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Psalm 101


 

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD. (ESV)

Trust Man?

Monday of Easter 7

18 May 2015

While the Islamic world was the cradle of the invention of Arabic numerals and those numerals made a huge computational improvement over the unwieldy Roman numerals by making double-entry bookkeeping possible, the modern money system from which we presently benefit could not have been invented except among people where there is both rule of law and confidence in the personal integrity of all economic agents. That was only possible in the Western world, where Christianity, especially post-Reformation Christianity, provided that seed bed of morality in which our present money system could be sown. While it is not the primary goal of Christianity to provide that seed bed, it is a necessary corollary of evangelical Christianity as it arose from the Reformation.

 

Money and its value presumes a kind of faith and confidence in those who issue it and use it as a medium of exchange. What makes those banknotes in your wallet able to be used to buy a happy meal at McDonald's? What do those numbers in your bank statement actually represent? We believe that they represent actual value. The present flight to gold is an alarm bell signaling a dying confidence in the human promises which back the money in our economic system. We think it is possible to eradicated Christianity from our culture while in no way injuring the collateral benefits that arise out of uniquely Christian patterns of thought. It is somewhat like killing the goose that laid the golden egg, and then wondering why there are no more golden eggs. We still must be able to trust the promises of men if our economic system is to survive.

 

Business deals used to be done with a promise and a handshake. No one doubted that those promises would be fulfilled by the economic agents acting in a moral way in a morally constructed universe. That is no longer possible. Christianity is the deep structure of our society no matter how vehemently its detractors may deny it. As we continue to undermine that foundation of our society it will necessarily crack and totter. The law of unintended consequences will increasingly give rise to pernicious results as those who think Christianity is one of the great ills in our society continue to replace it with the pottage of corruption, self-centeredness, and greed.

 

Is God interested in economic systems? Of course not, but God is interested in people and that interest will have results in their lives and how they live in community. The God who creates heaven and earth and everything in it is certainly interested in their "mundane," that is earthly existence. That's what a First Article of the Creed faith is about. We may not trust in humans for our salvation, but we better trust and love one another as we live in the kingdom of this world together. This is what Luther means when he asked rhetorically: "If one man could not believe and trust another, what would our life on earth be?"

 

Martin Luther

 

"When Paul says, 'I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is' (Gal 5:10), it is as though he were saying: 'I have warned, encouraged, and rebuked you enough, if you will only take heed. Yet I have confidence in you through the Lord.' Here the question arises if Paul did the right thing when he said that he had confidence in the Galatians, chiefly since Holy Scripture forbids confidence in men (Ps 118:8). Both faith and love have confidence, but their objects are different. Faith trusts God; therefore it cannot be deceived. Love trusts men; therefore it is often deceived. The trust that love has is so necessary for this present life that life on earth could not go on without it. If one man could not believe and trust another, what would our life on earth be? Christians are swifter to believe someone for the sake of love than are the sons of this world. Trust of men is a fruit of the Spirit or of Christian faith in the devout. Paul even has confidence in the Galatians who have fallen, but through the Lord, as if he were to say: 'I have confidence in you to the extent that the Lord is in you and you are in Him, that is, in so far as you remain in the truth. If you fall away from this by being deceived through the agents of Satan, I shall no longer have confidence in you.' In this way it is permissible for the godly to believe, and have confidence in, men." 

 
Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 5.10
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, You have given Yourself to us that we might trust You solely for our salvation. Help us to live in the world You have created for us in such a way that we conserve its blessings for whatever future generations You permit to arise. Enable us to be trustworthy in our economic lives as we serve those for whom we work. Bless our labor with success, that we might return gifts to You and support the upbuilding of Your Church. Amen.

 

For children struggling with special needs, that the Lord Jesus would be their constant support

 

For church musicians, as they lead God's people in song, that they would be encouraged in their work

 

For Scott and Maryann Murray, who are returning from vacation, that the Lord would watch over them in their travels and give them a joyful homecoming

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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