Amos 8:4-7

The prophet Amos lived at a time of prosperity for both Judah and Israel, the northern kingdom.  He was not from the prophets’ guild, but was a farmer.  When the Lord called, he heeded the call to be a prophet.  At that time, commerce was in high gear.  So much so, that businessmen were more acquiring wealth than justice and equity.  They often ignored the Law of Moses (Leviticus 19:36) and cheated the poor.  Amos reminds these people that God is taking notice of their dealings, and remembers.

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Here is an interesting, almost contradictory instruction from Paul to Timothy.  He urges Timothy to pray for everyone, including those in political authority, such as kings.  This might make sense to you and me, but things were different back then.  

Timothy, and all Christians living under Roman rule were required to walk a tricky walk.  The Romans “asserted human Caesar [w]as the only Lord over the empire and the only living son of the Roman deities.” * All Roman subjects were expected to worship all the Roman gods and hail Caesar as their only Lord.  In the latter half of this passage, Paul states that there is only one god, and that Jesus is our means of salvation, not Caesar.  

According to this passage, we should all pray for everyone, including our political leaders.  At the same time, we need to recognize that our ultimate trust should not be placed in the hands of any other human except Jesus.  

*Sunggu Yang, Sept 11, 2022, Working

Luke 16:1-13

Here is one of the most perplexing of Jesus’ parables.  It has been a troublesome passage to understand for wise bible scholars throughout the ages.  I will not attempt to explain everything that Jesus says here.  Anybody who claims to have all the answers to everything said here is not to be trusted.  But let’s study it, and see if we can figure out what Jesus’s main point was.  After all, all parables were taught with the purpose of making only one point.

At the time, wealthy businessmen employed stewards to manage their business for them.  Sometimes they were slaves, and sometimes they were freemen.  Common practice of the day for these stewards was to charge a heavy markup on goods.  From this markup, they would pay Roman taxes, as well as make a lot of money for their owners, as well as taking a big cut for themselves.  In the financial community, for example, it was not uncommon for some to charge 25-50% interest on loans.  

In our parable, the steward learns that his benefactor disapproves of his methods, and he is going to be fired.  If this steward was a slave (it does not say), he would have been sentenced to hard labor.  The steward presumably eliminates his cut, thereby gaining some business allies.  The benefactor likes this clever move, and does not press charges.

Verses 8b-13 are Jesus’ conclusion to this parable.  Some of his sayings here are downright confusing.  But the main theme throughout is that we should be both faithful and clever, when faced with life’s challenges.  

In a way, this is one of the most applicable of Jesus’s parables for us.   Living our lives according to the teachings of Jesus is not always easy in this day and age.  Our bosses sometimes require us to work on the sabbath, lie and even cheat for the company at times.  It is fun and easy to sing “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus” at church.  But if your boss is breathing down your neck and your children expect dinner on the table, sometimes being a Christian is a tricky walk.  We need to get clever, and find a way through this maze we call life.