Jesus is not impressed with a 99 percent success rate. Whether caring for sheep, money or sinners, Jesus affirms stewardship that goes to the margins and tends to what is lost and not working. This does not mean that Jesus expects perfection. To the contrary, Jesus assumes that shepherds will lose sheep and coins will be misplaced.
What Jesus encourages is the humility to acknowledge mistakes and the diligence to recover from them. Jesus says that these acts of restoration are important enough to deserve public celebration. The shepherd does not simply return home and think, “Phew, what a relief. I found my sheep.”
Instead, he calls his friends and neighbors together to celebrate with him. Jesus knows that we will, at times, exclude people from our community, misuse money or lose track of precious resources. The gospel shows us that the measure of good stewardship is whether we acknowledge our mistakes and do the work to make things whole again. That is worth celebrating.
This is adapted from “Good enough is not enough,” a stewardship devotion written by Emma Crossen that appeared in the September 2013 issue of Interchange. Today is a federal holiday in which we observe the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.