12th Sunday after Pentecost
August 7, 2016
“But I’m too Broke”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon is a well-known portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount taken from Matthew 6: (Jesus said) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This is our text. My dear friends,
This month I am doing a 4-week sermon series on the excuses we give regarding why we don’t give of ourselves to causes or projects. We can generate every excuse under the sun as to why we “just can’t” be on a board or a committee or teach or attend or serve or give money towards this or that. Excuses are like those port-o-potties at every major summer event. You hate the fact you have to use one, there’s never a good one when you really need one, and they always stink. This week we address the common excuse “But I’m Too Broke.”
A German bank employee once made a bit of an “oops;” a small slip-up one might say. He was given the task of entering bank transfers into the bank’s computer system manually. That is, he had to sit at a keyboard all day long entering boring, tedious, manual data entries. It had been a long day in a room that was just a little too warm. Near the end of the work day, the German bank worker went to enter a transfer of 64.2 Euros into an account, but in the act of entering the transfer, he momentarily dozed off and his finger lingered too long on the “2” number key. Instead of entering a transfer of 64 Euros, or about $75 US dollars, the worker entered 222,222,222 Euros. At the time I wrote this sermon, that many Euros is worth in excess of $246 million US dollars! Eventually the error was caught and the money taken away. Bummer, right?
But how shocked would you be to realize that, all of a sudden, you had more than $246 million dollars in your bank account? How awesome, right? Really? How sure are you of that? Is a huge amount of money the end-all-be-all of our existence? Is that what we really and truly desire out of life? I know that we have been conditioned to think that way; “the one with the most toys in the end wins,” right? No. The one with the most toys, money, cars, whatever, “in the end” still dies and take zero, zip, zilch, nada with them!
Still, money is one the most difficult and awkward topics to discuss in church. Why is that? Money is just another item that we are to manage instead of allowing it to manage us. Jesus spoke frequently of money in several parables: lost coin, two debtors, faithful and unfaithful servants, parable of the talents, the unforgiving servant, and the unjust steward among others. Truth is, Jesus talked about money a lot and the same truth always emerges: money is a tool to be used as good, wise, and faithful stewards. We are to control our resources so that our resources don’t control us.
But why is it, that when it comes to our resources – especially money – we always bemoan that we never have enough? If we have $100 we always want $200. If we have $200 we want $500. If we have $500 we want $5000. Why? I’ll tell you why, and it has to do with the excuse we examine today. “I’m too broke to help support this cause or give to that charity or support that mission.” Well, I cannot address that issue specifically. I have NO IDEA how much money any of you have or give and I really don’t care to know. But I do know this…we are ALL broke; broken in our sinfulness and sinful greed that always wants more, always needs more, is never satisfied with what we have.
It is this true brokenness that makes us feel as if we never have enough. It is our true broken, sinful nature that instead of digging deep to give we close up the purse strings tighter than a Ziploc bag (that’s tight, right?). It is the sinful nature – the sinner in all of us – that doesn’t want to give or share or support. Instead the sin inside pleads with us to hang on to what you’ve got…you never know if you’ll ever have enough or get any more, right? The theological term for that way of thinking? Bologna!
God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness and love and grace gives to you every single day! People everywhere – Germany, Key West, Siesta Key, Key Largo, you name it – whether they are rich or poor are prone to acquiring, collecting, and hanging on to earthly treasures…our earthly junk. Only God’s heavenly treasures matter, for only they alone are eternal! As the people of God who received His invitation to light and to life, God calls us to be generous with our possessions and to serve God rather than live as slaves to our possessions. For our sake, Jesus Christ became the servant – the ultimate transfer – to save each and every one of us from our broken, sinful selves. Jesus died on the cross to give you life, not luxury. He shed His blood that you might have forgiveness, not fancy things. He rose again from the grave so that you can life forever, not so you can spend forever…unless of course, we mean spend forever in heaven with Him which is a better thing than a shopping marathon at University Center Mall.
You might think, “why doesn’t God give me more?” In reply, God answers “My child, I have given you all you need and even more.” You might ask, “How am I going to afford to pay for this, Lord?” and in reply God answers “Dear child, I have given you all you need and even more.” Following Jesus as His disciple calls you to lay down your life – including your possessions – and living for someone else’s gain. As Christian men and women, it takes two hands to hold up the cross. If you have 1 hand on your wallet/purse, and 1 hand on the cross, then you have got the wrong grip! You’re not too broke to help or support. Jesus repairs, He forgives, He gives out of His surpassing goodness and mercy and grace, and calls you to recognize the truth that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Does your heart smell more like leather and paper…or does it smell more like blood and sweat-stained wood?
I have another number for you today. 86,400. How would you feel if, every single day, someone deposited $86,400 into your bank account? That’s a lot, right! You’d be unstoppable with that kind of money! Guess what? Every day God deposits 86,400 seconds into your life account to spend as you choose. He doesn’t force you; your free will determines how you spend those seconds. 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. Every day God gives you 86,400 seconds to spend for Him and His kingdom in response to how God in Christ has given so much…all, really…for you. “I’m too broke.” No, you’re not broke at all. You’re a forgiven, loved, child of God and that fact changes you use the resources that He has richly and lavishly given you.