Category Archives: Lectionary

On Choosing the Right Banker

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

In ancient times kings, and other wealthy people, found it necessary to appoint at least one person to keep track of all their money.  In England, the title came to be Keeper of the Privy Purse; privy meaning private.  Today, Queen Elizabeth does not need to carry any form of money; her Keeper pays all her private debts.

Clearly, the Queen needs to have absolute confidence in her Keeper.  After all, she goes through more than $10 million a year.  Since history is filled with examples of theft by keepers at all levels, the Queen’s Keeper cannot spend any money without approval by others.

Most governments and larger businesses use some variation of that watchful backup system.  When I taught school, my paycheck always had three signatures.  Some government expenditures require five.  The reason?  We have learned never to trust humans.

Jesus said, “Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  God is the only banker we can rely on.

If only it were that simple; collect our goods and deposit them in the Only Bank of Yahweh.  The problem we humans have with God’s Bank is His definition of treasures.  As Isaiah has it, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!   Seek justice,encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

The Bible’s idea of wealth doesn’t sell well on Wall Street.  We need to invest in the poor, the hungry, the sick, the illiterate, the wrongly accused.  There are no other treasures to be stored in God’s Bank.

Did you know that less than ten percent of all charity money in the US actually goes to the needy?  Over half goes to universities, mostly to build buildings and sports facilities.  Less than ten percent of the money given to churches, synagogues, etc., is used for the needy.  We like to give money; by doing so we feel we have satisfied God’s demands.

Psalm 50 tells us a different story, taken from The Message.  “Spread for me a banquet of praise, serve High God a feast of kept promises.”  Yes, give money, but give much more.  Give yourself.  Find people in need and help them.  They may live next door or in Timbuktoo, Mali.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence


Jesus had an unsettling way of answering people obliquely.  In Luke, we read, “be careful to guard against all forms of greed,” when a man wanted him to tell his brother to share the inheritance.  Now, sharing is a good thing and Jesus encouraged all of us to do just that.  What was at issue, though, was the man’s focus.  He was not looking at God but at the property.

In Hosea we read God’s words, “I taught Efrayim to walk…they did not know that it was I who was healing them.”  Chosen by God, saved in Egypt, delivered from Egypt, yet they could not remember any of it.

I want….

To look like Tom or George.

To win the lottery.

To own a BMW.

To have perfect children.

To have my share of my older brother’s inheritance that I should have gotten anyway because everyone knows my brother is a looser.

If I focus on God, I will be happy for my brother’s good fortune and if he is focused on God, he will share that wealth with me and many others.  Jesus was right to refuse to take sides in the dispute because in God’s eyes, neither brother was right.

God went on in Hosea, “for I am God, not a human being, the Holy One among you, so I will not come in fury.”  That is the Good News.  God does not punish us for our sins, He forgives us in a way that is not human.

In Colossians we read, “The new self allows no room for discriminating between Gentile and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, foreigner, savage, slave, free man; on the contrary, in all, the Messiah is everything.”  That is also the Good News.  The Messiah gathers us all up and brings us before God to receive his forgiveness.

Give up greed in all things, especially the greed of believing that I alone know the mind of God.