Romans 15: 14-21
I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him shall see,
and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”
Psalm 98: 1-4
O sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The Lord has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Luke 16: 1-8
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
Until we reach a point of conversion where we intentionally live to serve God, we are all like the manager in the gospel. Working to please ourselves and gain worldly success, we squander our God-given time, talent and treasure on things that do nothing for the Kingdom of God. Eventually there is a time of accounting for each one of us.
When we are in the world, we learn quite naturally how to manipulate our situations and the people around us to improve our situation. We figure out the rules because there is a cause and effect that is immediate. And we can be quite successful because of ambition, drive, and a sense of self-preservation.
But once we begin to work for the Lord, we defer our satisfactions. We expect our reward to be in heaven. We mortify the flesh. We are tried and tested to become more humble and surrendered to the Will of God. We may not even be sure what God wants from us.
Jesus said, "the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light." So, what are we to surmise about using shrewdness to work for God?
The corrupt steward thinks strategically and takes the initiative. Using the only thing he has, the debt from his master, he offers to forgive part of the debt and ends up recovering a good portion of what is owed. His motivation is to save himself, but he’s clever and he does well. Imagine if the church were as intentional as the corrupt steward. What would church community look like if we all preached forgiveness of sins and encouraged everyone to see that they should not wait to offer God what He is due?
We can't save ourselves but once we have accepted salvation, we can reach out to others who have the same debt of service to God and recover the losses that were due to our lack of zeal, unresponsiveness or due diligence. We can get back for the Master his valuable property. We can help Him sow the seeds of faith and recover the souls that were squandered.
We have the power to make disciples for God. Today, the Lord is calling us to act so “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”