Rom 14:7-12 / Lk 15:1-10
One of the great strengths of our society in the United States is the broad range of freedoms that are guaranteed by our Constitution and the freedom of spirit that goes along with them. But, as always in this life, there’s a possible downside to all that freedom. It can take the form of an excessive individualism, which looks solely to one’s own interests and thinks little or not at all about the needs and concerns of others. It’s an isolating view of the world and of life, and it sets the stage, not only for much unnecessary suffering within the community at large, but also for the painful sense of alienation that afflicts so many people, even the most affluent.
In today’s epistle, Paul speaks rather pointedly: “None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master…. Both in life and in death we are the Lord’s.” None of us possesses either our life or our gifts as absolute possessions, but as loans from a generous God who gave us both life and gifts for a specific purpose, namely, to be shared with his family. To decline to share our life and to carry our gifts to those who need them is not only bad stewardship, it is stealing from those for whom the gifts were intended in the first place.
So where do you stand on the gift continuum? Are you sitting on your gifts and hoarding them for some unnamed rainy day, or are you learning the God-like joy of giving your gifts and talents away? Where you stand on this most basic question is probably the key to how and where you’ll be spending your eternity, so it will be wise to consider your answer well.