Summary: This sermon looks at three different approaches to giving....with Jesus being the ultimate giver to us.
(Prior to this sermon we presented a children’s talk with some optical illusion images that can be seen in two different ways....eg. indian face/eskimo, polar bear/seal, old woman/young woman, saxaphone player/women’s face....
then we talked about things not being all that they seem....
like in today’s gospel reading....
where some people gave lots of money (held up some larger notes), and one lady gave two small coins (held up 2 5c coins and asked who gave the most??? Then talked about why the lady gave the most.
Things are not always as they seem, are they??
Sometimes we can jump to conclusions…..
Without knowing the full facts
Or we may even have the wrong perception
One of the biggest things for Christians is not to adopt the culture of this world as our way of living
As Christians we need to be careful that we don not use the world’s way of thinking instead of God’s way of thinking
In Romans chapter 12 God tells us the following
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And when it comes to giving
God’s approach is very different to the human approach
Before I go much further there are some things that I need to make clear.
Firstly, God does not need your money!!!
Secondly, our congregation and parish does need finances to exist, but that is not the reason I am talking about money.
Thirdly, using all the gifts we have and that is everything for sharing God’s love as we are told in 1 Peter 4:10 does not mean that the church wants all your money. It does mean God is with you every second of the day, and wants you to use every opportunity to share his love through what you say and what you do.
But as a church we talk about money, not because we want all your money, but because as a church and as a pastor we want to be faithful to scripture, to God’s word, so we need to talk about money. You see over 2300 verses in scripture relate to money, 15% of what Jesus says is in relation to money. But Jesus attitude to money is different to your banks, the supermarkets or even our own. Money is so powerful that Jesus took time during the last week of His life to talk with His disciples about it. In fact, Jesus even judged people as they gave their offerings. But He judges them differently to how we might judge them.
Today’s Gospel reading is about three givers of money…
But three givers
To give us a perception of what it truly means to give
We are told there are the rich who put in large amounts of money
Now apparently these are the givers who made a show of things
They loved talking about what they gave to the church
What they had done for the church
What they had done for others
And they wanted everyone to know
They gave large amounts of money for God’s ministry
Now as Jesus watched them
He knew them better than they probably knew themselves
He could identify at least three problems
First he knew how they had obtained their wealth
This is something that each of us should keep in mind.
God knows how we obtain our money or anything else we have
He knows when have obtained it honestly, transparently and how we have treated others in obtaining our wealth
And He knows when we have obtained it dishonestly, in deceptive ways and when we have hurt others
The second problem Jesus saw was that the rich were acting as if they were doing God and others a favour
They weren’t giving unconditionally
They believed they were actually offering God something
They were resting on their achievements
What they had done and what they were doing?
They expected that their achievements and giving would earn them something in God’s eyes
There is something they forgot
Everything they had comes from God
The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:15-16
And thirdly they were giving
But they were not giving everything
In otherwords what they were giving was not really a sacrifice
In fact they were keeping the majority of their wealth for things other than sharing God’s grace and love