Summary: This message looks at what we can learn from Jesus about Giving.
If there's anything more annoying than a preacher who is always bringing money into the mix, it's one who sneaks money into his messages.
One minute he's talking about love and prayer and then wham the next minute he's talking about what people give and don't give and then he has the audacity to draw lines between people's hearts and their wallets and back again.
I'm sure more than one person in the congregation was thinking: "It's one thing to talk about money it's another thing to try to make a spiritual connection. After all what's how I handle my money got to do with my relationship with God? They are two different things and I want to keep them separate."
I'm sure that over the past thirty-seven years there have been people who sat in churches who had those very thoughts about my preaching. Because believe it or not after having pastored since 1981 and having been though three building projects there have been times that the topic of money has been part of my sermons.
And I'm probably guilty of sneaking it in from time to time. When we built in Truro in 1988 our treasurer, Gordon Sabine, said on at least one occasion that when I died they were going to engrave Luke 16:22 on my tombstone: "And the poor beggar died."
Which I thought was a little bit of an insult, because while I may be a beggar I can assure you that I'm not a poor beggar, I do it very well.
But this morning we aren't talking about Denn preaching about money. This morning we are talking about Jesus preaching about money. Because you kind of expect it of me, especially during money month. But we think Jesus must have been above that, after all he was . . . Jesus. You know love your neighbour and turn the other cheek Jesus, certainly not "Let's talk about money" Jesus.
But is that a fair characterization of the Jesus from the Bible? Probably not. Those in the know tell us that Jesus spoke more about money, how we make and what we do with it, than he did any other single topic and he wasn't all that sensitive about how he approached the subject.
He said what he had to say and didn't always make friends, but that didn't seem to matter to him. You might recall the story of the man who came to Jesus and asked what he had to do to get to heaven and Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. The man's response is found in Matthew 19:22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. And the amazing thing is Jesus didn't chase after him, saying "Let's not be too hasty, I didn't actually mean everything, I meant half of everything."
Or in the scripture that was read this morning, after Jesus finished talking about money, how we spend it and how we make it, we read this response. Luke 16:14 The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. In the original language we are told that it literally said they turned up their noses at him.
But time and time again Jesus came back to the topic of money because he knew that if he didn't that he wouldn't be faithful to the will of God and that he wouldn't be fair to those who heard him.
Each year I take a month in the spring to talk about money.
I didn't always do it that way, for the first twenty years of my ministry I only spoke about money when there was a financial crisis in the church, and then it came across as scolding or as a guilt trip.
Now it's just a regular part of our church calendar and you know that after this month you won't get ambushed about money in the months ahead.
Our theme this year is "Giving to the Giver" and last week we looked at the giver, Jesus. And how he gave us himself and as a result of that gift he gives us eternal life, abundant life, peace and rest. As a matter of fact, we can to the conclusion that he really gives us everything.
This week we are going to look at the "Giver on Giving" or what we can learn from Jesus about our money.
We Learn Why the Topic is so Important Let's go back to the story about the rich man that Jesus told to sell everything, and how he went away very sad. Well as Jesus watched him walk away he shook his head turned to his disciples and we read in Matthew 19:23-24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And then he tells them exactly how hard it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I'll say it again-it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"