Today we’re going to be wrapping up our sermon series on generosity. As we have worked through this series, I hope you have begun to see that, as a pastor and as a church, our desire for you is to find yourself in a place of living your life outside of yourself.
To live a life of generosity means to live a life opposite to greed, selfishness and self-involvement.
This is the life called us to live. A life of radical generosity. He modeled that with his life. He gave of his time, his talents (and I suppose I would assume, money), and his own life freely. All he had he gave away.
And it’s through this generosity that the world was changed.
Where we’re going
So, today, we’re going to spend some time talking about the final step of generosity: Money.
Like we talked about last week, money is a loaded topic when it comes to the church. The default setting people start on when a pastor preaches on money is skepticism, bordering on disdain.
And yet, I still am preaching about this…and only 4 months in! I’m either brave, crazy, or both…we shall see, I guess…
As uncomfortable as it feels, Jesus spent a significant amount of time and energy talking about money, generosity, greed, and many other related emotions and feelings.
In the Sermon on the Mount, a passage we spent time studying a few months ago, Jesus tells us that, “Where our treasures are, there our heart will be also.”
The text we’re going to use today comes from Matthew 19:16-30.
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother, and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
What’s going on here?
This is a man who has it all. He is financially and economically successful. He’s mastered the law. He, on the surface, is as perfect as he can be in terms of what a “good person” ought to be.
Yet he approaches Christ, doesn’t he? Even though he has done everything, even though he’s better than others, he wants more. He wants a guarantee.
And so he asks Jesus what he can do, on top of what he’s already done, that can bring him that guaranteed salvation.
In other words, on top of the law, how can I pad my résumé to really seal my case for making it to heaven?
But, notice how he asks.
What can I do to get the kingdom of God?
This is a man who isn’t interested in the relationship Christ is offering. He isn’t interested in the Kingdom life nor is he interested in truly following Christ.
He is looking for that “little extra” that will get him accepted.
Think about volunteering your time to make your college application look better.
Jesus engages the rich man
When the man asks which commands he should follow. Jesus tells him and the man answers that he’s kept them all. Imagine a slight, smug look on his face. Knowing his personal goodness.
But Jesus, following this, drops a bomb. He tells the man to go, sell his possessions and give them to the poor, and then he would have treasure in heaven.”
But this man went away sad, didn’t he? Why?
Matthew says that, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
So, maybe you’re wondering how this has to do with generosity of money. How this has to do with generosity in general?
We will continue exploring this tomorrow!