Sermon for 15th Sunday After Pentecost – 09-18-2022 – Proper 20
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1; Psalm 79:1-9; 1st Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13
I suspect that there were indeed times when the prophets were given a message to share with the people and that it was a hard lesson to hear and even harder to listen to. Jeremiah had a message that earned him the animosity of most Judeans. Further, God had told him ahead that his message would be rejected and he himself would be persecuted. Continual rejection, both o f the message which he knew was from God, and of himself as God’s prophet, was at time such a burden to Jeremiah that he quite proclaiming God’s message—-a time. Jeremiah—-the man and his message—-stands as a beacon of faithfulness in the midst of a nation which did not consider its ways to be evil and did not think that God would really punish them. His only immediate result was t leave his people without excuse for their unfaithfulness through the example of his own faithfulness.
What separates us from animals are our burial rights; we are both made of flesh; we may give honor for a fellow human being and expresses such honor. When denied, humans are reduced to the lot of animals. The moral guidelines of God to a large extent are obvious to those who desire them. Those who let their relationship to God deteriorate do not easily recognize these guidelines. We are responsible before God to learn what he expects of us. Human wisdom which rejects God’s revelation is foolish and false. What is worse is human wisdom which claims to be based on divine revelation but actually come from false human interpretation of God’s Word. God pronounced doom upon the people. He would send serpents and consume hem for their wickedness. The people had become accustomed to their wickedness and saw nothing wrong with their actions, because they have moved so far away from God, much like the world around us today. We have politicians who no longer represent us as they sought political offices to get a bigger piece of pie, on the efforts and work of the very people they are supposed to represent. People spend time in church, because it looks good on their resumes’ and not to worship our Father, and they think it is ok. We have children being raised by grandparents instead of parents, because they want to me friends with their children, instead of teaching right from wrong and disciplining them so they will learn the value of being responsible for their actions. The Judeans didn’t see anything wrong for rejecting God and His laws and decrees. We have devalued our history, which was to remind us what happens when we lose our way and act only in our own purposes instead of God.
The Judeans didn’t believe God would punish them, but they found out that He most certainly brought them to their knees, because of their lack of faithfulness and faith in Him. This tragic word, although it had an immediate meaning to Israel, is relevant to all times and places. It is sad to think of all that has been done to share the saving grace of Go in faithful evangelism and then to realize the day of opportunity is about over, and still people refuse the gospel. Little wonder the prophet was crushed. He realized God’s judgment is sure in such a situation. Healing does not come for a people who do not return to God.
Let’s look at the “Parable of the Shrewd Manager.” Jesus told His disciples of a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and confronted him with his evil deeds and that he is losing his job. However, he first wanted the manager to account for his deeds and knows he is caught. The man said, “My Master is taking away my job and I’m not strong enough to dig, an I’m ashamed to beg—I know what I’ll do.” These facts appear to be true, too bad he didn’t consider them earlier. So he see out to see what everyone owe and told them to reduce their accounts to match his accounts. The Master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will give you property of your own? Jesus then said, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will e devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Beloved, money is a means to other ends and not an end in itself. It should be used to establish relationships with people rather than for the accumulation of things. Its use must display our honesty and trustworthiness. Serving the Master, not money, is the central value of life. Such values go directly opposite to normal human worldly values, but they will God’s approval. There was a time when a persons word was equal to a contract, for when given and a handshake sealed the deal, the one giving their word was expected to do whatever they agreed to do. God still operates this way. He never makes a promise and then fails to follow through. Conversely, He expects us to do no less when we commit ourselves to Him. Amen