In Nomine Iesu!
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
And He said also unto the disciples, “There was a certain rich man, who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he was wasting his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, ‘What is this that I hear of thee? Render the account of thy stewardship; for thou canst be no longer steward.’”
Prayer in Pulpit before Sermon:
Lord God, heavenly Father, Who hast appointed us all as Thy stewards, grant that we may not waste the goods entrusted to us, but rightly employ them, and with our temporal things make to ourselves friends, that we may be received into everlasting habitations; through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior + Jesus Christ. Amen.
When our Triune Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, created Adam and Eve, our first parents, He placed them into the Garden of Eden and gave them dominion over all of creation. Adam and Eve were to be stewards of all of the Lord God’s gifts to them; all of creation. We, as their children, also have dominion over all of creation—all of the Lord God’s good gifts to us. We are to be stewards of all that the Triune God has created for our benefit and good. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, squandered their stewardship by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—the tree that our Lord God heavenly Father told them from which they could not eat. We have learned, as their children, to also squander and waste our stewardship of the Lord God’s creation.
We are indeed prodigal, that is, wasteful, sons and daughters of the Lord God heavenly Father’s good gifts. Consider all of the things over which we have been given stewardship, and how we waste and abuse that stewardship.
Parents have the stewardship over their children to make sure they grow up in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. We squander our stewardship as parents when we allow our children to “find their own way” in the world instead of raising them in the Christian faith, and doing all in our power to raise them in the Christian faith, so that the Church continues after we are gone.
The same is true for other vocations. Teachers have the stewardship over their students to train them in the knowledge that they were trained to teach. Our political leaders have the stewardship over our government in order that they may create and establish laws that promote Christian morality and peace. Pastors have the stewardship over the flock entrusted to their care to train them in the Christian faith, and admonish them with the Law and comfort them with the holy Gospel of our Lord + Jesus
Christ. Employers have the stewardship over their employees to provide a livable wage and safe working conditions. Employees have the stewardship over their labor to not be lazy and earn the wage that is given to them by their diligence in their work.
We also have been given earthly blessings to which we are to act as stewards. Everything that we own, our house, our car, the money in our bank account, our clothes, and all our possessions have been given to us by our Lord God heavenly Father. How do we know this? Because we brought nothing with us into this world. How were we born? We were born naked. We possessed nothing when we came into this world. Therefore, everything that we have has been given to us by the grace and compassion of our loving heavenly Father. These earthly gifts are given to us so that we may use them to give honor to the One Who gave them to us, by helping and serving our neighbors with these gifts.
So then, there are many ways and opportunities in this life where we are to act as stewards, that is, caretakers, of the things that our Lord God has entrusted to us. However, on account of our manifold sins and iniquities good stewardship is hard to find and is rarely done. There are parents who do not raise their children in the Christian faith. There are teachers who are lazy and do not care for the education of their students, or at best only do the bare minimum. There are pastors who only care about their bellies and their station in life, and do not make the sacrifices necessary to preach the Word of God in its truth and purity and administer the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution. They are unwilling to bear the scorn and shame that comes with being faithful to the pure preaching of the Word of God. Employers do not always pay fair wages. Employees are often times lazy and do not work hard to earn the wage that they are paid, looking to shirk their duties at every chance they can get. Politicians often do what is politically expedient for themselves and the false ideals of the world instead of what is right and proper for the maintenance of righteousness and the hindrance and punishment of wickedness.
We also, in our sinful state, hoard our possessions, and do not use them to honor God or help and be of service to our neighbors. We have been falsely taught that what we have is our own to use as we see fit. This is not the way it should be. We have been given our earthly gifts to help our neighbors. We need to remember that our earthly possessions are not going to follow us into the grave. Just as we brought nothing with into this world, we will carry nothing with us when we leave this world. All things that we possess will either be destroyed when we die, or given to someone else. Even the clothes and trinkets that are placed upon us and in the casket will do our dead bodies no good. Therefore, we should use these gifts that we have been given in this life to help all those whom the Lord God has put in our path to help and not waste and squander them by storing them up so that rust and moth will destroy them.
