Summary: Part II of a series based on the question, "How to spend an inheirtance" This sermon encourages us not to hold on to the love of the Father but to spend it freely.
Title: A Chocolate Piano and an Older Brother
Text: Luke 15:25 - 32
FCF: In Christ, we have more than enough blessing – we need not sit on it!
SO: I want people to realize that hoarding an inheritance can be just as bad as squandering it
Last week, you’ll remember we talked about the parable of the Prodigal Son – one I’ve actually come to call “the Parable of the Loving Father.” And, specifically, we realized as Christians we have a wonderful inheritance from our Father – One that is bigger than money or even freedom. We have an inheritance of love, and we shouldn’t waste it.
For a little while there, we even talked about Jack Welch – the rich executive who’s heart attack only led him to the realization that he had spent too much time drinking cheap wine. Meanwhile, his marriage fell apart; his ex-company pulled back the massive subsidies to his lifestyle, and sadly, his reputation tarnished. Wasting an inheritance just seems wrong.
But this morning, I want to suggest to you that there is an equal peril in an opposite direction.
I should start by giving you a broader picture about this chapter. Luke 15 contains three parables – The Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Parable of Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son. You can see a theme developing, right? That which was lost has been found, and there is great rejoicing!
But losing something is a painful process, and so one common survival strategy is to say, “I just won’t lose!” Let me hold on to what I have – if I just fly right, work hard, and hold on to what little I’ve got, the theory goes, I’ll be fine. But, as we’ll find out, this strategy has consequences of its own.
Susan shared a story with me several years back that I want to tell you. When she was a little girl, her grandmother decided to give her what was possibly the perfect gift for Susan – it was a piano, made entirely of fine chocolate. Each piece was carefully crafted, and there was icing for the keys. It was beautiful, and if you know Susan, you know what a perfect gift that would be for her. There was really only one problem – it was too perfect. You see, Susan desperately wanted to enjoy the fine chocolate, but she wanted to be able to admire it too. So, she waited, and held on to it. Day after day she’d look at it longingly, but it was just too pretty to eat. Eventually, time took its toll. The chocolate went rancid, and it started to smell. She had to throw it out. Ultimately, her desire to hold on to what she had, literally melted away.
I tell you that story, because the older brother in this story had the same idea. He knew his father was loving, and he knew he was going to get a big inheritance from his dad. But the way in which he held on to his inheritance developed within him attitudes that turned what should have been a joy into a curse. Holding on so tightly that an inheritance can’t be used – hoarding it – is a danger, precisely because of the attitudes it can engender, and this morning, I’d like to take some time to examine those attitudes in the course of this story.
I. He was so busy, he wouldn’t enjoy his inheritance
II. He was so angry, he couldn’t partake of his inheritance
III. He was so ungrateful, he couldn’t love the giver of his inheritance
So, if squandering an inheritance just wastes it, and hoarding it lets it rot, what should we be doing with the bountiful love that our father has given us? In a word, we need to be investing it. We need to be investing it in our spouses, our children, our neighbors – Precisely unlike this Pharisee of an older brother, we need to be gladly sharing it with everyone around. Next week, I want to pick up on that theme, by reading the next parable – Luke 16: 1-9 – a story I like to call “The Parable Jesus Wasn’t Supposed to Tell.” Its often called the parable of the Unjust Steward – and it’s a very fun story about what it means to invest. I’d encourage you to read ahead.
But, even more importantly, I want to challenge you one more time this morning. You, my brothers and sisters, have been given a great inheritance from our loving father – time, resources, freedom. As a child of God, you have been gifted with talents from the Creator himself. But most importantly, you have inherited a never-ending love from a father whose store of love is never ending. It is the only inheritance you will ever receive that cannot be wasted. The only way you could waste it would be to try to hold on to for yourself.