Summary: We have been given freely out of Christ’s rich grace. How we respond to that grace will be seen in how freely we give to others.
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James’s brother), Philip, Bartholomew,
Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus,
Simon (the Zealot), and Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
Jesus sent the twelve disciples out with these instructions: "Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
"Don’t take any money with you. Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with an extra coat and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy man and stay in his home until you leave for the next town. When you are invited into someone’s home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If a village doesn’t welcome you or listen to you, shake off the dust of that place from your feet as you leave. I assure you, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off on the judgment day than that place will be.
A month ago, Pam, Michael and I went to a birthday party. Kaylee, my niece’s daughter was turning 3 years old. Now I don’t know if you have been around too many 3 year olds, but typically they are not mature enough to understand the concepts of sharing and giving. Most preschoolers when they are in a situation where they are being given many different presents have a hard time letting other children play with their new toys. Most adults when they receive a new toy, whether it is that laptop you always wanted or that new car – we have a hard time letting someone else use it before we have had a chance to enjoy it.
That’s why I was amazed to watch Kaylee at this party. Most of her presents were clothes, and she gave the typical reaction to the clothes (open the present, pull out the clothes, say thank you because you mother is telling you to, and then move on to the next present.) Then she came across a box that contained a toy that she really liked. Immediately she wanted to play with it and forget the other presents, but her Mother encouraged her to keep looking at the unopened presents and put the toy to the side. While she was doing this, her cousins were starting to play with the new toy. At first this was a distraction to Kaylee, but she continued to open her presents.
Finally, after all the presents were opened, she was ready to play with her favorite toy. But Ethan her 2 year old cousin did not want to give it up. What amazed me was the kindness and self-control that Kaylee exhibited during this time. She had freely received this prized toy. It belonged to her. She had every right to take it away from Ethan and to demand that she be given her toy back. Most of the adults were trying to coax the toy away from Ethan and give it to Kaylee. They were upset that Kaylee wasn’t able to play with her new toy. But Kaylee didn’t seem to mind. In fact it seemed to bring her joy to be able to share her new toy with her cousin. It was OK that he wanted to play with it. She had freely received the gift, and now she was freely sharing it with someone she loved.
In the passage we just read we have heard the instructions Jesus gave His disciples as they prepared to branch out as His missionaries. Freely they had been given some amazing things. They had heard the Master speak. They had watched as Jesus performed amazing miracles of mercy and grace. They had witnessed the compassion and tenderness of the Good Shepherd. And not He was sending them out with these words: Freely you have received, freely give.
This morning I want us to look at our hearts this morning. I want us to answer some key questions regarding our Christian Faith. The questions I want to look at this morning are these:
- Why do we fail to give freely?
- What have we been given that God wants us to share?