Sermon for Sunday, 11/11/2018
Part V-Sermon Series: The Disciple’s Path
Text: Psalm 50:7-15; Luke 12:13-21
Theme: “A Generous Life”
We just sand one of our old hymns, which is often used as the offertory for many United Methodist Churches. Let’s take a closer look at the first verse:
We give Thee but thine own
Whate’er the gift be;
all that we have is thine alone,
a trust, O Lord, from three.
The biblical teaching that everything (we have) belongs to God is the starting place for a keen understanding of the Christian life of generosity. Many scriptures testify to this. In Psalm 50 God said to the Hebrews, “all the animals are mine. If I were ever to get hungry, do you think I will ask you? All creation and its bounty are mine.”
Psalm 24, adds, “The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness. The world and those who live therein. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
These passages teach that God is the owner of everything, including you and me. This is the basis upon which thankfulness and giving back to God rest. When we begin living out this biblical truth, it shapes our attitude toward our possessions, and influence our response toward God and our fellow human beings.
Here in lies the error of the man described as, “The Rich Fool” in Luke 12. This man used the first-personal pronoun “I” seven times in this short passage. I know what I will do. I have no room to store my crops. I will do this…. I will pull down my barns, I will store all my crops, I will say to my soul. Soul, you have many goods laid up for you for many years; take life with ease, eat, drink and make merry.
This man’s problem was not in his producing more. The first of the three simple rules John Wesley gave the early Methodists regarding the use of money, is “gain all you can.” So, there is nothing wrong with working hard and earning as much as you can, as long you don’t do it to the detriment of another.
I also believe there was nothing wrong with this man’s saving for his rainy says. For Wesley’s second rule states, “save all you can.” So, there is nothing wrong with saving for your retirement, your children’s education, vocation, recreation, etc. But when Wesley wrote this rule, he was not encouraging hoarding and amassing processions like the case of this man. He was guiding Methodists against wasteful spending. But this guy was trapped by his possession. Let’s be mindful.
The last of Wesley’s three rules was, “give all you can.” This is where this rich man screwed up. For he saw life’s purpose in a very narrow lens. It was all about himself. Sometimes it is easy fall into the trap of the “me, myself and I” culture. But we must always remember that the goal of the disciple’s path is to “Love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves” Life for the Christian is not just about self. It is also about God and neighbors. This is why giving to the work of God’s kingdom here on earth and sharing with others are so paramount.
Billy Graham says, “there is a direct connection between a Christian’s faith our finances.” How we share with God and others flows from our spiritual condition. When we understand and accept that generosity does not begin with what we give to God, but what God has given to us, giving becomes a joy and not a duty, or burden. Giving then becomes our grateful response for what God has done for us. We give cheerfully “for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). We become generous to God and others because God has been generous to us.
This man failed to realize that not only his possession, the very breathe and life that he had was God’s gift. Life is a gift. The doctors may help to patch us up to prolong life, but ultimately, it’s God’s. Therefor Proverbs 3:9-10, says, “Honor the LORD with your processions, and with the first fruits of all your increase. So, your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
Not only does the Bible teach us to give in gratitude to God, but to do so proportionally. Deut. 16:17, says, everyone shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he has given him. The goal of proportional giving for the Christian is 10% of his income or tithing. Remember, I said the goal but not the limit that a follower of Christ can give to God’s redemptive and transforming mission in our world. There are people who include their church in their will.
Giving is one of our spiritual disciplines, and like every other spiritual discipline, we don’t reach this point overnight, and we all are not at the same point on this journey. So, each day you and I must take a step of faith on this journey.
In his book, Journey to the Center of Faith, Richard Chew writes, “sometimes the best decision to make is to take that step of faith when it would be easier to play it safe and live in your comfort zone.”
As we return home today, I urge each of us to look around and see how much God has blessed us with, and ask ourselves what percent of our income we have committed in gratitude to God for his work here on earth, through our congregation? The response does not belong to me, or any human being, but to the very God who has blessed each of us so bountifully.
As I close, let me leave you with these words of Eugene Peterson, “Each gift you give is an invitation and provides a means to participate in the work of Jesus…We are being invited into a working relationship in the operations of the Trinity.
May the Almighty God continue to bless and give us a heart to be generous disciples of his.
God bless you.