Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from September 18, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Our passages this morning, really present us with two very different pictures. First of all, we've got Jeremiah who was really upset and crying out in his concern for the future of the people that he was sent to bring God's word to. And in that passage from Jeremiah, you can hear his anguish. Then we turn over to the gospel of Luke and we have Jesus teaching with a parable. This parable is unlike almost any other parable that we have from Jesus, because it kind of kind of flies in the face of everything we want to think about with Jesus.
He's talking about this manager who is squandering things. And when he realizes that it's gonna cost him his job, he does something that would, by most standards be considered underhanded, and then he goes to the debtors and says, cut your bill in half, or cut it by 20%. And his boss commends him for it. His boss commends him for it. And that just doesn't seem right. How many of our bosses would've commended us for doing something like that?
Well, what we don't know, as in most cases with parables is we only have this rudimentary outline of a story. You know, it's possible to sit back and say, well maybe those two examples that are in the parable, were people that were having problems paying it back. And the manager was at least smart enough to realize that if he got something from them, that was better than nothing.
So, if he could get 50% from one and 80% from the other, that was better than having, 'em not pay back anything at all and being thrown into debtor's prison, because then his boss wouldn't get anything. So, you know, we jump to conclusions, and as I was telling our youth, a lot of our Bibles that we have, you know, we put little headers at the beginning of passages, and at the beginning of that passage, In a lot of our Bibles, it says it is called the dishonest steward or the dishonest manager.
And yet we really don't have anything there that says that he was a dishonest person. We don't have anything that says he was stealing or that he was doing a poor job. What we have is that word that he was squandering.
Let's put this in the terminology of talents instead of, not talents the money, but talents as to what gifts we have been given by God to take care of, because that's what Jesus was talking about. He was talking to people about the things that God had blessed them with, that they were squandering. And what kinds of things did we squander?
well, um, if you think back on it, a lot of us probably have talents that we have let go to waste. We probably have talents. We've let go to waste. Maybe it wasn't even your fault that they've gone to waste. Maybe you were a child that was drawing a picture and somebody else laughed at the childishness of your drawing because it wasn't really good. And so, as a result, you stopped drawing.
Maybe somebody heard you practicing your clarinet back when you were first started taking lessons or some other instrument and you know, you are practicing, you hit the wrong note and you go, ah, and as a result, you give up the instrument. You know, or maybe just, maybe you were the sibling of somebody that was playing violin and you went to their first concert, true labor of love. But as an end result, you never picked up an instrument t
hat maybe you had gifts to play very well.
Or maybe you have some other gifts. Maybe it was, maybe you would've been a very gifted builder and yet you came up through a family at a time and place where you had to go to college and get a professional degree. And yet then those talents that God gave you with were squandered. We don't think of it that way. We think of it as some talents we never developed.
Jesus. Would've told us we were squandering.
What other kinds of talents are we given that we squander? Maybe it's things we know about, you know, I love to sing in a shower, but I'm not gonna sing in public or I can, I, I draw a lot, but I don't want to, those aren't to be shared. That's just for my own enjoyment or I read poetry, it's not good enough to share. It only has meaning for me
How many times, especially in this day and age, do you hear somebody that comes up with some really good ideas that would probably help solve some of our societal issue? Yeah, but they'll never go beyond talking about it because they're not a politician.
Is that a squandered gift? You know, maybe they have the gift that we all need. Maybe it's somebody that has some gifts for leadership and they're very reluctant to use them, and we squander them. We hold them in because we're afraid that nobody else is going to think that our ideas are any good.
Or recently we've had this term that's been floated around called the imposter complex. You know what that is? That's where you feel that you really aren't as good as everybody else thinks you are, and that you're an imposter playing the role. And you have people that have very successful in various roles, and yet they don't feel like they're that successful, and that they're just an imposter filling that spot.
And Jesus would tell us that that is squandering. Squandering the gifts we've been given, because you'r
e not making the most of them.
Now let’s go back to that definition of squandering. Squandering at the time of the gospel of writing meant that you were not doing things with an eye to what it meant for the future. You're not doing things with an eye for what it means for the future, for you or for everyone else. You're only thinking about right now, you know, maybe that manager didn't want to confront his owner's debtors because he just didn't like conflict and he didn't want to go to them and tell 'em that they had to pay up.
And that felt, you know, he was okay with that at the time, but it wasn't thinking about his future and it wasn't until his future was brought up and put in front of him that he was going to lose his job, that he started looking down the road a little bit.
And we do that all the time. We do that all the time. We don't wanna do something because it's just easier to be where we are right now. It's okay. I'm I'm okay with what I am doing right now. And yet we're not looking down the road to the future, and this parable is all about that. It's about not looking to the future. To the welfare of yourself and others. You know, this “dishonest” manager, his dishonesty was that he wasn't doing really what he was paid to do, which was to manage and be a good steward of what the master had given him.
He wasn't looking to make the best use of it, not only for himself, but for others. Until he was called on the carpet.
So, we have to look, like every other parable. We have to look at it and say, who am I in this parable? Well, it's pretty clear. We're not the master. We might be the ones that oh… but the way Jesus tells this story, it's pretty obvious that Jesus wanted us to look at ourselves as the managers. What have we been given? What have we been given, that we are not making use of with an eye to the future? To the future of others, to the future of our families, to the future of the church, to the future of our faith.
What are we not looking down the road with? What are we just saying, I'm comfortable the wa
y it is?
And that calls into question a lot, almost everything we do. You know, when we are standing in line at the grocery store or is what we're doing as we interact or don't interact with someone else in line, done with an eye to their future benefit or our future benefit. You know, how often have you stood in line and just wish that they would hurry up and quit gabbing at the front with the cashier so you could get your stuff done and get home.
And if we think about the gifts that we've gotten, you know, what we've been given, maybe we need to step back and say, maybe my gift is to let that conversation go forward because that person may be very lonely and needs to talk with the cashier for a few minutes.
You know, it's those little things that talk about, that really exemplify our faith. When we start talking about the church, are we talking about right now or are we talking about what's good for the future? What makes a difference to the future? Those are the kinds of questions that every one of us as a Christian should be asking every day.
What am I doing today that is working for the future of the kingdom? What am I doing today that is working to help other people? What am I doing today that is working so that my relationship with God is strengthened going forward. Because if we're not asking those questions, we are squandering the gifts that God has given us.