September 5, 2008 - Friday of the 15th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: 2 Kings 2:19-25; 4:1-7; Ephesians 4:25-5:14

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why does St. Paul tell people to stop stealing and work instead? Not so that person won't be breaking the commandments and so avoid hell. No, the purpose of our working and labor is so that we have something to share with our neighbor. If a person just wants to work to get stuff for himself, then his work isn't really any better than stealing. With these words, St. Paul reminds us that the purpose of our being Christians is not for our own sakes. It's not so we can run around bragging that we aren't going to hell. No, the reason the Lord makes us into Christians is so that we may serve our neighbor.

Jesus came into this world to give His life for sinners who don't even care that He came. He came to trade His life in exchange for the lives of sinners who hate God and can't stand the people in their lives either. How did He do this? How could He do this? Because the one thing Jesus came to do was to obey His Father. He was so certain that He was His Father's Son that He could even accomplish our salvation when we didn't ask Him to.

That's how it is being a Christian. You are so rock solid in Christ by your Baptism, so set free from your sins by absolution, so full of Jesus by His body and blood, that you can do anything your neighbor needs, whether they like it or not.

I like to say it this way: If by dying on the cross Jesus has won me for Himself, He hasn't gained much! But if, by forgiving my sins, He teaches me to love and serve my neighbor, then He's really done something miraculous! Dear Christian, rejoice that in Christ you are free to God. Sins forgiven. Nothing stands between you and the Lord. It's all good. Then learn that as you are free in Christ so you are a slave, a servant to your neighbor, ready to do good to all the people around you in your life. Jesus has taken care of you and the Lord. And now, living in you, He takes care of your neighbor, too. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Grant me the strength to do With ready heart and willing Whatever You command, My calling here fulfilling; That I do what I should While trusting You to bless The outcome for my good, For You must give success. (LSB 696:2)