Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus says the world is so much smarter using its mammon than we are using ours. He says, “The children of this world are wiser than the children of light.” To prove it, He uses the example of an unjust steward, a scoundrel who gets himself fired and then uses his master’s money to gain friends for himself when he is unemployed! It’s a shrewd business decision. The people of this world know how to use the things of this world—and work harder at it—than the people of God do with the things that are ours! Take a drug addict. He risks life and limb to get his fix. He doesn’t let friends or family stand in his way. He doesn’t care if the police are a constant threat. He is a skilled liar, able to get others to believe that, if only they help him one more time, this will be the end of it. His friends are only his friends when he brings them money for more drugs. They will cut him off in a moment, beat him up and throw him out, if he gives them the slightest cause. Yet, he visits them often. Nothing they do turns him away.
How different from the children of light. Who among us risks life and limb to come and receive the Gospel in our ears and mouth? Which of us shows the same devotion to the Word as we do to our favorite treats or activities? Who will go to such great extents to gain friends for heaven with our eternal mammon as the world influences people with its mammon of sin? The world’s mammon passes away. Our mammon, the forgiveness of sins, remains forever. We have the Bread of Life come down from heaven! We have God in human flesh, Who spent all He had to gain a heaven full of friends in you and me! We have His shrewdness for us, earning forgiveness of sins, life and salvation! We have His Baptism to deliver that to us, His Absolution to return us to Him over and over, and His body and blood to eat and drink in bread and wine. These fill up heaven with God’s friends!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, use the stuff that belongs to Jesus. Use the unfair, unrighteous, undeserved mammon which God gives you freely! It is no more yours by right than the master’s wealth was for that steward. Yet he used what wasn’t his. As for you, use what rightfully belongs to God: His good favor, His peace, His forgiveness, mercy and love. That’s how God wants His treasure—His forgiveness—being used! Our Father delights when you share the gifts His Son won for you.
Instead of writing off your neighbor, enjoy God’s forgiveness, and write off anything another owes against you! Say, “I forgive you, as the Lord has forgiven me!” What friends that gains for you in heaven! Can you do that? Yes, you can! Do you need help? In that case learn more of what God does and says to you in Holy Baptism. Come to private Absolution and hear how God writes off your sins through a pastor, who speaks as if God doesn’t mind when we act so freely with His blood-bought Treasure! When your pastor tells you, “I forgive you all your sins,” say, “Amen!” And then, go and share that forgiveness with poor souls who need it as much as you.
We are so shrewd when it comes to stuff that passes away, and so foolish with what will not! We pursue our hobbies with a religious zeal, and our religion with a passing nod—one whole hour once a week! We are anything but shrewd when it comes to the Gospel. Look at the evidence. The devil is far more successful getting his children to work hard than God is with His. Yet God is our helper. He is our Friend Who will not be put off, even by how shabbily we treat Him! Already, heaven is full of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are all happy to greet you—so much so they took what they possessed and they invested it in you! The Father sent His Son. The Son took what His Father said and made it known to you! He took our flesh and blood and then He spent them to gain a heaven full of friends in you and me! All this the Spirit teaches freely in the Church. Our God uses all He has so you and I are gathered up with angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.
How much more you have than the children of this world! God has called you by the Gospel, enlightened you with His Gifts, and here, through His Word and Sacraments, He sanctifies and keeps you, together with Jesus Christ and all His friends, in the One True Faith. Our Lord is not teaching us to earn our way into heaven. He is saying: “You’re already there, and all of heaven is now at your disposal. Your sins are forgiven! Don’t let the world outdo you when it comes to using what is Mine! God has wiped out all you owe and all your neighbor has against you!” That might not go into your bank account so well, but it fits nicely in your neighbor’s ears. That is true riches, riches which endure for you forever. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.