Weekly Devotion

Amos 8:4-7

We would never trample on the needy, would we? Or consider being unfair in a business transaction? We’d never intentionally shortchange somebody, or use rigged weights and balances? We never chafed at the blue laws that used to limit or ban certain types of business on Sunday mornings?

So we just step by Amos, pass on to other, more interesting readings. Certainly the Gospel lesson (Luke 16:1-15) or the Epistle reading (1 Timothy 2) grab our attention. Certainly these must be more relevant, either academically or practically?

Amos calls religious and political leaders of his day to account for their attitudes about materialism and wealth, attitudes that easily blind them to their moral failures and more importantly, to the identity of those they are defrauding as fellow children of Israel, fellow members of the covenant community of God. They have instead become means to other ends – personal profit or comfort. Amos can see these things more clearly because he is an outsider – from the southern kingdom of Judah God calls him to speak truth to power in the northern kingdom of Israel. Perhaps it is his otherness which allows God to speak against what everyone else just viewed as business as usual.

Personal piety can be very, very cold to those around us. As members of a culture and society driven almost entirely by profit and materialism, we need to be cautious not just to be honest in our dealings with others, but also sympathetic and empathetic with those in need and those displaced in the vast system of buying and selling. These are children of God! These are people Jesus suffered and died for! If they merit his precious blood, they deserve at least our concern, both in personal interactions and on their behalf in our society.

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