Thursday, August 01, 2013

Sermon for 7/28/13--Trinity 9


Unrighteous Mammon

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

It was quick thinking. This manager knew how to make this world work for him. This steward was about to be fired for faithless service, so he used his position while he still had it to worm his way into the hearts of those who owed his master. Ethical? Absolutely not! But certainly it was clever. The master could do nothing but commend the servant for his shrewdness. So where is Jesus in all this? In order for this steward to be useful to others, he must die to himself. He must lose his position and be nothing, become so free that he can make the debts of those who owe his master decrease.

As long as your life is about you, it's not about the good of others. All that God gives you, you will waste and squander for yourself. But when there is nothing to lose, we learn to take what is the Lord's and use it for the benefit of others. That is our life as Christians! We take what is the Lord's—our money, goods, health, whatever it is—and reduce the burdens of others. That's especially true of forgiveness. Christ saves us from our sins, not for our own sakes, but so that we can splurge on forgiveness for others. It was only when the Master was ready to fire the steward that the steward was of any use to others. It's only when we realize that being a Christian isn't about getting ourselves into heaven that we will learn to be free enough to live for the sake of others!

Now what happens after the steward cheats his Master and cuts all those bills? The Master praises Him! Then Jesus says to make friends with unrighteous mammon! What does it all mean? Christ is exalted because He suffered and died. He rose again and He conquered death. The Son of God, who was treated by the Father as if He were nothing but a sinner and crook, is put at the Father's right hand in all glory and majesty! Even though Jesus is not actually selfish, He acts by grace so unselfishly as to accomplish our salvation. When the steward was dead to his master, he was good for others. When Jesus is as nothing on the cross, He is our salvation.

He has a rich abundance of forgiveness, and we—sinners who don’t deserve forgiveness and didn’t earn it—are free to be generous with our Master’s forgiveness. We have the authority and power through our Baptism into Christ to reduce and eliminate the debts of others! Because we have died in Christ and been raised, we are now free to “squander” forgiveness with all those we meet. Has someone sinned against you? Do they “owe” you because of something they've said or done to you? Take their bill and write it down as if it were nothing. Take the debt their sin has accumulated and tell them they don't owe you a penny! Present them before God as someone who has no debts of sin but has been marked “paid in full.”

We love to take Christ's forgiveness and and live as if it's only for us. The Steward, when he was cast out, dead to his master, learned to live as if the goods were really there for others. By Baptism, Absolution and the Supper you have forgiveness heaped upon you. You need never fear the Lord's displeasure. You need never fear that you do not having a place with God. Your place has been secured by the dead and risen Jesus! And now, living in you, Christ lives to give those gifts away. He will always provide you what you need for this body and life and for the life to come. We have died and risen. We who were going to lose our place are now commended in Christ. Now, with Christ living in us, there's no more trying to serve God and mammon. The only one left who can benefit from your good works is your neighbor. Come forward to receive the body and blood of Christ, the free and undeserved gift of the Master's forgiveness, distributed by an unworthy steward to the Master's debtors. As God has blessed you with His good gifts, He also uses you to bless others so that they too may live 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.

No comments: