Sermons

Summary: The manner in which we handle the goods entrusted to us reveals our understanding of God.

You must remember the LORD your God, for he is the one who gives ability to get wealth; if you do this he will confirm his covenant that he made by oath to your ancestors, even as he has to this day. [1], [2]

Events leading me to commit my life to Christ included a singular experience. Whilst engaged in a move from New York City, a trailer containing all our furnishings crashed while transiting the Washington Beltway, near Oxen Hill, Maryland. The trailer hitch broke releasing the trailer and destroying all our furniture, except for a baby crib. I was forced to rent a truck to haul the junked furniture so that I would be able to file an insurance claim and recoup at least a little money. When lying flat on one’s back, there is really only one direction to look, and that is up.

In the interim, we settled in South Houston, Texas, where I obtained work with a construction crew making additions at the Ethyl Corporation on the Texas Ship Channel. Lynda and I accepted an invitation to attend a revival service at the Pasadena Boulevard Baptist Church in Pasadena. During that service, Lynda was converted to Christ and I was deeply affected by her transformation. In the weeks following Lynda’s conversion, I began to read the Bible seeking peace. I began reading through the Bible for the first time; while reading the Book of Ecclesiastes, I read these words, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” [ECCLESIASTES 12:1]. The words haunted me; I could not escape them.

During that same week, I received a settlement from the insurance company for the furniture that had been destroyed; the amount received was nine hundred dollars. In 1970 that was a sizeable sum of money for our family, and the more so when one considers that as a graduate student at the Einstein College of Medicine I had received a stipend amounting to $125 per month. The question of what we should do with all that money weighed on our minds. Of course, we wanted to replace our furniture, but we knew that we had a series of moves facing us in the immediate future. I would soon be initiating graduate studies at the University of Texas Health Science Centre in Dallas. Though I did not really know God, I knew there was a God and I knew that He was worthy of worship; He deserved my best efforts. Upon consideration and uncharacteristically, Lynda and I agreed that we would give the entire cheque to the church, and the following Sunday I placed in the offering plate that cheque for $900.

When an average monthly salary was considerably less than the amount of that cheque, the gift caused quite a stir in the church. We received a visit from the Pastor early the following week. He was astonished and wondered if we had a special project in mind for such a sizeable gift. We didn’t know about offering envelopes, nor did we understand how a church distributes the gifts given. Therefore, when the Pastor asked how we wished the moneys to be used, we replied that we simply wanted to honour God.

Perhaps you consider our decision foolish, but I suggest that as beneficiaries of His grace we were learning to worship. Lynda had received new life, and any expression of gratitude was insufficient to pay for the stirrings in my heart and the life journey I was contemplating. What we did, though we could not really understand it, was to acknowledge what to that point had been unacknowledged blessings from God.

The text states, “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Reading that same command from the NET BIBLE provides a yet more literal translation. “You must remember the LORD your God, for he is the one who gives ability to get wealth; if you do this he will confirm his covenant that he made by oath to your ancestors, even as he has to this day.” [3]

I am not suggesting that the latter translation is more accurate than the former, but the NET BIBLE seems more emphatic, in my estimate. I consider that the English noun “ability” seems to convey more strongly the intent of God’s Word than does our English noun “power.” Likewise, the English verb “must” seems livelier than does the English verb “shall.” I believe that we need to return to an attitude that takes seriously the commands of God and cease to treat Him as a kindly, though remote, grandfather.

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