God’s Balance Sheet: Lessons in Stewardship ~ Don’t Be A Fool!

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 12:13-21

One of the Reeves’ congregants approached me after service last Sunday and said, “Sarah, I’m glad Fright Nights are over.  You did what you said you would: you got up under the terror of those texts and exposed the underlying sin.”  I thanked her for her kind words and said, “Next week we begin our focus on stewardship!!”  To which she replied, “Oh…maybe Fright Nights aren’t over…”

(insert sound effect of a trombone playing wah wahh wahhhhhhhh!)

Hmmm…nobody much likes to talk about money/finances/stewardship it seems…  I’ll admit.  This is my first year ever leading a stewardship campaign.  This is also my first year ever…(ev-AH!)…offering a sermon series on money.

Four weeks…on stewardship…tuck and roll.

I’m a bit excited…I like a challenge.  And it seems our culture’s – and our church’s – biggest challenge these days is the stewarding of our resources.  So here we go!

In this week’s Scripture – the Parable of the Rich Fool – Jesus admonishes, “Take care!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).  The central figure in this parable – a rich individual – is convicted as a fool by God.  But what is this person’s folly?  The text does not specifically reveal the person’s misstep; however, Leander Keck et al., the editors of The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, identify five possible areas of folly:

1. The rich individual was “preoccupied with possessions” – this individual’s goods are his or her sole pursuit in life and this parable seeks to reveal the poverty in this sort of abundance.

2. The rich individual experienced “security in self-sufficiency” – this individual is a lone ranger, needing help nor community from no one.  This is a severely prideful inclination.

3. The rich individual is held fast in “the grasp of greed” – where greed prevails generosity is assailed.  In greed responsibility for others is depleted and compassion is deleted.

4. The rich individual revels in “the hollowness of hedonism” – the greatest good this individual can see is in instant gratification.  There is no thought to what will or is to come.  The rich individual’s gaze is horribly narrowed to the realm of “eat, drink, and be merry.”

5. The rich individual lives as a “practical atheist” – the rich individual may have professed faith in God but regarding the management of resources this individual worked, rationalized, engaged as if everything depended solely on him or herself; therefore, negating God from the equation.

(Leander Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary: Luke and John (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), 257.)

When I reflect upon my own life I like to think that I am counted among the wise or the faithful when it comes to the stewarding of my resources.  Not just my monetary riches but my riches of prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness, too.  But as I consider this Scripture passage in dialogue with my life, I recall times where I have fallen to folly and found kinship among the foolish.  These remembrances throw into sharp contrast to where Christ wants me to be and the place that I did (or currently) occupy.

This parable ends with a powerful statement (as most parables do), “This very night your life is being demanded of you” (Luke 12:20b).  Commentators have interpreted this verse to mean that the rich fool died at the end of this encounter with God and that all the riches he or she had stored up went to waste.  I am of the mind that God demands our lives of us every.single.day.  Much like the covenant that Joshua declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).  Whom this day will we serve?

Whom this day? And perhaps more pertinent to this week’s Scripture passage – how and  with what will we serve?

Reflection: If we choose to serve the Lord then how will we steward our resources – whatever they may be – to share with others as a faithful expression of our love of Christ?  Will our storehouses be silos and islands or community faith and resource banks?  How will this effect our affinity among the the faithful or the foolish?