Pentecost 18 Sermon: Deeds Unforgotten
The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 20C
18 September AD 2016
Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Deeds Unforgotten.
Summary: Amos said, “The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: ‘Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.’” Are we such fools as to invite this remembrance? Are we innocent of taking advantage of those less fortunate?
Not likely! In one way or another, each of us shares culpability for the world’s social injustice — injustice that’s certainly sinful of itself but also a symptom of mankind’s fallen nature. The wicked practices that Amos decries testify against a people who judge themselves better than others — a people just like us.
We may not spend the Lord’s Day actively planning to cheat the poor, to achieve wrongful gain at the expense of the needy, or to create and use crooked measures in order to bilk the unwary. However, we often ignore the needs of the less fortunate even as we gather in the Lord’s house. Too often, we give only cursory attention to the preaching of His Word and the reception of the His Supper, preferring to zip in, get pepped up, and dash out in an hour or less.
By accusing us of using unjust measures, the Lord also points out our unbalanced natures, ever inclined toward sin. We are out of balance. And if we approach God’s judgment thinking that we will save ourselves, we’ll find the balance weighted more against us than we would have seen in Israel’s most dishonest scales, for the Lord “will never forget” our deeds.
Yet when Christians hear the Lord swear by “the pride of Jacob” to remember our deeds, we rejoice! Jacob’s ultimate pride resides in his greatest Heir, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Israel’s Pride gives us true forgiveness and credits us with His own deeds. Now our deeds are kind, merciful, and done without counting the cost. Our hearts are holy, our motives pure.
We not only have Christ’s deeds credited to us but Jesus also continues working His deeds through us. He sends the Holy Spirit to move us to lives of mercy, serving our neighbor, loving our enemy, forsaking sinful gain, and seeking justice for all.
Text: Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” Amos 8:4-7
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Deeds Unforgotten
NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.
Other Readings: Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-15