Summary: A stewardship sermon on tithing.
“Can We Ever Earn Enough to be Happy?”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge UMC, Chattanooga, TN
Are these tough economic times or what?
These words capture well the state of mind of many of us today.
We have witnessed dramatic market losses, the collapse of the world’s largest insurance company, and many bankruptcies and mergers.
Every day seems to bring another piece of economic uncertainty!
A recent survey found that over three in four Americans are stressed about the economy and their personal finances.
Half were worried about providing for their family’s basic needs.
Over half of respondents reported feeling angry and irritable, and reported laying awake at night worried about this.
That’s good for the sleeping pill industry…but that’s about it!!!
The declining state of the nation’s economy is taking a physical and emotional toll on people nation-wide!
Our economy is depressed.
The entire country is depressed.
People are stressed to the max about money.
So, I figured, what better time could there possibly be to preach about tithing to the local church?
It’s interesting to note that the Methodist Movement, of which we are all apart, got it’s start during a time that England was in such bad economic straits that all the pundits were placing their bets on a bloody revolution!!!
The workers were mad!!!
Those who were out of work were even more angry!!!
And the business people were scared to death.
The Methodist Movement staved off a bloody revolution and helped bring England out of their economic crisis by converting the masses to Christianity, through which persons began to see the world and other people through a completely new lens!!!
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, stressed honest business practices.
And the workers were given instructions and the motivation from God to work hard and cheerfully.
It got so good that Wesley became worried because the previously dirt poor Methodists were beginning to become wealthy…and wealth was a spiritual danger in Wesley’s eyes.
So John Wesley came up with the Methodist Stewardship plan:
“Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.”
And in keeping with that plan, the Great Awakening continued to take on speed.
Methodism spread like wildfire, and thousands were converted to Christianity across the globe.
We sure could use a Great Awakening today!!!
In the Book Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live Lisa Samson writes: “I realized something about myself I never had before.
I spent loads of money.
And when I did that, I kept myself from helping others the way Jesus wanted me to.”
Are we keeping ourselves from helping others the way Jesus wants us to?
If so, we may be robbing God and robbing ourselves.
We live in an extraordinarily materialistic and consumerist society.
We are immersed in a culture that feeds an appetite for more and bigger, and it fosters the myth that self-worth is found in material wealth and that happiness is found in possessing.
Thirty-year-olds feel like failures because they don’t already have the kind of house and car that their parents own, and forty-year-olds feel unsuccessful because they aren’t millionaires.
My friends, this kind of thinking is killing us all!!!
Millions of couples struggle under oppressive levels of debt that strain marriages, destroy happiness, and intensify conflict and anxiety.
As one radio host says, “We buy things we don’t even need with money we don’t even have to impress people we don’t even know.”
Now how silly is that?
Jesus emphasizes that all money belongs to God.
For example, if we drive a company car, we know that it’s not our car.
It’s to be used for the company.
And God wants us to use our possessions with that attitude.
God is letting us use the money God gives us in order to reach the world for Jesus Christ.
What a relief that is.
Our money is not our money…
…it’s God’s money.
And it is only through God that we possess it.
As Christians we need not worry about trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’.’
That’s not what we are about.
What a stress-reliever!!!
What a load-off!!!
Jesus tells us: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet their heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?”
When people with different incomes are asked, “How much more income would it take for you to be happy” they answer in surprisingly consistent ways, saying that 20 percent more income would ease their burdens, help them buy all they needed, and bring security.