Joshua 16:1-18:28; Luke 19:1-27; Psalm 87:1-7; Proverbs 13:11
Grace and Work
In the sacristy of our church, there is a needlepoint hanging on the wall. It reads, “Ask God to bless your work, but do not expect Him to do it for you.” The reading from Joshua reminds me of this. The LORD gave the Promised Land to the Israelites, but they had to do the hard work of clearing out the Land. Some of the tribes did not clear out their portion of the Land as instructed. Later, this would become problematic. Still, the grace of God in the Promise preceded the work of clearing it out. In one sense, this pattern comes to us again in the Gospel reading.
As a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus was also considered to be a chief sinner. Jesus, however, made a beeline straight to this sinner extraordinaire. Zacchaeus received a taste of God’s grace, and he responded generously. He went straight to work making things right and living in love.
On the heels of this encounter, we find a story about the different responses to God’s grace. Some reject it, two respond to it with all they have, and another is paralyzed by fear. Living in response to grace means that there is work to be done. The good news is that we do not begin with work. Rather, we begin with grace, and then go about extending God’s promise to others. So let us ask ourselves, “How am I responding to grace, and is it working in my life?”
The Rev. Gary Jackson