Kingdom Principle: Stewardship of relationships yields eternal wealth
|Jeremiah 8:18-9:1||Psalm 79:1-9||1 Timothy 2:1-7||Luke 16:1-13|
It is intended to be offensive that I would buy new friends, further despicable that I would have to borrow money to do so…. Yet, it is quite the point of this week’s scripture. Much like the offense of thinking that God would direct painful events in my life to redeem then and draw me to my knees. Yes – we are called to leverage everything for the Kingdom. If you are willing to give me your money, I will invest it into the lives of those who have little – I will take your money and make new friends. While it may seem offensive to buy your friends, isn’t that what I am doing if I take people out to eat or treat them to a coffee or pay for their housing? They will by sheer thanksgiving want to remain in relationship with me – even if their motives are not pure. How many times can I buy lunch for a “friend”, before I am buying their friendship and time? I think it depends on how much money I have verses them. If have an endless supply of money and I enjoy our time together, further if the “friend” has little money, but enjoys our time, what’s wrong with me spending the money to have lunch together each week. (Sounds like discipleship to me) Let’s remove the veil… do it as often as you can afford – and do so in such a way as they come to know Jesus, so you can dine with them for eternity at the Banqueting Table. But what about those who aren’t rich enough to live like that – You & I must become a Great Stewards. A true steward owns little, but is never poor or without goods to manage.
A concept behind the text this week is that God can and will redeem everything which is given to him. And redeemed love looks at all things through a God lens. Even money that is “dirty” can be cleaned and redeemed, therefore how much more can the “dirty” choices of the people be cleansed by the blood of Jesus redeemed by the work of the Cross.
Many wonder how a God of infinite power can sit idly by and do nothing during times of great atrocity and massive destruction. (From genocide by dictators to natural disasters) The Lectionary turns this back around on the church and followers of Jesus and asks, “How can those who have access to the power of God and promise of the King; not move with confidence and conviction to steward all the resources that God has at his disposal?” This act is done through the power of prayer. I am truly convicted this week how little I have been “on my knees” lately.
The texts this week can be very confusing with just a quick read…. It can look like; Jesus is rewarding dishonesty, that Paul doesn’t care about the Jews and that God is angry…. None of the following are the purpose or truth presented in the verses… Yet, Jesus is telling a parable highlighting a principle that: a little pain and suffering motivates people to act. The reaction in the parable is the change to return to the thinking/acting they were “supposed” to be doing, but for various reasons did not. Paul is sharing that we must be in prayer for all people, especially rulers and those in authority, and that his calling and commissioning is as an Apostle and Teacher to the Gentiles. Finally in the same way we have looked at how it can appear to others that we hate someone when it is comparison to the love we have for God. God will not allow for his people to continue disregarding his ways. Their continued rejection of God and shameful ways are bringing upon them the consequences of sin – which is experienced as if God is angry.
Therefore let’s get to the heart of it – for us! Are you living via the Principles of the Kingdom or the patterns of this world? (Romans 12:1-3) If you are identified with the principles of the Kingdom – you are a steward (manager) of all of God’s resources here on earth. In this way, as you manage God’s resources He is preparing you to lead in His Kingdom. Trusting in the Provision, Protection, Promise and Peace of the King is the way of a steward. This freedom cannot be matched by any other; in this way you are to use all resources for eternal reward. If you have access to money – give it away to the poor, even if that money was “dirty” when you received it, invest it for Kingdom Purposes based on Kingdom Principles. According to the parable this week give it to the poor or better said make friends with them in this way. I’m not talking about simply giving it away, invite a needy family over for dinner and feed them, buy clothes for kids who have holes in their shoes, provide gas money for a college student so they can drive home to see their family…. There are many types of poor and yet it is the poor who learn to be great stewards. (Unfortunately in our culture – credit cards and debit have undermined this reality in many places.) For the poor in spirit already have eternal rewards, so be a shrewd steward for the Kingdom and give it away. The parable shows how shrewd the steward can be if he chooses to apply the principle of stewardship – even while he is doing this for worldly gain… the principle still applies. The poor in spirit will have huge mansions in heaven, while those who have huge mansions on earth may see nothing of heaven. (next week’s passage.)
Jeremiah is lamenting, crying and weeping to God that the very destruction that he is proclaiming can be avoided…. He does not want to see the pain the people are about to endure. We (kingdom servantleaders) are to be stewards of God’s mercy – cry out for this… God has so much it is like giving it away for free… and it doesn’t cost us anything if we are stewards.
- Proclaim the Freedom of the Lord to those who are in bondage, slavery and broken under oppression.
- Pray for the leaders of Syria (even the ruthless dictators) and the warfare of Congo.
- Pray for those who look the other way in leadership while sex trafficking takes place in their city.
- Pray for our government leaders and city councils that they may come to know God’s justice and mercy. …. Jeremiah will later teach this to the people in exile, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city – Pray to the LORD for it, for if it prospers so shall you” (Jer. 29:7)
The Parable this week of the Shrewd Manager teaches us that if you are a steward of little, then you will be trusted with much. So while you may only be one person, if you do what you can, then you will be given authority over many. Once in authority, teach and proclaim the truth so that they steward what they have. Now you multiply your impact by each of their lives…. Regardless of increasing your wealth, it is the eternal return which we are seeking.
Finally – We are to do this all in humility and hospitality. Paul describes this as living peaceful and quite lives in godliness and holiness. Serve God, and let your money serve you… or else you will find yourself serving money. And no one can serve two masters. (Matt 6) So let’s make some new friends… invite someone over for dinner, take a homeless person for a burger, donate school supplies to your local school. And if you don’t have the money to do such things –become a greater steward, both of your own money, but more directly of the relationships around. Be a steward of relationship around you helping them to help others through you if needed. And for those who have no financial resources, steward your time in prayer to demonstrate the resources of the King by praying over them the blessings of heaven…