15th Sunday after Pentecost – C (Proper 20) LSB #’s 905, 730, 738
Text – Luke 16:15
And [Jesus] said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
IN THE SIGHT OF GOD
Feelings or facts, which one drives your decision making? Feelings are one of the gods that Americans worship today. When it comes to believing the Word of God or believing feelings, it is the feelings that often win out.
Rather than looking at issues from God’s perfect heart of love, & from His almighty perspective, we naturally prefer to look at things from the perspective of our own heart. How this plays out in real life is that people say with their mind, “I believe in Jesus,” even though their heart rejects clear aspects of the teaching of Jesus.
Listen again to the sermon text, “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.’” (Luke 16:15 ESV)
Are you a follower of Jesus? If you say you are, which Jesus do you follow? Is it the One that Jesus Himself claims to be? Or, do you follow a Jesus that you have created in your own heart? It’s from our heart that all kinds of sickness pour out. It’s here that human beings manufacture a Jesus of their own liking.
Here’s the struggle. We tell people things to make ourselves look good, but the truth is we are often lying & God sees that. He knows our hearts. We can’t cover them up with mere words. Jesus warned us, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19 ESV)
Are you a follower of Jesus, or do you only claim to be? Remember, God knows your
heart! If you claim to follow Jesus, why do you reject any of His teachings? The reason is that even children of God still have a sinful heart. The struggle really boils down to the issue of repentance. We cannot escape our sinful nature, but we can reject what it tells us. In Baptism, God calls us to drown our sinful nature daily with contrition & repentance.
Maybe your heart still believes in evolution, even though Jesus’ teaching clearly makes the point that He created everything. The Bible states that God created simply by speaking His Word & that when He was done all of it was good. There was no death, no survival of the fittest, and no superior species devouring the inferior ones.
When you complain about the mess that our world is in, is it because you see life evolving to a higher plane? If we are evolving there is no reason for anyone to complain about the brokenness of life. The very fact that we expect things to be better is evidence that we have an awareness of God even if we refuse to acknowledge Him.
Seeing what is happening in our world it is obvious that human beings are not evolving, but rather descending into an abyss of cold-hearted depravity. The opposite of evolution is occurring in our culture because people no longer feel, in their hearts, the desperate need for God. Their mind may tell them they need God, but their heart refuses to believe it.
Are you a follower of Jesus, or do you only claim to be? Why do you reject any of His teachings? In Matthew 19, Jesus taught, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father & mother, &, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (19:18b-19 ESV)
The closing part of that verse is very clear, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That rules out kneeling on someone’s neck until they’re dead. It rules out canceling other people. It rules out rioting & looting & setting fire to cities. The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us how a priest & a Levite saw a man along the road who had been beaten & robbed. Their mind understood that he desperately needed help, but their heart spoke of fear so they passed by. Then, a Samaritan came along, someone who was hated & despised, yet he helped the man & spent his own money to care for him.
God also calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we follow Jesus we are to love those who are afraid to reject the teachings of evolution. We are to love any woman who is pregnant by helping her to care for her needs & for the needs of the child she is carrying. When Satan or the world throws fear into her face we are to encourage her with love & support.
In Matthew 19, Jesus taught, “You shall not murder.” To the mind, it’s clear that murder is forbidden by Jesus, but that feelings drive human decision making, is made clear by the number of people who say they follow Jesus & yet support abortion, or vote for people who do.
To the mind, “You shall not murder” is very clear. It’s the heart that refuses to accept God’s authority. Across the United States there are laws against destroying the eggs of birds like Canadian Geese, but the State of Michigan will be voting this fall on a measure that would allow the abortion of human children in the womb, anytime for any reason.
The motto Pro Choice is exalted by the men & women of Planned Parenthood. Now, compare that to the last sentence of the sermon text, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” When God’s own people become an abomination to Him, what happens? The OT & the four Gospels make it perfectly clear.
Refusing to love our neighbor as yourself is an abomination in the sight of God. Abortion & the teaching of evolution are abominations in the sight of God. People read the Word of God with their mind, but often their heart refuses to believe what that Word tells them. Contrition & repentance are needed even though they leave us feeling totally vulnerable before God. And that’s where the dishonest manager of the Gospel reading comes into play. He’s caught red-handed, with nowhere to hide. He’s left at the mercy of his master & feels totally vulnerable to his wishes. But, the master does not throw him into prison. Rather, because he is merciful, the manager is given a 2nd chance. The manager takes full advantage of the master’s mercy.
The almighty God is our master & He too is merciful. His greatest desire is not to cast us into the prison of hell, but that we take advantage of His mercy. Will you allow your pride to stand in the way? Will you allow your desire to avoid feelings of vulnerability to block your path to eternal life?
Right here, right now, you are already saved by Jesus’ blood. All that you can do, of your own power, is to refuse His gift. Many people do, as Jesus warned in Matthew 7: “For the gate is wide & the way is easy that leads to destruction, & those who enter by it are many.” (7:13b ESV) The Gospel lesson encourages us, not to be dishonest, but to take advantage of God.
The heavenly Father wants us to take advantage of His mercy & His forgiveness. He wants us to take advantage of all the blessings that He offers us. We struggle with that because our sinful nature doesn’t want to accept charity. Our sinful nature wants to be independent rather than dependent. It wants to be autonomous, beholden to no one.
That’s why it’s difficult to be poor. That’s also why people who are wealthy tend to live on larger & larger estates, where they can isolate themselves more & more from people of lesser wealth. That kind of self-isolation is not God’s design for us. He knows where that leads us, only to eternal death, if we remain on that wide & easy way.
Knowing our sinful helplessness, the heavenly Father sent His heavenly Son to rescue us, purely out of mercy & love. People who cave in to evolutionary teaching need to see God’s love demonstrated in their lives by people who believe in Jesus’ teachings. People who seek out abortion as a solution to their struggles need to see God’s love demonstrated in their lives by people who believe in Jesus’ teachings. People, who don’t love their neighbor as themselves, need to experience love from people who believe in Jesus’ teachings.
Christ has done that for us no matter how often we fail; no matter if facts or feelings drive our decision making. His children are never an abomination in the sight of God. Amen.
The world seeks to be praised & honored by the mighty yet never once reflects that they are frail & flighty. But what I truly prize above all things is He, my Jesus, He alone. What is the world to me! The world seeks after wealth & all that mammon offers yet never is content though gold should fill its coffers. I have a higher good, content with it I’ll be: my Jesus is my wealth. What is the world to me! Amen. LSB 730:2-3.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet