Sermon Summary (10/2/16), “Being Generous for Him (Extravagant Generosity).” Mal 3:8-10
It’s taken me a while, but I finally understand that God is interested in my stuff, how I acquire and how I use my stuff. I knew a man named Ray who had every power tool and power garden tool imaginable. But Ray didn’t cultivate gardens, he cultivated people. He would stand in church and say it’s time to plant, or it’s time to pick beans or grapes. On Saturday people would gather at Ray’s for work, for fellowship, for a real communion. Ray cultivated people. I’m sure God approved of the way Ray used his stuff.
Our mission is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” We need to acquire and use our goods in an honorable manner and that portion that is given back to God, use transformationally, to change lives. Our literature is full of people who have not: Slave traders and owners, graspers like Ebenezer Scrooge (we celebrate his transformation in the last scene), Mr. Potter, others. How we use our stuff is important to God.
We’re in the last week of our sermon series, “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” This week, “Extravagant Generosity.” God is extravagantly generous: “For God so loved the world, he gave…” He gave. Creation and life itself are acts of generosity. And we are stewards. We have dominion and all the responsibility that goes with it. The Psalmist tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that it is in it; the world and those who dwell therein.” (24:1) We are stewards, responsible for the earth, what we take from it, what we give back. But God makes a bargain. If we are generous, he will bless us: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse...and thus put me to the test, says the Lord…, see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” (Mal 3:10)
Jesus tells story after story about the use of money and our attitudes toward it: The widow’s mite (they gave of their abundance, she from all she had); Parable of the Rich Fool (Life does not consist of the abundance of possessions); Parable of the Talents (take from the one who buried their talent and give it to the one who was productive); Even the Good Samaritan (Here are two denarii. Take care of him and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I return.)
What if we thought of ourselves as the “Little Church who could do Big Things”? For 2017, let’s think of how we can do transformational things for the year. Think of Rainbow Network where $6000 pays for a doctor or $4800 a house or $3600 for 10 scholarships. Health and hearth and education are Big Things that never go away. So may it be for us.