To this end, our Lord + Jesus, instructs us in a parable in today’s Gospel pericope from the Evangelist St. Luke. There was a rich man whose steward had wasted his possessions. The steward, like us, had abused his position as steward in order that he might live the high life. He used his master’s possessions to better his own life to the disadvantage of his master and the servants of the master, of whose care he was responsible. This wastefulness was reported to the rich man. Most likely by the people the steward was supposed to be helping. And the unjust steward was forced to give an accounting of his stewardship to the master and the stewardship was taken from him.
This is how it will be on the day of our death when we are no longer stewards of the possessions that our Lord God entrusted to us in this life. On that day we will have to give an account of our stewardship to the Lord God. All of our works will be judged. All of our works have been reported and written down. It will reveal all that we have done and not done. It will give an accurate accounting of our stewardship.
Our faith, however, need not be shaken by the multitude of transgressions that we commit, nor by the countless ways in which we have failed to perform some good work or act of almsgiving on that day. For even though we fail miserably in these things, and should strive to be better stewards of the things entrusted to us, our faith can indeed look to the works and merits of our Lord + Jesus, the Christ.
His stewardship was perfect. He did not waste or squander the Father’s gifts. But He healed the sick and lame; the lepers and crippled. He cast out demons, and raised the dead. He preached the Gospel of repentance toward the forgiveness of sins, and then He offered up His life as a ransom for all of mankind to atone for their sins, so that all those who believe on Him may be justified with the Lord God. His perfect stewardship is credited to us on account of our faith in Him. So, we need not fear the day of death, even though our stewardship is horribly lacking.
Faith, however, does lead us to desire to be good stewards. Faith changes our unwilling hearts into willing and obedient hearts. Faith leads us to admit when we have been poor stewards of the Lord God’s earthly gifts, and to seek to do better with our stewardship, all while trusting in our Lord + Jesus’ perfect stewardship. Even though we know we fail miserably and daily, faith drives us to always do better and confess when we do not. This is why the Lord + Jesus tells His Apostles that “the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light.” For the sons of this world diligently seek after wealth and mammon. They work really hard to earn a prize that will fade away and be taken from them when they die. The sons of light, that is, us, need to have that same diligence and work ethic when it comes to the spiritual things with which we have been entrusted.
We have been promised a crown of eternal life—an eternal reward. Does it not make sense to work harder for an eternal reward than a temporal one? Our Lord + Jesus has left us with abundant gifts of which we are to be stewards. He has given us His holy Word, Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution, His Holy Supper, and He has given us the Liturgy and the opportunity to attend it. These gifts are for our eternal benefit. They create faith in us and bring us to the gates of Heaven. Let us be diligent in their use, and be diligent in inviting others to join us here in this holy sanctuary where they can receive the stewardship of eternal things, as well.
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, wasted the stewardship given to them in the Garden of Eden, and were cast out of paradise. Those who waste the eternal things of the Lord God will also be cast out of the paradise of Heaven into the desert of Hell. We often live our lives as if no one else matters and our possessions are ours to do with as we please. But we have been granted the position of steward to honor our Lord God and help and serve our neighbors. Let us use the same shrewdness that the sons of this world use in attaining mammon that will not last, to attain the eternal treasure of life in Heaven with our Lord + Jesus and all the saints by continuing faithfully in the use of the means of grace. And when we fail, let us not lose hope, but cling in faith to the works and merits of our Lord + Jesus, the Christ, Who in His perfect stewardship won for us the gifts of Heaven, which He bestows upon us abundantly. In the Name of our Lord + Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Prayer in Pulpit after Sermon:
Almighty God, be pleased to accompany Thy Word with Thy Holy Spirit and grant that Thy Word would increase faith in us; bring into the Way of Truth all such as have erred; turn the hearts of the unrepentant; and for sake of Thy Name grant succor to all heavy hearts and those who are heavy-laden, that they may through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ be relieved and preserved so that they succumb not to the temptation of despair but rather that they gain the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with the Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria!