For those who have been paying attention, you’re probably saying to yourself, “What is going on? We had this Gospel text just a few weeks ago? Good thing that Pastor is leaving, he is really starting to repeat himself!” Well, for the last year we have been following the One Year Lectionary Readings and now for the ease of your vacancy pastors, who use the Three Year Readings, I have switched you back to the Three Year Lectionary. Plus, there is the fact that I love this Gospel text and I don’t think that we could ever hear it enough.
To begin with. I have a problem with the phrase “being a good steward.” The call to be a good steward is the rallying cry of the voters meeting. Any time a question of money comes up, the immediate response is, “We must be good stewards!” Well, what does that mean?
If we define this phrase by our practice, then it means that we have to sit on what God has given us in case there is a rainy day that the Lord stops providing for us. Being a good steward means, “We have to have a choke hold on the gifts and blessings that the Lord has given us. We have to control the outflow of such gifts or we might actually have to trust that the Lord will provide and actually be dependent upon Him.”
And this isn’t just about our use of money. We claim that we must be good stewards in regards to our family. “Pastor, we can’t be in church on Sunday because it’s the only day we have together as a family.” As if a family gathered around the altar of the Lord is inferior to one gathered around the TV watching football.
And it doesn’t stop there. We think we must be good stewards with the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive those who trespass against us,” and we don’t really mean it. We want karma to kick them in the rear end. Like Jonah, we don’t really want them forgiven. We want justice, so we withhold forgiveness until they can show us how truly sorry they are and appear to make amends.
Repent of be being such good stewards! Repent of having a choke hold on God’s gifts and being arrogant enough to think that you are to control what is given to whom. Repent for not trusting that the Lord will provide.
Look again at our text. This manager is commended for giving away the farm. He gives away what belongs to his master. He is reckless with what does not belong to him. So you are to be with the forgiveness of sins.
In Matthew there is another man who is forgiven an enormous debt but then being a good steward, demands that a $100 debt be paid to him and then we read that the king punishes him. Or there are three men who are given talents and two use them and one is a good steward and sits on his talent by burying it. This so-called good steward is then chastised by the master and what he did have was taken from him. Look, every time we run into stewardship in the Gospels, the ones who are foolish with the Master’s gifts are commended and the ones who follow the world’s idea of good stewardship are condemned.
Again this example of foolishness can hold true for matters of money. Loosen your grip. Trust that the Lord will provide. The Church, the Gospel is not about the numbers. And don’t say, “I know it’s not about the numbers, but it’s about the numbers.” It is not about butts in the pew. It is not about dollars in the plate. This Church, this body, is about THE BODY. It’s about Christ. It is about Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. This is about faithfulness to the foolishness of the Gospel.
The example we have from Christ in regards to being good stewards with the Gospel is to be absolutely ridiculously free and foolish with it. Cast it about like the sower who foolishly throws the seed upon hard, thorny, rocky ground. Be stupid with the forgiveness of sins and forgive your brother 70 times 7 times whether he deserves it or not. If Jesus was foolish enough to die for the likes of you and me, then surely we can die to ourselves and forgive those who trespass against us.
It is the forgiveness of sins that has freed you from having to be a good steward. Christ has thrown the accounting books out the window. You are free to forgive as you have been forgiven. You are free to serve your neighbor as the Lord has served you. You are not chained to the world’s ideas of proper time, talent, and treasure management.
My last word to you is believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Forget about clinging to some old rugged cross, cling to the Word of God and the Holy Sacraments that give you the fruit of the cross; forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation. As you have freely received, freely give. Be totally reckless with forgiveness. Christ has set you free. And because you love your neighbor as yourself, you desire that they know the freedom that you enjoy. That they in turn, be gracious, foolish stewards just like you.
The Lord will take care of you. He will provide you with another pastor who will be blessed because you will freely give to him as you have given to me. He will freely give to you our Lord’s gifts of water, word, body, and blood. So in Christ, be foolish. Be free. Remember this final example I leave you…you are forgiven all of your sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.