Summary: A sermon on giving.
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
The Bible is the church’s book. It was written and preserved by the people of God. Through the Spirit, the Bible speaks a living Word to the people of God.
There it is. This is our book.
What are we going to do about the passage of Scripture we just read from it?
“No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Jesus talked a lot about money, and He didn’t talk about it because He was a greedy preacher or a church fund-raiser.
He talked about the issue because He knew how money can compete for our primary allegiance to God.
So what are we going to do with this passage of Scripture?
The word Jesus used for Money is the Aramaic word Mammon.
“You can’t serve God and Mammon,” Jesus says.
Mammon means “accumulated resources.” Mammon means “stuff,” as in, “We have a lot of stuff around here.”
Or “Please go into your room and pick up all your stuff.”
Or closer to the point: “You cannot serve God and stuff.”
How many of us have a lot of “stuff”?
How many of us have a garage full of “stuff” ?
How many of us have a closet full of clothes and yet we still scan the pages of a catalog looking for more?
Do we stand taller when someone admires our fancy new wrist watch?
When we earn some money do we go and blow it on a bunch of things that hang around the house?
Then…when it comes time to decide what we will put in the offering plate on Sunday morning…
…do we look at our VISA bills…
…and decide that we can not give at least ten percent of our income to God due to our addiction to possessions, our hunger for money, our attachment to things that must be fed over and over again?
Because stuff has become our god!
Have we found the truth of this passage in our own lives?
“You cannot serve both God and stuff.”
This is not a threat, but a comment on life that speaks its own truth.
A lawyer, who had spent his life accumulating vast amounts of wealth through frivolous lawsuits was on his deathbed.
He told his wife, “When I die, I am going to take my money with me.”
“How in the world are you going to do that,” asked the wife.
“I have a plan,” the lawyer replied.
“I want you to grab two of the biggest pillow cases you can find, and go down to the bank. Have them open my account and stuff those pillow cases full with my cash.”
“Then, I want you to go up into the attic and hang those pillow cases to the ceiling. When I die, I’ll grab them on the way up!”
The man’s wife did what he had asked.
Some time after the man had passed away, his wife went up to the attic to clean up a few things.
While in the attic, she saw that those two pillowcases—filled with cash—were still hanging from the ceiling, just as she had left them.
“Darn,” the woman snapped, “I knew I should have put that money in the basement!”
We can’t take our money, our mammon, our stuff with us…
…and yet we guard it as if it were the most important thing in the world…
…as if it were, so to speak, our very salvation!!!
Let’s ask ourselves this question: “If I were to receive a million dollars tomorrow, what would I do with it?”
What comes first to our minds?
Yes, we must think about food and clothing, but we shouldn’t think about them first.
In verse 33 of our Gospel Lesson Jesus tells us “seek first [God’s] kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
This does not mean that if we seek God’s Kingdom first we will become millionaires…it means that if we seek God’s Kingdom first…
…the basic necessities of this life will be taken care of by God.
Put Christ first, and everything else will fall into place.
Do we have that much faith?
Do we trust God enough?
A church member was having trouble with the concept of tithing.
One day he revealed his doubts to his minister.
“Pastor, I just don’t see how I can give 10 percent of my income to the church when I can’t even keep on top of our bills.”
The pastor replied, “John, if I promise to make up the difference in your bills if you fall short, do you think you could try tithing for just one month?”
After a moment’s pause, John responded, “Sure, if you promise to make up any shortage, I guess I could try tithing for one month.”