Godly Stewardship Given By a Generous and Merciful Godd
Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, You have bountifully given us Your blessing and our daily bread: We beseech You, preserve us from covetousness, and so enliven our hearts that we willingly share Your blessed gifts with our needy brethren; that we may be found faithful stewards of Your gifts, and abide in Your grace when we shall be removed from our stewardship, and shall come before Your judgment, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.
2 “So he called him and said to him,`What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
3 “Then the steward said within himself,`What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg.
4 `I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’
5 “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first,`How much do you owe my master?’
6 “And he said,`A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him,`Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’
7 “Then he said to another,`And how much do you owe?’ So he said, `A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him,`Take your bill, and write eighty.’
8 “So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.
9 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your word is truth. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
“All is vanity” so says, wise Solomon in Ecclesiastes, “a chasing after the wind.” This describes a life separated from God, a life in darkness, if you will. Solomon had a kingdom, ruling over Israel. He had riches. He had women. He had everything. But it was vanity, it was for nothing. He was rich with things that fail, with things that come to an end. He had all this in his hands in his possession, but one day his cold dead hands will be empty.
Such is the stewardship of the world, the stewardship of those in darkness. First we ought to consider the word stewardship. We are stewards, not owners. What we have in this world, in the eyes of the world we may own, but truly, these are things that God has entrusted to us. They are not our own. All belongs to God, as the Psalmist says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (24:1). We are merely stewards, or managers, of that which God has entrusted to us. And we are to use what we have been given according to the will of the owner, that is, according to the will of God, done in love for God and for neighbor.
But such is not how stewardship happens in the world. Those in darkness live as though they are owners of all that they have. They live as lords themselves, using what they have not according to the will of God, but according to their own will and they manage in self-interest. And they often do it very well, putting much of their effort and cleverness in self-service, just like the steward in our reading.
The gifts of God are used in the service of sin. Hedonism, a life where pleasure is god is the norm. Man either seeks instant gratification or insures himself for a life that ends. Even in his charity, behind the outward semblance of righteousness, there is hidden pride and self-righteousness.
But there is another way of stewardship. It is a life of those who are sons of light. The sons of light are no longer in darkness of unbelief, enslaved to sin and the devil. The Holy Spirit is the one who enlightens and frees us. He causes us to see our sin, to know Christ as our Savior. He opens the Scriptures to us, that we may know God, know of His righteousness and love, to know ourselves rightly in relationship to God. And part of this enlightening, is the Christian worldview, that is, viewing all things and thinking about all things in light of Scripture. And so we think about stewardship differently than the world thinks. We view our possessions rightly, and we use them accordingly. We know that we are not truly owners of what God has entrusted to us, but simply stewards. All we have, our time, our energy, our money and possessions, our bodies and lives, all these belong to the Lord. And we use them, not according to the will of our sinful flesh, but according to the will of the owner and Master, our Lord God. Our life of stewardship is to be lived, not in self-interest, but in love for God and for our neighbor.
We are children of light. By the grace and working of the Holy Spirit, we have come to know Christ as our Savior. However, if we were to give an account of our stewardship, how would that look? It is not good, is it. We have been wasteful, unwise, and selfish. We have acted as though we are owners, using what God has entrusted to us according to the desires of our flesh. The steward was shrewd in using his owners things for his own ends. Yet, we are not shrewd in using what God has given us, for His glory and in service for our neighbor. Does your management glorify God? Is your neighbor served by your stewardship? Are you using your money, time, and presence to support the ministry of the gospel, which gives eternal gifts, even when the earthly gifts fail? Do you manage selflessly? Do you think about these things when you manage your possessions?
The steward in the text was caught. He didn’t deny his guilt. So also, we’re caught red-handed. Our accounting does not lie. We have sinned. There is no use covering up. Now the steward came up with an earthly solution out of his earthly predicament. But we have no solution to our guilt. We can’t use the earthly gifts God has given us to secure for us a home in heaven. No amount of good stewardship will get us there.
Instead we look to owner, the Creator, for the Holy Spirit has enlightened us with the knowledge that He is generous and merciful. He not only gives us earthly gifts, but more importantly, He gives us even His own Son as a sacrifice to save us from our sin, from our abuse of the stewardship He has given us. The righteous God will not let our sin go unpunished. It wouldn’t be just of Him to simply cross out our debt. But He gave His own Son, so that in Him, in Jesus, by His cross, by His suffering, our debt was paid, our debt was cancelled. Our accounting is made clean. And the account of Christ’s perfect stewardship, His selfless use of His time, energy, and whatever possessions He had, is credited to you through faith.
Forgiveness and righteousness are won for you, and God is generous in giving it to you. He has called pastors as stewards of His mysteries, of the gospel in Word and Sacrament, to distribute generously to you penitent believers His forgiveness and righteousness. He gives me authority to say to you that the forgiveness that Christ won by His blood is yours. His forgiveness is given full and free, washing you thoroughly of your sins. He gives me authority to give you this great feast that the Lord has established for you, that you may eat of the very body and blood of Christ that was sacrificed for your forgiveness and eternal salvation!
Surely, God is generous and merciful to us! He sacrifices His own Son, that we may be forgiven. He enlightens us with the Holy Spirit, so that through faith, we become His very own children! And being His children, we are His heirs of the eternal inheritance!
What a Lord we have! And so may the Holy Spirit then strengthen us guide us to be good stewards for our God, who is not just the Creator and owner of all things, but also our heavenly Father. This is the fruit of faith.
We see that the things of this world do not last, they will fail. But we conduct ourselves as stewards, using “unrighteous mammon,” according to God’s will, that we may glorify Him and serve our neighbor, especially with their eternal wellbeing in mind.
Isn’t this the will of God? That all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We shall shrewdly use this unrighteous mammon for their eternal good.
Think about the blessing you have because of the stewardship of those who have come before you. You are here today receiving the Lord’s forgiveness and salvation. You, today, are given heaven. You are able to be here, because people of generations past came into these doors, were present, and gave generously to this church of their time and money. You today have access to this ministry of the gospel that you may hear the Word and receive His Sacrament. God has continued the preaching of His Word and Sacraments through the support of the renewed lives of those who came before you.
They shall see you in heaven, and you will receive them there! And what joy that will be! And what joy it is for us to continue to support the ministry of the Word and Sacraments for the children here, for the community, and for those who are not even born yet. And what a joy it will be to receive them whom the Lord saved and preserved in the faith by the His ministry which we were blessed to support!
And we do not use unrighteous mammon, just for the support of the church, but we also use it for the good of our neighbor. Hear the words of Jesus, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” What is the goal of our enlightened lives? It is not for self-interest or glorification, but that the God be glorified, and that others may wonder about the hope that is in you, and through the gospel, also become sons of light who glorify God.
May the Holy Spirit grant us such fruits of faith that we may live as good stewards of our generous and merciful heavenly Father. Rightly see, that we may use things temporal for the good of our neighbor and the glory of God, and that for Jesus’ sake, we have an eternal inheritance that does not perish. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.