This week’s readings are full of the goodness and power of God – and of the weakness and fallibility of mankind. Just when you think you are standing firm, watch out that you don’t fall! The sons of the world are more shrewd than the sons of light! All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes! Following the Lord just doesn’t come easily to us in this world – each day we struggle against our own sinful, selfish nature.
But the readings are full of hope, too, and they point us to our salvation and strength – Christ Jesus. God is faithful. The Lord will establish your steps. And although the Proverbs often tell us how we should behave, they also tell us how we are saved. By steadfast love and faithfulness, iniquity is atoned for. We know that our love is not steadfast, and our faithfulness is weak. But the steadfast love and faithfulness of Christ brought Him down to us, and sent Him to the cross, where all our iniquity has been atoned for, once and for all. Praise God!
The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Proverbs, chapter 16, verses 1-9:
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
The Epistle lesson is from 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, verses 6-13:
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
The Gospel for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity is from Luke, chapter 16, verses 1-9:
He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 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.’ 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 manager 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 wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.