God or Me: Whom do I serve?

Luke 16:1-13
1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.[NRSA]

Again, this is another classic stewardship parable. The example is about wealth, accounting, and management of funds.

Jesus’s questions in the parable is “Can your friends made through dishonesty offer you eternal life?” You might get a good deal in the moment, but how does this the next time?

I offer that it is a fitting stewardship example, but at the core this lesson is about, confronting sin, as sin, and trusting God’s Grace in Jesus Christ to become our source for:

  • Integrity  — not my integrity but God’s righteousness
  • Honesty – not my truth, but God’s heart
  • Devotion to God  — not my faithfulness, but Christ’s

Dishonest Manager Gone Wild!

Cook the books to win favor, build a coalition of support through deceit and half-truths. This story points to our brokenness of nature. If our sin, failures and dishonesty is found out, we try to personal management, fix-it -to-say-our-job response.

The appropriate lesson we learned last week, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.”

But instead of admitting our confronting our sin, we develop campaigns and networks that create the idea that we look good others and do not truly believe God is watching us personally.

We are not this corrupt. This parable is a great warning, but it’s not for me personally. Right?

Recall, the context of this teaching; Jesus is sitting with sinners and tax collectors, so the examples favor the audience of the moment, but the lessons are about how we sort out our relationship with God and our neighbor.

  1. The core struggle is who is love to whom we are devoted?
  2. How does out devotion to God shape our relationships?

When we are disloyal to God with our own wranglings we know that breaks God’s heart. Hear the prophet

 Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?”) “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?  O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people!  [NRSA]

Our devotion to God is not only how we deal with our possessions, but how we deal with other people. The deceitful accountant in the parable deals with his infidelity with God by mismanaging other people. “If other people will help cover my sin, they can profit from my deception, and all is fixed.

Both/And not either or.

The struggle of attempting to fix what ONLY God can repair breaks is God’s suffering. Jeremiah relay’s God’s frustrations when we place ourselves in God’s place. “Is her King not in her?” Jeremiah points to all the things that we place our trust, hopes, and identities into instead of God. Is there no cure? No healing balm?

As a child, hearing and not reading these words from Jeremiah, I thought the question was there a ‘bomb’ in the Holy Land? Certainly there were and continue to be bombs in Gilead! Think of the generations spent fighting, when we are called to yield our own understanding to the heart of God!

Jeremiah’s prophetic question: Is God with us? In us?

This parable is not only about how we deal with sin, trying to fix it ourselves or trust God to do what we find impossible. AND how we rely on our devotion of God in our dealing with the world.

The Parable’s witness is not only about wealth, as much as it is about who (What power/authority/means) and how we use our resources, connections, and relationships.

A Test: Is it for our gain, our acceptance, our goals OR God’s righteousness?  God both looks at each person being of value and worth and asks of us to be devoted to God’s heart and not what pleases and profits our own interests, our own understanding, our own pleasure and identities.


Serving God or Self

The reason we know this parable concerns more than money is found in verse 13. The Parable is about who we are serving and why?

Chris Janson: The world tells us that money will buy us a boat and truck to pull it.

Jesus taught it was more difficult for a person of wealth to enter the kingdom than to thread the eye of a needle.

Does the world know I am more of a Braves fan or Jesus fan?

Does the world think of me by my work, hobbies, knowledge? Or my God’s work, interests and witness through me?

We struggle being Good vs being devoted to God because we are no good without God.

Is worship about what I enjoy or what please God?

Is my Christian living proving my faith or is my faith praising Christ?

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