“Daddy, I don’t have any friends!” It was a heartbreaking moment in the life of my daughter’s young life, and it broke my heart for her. She was learning a lesson that we all have to learn: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
We, humans, crave companionship. We long for connection and to be known in a safe and fulfilling way. And yet, we are also afraid of being hurt, of being disappointed, or rejected. So, we draw back from connections. The horrible “catch 22” situation builds and reinforces our addictions, phobias, and brokenness, and we find ourselves suffering from loneliness or suffering in relationships that are more caustic than healthy. And then we struggle to enter into a relationship with God because we really aren’t sure what that should even look like!
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Luke 16:1-9:
The Lord said this parable, “There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.
An amazing passage, don’t you think? The Lord is illustrating the power of being wise at a moment of desperation. Having squandered his position through poor choices, the unfaithful steward of the rich man’s possessions is finally called to account for his poor work. In desperation, he wisely goes to all the rich man’s debtors and “makes a deal.” All in hopes of when he is out of a job, they will show him kindness in his need!
Isn’t it amazing how having to face the consequences of bad choices can either intoxicate you with despair or wake you up to the only opportunity you have left – mercy! No wonder the caustic mistake of constantly protecting our children from having to face reality, consequences, and responsibility always does them more harm than good. In doing this, we short circuit the opportunity these temporarily painful moments possess to wake them up to what should be. In living lives that are “free” from consequences we don’t actually protect them, but only delay the inevitable moment when there is no protection possible. Having never had to face this, society crumbles under the weight of perpetual immaturity.
Today, are you “friendly?” Do you allow the consequences in your life to teach you or do you find yourself constantly crying for rescue? Of course, there is nothing wrong with crying out for rescue as long as “rescue” can also be defined as that moment when an honest clarity comes to my life and I learn the valuable lessons of the moment and not the perpetuation of a pattern of destructive behavior. In that critical moment of honest confrontation with myself, I have the opportunity to repent and be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, my struggle is paying lip service to repentance. I struggle with actually repenting. And most of the time I don’t go all the way to repentance but stop at feeling bad about making bad choices. I need Your help, O Lord. You have given us sinners the path to salvation and it is through repentance. I need to do this and remember this. And I ask Your help so that I can repent today! Amen.