September 18, 2016 Text: Luke 16:1-15
Dear Friends in Christ,
Who here doesn’t like to get a good deal? I don’t mean an extra donut in your dozen or more off that blouse than you anticipated. I mean a deal that through your shrewdness you planned for. To me with my sportscentric background everything is a game. With shopping it is my goal to beat “the man.” At Kroger when you get your cash register receipt they tell you what your savings are. I have my top three savings amounts on my desk at home. On a recent shopping trip I came close to adding another one to my top three. Between their deals, coupons and my shrewd shopping our family saves money which can then be used for things like college tuition and the like.
The opposite can also happen which prompted a recent e-mail from me to the company. Toni purchased what was supposed to be an eight-piece grilled chicken. When it was opened at home it only had 7 pieces, a thigh replaced a breast and the legs had to be from the littlest chicken that ever roamed the earth. That evening I was on my computer letting the company know they had failed to provide what they had promised. We do not get what we paid for.
The parable of the unjust steward reminds each of us today that God always gives infinitely more than we pay for, and his blessings motivate us to share His grace. As the Master has been merciful to us, we can now extend His Kingdom by being . . .
“SHREWD IN FAITH”
Let’s get something out of the way, right away. This is one of the hardest parables in Scripture to understand. We studied it at the Bloomington North Pastor’s Conference this past week and even these learned men have a hard time with the meaning the Lord is trying to convey. So let’s not get bogged down in semantics here this morning.
The steward in the parable has been unfaithful. He has squandered his master’s wealth. When confronted, he has nothing to say. He was given great responsibility and he squandered it. As a result of this unfaithfulness, he is being removed from his position.
How many times have we squandered the blessings the Lord has given to us? We have been given great responsibility and sometimes we throw it all away to chase the dream of great wealth that never materializes.
The master could have put the unjust steward into prison until the debt was paid, but he chose to be gracious and let him go. Mercy moved him to take the action that he did.
Don’t we have a merciful God who acts the same way? We owe a debt we could never pay. Our sins pile up into one big pile of unpaid loans and there is nothing we can do it about. We deserve an eternal prison for our misdeeds. Yet God is merciful and grants us forgiveness. While forgiveness is free for us, it was not free for God. In the parable, the debtors received the benefit of the master’s forgiveness of their debt. In our lives, God was willing to make the sacrifice of His Son on the cross that our debt might not just be reduced but erased totally. The loan officer can’t find that we owe anything! This forgiveness won by Jesus means we are no longer accountable for the sins we’ve committed. You and I can celebrate living in the freedom of the Gospel, with the assurance of eternal life.
With this freedom comes great privilege. We can live through the Spirit shrewd in faith. When looking up synonyms for the word “shrewd” some take on a negative tone, words like cunning, sly, wily, and crafty. Other synonyms are more positive, words such as astute, sharp, keen and discerning. In our text when Jesus uses the word shrewd He means it in a positive way. Our Savior knows that being shrewd can be a good thing in the right context.
The words of Jesus in verse 9, “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into eternal dwellings.” This directs our attention to the purpose of our earthly blessings received from God.
The steward of the parable used physical possessions shrewdly to obtain a physical place to dwell. Jesus turns this idea around and tells us to use our physical possessions shrewdly to obtain eternal dwellings. That is being faithful! Shrewd in faith. What is the purpose of receiving abundance from God if not to use it to extend His Kingdom? The generosity of the master and the mercy he showed reveals to us what it means to be used by God to share His blessings with the people of this world so that the Spirit might have opportunity to work through us to touch the lives of people who do not know God.
Because of what Christ has done for us we are saved at 100%. Now that is a deal we all want.