Summary: Do you struggle with the idea that your giving makes no difference? What difference does our giving make in the Grand scheme of things.
Have you seen the Television show, Storage Wars?
Storage Wars is a reality television series that began on the A&E Network premiering in 2010. The show features two auctioneers and 5 auction hunters -- Dave Hester, Darrell Sheets, Barry Weiss, and Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante. (If you watch the show, you probably have a favorite hunter and a hated hunter.) The premise of the show is this. When rent is not paid for three months on a storage locker in California, the law allows the contents to be sold by an auctioneer as a single lot of items. The show is summed up by the winners (those who made the most profit) and losers (those who made the least profit or lost money) from the storage bins they bought at that particular auction.
The show fascinates me for this reason. I am usually surprised by the value of contents of some of those lockers. And it makes me wonder why certain lockers with so much value are abandoned.
Apparently the owners of those lockers could not take their stuff with them and they could not afford to keep renting the lockers. Eventually, stuff they thought was valuable enough to pay for storage defaults to someone else.
We begin a new series of messages entitled “Storage Wars.” The theme passage for this series of messages on stewardship is
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I understand that any time a series of messages is done on money in the church that there are a number of perceived elephants that appear in the room.
“The church needs money.”
“That is the only subject the church ever talks about.”
One of the reasons that talking about stewardship makes me as the preacher uncomfortable is these perceived elephants.
Perhaps even more uncomfortable, however, personally is that being a good steward is not always easy for me to do. I sometimes struggle with handling money. I have expenses and dreams for things too. And one of my struggles has been this.
I have had periods in my life where I had more money going out that coming in. I struggled just to make ends meet. It was during those periods of my life that giving was hard. I had always been taught that I should give 10% of my GROSS income. There were times it would not have amounted to a whole lot of money, but it might as well have been a million dollars to me. I often faced a choice. Tithe 10% or pay the electric bill. I would give what I could, but often times it was not even close to the 10% I had always been taught. I would wonder what difference it really made. Worse yet, I would wonder if God was offended by my lack of a true tithe?
Have you ever been in the same boat? Maybe you find yourself on a fixed income, unemployed, or struggling to make ends meet. And you wonder if the few pennies you can give will make any difference in the grand scheme of things. You wonder if God is offended by a gift that seems so small.
Context: Jesus is surrounded by those who thought of themselves as the religious elite of the day. And their intent is clearly defined in Luke 19 when the Scripture tells us that they intended to have Jesus killed. Luke 20 suggests they are trying to trap Jesus in his words. So they ask him about his authority to teach (show us your degree); they ask him about how to handle taxes, they ask about divorce and remarriage and the resurrection; they ask him why he calls himself the Son of David. One by one Jesus defeats their questions and they are left embarrassed. Then Jesus turns to the crowd and Luke tells us,
Luke 20:45-21:4 (NIV)
45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 "Beware of the teachers of the law....
The teachers of the law were those who studied the Jewish Torah – the Old Testament. They would have been like Bible college professors -- their job was to memorize, understand, and interpret Scripture. The law they studied prevented them from collecting a fee for their studies. So, in order to make this a full time occupation, teachers of the law would depend on donations. It was a system rife with corruption.