This is the sermon for the Second Sunday after Pentecost. The sermon text is Luke 16:10-16. The sermon theme is: Christ Has Set Us Free. Here is the Written Sermon.
Christ Has Set Us Free
Be careful of what you ask for… It’s an old proverb, isn’t it? Be careful of what you ask for, for you might not like the answer. With this proverb there is a warning. There are times when we might think we deserve more than we have. But the truth is very often the opposite of what we might think. In the words we read this morning Jesus says: “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.” (Luke 16:10 NIV)
These words which Jesus speaks to us are harsh words if we understand them. Be careful what you ask for, you might not like the answer. Why can’t I have more money, more possessions? There have been times in our lives that we have asked that question. And the answer Jesus gives us here is not the sort of answer we would like to hear. But it’s a true answer. Jesus doesn’t give us more because we do not deserve more. We have not been faithful with the money and possessions we have. Why would Jesus give us more possessions to squander?
Now, as I say these words, there might that voice inside of you which says “I have been faithful with my stuff.” But when it comes to worldly wealth, none of us can say that. In 1929, 25¢ out of every dollar went for food. In 1988, 13¢ out of every dollar went towards buying food. And here’s where we find a brutal irony. One would think that with all this left over money we would be sending out missionaries and planting more churches. But the opposite is true. In the 1930’s our church body built our seminary, planted churches and sent out missionaries. But today we are calling missionaries back from foreign mission fields. We are diminishing the number of professors at our pastor-training schools—not adding them.
The overflow of money in our bank accounts has not translated into overflowing of thanks to our Savior, Jesus. And if what Jesus says in verse 10 is harsh, just listen to what he says in verse 11: “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11 NIV)
If you can’t take care of the gifts that God gives you here—gifts which are here today and gone tomorrow, then why should he give you gifts which will last forever? Why should he give you eternal life? Should he give you eternal life in heaven so that you can waste that too?
All of us would like more—more stuff, more possessions, more money. But none of us has been faithful with what we have. And in the next words Jesus answers that question, why. Why have we been so faithless with what Jesus has given us? “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:13 NIV)
Why have we been so faithless with what we have? And why doesn’t Jesus give us more? A slave can’t serve two masters. Today, we would say, ‘you can’t have two bosses.’ You’re going to have to pick a side and take a stand.
Satan is so tricky, so shrewd that he takes the possessions which Jesus gives as gifts to us and he turns them into our gods. You can say that you are a good servant, but your checking account will very often show something entirely different. When we do not hesitate to spend money for our home or our family or our entertainment and then it is difficult to give money to church, then who is your boss? Who is your master? Or we give money regularly to our church, but we do so out of habit or guilt. On the other hand, we gladly spend money on our hobbies and habits. Who is your boss now? Who is your master? Your possessions are your master. And let me tell you most clearly and sincerely, if money is your master when God you meet your maker then heaven will not be your home. Hell will be.
All of this Jesus says to you so that you will repent. He says this so that you will see and know who your true master is. The apostle, Peter tells us: “17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:17–19 NIV)
Jesus is your master. And he paid a costly price to win you from sin and hell. It wasn’t gold or silver. Instead he paid with his own blood. He gave his own life. He died in your place. He was punished in your place. And he rose as a promise that you would be with him forever in heaven.
And my brothers and sisters in Christ, the result of that is so very clear. Since Jesus has set you free, you are free. You are free from sin and hell. You do not belong to Satan. You do not belong to your sin. You do not belong to your money. No, you belong to Jesus. He set us free from sin. And he set us free for himself.
Jesus concludes this section of scripture with these words: “14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:14–15 NIV)
Notice what Christ calls the Pharisees. They are ‘money-lovers.’1 And because they are money-lovers, in God’s sight, how do they look? They are disgusting.2 Christ has set you free from sin. What an amazing joy it is to know that now you are no longer a ‘money-lover.’ You are a Christ-lover. You are no longer disgusting in the sight of our Father. Because of the price our Savior paid, there is nothing sweeter to our Father in heaven than the smell of you.
I leave you then with one final invitation. Do not let what you have here on this earth rob you of what you have in heaven. One of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. is storage. You can drive by on just about every highway and at some point you will see a big, high fence and thousands of storage-pods inside. And you don’t have to look out there to see the same attitude. Just look in your homes. How many of your basements are so full of stuff that you don’t even know anymore what is on the other side of the room? Children, how many of you have so many toys in your closet which are underneath other toys. And those toys are underneath other toys. You don’t play with them. You don’t even know they are they are there anymore.
Children and adults, I invite you to clean out the junk in your homes so that the treasure of God’s word will find room in your hearts. For Christ has set us free. He has set us free from sin. And he has set us free for him. Amen.