Monday, 23 September 2019

To be trusted in a small thing

So if I am browsing in a second hand bookshop and I discover  a simple  but attractive  bookmark in a book that I do not decide to buy would it be legitimate do you think for me to move it into the book I do buy?

Here is a very small thing and you  may think it does not matter a jot - after all someone may or may not ever buy the book with the bookmark in it. But my even asking the question reveals something about my thinking.

Jack, who worked for me for a few years was in charge of buying company cars.
Now believe it or not there is little more emotive than this among the salesforce and the car aficionados. So there have to be rules. For me of course a car is a car (unless it is an MG of course then that is different) but otherwise it comes from the factory and I drive it. It takes me where I have to go. But there are some who add personal touches of upholstery, wheel trim, electronics and so on. The company policy allowed you to do this but only to a limited extent. The limits were there to avoid your Ford Escort being better equipped that the chairman’s Jaguar. And importantly for my story you had to pay for any extras yourself. Shortly after Jack ordered his own car he decided to leave the organisation. At that point while winding up his affairs some things came to light. Not only had Jack considerably exceeded the allowance for status enhancing trinkets he had not paid for them but rather added them to the cost of the vehicle. We were to be left with a long lease on a car of increased cost. So I summoned him and said “What is this I hear about you ?”
 He was not pleased and the conversation was a little difficult but I left him with a simple question “What are you going to do to put it right?”

Which is what the dishonest steward was doing. Having been caught out he set about managing his master’s estate and retrieving his debts. He tried to put things right. As we say in the Book of Common Prayer at evensong just before the absolution: 

“God desireth not the death of a sinner but that he turns from his wickedness and live.”

This then is what I think the master is commending the steward for : the steward found his master again returned to him and began to serve him. When we do wrong the solution to obtain God’s forgiveness is to turn back to God, to rediscover him.

But then Jesus in his conversation returns to my bookmark. He says this:  “He that is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” It is about the way we think. A way of thinking about the concluding famous observation “You cannot serve both God and Mammon” is to widen the definition of Mammon from our usual thoughts of richness, wealth and money perhaps from the abuse of the car policy that Jack was supposed to be policing -  There are two worlds- this earthly one and the eternal heavenly one. We serve either one or the other we cannot serve both.

Jesus is telling us that If we are to be trusted ultimately with the true wealth which are the gifts of eternal life then we need to behave in this world (with all of its dishonest wealth) as if we were in the other one or to put it more clearly we need to think and act as if we were already in heaven.


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