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Trinity IX, July 29, 2018 - St. Luke 16:1-9

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Posted: Sunday, July 29th, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

Everybody cares about it. Everybody wants it. Everybody needs it. No one can avoid it. We used to pay in goods like wheat and oil. Then we paid in gold and silver. Then along came paper. Now we tend to pay with cards or just by clicking an online button. You never even see your paycheck if your employer uses direct deposit. But no matter how we pay or get paid, we can’t avoid money.

We’ve been learning about living a sanctified life, so of course we have to learn how to use our stuff in a sanctified way. Right away we have to admit that sometimes we don’t like to talk about money. But we just heard Jesus talk about it. The Church in old times chose today, the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, to talk about it. So today we talk about money.

How should you use money? Writers and speakers make big bucks telling people how to best use their money. Accountants make lots of money, especially at tax time. We often think we don’t have enough of it. We need it to make improvements to our homes, to go on vacation, to eat, to have clothing, to play games and watch TV, to care for our kids. How should you use your money?

Isn’t that part of the problem? Is it really yours? “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof: the world and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas: and established it upon the floods.” “He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.” “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as ... money ...”

So is money really yours? We definitely think and act like it is, but is it? Did we create the material for the currency? Did we give ourselves the skills that earn? Did we choose to live or make things come into being? Of course not. God created all these things. He made us and gave us our skills and all we have. God gave us the money. It is His money. We are merely stewards of it and of everything He has given us.

So how should we treat it? How do you treat things you’ve been given? How do you treat that family heirloom handed down to you from gramma who got it from her gramma? How do you treat your jewelry or your signed Clemente/Mazeroski/Stargell baseball? By the way, those things are gifts from God too. How should you treat money and anything else you have? You should treat it like it belongs to somebody else. You should care to use it wisely, not out of love for the object, but out of love for God. Yes, you should treat it and everything else out of love for God.

The steward of that household was not doing a good job with his lord’s money. He was wasting it, squandering it, using it up for no good. It was obvious to everyone. He spent on and took for himself, didn’t get the best deals possible, went too easy on the debtors. He lost his job.

But before he left he was actually allowed to audit his own books. The lord gave him a chance to be honest for once in his life. But he always liked the charity of others. He had lived off his lord’s charity, so he decided to live off the debtors’ charity next. Though they owed his lord, he got them to owe him instead by slashing their debts. 810 gallons of oil became 405. Around 1000 bushels of wheat became around 800. And off he went to enjoy the high life without another day’s work mooching off the friends he bought and paid for.

Then the conclusion to the parable comes outta nowhere. We expect the lord to throw him into jail forever, just like that guy forgiven everything who refused to forgive just a little. Instead he praised him. He was still fired. But he got a backhanded compliment on his way out the door. He said he did a very wise/sensible thing. He did what he had to do to get by, and his lord could appreciate that. He made for himself friends in an unrighteous way: he stole one more time from his lord to make his life easy.

Today Jesus says: Be like him. No, don’t misuse things. That would be stealing. Use your own things to get friends. But what kind of friends? Friends who use you for your money? Those aren’t true friends; those are “users and abusers.” No, Jesus wants you to make true friends with the money He is giving you, not just true friends, but eternal friends, friends who will greet you in the eternal tents, in life everlasting, in paradise of the blessed, in heaven our home.

So why does God give you stuff in this life? He doesn’t just give it for your own enjoyment. He gives it so you can help others. He gives it so you can show your love for Him through how you use it. He gives it so you can show His love to others not only in words but also in deeds. He gives it to you so you will support the work of His Church.

That’s why you give your offerings. You give to support the work of this congregation and her school, to support our campus ministries and the urban ministries in Homewood and Hazelwood. You give to support missionaries both here in America and abroad: Lebanon County and Philadelphia, the Dominican and Sri Lanka, and throughout the world. You don’t do this because the Church is greedy for money. She isn’t. You do it because you want to meet the people you’re helping in eternity. You do it because you want to confess your faith in Christ who has done something like this for you.

Just think about it. Adam wasted everything. He wasted his stewardship of God’s creation. He gave up everything good for everything evil, and he handed evil down to you. You are a sinner in great debt to God. For your sins you owe eternity in hell. But then Jesus wasted everything for you. He gave up His spot on heaven’s high throne and took on our human nature. He could have ruled the world; instead He died on a Cross and wasn’t even as old as I am now when He did it. The world would call that a waste! What a waste of a life for wastes like us.

But that’s not how He sees it. God is our Helper. The Lord is the one Who upholds our souls. Jesus is risen from the dead. He became a man, died, and rose so He could forgive your sins and give you life eternal in the eternal tents. He gave up everything in order to give you everything. Now He sits at God’s right hand to bless and keep you all your days until you come to His nearer presence.

God gives us possessions such as money, not just so that we will enjoy them, but so that we will use them for His glory. That’s why we give our offerings. Yes, it makes sure you have a pastor and a church to go to every week that’s properly taken care of. But your offerings go beyond these walls to take the Gospel throughout the world. They are not wasted. God is using them to bring many to faith. He gave it to you, and now you give it back. So give, and give joyfully, not begrudgingly. Why? So that in true faith you may sing (TLH 441:6):

And we believe Thy Word, Though dim our faith may be: Whate’er for Thine we do, O Lord, We do it unto Thee.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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