in verse 3 “the steward said within himself, What Shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.” He is speaking within himself, a mental analysis of resolving begins here, with an unstable future he must reflect on the things that have lead up to this event and how to prepare a future that is better than being homeless or incarcerated. Certainly we must be able to take an honest account of our own lives in order to make any resolutions to produce a better outcome in our own future as well however, this steward is full of pride and speaks only with himself, not God when making his mental analysis. What shall I do? I can’t, I’m ashamed even though I alone am responsible for where I am, no mention of how he hurt God with his dishonesty or violated God’s trust and law. He doesn’t mention God at all during his surmising.
Also, the steward admits to himself that he has no useful skills at all. He can not even so much as use a shovel to dig a hole. Surely the servant was somewhat educated just as Bernie Madoff himself was educated both in the laws of God and in upper level college courses. However, both of these men seem to believe it was easier to make money by being deceitful rather than by using their intellect to provide a useful service. We are not told how old the servant here is, perhaps he was also of advanced age when the whistle was blown regarding his Ponzi scheme and therefore he was unable to even dig a hole outside. Perhaps the steward did not take care of his health and was unable to do physical labor even though he was young or maybe he had a medical condition, we can only speculate, either way he was not skilled at any type of service for others that could offer him a living wage. Although he is capable of determining that he has no skill, the steward chooses not to endeavor to develop a skill for his future. I find that very interesting, it seems that his resolving may not actually be to become a better person rather, he just wants to ‘feel’ better in the future. I also get the idea he has a victim mindset here as well, “my lord taketh away my stewardship..” notice that he makes mention of who is taking away his title but fails to be honest with himself that his own actions have taken away his stewardship, his master is just enforcing the laws that exist. This reminds me of a child who was caught with a hand in the cookie jar and another hand filled with a cookie. When the mother takes away the cookie, the child is upset with the mother, not himself for the disobedience of taking his mother’s cookie without permission. The mother did not cause the child to take the cookie although she must enforce the rules of the household lest the home be run by chaos itself. Obviously the master would not have knowingly given stewardship of so much wealth to a man he knew would steal and it is equally ridiculous for the steward to attribute blame to the master for “taking away” his job, yet that appears to be what he does.
The steward’s mind now takes another direction, begging for bread. The idea of sitting on a street corner reduced to poverty makes the steward shudder to think of it at all. He is far too prideful to be reduced to such a thing. Psalm 37:25 “yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” must have rang in the ears of the wicked servant as he contemplated what begging bread would mean for him as people walked past him. All of this mental analysis has lead to the steward breaking up into elementary parts the different courses of action he could take, he has used 2 parts of the word resolve already, let us see what else he does with this word.
A ha! The servant has it, an idea popped into his mind, lets call all the people that owe money to the master and reduce their bills. Now the servant has firmly fixed himself on a definite course of action and begins earnestly about the resolution at hand, to “get in good” with those who owe his boss before they find out that he has lost his job. Verse 5, 6 and 7 show us that this steward is certainly wicked because the only idea he can come up with to save his future is to again steal from his boss. The steward doesn’t care at all and shows no remorse over having committed a crime. This also shows us how selfish the steward is, he is only helping to benefit the people that are in debt in order that he can pave the way for his own future. However, his master did commend him for doing ‘what he could’ to take care of his future. I suppose many in the shoes of this steward would consider suicide a way out like Mark Madoff did. Even Bernie and Ruth Madoff said they attempted suicide as well. This steward was at least willing to keep living despite the humiliation of having lost a well paying job and the reputation of a good name. The master even considered it somewhat wise to make friends with those who have the means of obtaining money so the servant will not go on homeless. Ruth Madoff kind of did the same by living with her sister and later her son and somehow avoiding a prison sentence herself despite being the bookkeeper for her husband. This steward used “any process” including stealing again to “convert or transform” his lowly future into a more desirable one.
How will this apply to us as Christian ladies you may ask? Well, do we really want to use “any process” to convert our future into a better one or would we prefer to seek God and His will first? In the end, this steward still looses even if he finishes his life here in ease and with a full belly. He never repented of his sin and so still has a record of broken laws with God on judgment day. Further more, God does not receive any glory from this servant who has done foolishly, not one person can look at his life as see God reflected. The servant has spent his life trying to do his own will his own way.
I challenge you as a Christian lady to reflect on the “resolutions” you have been unable to keep on your own and be honest with yourself. Were those things you consulted God about first? Are they actually sins in your life you need to repent of? Are you trying to ‘convert’ things your way or are you allowing the renewing of your mind through the word of God? Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Contemplate with me, are my resolutions failed from previous years because I haven’t confessed them as the sin they are and instead try to fix it in my own way with my own will and deny the Holy Spirit and the power of God himself the ability to transform me into the image of Jesus Christ? Friends, I would rather be guilty of just about anything other than denying the Lord himself to work in my life and create in me His perfect picture and will.
I will be honest, I have felt the Lord wanted me to write and learn music since 2010. Every year I have failed to write much at all. I would always tell myself, such and such happened and I just don’t have time. Friends, the bible says “redeeming the time because the days are evil” and we all do what is important to us right? I confessed to the Lord, I’ve not used my time wisely, I’ve “wasted his goods.” as verse one says. I do not wish to be counted as the wicked steward but rather as the faithful steward who used the little he had for the Lord. Time starts off small, first filling up mere seconds that turn into minutes which become hours, days, years and finally your lifetime. I want to fill my time with God and that starts with spending seconds capturing thoughts, minutes in prayer, hours in the Word, days in his service, years of grace and mercy that finally culminate in the blessed hope of eternity with Jesus in heaven forevermore. If this is the life I want to reflect when I’m aged, I’ve got to stop filling my time with ME and fill it with HIM. You wouldn’t fill your pockets with sand and run to the candy store for a sweet treat, you fill it with money, the world’s treasure and then run to the store and buy your sweets. So, fill your pocket here with heavenly treasure and heap up rewards in heaven, the final resting place of a Christian.
Are you afraid of what God has asked you to do? To be honest, I am still afraid of writing. Writing about God is a sobering and serious thing to do. Every idle word is taken down by the Lord. (Mathew 12:36) In fact writing at all about anything makes me vulnerable since there are a multitude of people with differing opinions who will express them, as my friend recently said. There is a healthy fear of the Lord we all need, especially when writing for him, but there is a fear that comes from the enemy. This is a dark night, the word of God is hard to find in so many places, we need to publish it and put forth as much light as possible to hurting and dying world.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. God doesn’t intend ‘evil’ for us when he gives us His will, He intends it to bless up, to earn compound interest, to gain large dividends in heaven, treasures unspeakable. Certainly fear the Lord and give him reverence, but do not fear succeeding in the will he has given for you and your family! Obedience to God is for your own good, he wants to bless you, he loves you, he isn’t a mad scientist in the sky trying to see if you can find the cheese.
So, how about it? Do you need to confess something as sin, truly repent and finally see good success in this new year? Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” There it is folks, our blueprint for a prosperous new year with good success, it has nothing to do with eating peas!
Happy New Year!
Until next time-