October 2019  
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9-22-19 Sermon

Luke 16:1-15

LORD of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of Your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus CHRIST our LORD, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

When tragedies happen, people will open their hearts in compassion to help out. People roll up their sleeves and pitch in loving our neighbor. I sometimes wonder it that’s why God allows these things to happen—so we forget about ourselves to serve, give and love our neighbor.

 

In the Gospel we just heard, there’s this manager, or a steward, for a very wealthy man. It’s a great job, a privileged position. Jesus tells us this man was wasting his master’s possessions. The master calls him in and tells him: You can no longer be my manager. Come give an account of what you’ve done.

 

The prophet Amos could have spoken to this man: using false measures, taking advantage of people, eager only for gain however he could get it. We all know people like that. It may even be at times the person we see in the mirror.

 

But whatever this man was doing, it was coming to a screeching halt.

 

So he begins reducing the debt that is owed to his master. And in doing so, he was commended! Well done!

 

Now, if you’re confused you’re not alone! This parable has caused a lot of confusion. Some believe the manager slashed what might have been his own profit and not his master’s money. And that’s possible, but we’re not told.

 

If he was in fact slashing what was owed to the master--stealing more from his master-- the master should have been even angrier with his manager and certainly would not have commended the manager for doing this!

 

The real problem is we’re trying to make worldly sense of this parable. But God’s love, mercy, and compassion is beyond our wildest imagination. God’s love does not make worldly sense. That’s the point.

 

So let’s shift our thinking: what if the master wanted his manager to be kind, compassionate, to use the master’s wealth to help and love and care for people all along? So when the manager finally does that -- the master is pleased.

 

Now take that interpretation and apply it to our lives. The wealth that has been entrusted to us is not “ours” - it is God’s, given to us to use for a short time. Our Master is not only very wealthy, He is very generous. With whatever the amount he has given to each of us, we are to be generous with it. Being a good and faithful steward of all He has given us, is not hoarding it for ourselves or making wealth our god, but serving Him by loving and caring for and helping our neighbors with our worldly wealth.

 

And so Jesus wants us to use and give what we have for others, not just in times of tragedy: giving our hearts, our ears, our compassion, our time, our prayers, our forgiveness. Extravagantly giving - not holding grudges, not looking at people with suspicion, not withholding our love - but serving them as if they were God Himself.

 

Just think about that! How would that change the way you do things--if that person in need were God Himself?

 

For as Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

 

Pharisees ridiculed Jesus for the manner in which He loved everyone. I think there are times when we ridicule Jesus too.

Our God, is always a giving, a loving and serving God. In response to the tragedy of sin, His response was to give even more: Jesus that, the debt of sin would be paid, the power of the enemy broken, and forgiveness won. That we who are unfaithful might be raised from the death to a new life. Is that foolish?

God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And sometimes it takes a tragedy to do that. Sometimes all our false gods must be taken away before we’ll open our hearts and receive salvation.

This is good, Paul says: To pray for people, to love them and care for them-- not because they deserve it, but because of the Gospel given to us. The Gospel changes us because of CHRIST living in and working through us for others.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to get us to do that. But we have a Savior who turns tragedies into blessings. From the cross He bore to dying and rising for you, you may also die and rise with Jesus to a new life, a good life, a Gospel life. Which is the ultimate gift--a gift that begins now and has no end.