Forgiveness and Faithfulness


Luke 16:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version)
1Then 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. 2So 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.’ 3Then 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. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7Then 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.’ 8And 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. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

10“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Devotional Questions from the ELCA Book of Faith Initiative:

  • What scares, confuses, or challenges me as I read this text?
  • What delights me as I read this text?
  • What stories or memories from my own life do I remember when I read this text?  It might be a story about a time when you were surprised by forgiveness or a time when you noticed someone’s faithfulness, for example.
  • What do you think God is up to as you read this text?  What is God calling you to do or to be because of this story?

Forgiveness and faithfulness.  Faithfulness and forgiveness.  These are the concepts that resonate with me as I live with this text this month.  As Lutheran Christians, we believe that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); that’s why we begin our worship with confession and forgiveness.  We know what it is like to be forgiven, truly and completely, even when we don’t deserve it.  How have you experienced this grace in your human relationships?  Have you experienced this in your human relationships?  There are times when we sin against one another and it is hard to forgive, times when it is hard to be forgiven, but oh what grace abounds when that surprising, undeserved forgiveness finally seeps into our souls and we are free from guilt and sin once again.

I wonder if that is what Jesus is urging in the parable here.  The manager is a sinner who is in deep trouble due to dishonesty.  When he is caught, he shows the forgiveness to others that he himself wishes to experience.  Because it’s not about money, it’s about forgiveness.

Jesus then extends the discussion to faithfulness.  As I have lived with this section of the text, the refrain to the old hymn “Great is thy faithfulness” keeps running through my head:

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided;
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
–#733 Evangelical Lutheran Worship

I believe that, once again, our faithfulness in action flows from the faithfulness that God shows us.  God is faithful, and trustworthy, and honorable.  God loves, forgives, and saves us, no matter what.  It is because we have a God who is so faithful that we are empowered to extend that faithfulness to others.  For some of us, that will mean doing only a few things, but doing them well.  For some of us, it will demand just about everything.

As you live with this text this month, how has God forgiven you?  How are you being called by God to forgive?  To receive forgiveness?  How has God been faithful to you?  How is God calling you to be faithful?  I am looking forward to wrestling with these questions with you this month.

In Christ, Pastor Breen Marie Sipes

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