I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Our scriptures this morning all touch on the topic of judgement day, or the day of reckoning, or the day of the Lord – whatever we want to call it. The basic idea is that we do things, and those things have consequences, and we will one day meet with those consequences. However, we don’t need to think of that happening in the future, because really, every day is judgement day (and therefore every day is the day of salvation, as well as the day of condemnation).
Everything we do effects everyone in the world, including ourselves. Our reading from Zephaniah talks about the bad effects of bad actions, while our reading from Paul adds mention of the good effects of good actions. Both writers do talk about a coming day of consequences, and how God’s justice and mercy play a roll in judgement day, and I do think they are right – God’s justice will heal all wounds, and God’s mercy will heal all wounds. However, we can cooperate with God’s grace and make the world a better place even before judgement day rolls around. We can do more good things and fewer bad things and so produce more good consequences and fewer bad consequences. We can make every day judgement day as we confess our harmfullness and take the harm back upon us, as well as humbly submitting our good actions to God and enjoying the benefits of those actions along with everyone else.
Every day can be the day of salvation, as well as the day of condemnation. Every day our actions effect everyone. And even though we are effected by the actions of everyone else (good and bad), we can do nothing about the actions of anyone other than ourselves. We can choose to do good rather than selfish actions, and we can choose to follow disciplines to foster those good actions (as well as to help us be more receptive to the grace God is always giving us to help us). We can choose how we react to the actions of others and the consequences they bring upon us, but we can do nothing to change anyone else, and so we can stop wasting time and effort to do so and spend that time and energy working on ourselves, allowing the grace of God to heal us of our selfishness and harmful actions.
As our gospel story tells us, we do not have to think we have a lot of resources to do good things. W e have all been given exactly what we need to do what we need to do to make the world a better place for us and for everyone else. We can’t do it all by ourselves, but working together, we can. That is why it is so important that, no matter if we think we have been given only one talent, or two, or five, we never stop doing good because we think we are unimportant or do not have what it takes to do any good for anyone. Even the smallest helpful actions, if done well and with good intent, produce good consequences, which help others do good actions, which have more good consequences, which help ethers do good actions, which have more good consequences. Like a snowball, it gets bigger and bigger, and yet it starts with our seemingly inconsequential loving action. Of course, the flip side of that is the fact that even our smallest selfish actions grow in effect until more people are harmed that we ever intended. Another word for that is “sin”, the wages of which is death.
It is not easy to be always mindful of what we are doing and why we are doing it, but it is necessary. It takes work to choose the path of helpfulness rather than the initially seemingly easy path of selfishness, but the work pays off, because in the long run, the selfish path brings only heartache, while the helpful path brings joy. So, we must live our lives and do our work with constancy – always doing the helpful thing no matter if it seems we never see the benefits, and no matter how tiring it becomes. The constancy itself will produce joy that helps us further on the path of good actions. And the most important thing to remember is the fact that it is by the grace of God that we choose to do the right thing in the first place. God’s grace is always there for us, but it is up to us to accept it and put it into action. Today is judgement day. Today is the day of condemnation, as well as the day of salvation. Every hour, every moment we have the choice of what to do. Every hour, every moment we can make life better for all, or worse for all. May we choose wisely. AMEN