Bread – Selfishness

May 17, 2013


Readings for Friday, May 17, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Ezek. 34:17-31; Heb. 8; Luke 10:38-42; Psalms 102,107

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There is a passage from Ezekiel today that I do not remember reading before, but which drives home our need as Christians to be very, very careful about the degree to which we abuse the blessings God has given us. The passage is:

Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep…Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?…Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep…” Ezek. 34:17-18,20

Since every Christian chosen by God for salvation is one of God’s sheep, feasting upon God’s pasture and water, representing His many blessings in our lives, we need to ask ourselves a serious question – are we one of the “fat” sheep or one of the “lean” sheep?

Since everyone I am writing to (I think) are Americans, one easy answer would be to say that we are all fat sheep, because even in the midst of our poverty we are wealthy beyond many in the world. However, we cannot get away with easy answers to this personal question.

We may be wealthy, but where did our wealth come from? Did it come as a natural blessing from God or did it come from our efforts to crowd out the weaker as we trampled the pasture and muddied the waters? Have we become fat on the back of others? In other words, are we selfish?

I would like to say that I have not done these things, but then I would be a liar, compounding the sin. Let me give you an easy example – who among us, seeing a beggar in the road, have passed by them brusquely on the way to an important meeting, where we can close the “deal?” How many of us have held onto our money, afraid that it will disappear, when we know someone out of a job, suffering grave and expensive illness, or just plain needing a helping hand monetarily?

Forget money for a moment. How many of us have spent a few hours this week doing something for someone else who we know can never return the favor? After all, time to the busy person time may even be more valuable than money. So, we may give money away generously so that we can be conservative in our expenditure of our, more valuable, time. See, being fat isn’t just about collecting money.

What about power. Who among us has taken an opportunity which would advance our position and, instead, given it to someone who needs help up the corporate ladder? Who has resigned from a position of power so that someone else who needs it more gets it?

Money, time, power, position – who reading this has not acted like a fat sheep, trampling the pasture and muddying the water, to advance their agenda?

God is going to judge between sheep and sheep. When He asks me whether I have been a fat sheep or a lean sheep, I have to say that I fall on the fat side of the ledger. Lucky for me that, as our reading from Hebrews today emphasizes, I have a great high priest in Jesus Christ who will intercede for me, argue my case before the judge, and win the case because of the cross. I will be saved but I will also be judged, probably as a fat sheep. But I will also have a lot of friends joining me.

So, it is obvious that I need to work on my diet. But how? I can’t. That is why it is a work of God. I can’t but He can. And, thank God, He is.

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© 2013 GBF

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