Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009 Trinity 9 Luke 16:1-9

And He was saying also to the disciples, "A certain man was rich who had a house-manager; and this one had been charged to Him of wasting his possessions. And having called him, He said to him, `How do I hear this concerning you? Give back the log of your house-management, for you are no longer able to be house-manager.' And the house-manager said to himself, `What will I do, because my master is taking away the house-management from me? I have not strength to dig; I am ashamed to beg. Aha, I know what I will do, in order that whenever I am removed from the house-management, they may receive me into their houses!' And having called one by one the debtors of his lord, he said to the first, `How much do you owe my Lord?' And that one said, `for 80 hundred gallon baths of oil.' And he said to him, `Take your writing, and having sat down, quickly write 40.' Then he said to another, `And you, how much do you owe?' And that one said, 'for 100 ten bushel sacks of wheat.' He says to him, `Take your writing and write 80.'" And the Lord commended the unrighteous house-manager because he acted shrewdly; because the sons of this age are more shrewd than the sons of light in the generation which is their own. And I Myself say to you: Make for yourselves friends by the unrighteous mammon, in order that whenever it runs out, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.

Today we have a parable about stewardship, and how we manage our mammon.
(Mammon is the abundance of wealth which we often call *stuff* that we
accumulate, above and beyond what meets our needs.) In the story, the
unrighteous manager is pretty shrewd with his master's mammon. First, he
wastes his master's belongings, then when he finds out he's going to be
fired, he figures "Why not cheat my master further" and he fudges the
logbook so that he can do a solid favor for others who might befriend
him when he is unemployed and homeless.

Now this manager was shrewd and dishonest. Jesus doesn't commend him for
his dishonesty, but credits him only for his shrewdness. It was quick
thinking to make friends with another man's mammon. This manager knew
how to make things work for him in.this world. How about you? Are you
shrewd as a Christian? Do you put the abundant blessings God gives you
to work in His kingdom as you ought? Or do you spend more on extra
clothes you don't need, on movies, at Starbucks, on video games, at
restaurants, or on the latest electronic gadgets than you put in the
offering plate?

Truth be told, hardly any of us tithe like the OT saints used to do. Not
that we are forced to give an exact 10% of our income to the Lord's
work. (In Christian liberty you are free to give 11%, 12% or even 15% if
you like!) We probably give such pitiful amounts in the offering plate
because we don't really take the time to understand what it is for–to
make friends with that unrighteous mammon–friends who will welcome us
one day into our eternal habitations in heaven! After all, isn't that
the Lord's work for His church, to increase the citizenship of paradise.
And we have a part...

But mammon itself is unrighteous. It has no power, in and of itself, to
purchase heaven for anyone. Not silver nor gold, but only the holy
precious blood of Jesus shed at the cross, and His innocent suffering and
death could purchase salvation for anyone. But as unrighteous as it is,
your wealth can be utilized in ways which bless your neighbor. Mammon
can't get you to heaven, but it might be of help to others in need, so
that they too may one day be blessed with the same eternal life you
received at your Baptism. It can be used to make eternal friends you
will treasure forever.

How? By God using you and all your abundant blessings so as to let your
light shine before men, so that God is the one glorified. This is what
St. James was getting at in His epistle when he talks about being
justified by works. We know that we are already justified before God by
grace thru faith, not of works, lest any man boast. But before our
neighbor, who needs the benefits and blessings of our good works, those
works show that we are justified before him. He sees them not as our
works, but as Christ's works through us, and he gives glory to God as a

You have been already justified by God's grace alone. "It is finished!"
Jesus exclaimed from the cross. You call heaven your home already, and feast
on the heavenly banquet of His body and blood for your forgiveness, life and
salvation regularly. But your body doesn't dwell there yet; it is left
down here for a purpose. In the meantime, you are given to be God's
stewards, managing His mammon, to be shrewd in your use of the
unrighteous stuff with which God has blessed you, to use as much of it
as you can to help others dwell in heaven someday with you, as your
friends, treasures stored up unto life eternal.

But what if you've been a pretty miserable steward for quite some time.
Perhaps you give in the offering plate only grudgingly, or you have made
excuse after excuse to avoid participating in church activities, or you
waste more money on frivolous things than you give to the Lord's work.
Maybe you have spent your time griping and complaining about the way
things are done at church, instead of actively helping out and becoming
more involved. It could be that you haven't even contemplated the
salvation of others who could benefit from some of your abundant mammon.

If this is the case, do not lose all hope. For God will bring you to
repentance, changing your heart and mind, turning you from sin to grace by
His forgiveness. Then as a new creature in Christ Jesus, He will raise
you up to walk in newness of life, bearing the fruits of repentance in
your life now, and storing up friends in heaven for you later! The Lord
has only begun this good work in you, and He Himself will bring it to
completion both for you and for others.

For the Great Steward for you has wasted all His good works upon you.
Christ has given up all His righteousness for you at the cross, having taken
your unrighteousness to Himself as He bears the punishment of the death
you deserved. In doing so, He gets out His Great Logbook and cancels
your debt, not 20%, not even 50%, but 100% of your debts & trespasses,
He has forgiven you. Your slate is now clean. You owe nothing to God any
longer. The only one left who can benefit from your good works is your
neighbor. As God has blessed you with His good gifts, so too does the
Lord use you to bless others so that they too may share your heavenly
habitation! Amen.

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