15 November 2008

Enter Into the Joy of Your Lord

Whatever you may have, whatever talents, abilities and possessions, they are not your own but the Lord's, which He has entrusted to your stewardship. Be faithful in using those talents according to His Word, to the glory of His Name, for the benefit of His Kingdom.

Do not look around at others with pride or envy, to compare and compete, but be faithful in using however much or little you have been given to use. Not selfishly, for your own profit, but in order to return thanks, to the praise and glory of your Lord.

Do not be afraid to use your talents and to exercise your stewardship (as though success or failure depended on you), but fear the Lord and so be faithful in using His good gifts according to His will. Do not hoard them, but use them; do not misuse them, but use them rightly.

Do not misuse His Name, which He has given to you in Holy Baptism, but call upon Him in every trouble; pray, praise and give thanks. Do not despise the gift of His Word, but gladly hear and learn it. Do not despise your parents and other authorities, but honor them with obedience. Do not hurt your neighbor, but help him; do not take his stuff, but, as you are able, provide for his needs of both body and soul. Do not covet your neighbor's position or possessions, but serve wisely and well with whatever the Lord has entrusted to you in your own place and station.

As a pastor is a steward of the Mysteries of God, and it is required of a steward to be faithful, so you be faithful in your stewardship of God's talents. If you are a husband, use the gifts of God to love and serve your wife, to provide for her, protect and care for her. If you are a wife, use the gifts of God to love and serve your husband. If you are a father or mother, use the gifts of God to care for your children, not least of all by teaching them His Word and how to call upon His Name in daily prayer. If you are a child, use the gifts of God to help around the house. If you are a student, use the gifts of God to study and learn. If you are a worker, use the gifts of God to benefit your boss and to care for your customer with honest labor and conscientious integrity.

In so doing whatever you are given to do, enter into the joy of your Master: the joy of repentance and faith; of life and love; of righteousness and peace; of justice and truth.

Do not use your talents for wickedness, certainly. But do not be lazy, either. Do not neglect to use your talents to do good, according to your abilities and vocations in life. For to this you have been called; it is a sacred trust.

But what shall be the settling of accounts when your Lord returns from His long journey?

If you have not used His gifts to His glory and your neighbor's good, repent.

Do not devise excuses, but invest yourself and your talents in order to bring forth fruits worthy or repentance; worthy of your Lord and Master.

Indeed, consider what sort of man your Lord is. Is He a "hard man," because He reaps and gathers where He has not sown? Or is He not gracious and merciful, generous and kind, in calling all men to Himself? What sort of man is He in causing His seed to be sown and His Word to be preached to the ends of the earth? In fact, He does not take, but He gives. For this rich man has made Himself poor, in order to make you rich with His own possessions.

Ironically, and paradoxically, this is how it is in the Kingdom of heaven. The King has buried His singular, greatest treasure, His own beloved Son, in the ground of the earth. That is the journey on which your Lord has gone: by the way of the Cross, unto death; and through death and the grave,unto life. He has borne your sin and shame, your failure and falsehood, your arrogance and your fear. And He has suffered for it; He has been cast into the outer darkness of death and the grave (you know that He has done).

But He has not returned void and empty-handed. He has become the Firstfruits of an abundant harvest, reaping life from death, gaining victory from the grave.

He has compounded interest on His investment, far more than you could ever count. And here is the currency of His Kingdom: not gold or silver, but free and full forgiveness of all your debts and trespasses. Not coins in your pockets, but His own body and blood, given and poured out into your mouth, into your body, for the forgiveness of all your sins.

That is the foremost talent with which He blesses you — and with that forgiveness, also life and salvation. He has been faithful in much, in order that you may receive all these treasures of His Kingdom. And as you are forgiven much, love much. Multiply His talents by forgiving, as you are surely forgiven. Enter into the joy of your Lord.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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