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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

November 2018

I am writing this article when the Mega Millions jackpot is $900 million dollars! How many of you never play the lottery but went out and bought a ticket “just in case?” The government will take a large chunk of the winner’s money, but even half of that is still an incredible sum of money to just have fall into your lap.

If you won this lottery, what would you do with your new found wealth? How would you manage it? Some people are very good at their finances and budgeting. Others are not. Some are good at managing the resources they have at their disposal, others are not. There are plenty of stories of people who have found fame and wealth and ended up losing everything because of poor decisions and bad management of their earnings.

How would you manage taking home $500 million from winning the Mega Million jackpot after taxes? Would you automatically think to tithe 10%? That would amount to $50 million! You get to keep the other $450 million and imagine how the organizations you choose to give to would benefit from that meager $50 million. That small gesture of giving away will multiply in ways you can’t even imagine and become a good investment in its own way.

Speaking of investment, I imagine that I would have to hire someone to handle the money if I won the lottery because I don’t know the first thing about investing. It would probably be the same for most of you as well. I suppose a good manager of that kind of money would put it to use, to grow it and not to let it be squandered away.

Jesus has some things to say about money that are kind of like that. Matthew 25:14-30 gives us the parable of the talents. To each of the trusted slaves was given a certain amount of money to care for while the owner was away. Two of them took the money and put it to use and received a return. One of the slaves did nothing with it. This person, we might say, managed what was given to him poorly.

When we look around us we can certainly marvel at all that God has given us. Nothing of what we have belongs to us. It is a gift. Everything belongs to God. This is why it is important for us to be good managers of what does not belong to us. God has given us this beautiful earth, but its resources are limited. Managing those resources wisely from governmental policies on pollution to the household owner who recycles, we all have a responsibility to manage God’s possessions well.

Our lives are truly a gift from God. We are not often very good managers of our bodies, minds or souls – all God’s gifts that too often we take for granted. Our abilities are God-given gifts, each possessing different gifts as the Spirit has given (1 Corinthians 12). Do we manage these gifts to the benefit of the world around us and to the Glory of God who gave us these gifts?

Our money is a gift as well. Some have more than others for sure. That doesn’t mean that God loves them more or they have pleased God more by what they do with their money. No. But the interesting thing about money, and all of the above mentioned gifts, is that when even a little bit of these are shared with others, God’s community thrives. I think that is what it is to manage God’s blessings well, or faithfully. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Of course, the greatest gift of all that we often times mistake as our possession, is grace. We give thanks for God’s grace, the giving of his Son, the forgiveness of sins, God’s faithfulness and mercy poured out on us, but we keep it to ourselves and hang on to it as some sort of possession we earned. How do we manage this gift of grace? Give it away. What joy that brings to the self and to the world around us. Even if we just give 10%, it is like $50 million to someone who knew nothing of it before. The same is true of our time, our talent and our treasure. Giving away a small percentage of all of these is like a large windfall to others.

We have been given much to manage on God’s behalf. A great responsibility, to be sure. To manage faithfully is to make the best investment you can ever make. God can take just 10% of your time, talent and treasure and grow it one hundred fold! (Matthew 13:8)

The weekend of November 10 and 11 will be Consecration Sunday, a time where we come together as a community in Christ and affirm our baptism and ask that the Lord make of us good managers of all that he has given us. Please, manage your time accordingly so that you can join with your Emmanuel family in this dedication.

Hmmmm . . . did I just talk about stewardship without using the word? You bet I did. The Greek word for “steward” is “oikonomos” derived from “oikos” which is “a house” and “nemo” which means “to arrange” or in other words “the manager of a household or estate.”

Pastor Alan

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