WHERE YOUR HEART IS
Well, I know it's not stewardship time yet... but this morning we are going to talk about money. I can't quite decide whether this is my favorite... or my least favorite topic. I know that in my worldly life it occupies a rather prominent position... it is frequently a topic of discussion at our house... and I might add... a source of disagreement. On the other hand it occupies a very minor position in my spiritual life... maybe because I have so little of it... and some of you may have wondered why I haven't spoken more openly on that subject before this. This morning I'd like to take the opportunity to explore with you some possible reasons why.
First of all... I don't think it's because I am not concerned about money. Like most of you... I think about money frequently. Like some of you, I wonder if there is going to be enough to go around... but then that's been a problem most of my life. But you know what? God has always been mindful of my needs... and always supplied what I needed... when I needed it! I have always had what I needed... and I even have a lot of the things I want!
Unlike some of you... I'm not particularly concerned about being frugal... although I do shop at "thrift" stores most of the time! I was born in 1939 so I don't remember the "great depression" but I know that there are many who do remember... and whose concern about money was shaped by that horrible experience. My mother was a product of those years... and she always found it very difficult to spend a dime on herself. She lived comfortably... if not luxuriously... she never spent money frivolously... and she left a tidy little sum when she passed away in 1996.
Money is a major concern, isn't it... for all of us. Whether we don't have enough... or we have some... and are concerned about losing it... money plays a primary role in our lives.
Some say that money is the root of all evil... and if that is true... then I probably should be preaching about money more often. But actually the Bible says it's the "love of money" that causes the real problem. Money itself is neither good nor bad... but our attitude about money does frequently reflect our sinfulness.
William Barclay in his commentary on Paul's letter to Timothy says:
"Money in itself is neither good nor bad; it is simply dangerous in that the love of it may become bad. With money a man can do much good; and with money he can do much evil. With money a man can selfishly serve his own desires; and with money he can generously answer to the cry of his neighbor's need. With money a man can buy his way to the forbidden things and facilitate the path of wrongdoing; and with money he can make it easier for someone else to live as God meant him to live. Money brings power, and power is always a double-edged thing, for it is powerful to good and powerful to evil."
I'm afraid that we must all confess that too often in our lives... it's the "almighty" dollar that controls us... influences our decisions... and dictates how we will live our lives. Much of what I've done with my life has been motivated by my desire to "make a good living." And I find myself telling my grandchildren to get a good education.. so that they can "make a good living." Money influences us subtly in a thousand different ways. Undoubtedly... we do need to become more aware of how our attitude about money impacts our lives and the decisions we make.
Back in the 16th century Martin Luther observed,
"There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind and the purse."
Of these three, it may well be that we moderns find the conversion of the purse the most difficult.
This is not a stewardship sermon about giving money to this church... but I will take this opportunity to as you to begin thinking about how you are doing in that regard so far this year... and what you will pledge in the fall when we have our stewardship drive for 1999. Next year this church will celebrate it's 40th anniversary... and it would be great to be able to say that it is alive... and well... and thriving! Now that's mostly the Lord's doings but we must respond to his work with an open heart... and open mind... and an open purse!
My purpose this morning is not to urge all of you to "tithe"... but to ask each of you to consider your faith with regard to your financial situation. You know... faith is a combination of hope... hope for a brighter future... not in this world... but in the next... and trust... trust that the Lord will be with us... will supply all our needs... and eventually take us to be with him.
In our text today, we are reminded that God cares for us... that God provides for us... that our lives can and should be lived in faith. When we have that kind of hope... the hope that we will be with the Lord forever... our focus will be in the right place... and money will simply be something that we can... and should... use in this world. When we have that kind of trust... then we can rest assured that God will provide... and money becomes something we can use to assist God's purposes of providing... both for ourselves and for others.
Perhaps you have noticed that when I talk about stewardship... I always place time and talent before treasures. Actually... I preach about good stewardship all the time. This new life we are given in Jesus Christ is one of good stewardship. We are to use all the talents... and the gifts... God has given us... to serve him and to love and care for others in his name.
Jesus reminds us this morning that where our treasure is... there will your heart be also. I would like to suggest to you this morning... that where your heart is... where you invest your time and talents... that is where your treasure will be also. If your heart is here... in this church... eager to do God's bidding among your brothers and sisters in Christ... and to commit yourself to the mission of this church... then I believe that God will support us far and above our greatest expectations. As we look forward to celebrating our 40th anniversary next year... let us pray that God will deepen our faith... magnifying our hope for the future of this church... and strengthen our trust in him to provide all that is needed to enable us to grow spiritually and in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
A Sermon Preached on August 9, 1998
The Rev. Shirley R. Frazier
Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church, Arabi, LA
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