We Give Because We Love
November 13, 2011
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Mathew 25:14-30 - "The Parable of the Talents"
We Are the Developers
There is a wonderful message in this morning's gospel passage. God empowers us! God is the owner and the giver, but we are the caretakers, the "developers" of all his gifts. Our job is to take care of what is His.
For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.
The one who had received the five talents (a talent is an ancient unit of gold or silver) went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents.
This servant shared fearlessly, took a bit of a risk - and the entrusted amount doubled! The good that it did, doubled! Now, there's a feeling of accomplishment!
Also, the one with the two talents shared them, invested them, also taking a risk. Again, the good that it did, doubled! But the person with the one talent was afraid. He buried the money in the ground. He took the "hole in the ground approach."
After a long time the master of the slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then, the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents saying, Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents. His master said to him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into thy Master's joy.'
Enter Into Thy Master's Joy
An added blessing - the remarkable joy of God. We talked about this last week. The word makarios, which means blessed and also unbreakable divine joy. This is what Jesus promises to those who are good investors of their blessings: to inherit thy Master’s joy!
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ’Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here - you have what is yours.
Well, according to Jesus’s story that person didn’t do too well. The Master did not approve of the "hole in the ground" approach. But those who cared to share, and invest what they had, and take a bit of a risk - they did very well indeed.
There is good news in this story. The good news is that everybody is given something! Each of the servants were given something by their master. Wherever we are in life and whoever we may be, we all have something to share. Some people can play the harp like an angel. Some people can sing. Some people are very good with numbers. God has given us the gift of hospitality, and generosity; God has given all of us something. The question before us is, what are we going to do with the gifts God has given us? That is the question! Are we going to invest in the world, take a bit of a risk? Or will we bury our gifts in the ground and do as little as possible? Or will we share bravely, and invest bravely and intelligently! I think the Gospel is clear about what Jesus wants us to do.
In verse 25 of the Gospel, the fellow with the one talent, who buried it said, "so I was afraid." He buried his abilities because he was afraid. Understandable don’t you think? He was human. I get afraid. How about you? But that is exactly what Jesus is calling us away from today. He is calling us away from fear. He is calling us to faith, so that we can live life richly and fully. He is calling us away from fear and toward vibrant faith!
We are in a season of our church life called Consecration Season. This is the time where you and I are thinking about our giving plan to the church for the coming year. What shall we think about this week as we make plans to declare our giving plan for the coming year?
How have we been blessed? If we feel blessed, we are called to imitate the generosity of our Master. We are called to reflect the generosity of God. We are called to give proportionately - that is, a percentage, to the place where we are spiritually fed. I pray that we all will. The Biblical ideal is the tithe (ten percent). Some in our congregation may feel called to rise up to this level. Others are on their way. In any case, let us consider a percentage proportion of our blessings as we prepare to make our estimate of giving plan.
A big question is this- why do it? Why give to our church?
Why do we willingly give in any circumstance?
May I suggest one simple answer. We give because we love.
Think of our family, think of the people that you want to bless and help without question or hesitation. Why do you do it? A sense of duty? Maybe some. A sense of rightness? Maybe so. But I'll bet love is the main reason. We give because we love. Whether it's our family or our Church or causes we support, we give because we want to make a clear, positive difference in the lives of the people we love.
So, as we contemplate what we will declare in our giving plan for our Church, I invite you to think about three "loves" -
• your love for God;
• your love for our church; and
• your love for people.
We Give Because We Love God
When I was a little boy, some fifty years ago. I remember clearly that my mother would dress me up for Church on a cold Sunday morning. I had on a long woolen coat and a woolen hat with a snap down visor, and I was ready for our trip to Church. I would be wearing a suit like my father. We would go out to our old black car, and the car seats would be so cold. We would go off to church every Sunday. Sometime before we went in, my Mom or my Dad would take my hand and into my palm they would press some money, and say, “That is for the Church offering.” I would wait for the time in the service when the ushers would come around with their wicker baskets on a long stick and pass them down the aisle. Dad would put in an offering, Mom would put in an offering, and I would too.
How my parents blessed me! What a wonderful lesson for a young boy. My parents were teaching me that to give is to express ones’ love for God. Giving is a form of prayer. We give because we love God and we love our church. There is something inside of us that says that what happens in church and is generated by church is something intrinsically good. The gifts you give to help the church run is what helps the goodness flow. In Church, we give as to God. We give as an expression of our love for God. We give because we love God.
We Give Because We Love the Church
• We love our church. It is our community of togetherness in Christ.
• Church is where people make new friends, make a new family and share this love with each other.
• We love church because the message here is that life with God is a lot better than life without God.
• We love church because the message here is that it is better to be kind and gentle than otherwise.
• We love church because it is here that we learn that God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to save us, to redeem us and to purify us and to eventually take us to Heaven to be with Him.
That is the message that the church supplies. We give because we love the teachings, and the ways, and the services, and the friendships, and the promise that it provides.
We Give Because We Love People
You are a person of worth and dignity and you are surrounded by people of worth and dignity. We give because we love people.
Do you know the mission statement of Montgomery United Methodist Church?
The mission of Montgomery United Methodist Church is:
to help people - and -
to help people become deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.
We are here to be distributors of God’s Holy Love. We are here to be His hands and His heart. We are here to listen for His word and go out and do it. We are here to help people - and to help people become spiritually blessed as they get closer to Him.
One story I would like to share with you. We were having a fellowship event here at the church. It was St. Patrick’s Day and we had a great corned beef and cabbage dinner and a wonderful talent show. As always, we had the women of the Crawford House in attendance. (The Crawford House, located just down the street, is a halfway house for women in recovery.) After this dinner, a group of these women came up to me and said, “We want to thank you for this evening, it was great! Also, we were talking among ourselves and we can’t believe that we could have such a great time without drugs and without alcohol.” I said, “Praise God for that! I am so proud of you! God bless you!”
I'm proud of you, too. Among the many reasons for that is that this congregation expresses their faith through the affirming and encouraging of people who need to know the joy of Christ in positive ways. That is the kind of lesson that our church is teaching and that is the kind of consciousness that we have here as a church. We give because we love people. Our generous gifts help our Church fulfill its mission.
As we make our estimates of giving for the coming year let us think about all the good things we will be supporting - and the ways in which our gifts will multiply as the goodness of God's blessing through our Church. Let’s all do our best.
God loves you; I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2011 Anthony J. Godlefski