Treasuring God’s Gift of Life
“Treasuring God’s Gift of Life”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 2, 2016
Readings: Habakkuk 1:1-13, 2:1-4; Psalm 37:1-18
2 Timothy 1:6-14
Last week, we were given insights into God’s character, the same character that is innately ours because His life is in us. In today’s reading from Habakkuk, we see our current situation in the Philippines, where evil seems to be overtaking all the good. “The law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous and justice comes out perverted.” In spite of our circumstances, we don’t give up but stand, because of who God is; because His Spirit is in us. Psalm 37 exhorts us to trust in God. “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.”
On our 20th week in Ordinary Time, I ask, are we hearing and living or putting into practice what God is telling us? Our faith may be weak at times, but God is with us. He is our strength. He enables us to walk in His ways, if we will respond in faith. Habakkuk 2:3 tells us to hold on to the vision given us by God. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time. It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it. For it will certainly come; it will not delay.” We should wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. We are an impatient people, getting upset about the things around us, like the traffic. We have yet to learn that we are secure in Christ and situations and circumstances won’t put us down, if we put our trust in Him.
Habakkuk lost sight of who he was. He failed to remember that he and all of Israel are God’s children; that He brought them out of Egypt, delivered them from slavery and led them to the Promised Land. Habakkuk was so wrapped up in himself and his miseries that he had forgotten about God. This distressed him and caused him to cry out to God. In our own lives, God sometimes allows us to go through difficulties like Habakkuk did so that we will realize our need for Him and turn back to Him. God told Habakkuk that in the midst of the darkness, the destruction, violence and injustice, the righteous will live by faith. It is our righteousness in Christ, our trust in God, our walking in faith in all that He has done for us that will save us in the day of calamity. We will live and not die because of our faith.
In 2 Timothy, Paul wrote to Timothy while he was in prison and he knew that his days were numbered. He loved Timothy and longed to see him, mindful of the sincere faith within him. He tells Timothy to hold firm to what has been given to him, “to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you….” It is one thing to have the gifts, but if we don’t use them, they won’t do us any good. St. Paul also asked Timothy to “guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you”.
Do we treasure what God has given us? His first gift to us if LIFE. Do we treasure our masculinity/femininity and build up on what we’ve been given? This is not happening in the world today. God created us the way we are because He has a plan. Therefore, we must treasure this gift of life we’ve been given. Treasure the gifts you’ve been given. Value them. Use them.
St. Paul goes on to say to Timothy that God has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. This death covers sickness, disease, poverty, misery and other forms of grief. Christ came to abolish death and instead gave life – peace, joy, forgiveness, the ability to rise up from setbacks and conquer challenges and difficulties. The death St. Paul speaks of is not physical death but the old life, a life without Christ, a life of lust, greed and all forms of unrighteousness. This life brings joy, pleasure, peace and the love of God. There are many dead people walking among us; there’s no life manifested in their countenance. A person with life walks with confidence in the God who loves him. Yes, we have frustrations and things that bring us down, but we overcome and rise up and bring forth the hope that is in us. The Lord tells us in John 14, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me”. Romans 8:15 “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’” We are not of this world. We do not move according to the world system because we are of the Kingdom of God which does not primarily consist of material things. The book of Revelation tells us that all these worldly things will be destroyed, but even if they are destroyed, we will not fall with them. God promises us that His provision is more than enough.
In the Gospel, the Lord told His disciples to forgive a brother who repents, even if he sins against them seven times a day. Whereupon the disciples said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” They did not ask the Lord to given them faith because each of us has already been given a measure of faith. And even if our faith is small, it can grow like a tiny mustard seed that grows into the biggest tree. If we had faith like this, it will grow to support the needs of others. God has given us everything we need to be witnesses of His greatness. The problem is we listen to other voices. Last week, we talked about our five senses which, many times we allow to control us. We are controlled by little things – what we see, feel, hear, taste and smell. God wants us to rise above these little things because when we do, our small faith will grow.
The Lord continues by telling His disciples the example of a slave – that even after a long and tiring day of working, will still have to serve his master and prepare his meal when he comes home before he can take his own meal and rest. The Lord is telling us here that we have become so concerned about the world around us – our work and our many concerns – that we get too tired when it comes to worshipping God. Perhaps we’ve become too busy and tired to do our daily devotion, or come Sunday, we are so tired that we skip Church and fail to give our Master what’s due Him.
Look at the gift He has given us – LIFE: male and female.Do we value this life that we give Him our best? It is through our body that we glorify God. Our body is sacred and holy. God has given us tremendous abilities, but we don’t use them. God causes the body to renew and heal itself so that it may bring glory to Him. We don’t focus on weaknesses because God gives us strength. We need to renew our mind and say, “I am a child of God. I have the mind of Christ to make choices that will fulfill His plan for my life”.
“It is for freedom that He set us free”, but this freedom can only be realized when we’re in bondage to the One who set us free. We must value and nurture our relationship with God. We are His representatives on earth to manifest His greatness and love to the world. We’ve been so duped by the world, believing who it says we are. Go back to the Word. At times when everything seems wrong, just wait and stand firm in faith. We are fully equipped to bring forth the purpose of our creation. He created us male and female. God is perfect. He does not make mistakes. He did not create a third kind. He did not create transgenders. He does not change His mind because He knows the future. When we read the Old Testament, we say that God has changed. Not so. What we see is a progression to carry out His plan for man. He is growing us up.
On this 20th Sunday, we’re getting closer to the time when we can say “When we see Him we will know Him, because we will be like Him”. At creation, God saw that His creation was very good. We must see ourselves as being very good, not in arrogance but with confidence because we are God’s children. Yes, we make mistakes, but God forgives us each time when we repent. 1 Corinthians 6:20 “You have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body”. In everything we do and think, in the way we live our lives, we must glorify God. We owe Him this because He redeemed us from sin and set us free from all the effects of sin. John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh….” God’s Word must come alive in us, in our flesh. This is why Jesus said that the things He had done we shall do also, and even greater. Can we begin to believe this? If we don’t believe, this can’t happen to us. For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. If we don’t grasp this, we can’t attain our full potential. It’s time that we renewed our mind. We are the image and likeness of God. When we have Christ in us, all things are possible. I challenge you to be what God made you to be. Treasure the gift of life He’s given you. Our body is sacred. See what the Lord did – He took on flesh to redeem us.