November 12 & 13, 2010
Hey, how many of you are happy that the election season is over? At least on the local scene, anyway. Maybe your candidates won, and maybe they didn’t. But the important thing is, is that we all got a chance to vote. And whenever you cast your vote, it is an act of trust, right? What you are in essence saying is that, “I trust this man – I trust this woman – to lead, and to do what is right for our community, and to make wise and honest decisions for the good of all.” So your vote is an act of trust, wouldn’t you agree?
Today, I’m going to ask you to cast another vote. And no, I’m not running for Governor. No – I want you to cast your vote today for the Lord. Knowing that your vote is an act of trust, I want you to vote for the Lord. You see, every time you come here – and place your offering in the offering plate – you are casting a vote. A vote that says, “I trust you Lord. And I trust what you are doing in this place – and I look forward with joy to what you are going to continue to do in this place. And I give my offering as a vote of trust and thanksgiving for who you are, and what you’ve done for me, and what this church means to me.”
What you give to the Lord for the work of the Lord is always a vote of trust.
And quite frankly, what God gives you for that purpose is a sign of God’s love and trust in you. That’s how I look at this parable that Jesus tells us today. Many of us have heard it before. The message for us is that the Lord has placed something into our hands, and He wants us to do something with it.
Now, in this parable the master has given something to three of his servants. All three of his servants do something with it. Two take risks with what they have. The third one plays it safe. But the master is looking for a return on his investment. And although we are not told how the first two servants invest – we’re not told what kind of risks they took – it is obvious that the risks pay off, and they are able to double what their master has given to them.
And I love the master’s response. This is so cool! He says, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”
Unfortunately – to the dude who played it safe – to the dude who didn’t lose any of what his master entrusted to him – the master fires him, and has no good words to say to him. He rejects the safe approach of the third servant.
And here I think is the point. Because they were faithful with what the master gave them – because it was their master’s desire to buy, sell and trade with what they had been given – to take a certain degree of risk with what he gave them – they entered into a new relationship with their master. They entered into what the parable says is “the joy of their master.” And that I guess you could say is the bottom line. The joy of the master.
Folks, the Lord has blessed us in many ways. What we do with those blessings is – in many ways – a reflection of our love for and our trust in the One who gave us those blessings.
So first we give to the Lord for the work of the Lord. That I think is the first priority. It is mine, anyway. And everything else is to be used for all the things that we need. Food. Clothing. Homes. Transportation. Entertainment. Saving and investing. It’s all good when we use what the Lord has given us wisely.
But that part that comes off the top. The first fruits if you will of all that we’ve been given. What we give to the Lord for the work of the Lord, there is a generosity there that so many of you have learned to do with joy and thanksgiving.
Your generosity is in effect a vote for God. Your generosity is a vote that says, “I thank you Lord, and I trust you. And I trust this church to use this gift wisely.”
Generosity in giving shows who it is that you trust. And let me be clear about this – we serve who or what we trust.
So put your trust in God – not in wealth. Not in things. But in God.
Now, having said all that, Jesus never said that having nice things is wrong. I just want to be clear about that! But I am convinced that whether we own nice things or not, Jesus certainly wants to be sure that they don’t own us. Learning generosity – investing in what God is doing – because that’s what you’re doing – investing in what God is doing – casting your vote for God – helps us to realize just how good God is – how faithful God is. I can tell you from personal experience that being generous – loving God more than I love the money He gives me – helps me to overcome the greed that I know I would easily fall victim to.
And quite frankly – I would rather be a generous disciple of Jesus Christ than a stingy or greedy one. And the wonderful – amazing thing is – I have never lacked for a thing. Never. And I know that many of you have experienced the same thing.
Now everything I am sharing with you today is in preparation for Consecration Weekend – next weekend. For those of you who are new to the church, this is our opportunity – every year we give the opportunity for all of us to declare what it is that we intend to give on a weekly, or monthly basis to the work of the Lord here at this church.
And I’ve already used a couple of metaphors to describe this. I’ve called it casting your vote for God. Investing in what God is doing. And now I’m going to use a third metaphor. And that’s planting seeds and bearing fruit.
I want you to know that the sacrifices you make through your giving results in fruit bearing. Our theme for this Consecration Weekend celebration is, “Making A Difference.” Through your generosity you are making a difference. You are pouring your life – I mean that financial gift that you give each week – I know what that represents. That’s the fruit of your education – your sweat – your time at the job – your hard work. I know what that represents. And when you give you are pouring your life into something – and YOU ARE making a difference. What you do makes a difference – because ultimately you are planting seeds in the next generation.
You see, every generation of disciples depends on the one that has come before it. IF we do not plant these seeds through our generosity – if we bury the gifts that God has given us – if we don’t use it for God’s purposes – then a whole generation of young folks may very well be lost. I like what Leonard Sweet has to say about this. He says, “Christians are not ‘born.’ Christians are ‘born again.’ And Christians are ‘born again’ only after being hand-fed with the milk of trust and the food of faith that only Jesus’ disciples can produce.”
In a few minutes – we will be participating in a blessing ceremony that is just one example of where I’m going with this. We are going to observe and participate in a blessing ceremony for our third graders who have received their first Bible, and have just completed eight weeks of learning what that book is all about.
Their parents will be keeping the promises they made at their children’s baptisms. And do you remember that you made promises too? As a congregation? Every time a child or adult is baptized at the font, you make promises to pray for and support them. I just want to remind you that one of the ways you do that, by the way, is through the gifts that you give for the work of the Lord in and through this place. I want you to see that your generosity is indeed bearing fruit.
Will you take some risks and invest your gifts in something that promises to bear fruit?
Will you trust God to provide for you everything that you need?
Will you vote for God?
Will you take a risk and invest in what God is doing here?
Are you ready to bear fruit in the lives of people who need to know about
Jesus and grow in faith?
Are you willing to make a difference?
Just remember that this parable says that people who make a difference enjoy a special relationship – a special joy with the master – our Master, Jesus Christ.
I don’t know about you, but I want that joy. And in Christ Jesus we do have that joy. It’s not something that we have to wait for.
But one day, I am hoping to hear those words spoken by our Lord. Spoken to me. Spoken to you. "Well done good and faithful servant – enter into the joy of your master.”