First Reading: Amos 6:1a, 4-7
1aAlas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria, 4Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; 5who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; 6who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 7Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
The prophet Amos announces that Israel’s great wealth is a cause not for rejoicing but rather sorrow, because God’s people have forgotten how to share their wealth with the poor. The wealthy will be the first to go into exile when judgment comes.
In a nutshell, God’s warning through the prophet isn’t against wealth, but what you do with it when you get it.
A member in a previous church lived out the adage his father taught him when he was young – “It ain’t worth havin’ if it ain’t worth sharin’.” That church member didn’t just speak it, he lived it. Every tool he had in his work shed was offered for church projects and to friends and neighbors if the need arose.
What do we do with what God has given us? How do we use the great wealth we have acquired as instruments to be shared and to lift up those who have less?
Oh yes, we can argue our way out of giving, and claim that those who are poor and needy get what they deserve. We can sit in the judgment seat and claim that we are worthy and they are not. I don’t know about you, but I too often find myself sitting in that seat. When that happens, the grip on what I have gets tighter, and my defense grows stronger.
But what we have has been given to us as a gift from God. All that is good is a gift from God. A prayer from the old green hymnal when the offering was brought forward:
We offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us, our selves, our time and our possessions – signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Instead of offering with grumbling and frustration, may we offer what God joyously has given us. It ain’t worth havin’ if it ain’t worth sharin’.
Let us pray: Almighty God, forgive us for the strong grip we place on all that we have. May what we have be tools for all that you love. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen