A father had four sons, who owned four businesses. He had helped them all start their businesses with a loan, and after 20 years, they were to repay him the original $5000 he had invested. The day came for them all to meet so that the father could put the funds back into his own account — as he was preparing to retire, and would have needed of the funds now that he was going to be on a fixed income.
One son had started a liquor store that profited nicely over the years, and he brought with him $5000 in cash from the cash register for that week’s take.
Another son had started a payday loan business that had profited wonderfully over the years, and he brought with him certified bonds that could be redeemed immediately for $5000 or for more once they mature in several years.
Yet another son had started a restaurant that had profited reasonably over the years, but the restaurant had recently caught fire and burned to the ground. He found himself in a situation where he could not rebuild and also repay his father, so he brought a check for $5000 that he knew would clear if his father chose to deposit it.
The last son had opened a nursing home and rehabilitation facility that he loved and maintained at the highest levels of care, but where he just couldn’t maintain a steady profit for himself because he was always overextending himself to either help out his employees or improve upon the facilities. He found himself without $5000 in his account to pay when the day came, so he arranged with the local bank to pre-approve a loan for $5000 and he offered his father the choice of either the $5000 that he would repay to the bank in time or to come and live in his facility at no cost for the rest of his life.
Some of the brothers grumbled against each other, about the life choices each had made, about the way in which the others had chosen to pay their father back, etc.
But the father simply loved them for loving him and for respecting him and their agreement. He appreciated each of them for their gifts and talents and abilities, and for their imperfections and challenges and successes they each have in their lives.
My morning reading was from Numbers 7, where each tribe brought exactly the portion expected of them. There was no accounting for the different population sizes of each tribe, no accounting of the backstory concerning how each came up with what was expected — just an accounting that each tribe brought exactly what was expected.
It would have been just as wrong hearted for a tribe to make a show of bringing more than the others out of their abundance as it would have been for a tribe to show up shorthanded out of their laziness.
In a world that thrives on comparison and expectations and pride and shame — where we expect each other to live up to “our own standards” and we easily fall into offense over others “not hitting the mark” or “slighting us in some way” — it can be quite earth shattering to considerall of this in the light of God’s “requirements”.
Are you “Bringing what is required?”
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 NLT
They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:28-29 NLT
And if you believe, you will love.
And if you love, you will not doin against God and you wel not sin against each other.
So if you are sinning, go back to the beginning and “Believe”.
So if you are not loving, go back to the beginning and “Believe”.
Do you believe?
Do you love?
Provide for your family, help your neighbor, pray for your enemy.
But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
1 Timothy 5:8 NLT
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 NLT