Reflections: August 1, 2021
The Ninth Sunday after Trinity
By Harrison Goodman
The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. (Luke 16:8)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It's easy to take a look at God's Law and assume that we're more loving than He is. We take a lot of pleasure in assuming we're more loving than God Almighty, except then we get really upset that life's not fair. We look around at who gets hurt. Punished. Who sits alone. Who loses everything. And who gets a freebie. It's not just that it isn't equal. If we were really concerned with that, we'd give what we have to the people who don't. It's more that it isn't fair. Some of the ones getting way too much are sinners we don't like.
But God commends the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. By shrewdness he means theft. The manager makes his retirement at the master's expense. He trades on his name, his wealth. What's the master going to do? Just ignore it and demand the original amount? He'll look like a tyrant. He'll be forced to be generous. But God seems pretty pleased, too. What if He actually wanted to be generous the whole time? What if God was even generous to sinners? Not by pretending they're not sinners, but by loving them anyway. Ignoring sin is not the same as forgiving it.
I can ignore the sin of those I love. It's harder to actually call it what it is and love them anyway. It's easy to love your friend when he hurts other kids: Just don't care about the other kids. God knows all the ways sin breaks stuff that we don't want to see. He calls it horrible and loves you anyway.
God calls right "right," and wrong wrong," but then forgives sinners out of mercy, not by pretending there are no debts to pay, but by paying for their sins Himself. This is what kind of God we have. He's not concerned with fair, just with love. Mercy. Forgiveness. He gives it to you. We trade in dishonest wealth here. Unfair mercy. We didn't earn it. It's not about what we deserve. It isn't about how sneaky the steward was, but how merciful and generous the master is. This is what the unrighteous manager trades in. He expects mercy and is commended for it. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Let Your merciful ears, O LORD, be open to the prayers of Your humble servants; and that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please You; through Jesus Christ, You Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is the pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio, TX.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
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