This week’s Lenten reading and reflection included something from Meister Eckhart (http://www.soundshoremedia.com/merchandising-truth-by-meister-eckhart/) –
“The merchants are those who only guard against mortal sins. They strive to be good people who do their good deeds to the glory of God, such as fasting, watching, praying and the like – all of which are good – and yet do these things so that God will give them something in exchange.”
Ouch! Reflecting on much of my so-called piety leads me to this spiritual marketplace where I expect God to reward me for what I do. Even in my work as a pastor there is an underlying assumption (and an explicit one given that I earn a salary from this work!) that God will return to me benefits because I serve Christ.
Benefits are what I want. Like my AAA or fraternal memberships, I “give” to God in expectation of some return. The return I expect may not always be physical but it is nevertheless a real expectation of return. We – I – have not helped at all in our promising God’s response to certain behaviors.
We are not on contract with God. We are in covenant. God blesses rather than benefits. All that I have? It came from God. Not one thing that is “mine” is mine except by God’s good grace. I no more earned God’s goodness than I did blonde hair (well, used to be) or blue eyes. They came to me.
Meister Eckhart continues and I end with these powerful words about the free gift of God to me and to you on this good day:
God gives us nothing and does nothing except out of his own free will. What we are we are because of God, and whatever we have we receive from God and not by our own contriving. Therefore God is not in the least obligated to us – neither for our deeds nor for our gifts. He gives to us freely. Besides, Christ himself says, “Without me, you can do nothing.”