13th Sunday after Pentecost, 2013. German service in Seabrook.
Luke 12:34-48 and 2. Corinthians 8:8-9 and 9:6-12.
Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ – us to whom Jesus Christ speaks.
Jesus spoke three parables to his disciples and to all who had come to hear Him. The parables of Jesus have the same importance and power today as they had two thousand years ago when He spoke them to his disciples and the people who honestly wanted to hear Him. These parables were about a very important and embarrassing subject: money and wealth. Jesus does not mention money or wealth by name in the parables. He does mention treasure or wealth in the the verse preceding the parable’s text: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34) (The parable texts and the texts describing the disciples, viz. Christians by Holy Baptism, vv. 22-34, as being free from worry over earthly matters, i.e. “What you will eat (or) what you will wear” (v. 22) as well as the parable of the Rich Fool, vv. 13-21, constitute a unified lesson on a Christian’s (for that matter every human being’s) basic reliance on God’s provision and the importance of admitting this and being grateful to God for them.)
Treasure in heaven is treasure in God's hands and treasure that comes from God to us and into our lives. But what about the sending of treasure into heaven? Can we send treasures to heaven? We can do it and must do it in two ways. The first way that Jesus teaches is: "Give to the poor!" Read Luke 12:33-34. This means that we do not forget our neighbors or fellow human beings who are in need or poor, in trouble or going through tough times (like right now when the job prospects are poor). As Christians or disciples of Jesus, that we are through Holy Baptism, we give from what we have from God to help out those who need help. Martin Luther taught that as Christians we help those whom we can help most easily. They are people who are closest to us. Those are the members of our family, our relatives, then literally our neighbors and friends, then those in our city and county and nation and all over the world. Giving and helping starts with a loving heart that helps one and all, beginning with the one who is next to us, or whom we meet in our everyday life. Our heart and help has to be big enough to help the smallest to the largest: from our home to the whole world. The apostle Paul teaches us how to do Christian giving and why in today's Epistle text: 2. Corinthians 8:8-9 and 14-15 & 9:6-7 & 12-13.
The second way we can have treasures in heaven is by faith and love. This begins by knowing and believing that all that we have comes from God. Our treasure or things we own from money to houses, jewels to cats, food and clothing is a gift from God. This is what the three parables of Jesus teach us. All that makes up a household from treasures to things, objects, household goods and food to servants belongs to the master or owner of the household not the servants or the manager. We are the managers of the property of God entrusted to us. When the master who is Jesus the Son of God and Son of Man (humanity) comes, He will find out how the manager has managed and used the master’s property and lived in the master's house. Read Luke 12: 37a. 40. and 45-46.
The bad manager who started drinking and wasting the master's things and became bad to the master's servants under him made the mistake on forgetting that the house and all that was in it including the other servants belonged to the master and not to him. By doing that he was stealing from the master. The Lutheran pastor through whose sermons and worship services I came to a living faith in Jesus Christ, pointed out that we as Christians can be stealing from God and not even know it. He directed me to the Old testament text that teaches that. In the prophetic book of Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament). God, the Lord and Master of the world and all that is in it, accuses the people of stealing—even robbing -- from God: Read Malachi 3:8-10. When a Christian robs from God he or she becomes as guilty as Israel was guilty before God, for holding back on their tithes, their giving to God’s Temple and service. But if a Christian repents and turns in faith and love to God and his fellow human beings he and she is made righteous and given help and direction by the Holy Spirit to act with the mind of a son or daughter of God as a good manager of God's household. God promises this to Israel through prophet Malachi: 3:10.
The more we admit that we have, the more we know how much God has trusted us with and given us to use as He wants us to use it, the better Christian managers of God’s property we are. How can we best use what we have from God as good managers? We have to treat and use everything with a positive holy will and ways as good servants and managers of God. How can we know how to do this? We can by having the mind and will of Jesus Christ in our heart and head. Jesus Christ the Son of God was of one mind and will with God, as the good manager who does as his master wants him to do. This does not come about through a command or law (the Apostle Paul taught right giving by saying: “I am not commanding you.” (2. Corinthians. 8:8a.) When people hear teaching about contributions and giving, they very easily think about counting out a percentage or even grabbing the loose change in their pocket or purse to give like an alm or offering, or they try to compare their financial state with those who are “richer” than they are, or some other “point of law”. As Christians we do not live by the “letter of the law”; we live by grace and love of God in Christ. We have the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:1ff and 5). We can be good servants and managers of God by having the mind and will of Jesus Christ in our head and in our heart. Jesus Christ the Son of God as the good manager has who does as his master wants him to do. This does not come through the force of the law but grace and love. The Apostle John taught giving through loving in Christ: 1. John 4:7 and 10-11.
For us Christians all of this does not come about through law or force. It comes through grace and love. The Apostle John taught giving through loving in his First Letter: 1. John 4:7.10-11. If Jesus Christ is our treasure our hearts are in heaven even on this earth. Amen