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Pentecost 8 2022
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
July 31, 2022
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-26, Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 12:13-21
Text and Audio: immanuelhamiltonchurch.com click “sermons”
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When Jeannette and I first visited Hamilton after receiving placement from seminary in 2001 we had one weekend to find a place to live. No pressure. Our realtor was not really that much help, but driving around we found a messy house with padlocks on the doors and four foot tall grass. We thought, this must be the place. It was a HUD foreclosure and was up for auction on the internet. We overbid the asking price by a bit and prayed. We got the house and spent a few weeks fixing it up before moving in. Just starting out, the church helped us get financing through the church extension fund. Since then we have had at least four different mortgages as we refinanced to lock in rates and chase rates lower. The first four loans were 30 year loans. Starting over again and again with 30 year loans our monthly payment kept decreasing, but I realized I would not pay off the house until I was 80 years old. So we refinanced one last time with a 15 year installment loan. As long as I send the bank money each month I get to stay in the house, and after 180 months I will own the house free and clear.
Installment loans are one kind of loan. Another is revolving credit like a credit card where you only need to make a minimum payment each month and the bank is more than happy for you to keep a balance on the card and pay high interest. In a way, the bank hopes you never pay off the debt.
Another kind of loan is a call loan. This is generally made between a bank and brokerage firms when they need more cash. The call loan has no set time period and the bank can call the loan at any time, and when called, the borrower needs to pay off the balance of the loan immediately. I am very glad to not have my home loan be a call loan.
Your life and your money and possessions are on loan from God. What kind of a loan is it? Is it an installment loan for a fixed period of time? Is it a revolving line of credit that you can keep your life and wealth forever as long as you make a minimum payment? Or is it a call loan? Can your life and wealth be taken away from you at any time?
We learn from our Gospel lesson today that your life and possessions are indeed a call loan from God. Your life and your wealth are on loan to you from God for you to care for and use to the glory of God until He calls the loan.
In our reading from Luke 12 a man cries out from the crowd asking Jesus to command the man’s brother to divide an inheritance with him. Luke 12:14 (ESV) 14 But [Jesus] said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Jesus is not a probate judge; He was not sent to earth to resolve family financial squabbles. But Jesus does use this opportunity to teach an eternal truth. Luke 12:15 (ESV) 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Your life is not about how much money you have; it is not about how much stuff you have.
This is a counter cultural teaching in Jesus’ day and it is even more counter cultural today. You live in a world of abundance awash in the idea that the main thing in life is to get more, bigger and better stuff; to always pursue more and more money. This is how folks keep score in life.
Jesus then tells a parable about a rich farmer whose land produced a bumper crop. The Lord has provided this man an abundant harvest, so what does the man do? Does he give thanks to God for this abundant gift? Does he share his abundance with those in need and store his crop in the bellies of hungry people? Does he think about anyone except himself? No. The rich man does not even consult with anyone other than me, myself and I. Luke 12:17-18 (ESV) 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.”
He is all about himself and his things. He has no sense that his life and possessions are a gift from God. He is all about Me, me, me. My crop, my barn, my grain, my soul. He decides to hoard the abundant blessing given to him by God and then he continues his conversation with himself. Luke 12:19 (ESV) 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’
The rich man believes the highest pleasure and greatest form of satisfaction in life is eating and drinking. That is a lot like my brother-in-law’s old pug, Koko. Koko keeps limping along year after year, mainly just sleeping in her little dog bed. But when 6 pm rolls around there is an amazing transformation. This lazy, drowsy, elderly, arthritic dog comes back to life and becomes incredibly excited about her dinner of special Hills prescription dog food. Koko gets so excited; barking, bouncing, spinning in circles, all because she is about to eat. For Koko, like the rich man in the parable, the highest pleasure and greatest form of satisfaction is eating and drinking.
And, oh, what a great temptation it is to adopt the same attitude toward life. How many go through life just trying to accumulate enough that they will never have to work again. If only they can get enough to be able to relax and eat and drink for the rest of their lives. For so many, this is the most important thing in life. They have been reduced to the level of an animal. For what is really the most important thing in life?...........What brings true peace, true satisfaction?
