27C19. Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4a. “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen!” The disloyalty of Judah to their God brings on their destruction by the Babylonians. God punishes the evil people but the just suffer too. “But the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” Those who remain faithful to the Lord need to remain faithful despite their sufferings.
Luke 17:5-10. “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” These fishermen were practical people. You cannot eat the fish that got away but you could have fun talking about them. It is one thing to know what you see and have in your hand but another just to simply believe that the Lord will provide while right now you have nothing in hand. I love this example of the mulberry tree. When I lived in the country, the mulberry tree was like an unwanted weed because the birds would eat the berries and their droppings would plant them in every place they were not wanted. For this reason I believe Jesus selects the mulberry tree to be uprooted and destroyed. The point is not that the purpose of faith is to destroy mulberry trees but to destroy what is malevolent and destructive. Faith is a life lived in the power of God’s hand and not in the illusion of our own.
This next line can be difficult for many because we wish to be recognized for our own good faith efforts. We live in a world of hours and wages and files in the personnel office of our work. Our natural instinct is to be rewarded in proportion to our service and so we are busy calculating that in our own mind and heart. In the spiritual world, in God’s world, we leave all that to God, free from judging ourselves and others as to what our efforts are worth. To the degree that we are recipients of the gifts God has given us, we do our best and do not waste our useful time and resources mulling over what rewards we deserve. Leave the measuring our merits to God. The household of God is like many of our own family households here. Little will get done if we are measuring what we have done against what others have done or failed to do. God has entrusted his love for us to move us to love him in return. God rejoices in love returned for love given but is not dissuaded for love that is not accepted and responded to but continues to love whether accepted or rejected. If gratitude is given or not, God is our example to never stop loving.
2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14. Some precious verses in this reading are: “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God”. God gives us the strength we need in persecution or temptation. “Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwell within us.” The ‘trust’ is like a savings in the bank. We have been given much; recognize what a treasure it is. Guard it through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, who is our spiritual life within us. Without him we will become nothing but the dirt of this earth.