April 5 I Wednesday
1 Samuel 1-3
“Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot— went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’” —Matthew 26:14-15
Whenever we see a painting of the Last Supper, we usually see Judas somewhere in the periphery. He is obscured in a darkened silhouette, appears thin with sunken cheeks, eyes cast low and body language turned slightly away from the rest. We are left thinking this is someone we would not touch with a barge pole!
It is important we understand how Judas became this way. He was, of course, the one who betrayed Jesus, but initially, he was appointed treasurer of the group. We have no indication whether Judas was gifted with handling finances, but Matthew, as a tax collector, may have been. The problem was tax collectors were known for abusing funds and exploiting people, so that likely left a big question mark with the disciples. Therefore, we might conclude that they initially chose Judas because he appeared trustworthy and reliable.
While Judas may have appeared honest in the beginning, he did not stay that way. In John 12:6, Judas reprimands Mary for anointing Jesus’s feet not “because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Perhaps this started with something little he wanted, like popping into a convenience store today, buying a Mars bar and eating it quickly before the others could see. The next time, it might have been 3 or 4 Mars bars. Little things are where the bigger things come from, and they can grow so out of hand that eventually our actions become motivated by selfishness.
We cannot separate our conduct from our character, and our worst character traits will usually come out in our best skills. We can disguise our characters, as Judas obviously did, but eventually our conduct will begin to express our character, and it is our character that is all-important. A love of money, as Judas had, is only one of many corrupt behaviours that is born from the smallest of beginnings, but which can grow to ultimately putting us at odds with God.
Our giftedness is meant to serve other people, but when it becomes a means of serving ourselves, it becomes corrupted. We must be vigilant, especially when our God-given talents put us in positions where temptation abounds. Judas did not start out knowing he would betray Jesus, and just because we start out well, does not mean we finish well. Our giftedness and motivation need always to be fixed on Jesus, so that we keep in good standing what we are entrusted with.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to stay focused on You in all my endeavours, particularly in how You have gifted me, so that others are the beneficiaries. Thank You, Lord.