The rich man basically says, “My soul is restless until I am assured of an overabundance of food and drink?” Does the man find peace for his restless soul? That very night God calls the loan on his life and wealth. The man does not find peace. So, where is true peace to be found? The Church Father Augustine once wrote, “My soul is restless until it rests in thee.” Oh Lord, my soul is restless until it rests in thee.
Jesus did not come to earth to make sure you have enough money. Jesus comes to earth to ensure your sins are forgiven. Jesus comes to gain for you eternal life. Jesus comes to serve you by giving His life on the cross to pay the price for your sins, including the sin of loving money.
The world believes true peace is found in having enough money; enough money to buy whatever you want, enough money to never have to work again. But this is not the source of peace. Whoever just hit the mega millions jackpot suddenly has more money than he or she can spend in a lifetime and yet they are still a sinner who needs Jesus. Without Jesus you have no peace. Contrary to the incessant message of the world, money does not bring peace as evidenced by so many miserable rich people. Money does not bring peace. Jesus brings peace.
Jesus did not come to earth to make sure you have enough money. Jesus comes to earth to ensure your sins are forgiven. Jesus comes to gain for you eternal life. Jesus comes to serve you by giving His life on the cross to pay the price for your sins, including the sin of loving money. Jesus did not come as a probate judge to decide inheritance disputes. Jesus did come to save you forever.
Your life and your money are gifts from God to be managed according to God’s will. Your life is on loan from God. Your money and possessions are not yours to hold in a closed fist, but rather they are God’s to be held in an open hand. Your life, money and possessions are on loan from God, and it is a call loan. Your life and your wealth could be taken away at any time.
Now, money is tricky. You need money, but the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money is a tool to provide for daily needs of food and shelter and transportation. Money is needed to care for those you are given to care for. Money should be well managed and well invested. If possible, you should save money, for future, unexpected needs. Money is a good tool of life. But, beware, money is a tool that the devil tries to leverage into an idol. There is great temptation to become obsessed with money. It is far too easy to love money. It is too easy to let money become your god. The love of money is a great danger for rich and poor alike. Jesus knows this, so He warns of this danger in our parable this morning.
To avoid money becoming an idol, be rich toward God. To avoid the love of money, give generously. Giving money is an antidote to loving money. As a part of this fellowship of believers, give generously to the Lord’s work at Immanuel, and give generously to help other organizations and people doing God’s will in the world.
There are times in life when money is stretched pretty thin. Give what you can from your scarcity. There are times when you have more money than you need, give generously from your abundance. For me, I have found that the idea of giving 10 percent to the church is a good guideline. It is not a command in the New Testament, but it is a guide. There will be financially tight times in life when 10 percent may be too much and there will be financially plentiful times when 10 percent is too little.
Another guideline for giving is to give until it hurts; until you are missing the money. Give until it hurts, and then give a little bit more until it feels good. Giving is a remedy for greed. Giving generously helps prevent loving money and letting money become your god. Again, as Jesus warns, Luke 12:15 (ESV) 15 … “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
The rich man in the parable is all about me, me, me, my, my, my. Living in this nation of abundance, it is far, far too easy to join the rich man in his self-centered greed and think only about my life, my money, my possessions, mine, mine, mine. But, self-centered greed puts you in mortal danger like the rich fool in the parable. Be on guard. You are a baptized, redeemed child of God living as salt and light in the world fighting back against the rottenness of the world and shining the light of Christ into the darkness. Never forget that all that you are and all that you have is on loan from God for you to manage for a time until He calls the loan. Money is temporary, salvation is forever. Be rich toward God because you are God’s treasure. Your greatest need is the forgiveness given to you by Jesus. Peace comes to you from Jesus. You are Jesus’ treasure. You are more precious to Him than His very life. Jesus is your treasure, more precious than gold.
You are a forgiven, baptized, child of God -- live in Christ; live for Christ. Be rich toward God. Amen.