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Generous with the Master's Treasures

August 06, 2023; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz, Pastor
Proper 20 C. unjust steward.png

Generous with the Master’s Treasure


Rev. Kurt Lantz Trinity 9 Luke 16:1-13

August 06, 2023 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON



Dear disciples of Jesus,


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.



“You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13). The manager got caught serving money, that is, serving himself. He wasted his master’s possessions just like the prodigal son wasted his father’s legacy (Luke 15:13). We often think that we are being good money managers by cutting back on spending, saving deliberately, picking up some extra income wherever we can in order that we might get a little ahead in life, improve our situation, have some good leisure time, and a comfortable retirement. Is there anything wrong with that?


Does it only go wrong when we begin to bend the law a little, to stretch the hours on our time sheet, or include things in our expense report that were not all related to the business? Is it wrong to take advantage of tax loopholes in order to keep your money in your own hands, rather than in the hands of the government? It seems that people can always find a way to get out of paying or to make a successful claim for an upgrade or to avoid a fee of some kind.


It gets complicated when we look for the black and white line of what is legal or ethical or excusable. After all, the government is not always using our tax money in the best way, sometimes in very unethical ways. The presidents of companies are living in such luxury that we will never experience and they won’t even miss the little bit that we can manage to skim. Businesses are setting their prices with the expectation that some people will find a way not to pay the full listed price. And we have to watch out for ourselves and do the best for our families and secure our future.


What are to make of this manager who was accused of wasting his master’s possessions and was being fired? Where did he cross the line? Did he do anything that we wouldn’t have done? The details are not given to us. Jesus simply stated that the manager was accused of wasting his master’s possessions. Does that mean that he expensed a vacation to Cuba, or made personal copies on the business machine? In any case we are left with the impression that he did something wrong in order for the master to give him his notice.


And what are we to make of the next series of events, where he meets with his master’s debtors and reduces their debts. The master commended him for this shrewd action. We are left to puzzle why. Jesus explained that it was a worldly way for him to secure his future. Even if he had bad accounting books to turn in to his master, he was trying to get himself into the good books of the debtors, so that when his employment was terminated, he could appeal to those debtors he helped, to help him in return. That is the only hope that this shrewd manager had.


And that is the only hope that people have in this world when their financial wranglings go wrong. I know some people who are experts in this. They are able to make the deals happen for themselves. They get free stuff all the time. They live this life to the full and invite others to jump aboard with them and share in the enjoyment of what they were able to acquire. And it gives them some sense of security knowing that if it were all to come crashing down, they would have a few people who would come to their rescue and try to help them out... at least they hope so.


The shrewd manager’s master and Jesus come to the same conclusion: that in terms of how the world of money and mammon work, the manager acted wisely. If the overarching concern in life is to have a safety net in case everything falls flat, then this manager did a very wise thing in his last days before turning in the accounts. In a world where money is the true master, this is the way to do it. And isn’t it the way that we find ourselves doing it?


In a world where we love living the lifestyle, if we find that we are going to lose it, we better have some people who will feel pressured to pay back our favours. In a world where we are so devoted to getting as much out of it as we can that we will get as much out of others as we can, we better have a backup plan. In a world where we serve money as our god, our only hope will be to look to those we have benefited so that they might take us in when we are destitute.


It is important to realize that Jesus didn’t begin this story by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like...” In this account He is just telling us like it is in the world where money is god, where a manager who wasted his master’s possessions can still be commended for trying to hedge his bets with further questionable actions. Jesus is not commending this kind of life for you. He is criticizing it.


And yet, in speaking to His disciples, who have forsaken all of this to follow Him, He has something to point out to them, something that becomes all the more clear by way of contrast. It is not about what they have given up. Even if they have not wasted possessions with prodigal living, they ought not to live stingily as the prodigal son’s older brother either, not wanting anything to be spent on the grand celebration to welcome his brother home.


The point is that even people who worship money know how to use it in order to make friends who will welcome them into their homes if they should need it. How much more ought those who worship God to be generous with their Master’s treasures so that they might dwell together with their friends in the paradise of everlasting life? It is not that the two world’s are the same: the kingdom of money and the kingdom of God. Rather, the kingdom of God is so much more generous.


In the kingdom of God the Master’s treasures are eternal and inexhaustible. Neither moth nor rust can destroy them. Thieves cannot break in and steal them (Matthew 6:20). In the kingdom of God the Master is not looking to make a profit, but to give and give and give and give. In the kingdom of God the Master is not looking to collect every debt in full. Jesus has already paid it in full through His obedient life, His innocent suffering, His vicarious death, and His triumphant resurrection. If a shrewd money-manager can make friends by reducing financial debts, just think about the brothers and sisters you can make by forgiving sins, completely and entirely in Jesus Christ our Saviour.


As a child of God and even more so as a managing minister of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1), there should be nothing to hold you back from freely and graciously forgiving each and all who have sinned against you. Freely you have received. Freely give (Matthew 10:8). Freely and generously give the Master’s treasures to those who find themselves in debt to Him. That is what He wants you to do. That is what He commends His children for doing. Dispense His forgiveness wherever it is needed.


In that forgiveness are the eternal and everlasting treasures of heaven. Everything that the Son of God purchased and won through His atoning work is available not just for you to have for yourself for your own eternal salvation, but for you to give away to others. And in giving it away freely and generously, none of the store is depleted. You don’t end up with any less. You only gain all the more. You gain brothers and sisters into the family of God.


In a world where you love God and hate money, you can also be generous in giving the money where it will help people see the kingdom of God. In a world where you are devoted to God and despise the money, it is commendably shrewd to contribute generously to the work of our congregation and to Lutheran Church-Canada, and to the seminary, and to all of the aid agencies of the church, and to other Lutheran church bodies around the world, making friends for eternity beyond our own reach. That is shrewd use of mammon, using it rather than serving it, putting it to use to serve the true Master, the one who is so generous as to give His Son so that He could gain you.


Do not waste your employer’s possessions or you may lose your livelihood. But be gracious with worldly wealth and use it for the good of others. And if you want to advance beyond the common sense principles of this world ruled by money, then also act likewise with the heavenly treasures that have been entrusted to you. Do not waste what God so freely gives, but be gracious with the grace you have received. Forgive sins. Act for the spiritual benefit of your family, your friends, your community, your world. Consider the joy of the eternal reunion in heaven in the presence of the gracious Lord and Master of all.



The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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