Eighteenth Day of Lent

Matthew 6:24

In my pastoral ministry and counselling practice, many people come and talk to me about their struggles with so many things, but I have hardly ever heard anyone come up to me and say, “Sam, I am obsessed with the idea of getting wealthy” or “I am struggling with greed” or “I just can’t help being stingy” or “I am a hoarder.” Honestly, I have never heard anyone ask me for prayers for these specific concerns and I have never asked others to pray for me in these areas. I wonder why we are indifferent to our own greed, envy, and discontentment.

In the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof” we follow the life of a poor Jewish dairy farmer named Tevye who struggles to make ends meet while raising his five daughters. One day as he feeds his animals in the barn, he dreams of the material comforts that wealth could bring him. Soon enough he breaks out into a now well-known song, “If I Were a Rich Man.” Like Tevye, in my desire for comfort, security and significance, I sometimes catch myself dreaming of wealth.

It all seems harmless, doesn't it? Not quite. The problem is when our dreams of wealth become our comfort, security, and significance in our everyday realities. This only means that we have lost sight of the very God who is our comfort, security, and significance. Jesus said it this way, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

Not only that. Serving God or money also affects how we relate to others. When wealth is our focus, we are unconcerned for our neighbour’s plight and even if we do something about it, it becomes a self-serving act. When God is our focus we not only pay attention to our neighbours but also live open and generous lives that glorify God.

Focus us O LORD                                                                                                               
This Lenten season                                                                                                                          
On Jesus and Only Jesus                                                                                         
On the generosity that He displayed on the cross and                                                               
Give us strength to not bow down to money

Disturb us O LORD                                                                                                                           
Keep us in touch with ourselves,                                                                         
with our needs, our wants, our anxieties, 
our greed, our envy, our guilt                                                                             
that we may claim them as our own rather than deny them

Change us O LORD,
deepen this self awareness into wisdom;
shape our wants into compassion and generosity;
gentle our anxieties into trust,
our greed into contentment
our envy into enjoyment,
and our guilt into honesty.

Sam Williams
Toronto, ON