Jesus tells a story of taking advantage. There’s a master and a manager. Now the master finds out that the manager has been wasting his possessions. He hasn’t been fulfilling his duty and had charges placed on him.
The master could have had the man thrown in prison, but what did he do instead? He showed mercy and was only going to have the man step down from his position.
Now the manager recognizes this mercy and takes advantage of it, for he’s too ashamed to beg and he’s not fit for manual labor. He calls the master’s debtors and reduces their debts.
Now the master’s in a bind. Either he calls back all the debtors and tells them that their debts are returning to the original sum and earn their hatred and a bad reputation around town; or he gains the appreciation and favor of the community for lowering the debts, but is out the wealth he is owed, while the shrewd manager gets away with it like a community hero.
What’s this have to do with us? We’re the shrewd manager! We’re the ones that deserve prison. God has given us the very little. Money and materials are so trivial in the grand scheme of eternal life.
Even within our short lifespans we can see such things wither and deteriorate. Yet we cannot manage them righteously. Instead we hoard it, refuse to give back to God generously, refuse to help others, buy things that are inappropriate and ungodly, and place our trust in mammon instead of God.
We should be punished, for the things that we do with the very little entrusted to us shows that we’re not righteous enough to be trusted with the very much. The very much is the treasure of Heaven: Life everlasting.
So what do we do? Like the shrewd manager, we rely on mercy. The shrewd manager took advantage of the mercy of the master. That’s us. We’re the ones that take advantage of and rely on the master’s mercy.
How so? God is love and mercy. Our sin puts God in a bind. In our sin we deserve to be unloved and kicked out of the kingdom. We don’t even deserve to live. Yet, our sin puts God in a bind. For in his justice he should smite us.
Yet, for the sake of his loving and merciful nature, he cannot do that. Instead he is bound to love of us. He sent his son Jesus Christ to care take not only the very little, but the very much as well.
Jesus, in the mercy and love of God, managed everything for us and took on the punishment of our sins. He served the proper master: God the Father, by going to the cross where he died and rose again, all because he was bound by his loving and merciful nature. Now salvation is ours! Did we earn it? No! We rely on God who has promised to show us mercy and give it to us by forgiveness and grace.
In Christ’s death and resurrection we are no longer in a bind. We’re not bound to follow sin, death, and the devil. We are followers of Christ, the one who took our punishment and showed us mercy. By him we are caretakers of the very little. We use the gifts God has given us in manners pleasing to God.
We give to his church and the needy. We buy what is good and right and help where needed. We do it all for the glory of God, knowing that it is God that provides all things, the very little and the very much.
By Christ we have been given that which is so valuable the human mind cannot even grasp it! We have faith and the assurance of life everlasting. By God’s mercy he has given us the treasures of heaven. We shall be with him in heaven for he is bound by his word to give it to us. By forgiveness we are made worthy of it.
We serve the right master: God, for he has called us to do so and enabled us to. Life everlasting for his sake is ours.
Rev. Logan Landes is assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.