Over the next five weeks I am going to preach on the topic of stewardship.
This morning as we celebrate the Lord's Supper, I am going to begin at the basis of our stewardship:
We give because God first gave to us.
On the surface, that statement seems simple enough, but our hearts are not simple.
We may understand that with our head, but our emotions may be working at cross-purposes.
Fear and unbelief betray our . . .
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower.
Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. Matthew 21:33
The late Bishop Edwin Hughes once delivered a rousing sermon on "God's Ownership" that put a rich parishioner's nose out-of-joint. The wealthy man took the Bishop off for lunch, and then walked him through his elaborate gardens, woodlands, and farm. "Now are you going to tell me," he demanded when the tour was completed, "that all this land does not belong to me?" Bishop Hughes smiled and suggested, "Ask me that same question a hundred years from now."1
Both are about judgment, but Jesus' had a different twist to it.
Instead of the field yielding only bad fruit, the landlord sends his emissaries to collect the rent that is due.
His servants are refused, abused and murdered.
At this point the listener would expect immediate retribution, but no.
In an act of what could be considered either utter foolishness or reckless faith, the landowner sends his son, thinking surely they will respect him.
But they do not.
The son is killed, on the hope that having removed the heir, they will possess the field for themselves.
How could they think such a thing?
How could they even begin to think they could get away with it?
The end of the parable is about judgment.
Jesus asks, "so what would the landowner do?"
His hearers say, make sure these wicked people come to a wicked end.
Jesus says, "Right! And that is exactly what God will do."
In a sense that is almost unbelievable, they forgot who's farm it was.
They thought it was theirs.
We make the same mistake.
We think all of this is really ours, when it is only on loan to us.
Life and the breath we take is only on loan. We even know roughly how long we have it.
We too are called to be good stewards of God's trust to us. It is not just about money. It is about realizing who our life belongs to. It does not belong to us, though we are tempted to believe that it does.
When we come to the table of Christ, we remember the parable. The Father has sent His son, not to collect the rent, but to pay the debt. Without what Christ has done for us, we would be like the wicked tenants: guests who have overstayed their welcome and tenants who cannot pay the rent.
But Jesus has paid the rent for us
We are not standing in the line marked "judgment". We are standing in the line marked "Heaven bound".
And as such, we owe Him everything. So when the master speaks to you about something He wants you to offer, what is your response going to be? Is it going to be, "No! It's mine!", or will it be "Yes, after all it's Yours anyway. It's just on loan."
We come to the table. Here we remember God has held back nothing for you. Will you hold back, or will you give Him your all? When the master asks what the crop was in your vineyard, what will the answer be? Will it be a rich and good crop, or will it be slim pickings? It's never too late to make a change either.
Preached October 2, 2005
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia
1.Bennett Serf, Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 2.
Online Resources Consulted