Summary: A stewardship sermon for pledge Sunday for for teaching as to how stewardship applies to our life.
GOD’S PROMISED PARADOX
Dr. David L. Haun
Hope Christian Church, Tamarac, Florida
February 29, 2004
There are two language concepts that are confusing to some: the Paradox and the Oxymoron. Oxymoron’s are the joining together of what appears to be opposite and absurd concepts. There are many examples on the Internet, such as "pretty ugly," "even odds," "Great Depression," "Government Organization," "Working Vacation," "Tax Return." (www.oxymoronlist.com.)
On the other hand, a paradox, while it may appear to be inconsistent with common sense usually offers a truth and an opportunity to any who will follow it. Jesus frequently used paradoxes in his teaching. A book by Dave Sutherland and Kirk Nowery, (1) which has assisted me in today’s sermon, lists several examples of Jesus’ Paradoxes. To find you must lose. (2) To be Rich you must be poor. (3) To live you must die. (4) To be first you must be last. (5) To be honored, you must be humbled. (6)
One possible paradox of Jesus will be the starting point of today’s sermon. The Paradox is found in
Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (NIV)
THIS SCRIPTURE IS GOD’S PARADOXICAL PROMISE TO EACH OF US.
When a promise is made, one must always consider the probability of its fulfillment. In the early months of 1912, the most outrageously expensive round-trip tickets were sold. The cost of the best first class ticket was nearly $10,000.00, in a time when the average worker made $6.00 a week.
The US Census Bureau reports that the average weekly salary in 2002 was $750.00. There are some here today who make more than this, and some who make less. So let’s figure the average might be $600.00. The difference between a $6.00 weekly income and a $600.00 weekly income is 10,000 percent. On that basis, those first class tickets in today’s dollars would be just at a million dollars a ticket. (7)
As expensive as those tickets were, there was a strong rivalry between the wealthy who desired to obtain one. For they were unique tickets, and in April 10, 1912, those fortunate enough to acquire them set sail in fantastic elegance from Southampton, England, on the grand ship RMS Titanic. When the final tally was made of the 1513 people who died that week, included in the list of the dead were nearly all of those who paid so much for their first class tickets. (8)
The White Star Line had claimed the Titanic was unsinkable, and promised a safe passage and a guaranteed return. But the promise wasn’t kept and the guarantee never honored.
Different than that promise of an unsinkable ship is the promise of Jesus we consider today. "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
This promise of Jesus is bigger than mere money. Think of the assets you have in your life: money, time, possessions, opportunities, influence, relationships, and much more. What Jesus is promising is opposite to one’s typical common sense. Don’t spend your life, He says, acquiring and hoarding possessions. Don’t make power and influence your goal in life. Be sharing with your time and your relationships and your money and your possessions. And to the degree that we do this, Jesus promises, we will receive far more back in return.
What this paradoxical promises stresses is not so much a specific amount or item, as a pattern to follow in life. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, urges them ... On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.. (9) That word ’prosper’ has a wonderful meaning in the original language. For it literally means "being blessed in a wonderful and good way." That good way might be in Business. That wonderful way might be in relationships. That good possession might be a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, Paul is saying "as God has blessed and prospered you in your total life, set aside each week, with regularity, an offering worthy of God’s blessing." Because all that really lasts are the blessings that God gives. The Scripture is clear, "we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." (10) You’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.
Dave Sutherland and Kirk Nowery discuss John D. Rockefeller, who as America’s first oil baron, was the richest man in the world. "In the early years of the 20th century, his businesses accounted for one of every thirty dollars generated in the entire United States economy. In today’s currency that would be equal to a fortune ten times greater than Bill Gates has amassed. When Rockefeller died in 1937, a newspaper artist drew a cartoon which posed the question, ’How much did he leave?’ The answer in the next panel said simply, ’He left it all.’ (11)