“Word for Today” – Luke 16 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 8, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Soldiers 2A couple of weekends ago, I had the privilege of running in the “Wounded Warrior” 5k at the RIM Shopping Center.  Proceeds went to support those who have been irreparably injured while protecting our country in battle.  In my mind, any chance to support our troops is a high honor.

I am proud to say that my time for this run, although not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, was at least respectable:  5k in 22:50.  For me, this represents a dramatic improvement over what I would have been able to run just a few short years ago.  Indeed, a few short years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to run a 5k at all.  For that matter, I probably wouldn’t have been able to run a 1k.  I did not regularly exercise, nor did I eat a well-balanced diet.  And even in my late twenties, my poor health habits were beginning to take a noticeable toll on my wellbeing.

But then, I made a change.  I began exercising regularly and swore off food that, although delicious, should never be ingested by someone daily, as I was doing.  The results were remarkable.  I lost a lot of weight and now run not only out of a sense of obligation to my health, but because I actually enjoy it.

For those who have not seen me in a while, however, my newfound love of exercise can seem a little befuddling.  My wife was talking to an old friend of ours after our run and she explained how we had run the 5k together.  “Zach ran a 5k with you?” came the response.  “That’s great!  But that doesn’t sound like Zach!”

In our reading for today from Luke 16, Jesus tells a parable about a master who has to fire a top-level executive because he is “wasting the master’s possessions” (verse 1).  Apparently, he has taken one too many pens from the office supply room.  The executive is distraught.  He doesn’t know where and how he will find another job.  And so, he hatches a plan:

He called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” “Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,” he replied.  The manager told him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.” Then he asked the second, “And how much do you owe?” “A thousand bushels of wheat,” he replied.  He told him, “Take your bill and make it eight hundred.” (verses 5-7)

This executive is blatantly cooking the books!  He’s dishonestly cutting his buddies’ debts so that they “owe him one,” so to speak, after he gets fired.  “Perhaps I’ll get a free meal from them and a spot to crash on their couch,” he thinks to himself.  But the real shock of this story is not in the action of this aberrant administrator, but in the reaction of his master:  “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly” (verse 8).  The master, of course, represents Jesus.  Jesus?  Commending a dishonest manager?  But that doesn’t sound like Jesus!

It is important to note that Jesus does not commend this man because he is dishonest, but because he is shrewd.  And shrewdness can be a good thing, as Jesus himself says, “Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).  Thus, just as this man was shrewd with the things of this world, we are to be shrewd with the things of God:  “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with handling true riches” (verse 11)?  Jesus’ desire is that we learn to be shrewd with the lasting riches of God’s kingdom.

Just as the manager was commended by Jesus, we too will receive commendation from Jesus on the Last Day when he will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21)!  But just as the manager was also “dishonest” (verse 8), a word in Greek which literally means “unrighteous,” we too are unrighteous sinners, unworthy of Jesus’ commendation.  And yet, Jesus commends us anyway – not because we are intrinsically worthy of such commendation, but because he loves us.  Thus, he finds things to commend us for, as imperfect as we may be.

I love to watch a new parent with their infant child.  They carefully and dotingly gaze at every move their child makes and, when they see something which impresses them, they gleefully exclaim:  “Look at that!  Look at that!  How awesome is my little child!”

Our heavenly Father looks at us with the eyes of proud new parent.  Yes, we are sinful.  Yes, we are unrighteous.  Yes, we are deserving of God’s wrath.  But because of Jesus, God sees us clothed with his righteousness – a righteousness which leads us to live righteously.  And so, when we do something well, God, in spite of our sinfulness, cannot contain his glee.  “Look at that!” he shouts, “Look at that!  How awesome is my little child!  Well done, good and faithful servant.”  What a terrific commendation from our God.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Luke 15 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Luke 17 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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