Doing What is Right and Good. The Helpless Heroes and the Vindictive Prideful, Part 10

A house in Belgium

A couple from Brussels, Belgium, Antoine and Flora Abeloos, loved helping people in need. Antoine had a moving company and owned numerous trucks. He often used his trucks for more noble endeavors, however; such as transporting food and clothing to the poor victims of the Spanish Civil War.

In August 1942, Majleck Traksbetryger had a problem. He was summonsed to show up at the Mechelen transit camp. Being a Jew, he was well aware what was awaiting him. He decided to move from Brussels to Genval, where he rented an apartment. He needed a mover, and he hired Antoine Abeloos.

When Majlek reached his destination, however, his wife, Esther, and their 3 children, were refused entrance to the new apartment. The landlord was afraid of the Gestapo who did not permit non-Jews to lodge Jews. That poor family was frantic. What were they supposed to do? They turned to Antoine for help.

"No problem!" Said Antoine. He brought the Traksbetrygers and his possessions back to Brussels and unloaded all their belongings into an unfinished house he owned. Maijlek and his family stayed there for a year. Then they were moved again. In fact, Antoine and his wife took care of Majleck and his family for 30 months, moving them from one place to another to keep them safe.

At one time, Majlek asked Antoined to keep 300 000 francs so that the Nazis would never get their money. Antoine accepted the money on one condition: He would only take it in front of a notary, where he signed that this money belonged solely to Majlek.

One day Flore Abbeloos was arrested by the Gestapo for suspicion of hiding Jews. She was brutally interrogated, but she never betrayed the Traksbetryger. She preferred to die than to betray these poor people. She was eventually set free.

Antoine helped other Jews as well, always without charging a fee. Antoine and Flora cared for those who were persecuted, and they were quite clever in coming up with ways to protect them. They had street smarts!

This is a vivid illustration of our message for today. Jesus told a parable. A rich man had no idea that his manager was a crook: "Taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses." Luke 16:1 (MSG) When the rich man heard about it, he said: "What's this I hear about you? You're fired. And I want a complete audit of your books." Luke 16:2 (MSG) However, that manager had always been dishonest. Why should he change now? He approached the people who were in debt with his boss and cut their debts in half. By doing so, the manager was certain that "People will take me into their houses." Luke 16:4 (MSG) He didn't expect what happened next: The rich man applauded him for his tactics: "And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits." Luke 16:8 (MSG) Does this mean we should be dishonest as well?

When Jesus told this parable, the Pharisees were rolling "their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch." Luke 16:14b (MSG) Why? Because they were "a money-obsessed bunch!" Luke 16:14a (MSG) They too were dishonest! These legalists were thinking solely of themselves!

Now comes the main message of this parable: "I want you to be smart in the same way-but for what is right-using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior." Luke 16:9 (MSG) Do we really live? Are we focusing "on the bare essentials"? Just like Antoine and Flora, we need street smarts "for what is right!" The more these two helped the persecuted, the more fulfilled they were.

Are we truly fulfilled as well? If not, we need to do something about it!

Unlike Jesus, the manager in Jesus' parable, as well as the legalistic Pharisees, were dishonest: "A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." John 10:10 (MSG) This is why Jesus makes us aware: "If you're honest in small things, you'll be honest in big things; If you're a crook in small things, you'll be a crook in big things. If you're not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store? No worker can serve two bosses: He'll either hate the first and love the second or adore the first and despise the second. You can't serve both God and the Bank." Luke 16:10b-13 (MSG) This is why the religious were rolling their eyes. They knew Jesus was aiming at them with this parable. Instead of repenting, however, they preferred to mock Jesus. They were too proud. They were the ones who lived for money. They had no idea what real living looked like. They completely missed the boat.

The crowd, however, most of them sinners themselves, were hungering for these words that Jesus proclaimed. They were humble enough to realize that His words were true, and with this knowledge they were blessed.

What is better: To live a dishonest life, thinking solely of ourselves and ending up on our death bed with bitter regrets? Or being humble, with our aim to do what is right and good towards others, ever realizing what real living is all about? These are the ones who are forgiven and welcomed into the Kingdom, thanks to the merits of Jesus!

If Belgians were willing to risk their lives to save the hunted, why shouldn't we do anything in our power to bring hope and encouragement to those who are despised? Is pursuing money worthwhile compared to eternity?

Rob Chaffart

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