SIMPLIFY: MAKING ROOM FOR GOD – INVESTMENT STRATEGIES FROM JESUS – SERMON RESOURCES
ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP
As Diane Coutu, senior editor at Harvard Business Review, notes, “In the Gilded Age, only the wealthy could be greedy–the 1990s through the stock market opened up a new front, the democratization of greed.”
Greed is an American value. “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.” The goal of the Empire is to deceive and enslave The Empire is always at work sowing discontent into us, keeping us teetering on the edge, constantly wondering what we could do to improve: ourselves, our homes, our kids, our careers, our stuff.
But Jesus reveals a different economy with a different set of values:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus invites us to reconsider where we invest ourselves, our times, our talent, our treasure. He creates a dichotomy between treasures on earth and those in heaven. And invites to shift our investment strategy and invest in heavenly things. The earthly things are our wealth, our possessions, our money, it can also include immaterial things like our relationships, our status, our hopes and dreams for life in the here and now.
But remember, as we chase Jesus into the Kingdom, he reveals a different dream. We dream of bringing God’s kingdom, God’s economy from Heaven to the Earth.
We resist the Empire when we open our hands, understanding that freely we have receive, so freely we give (Matthew 10:8).
We resist the Empire by trusting God more, by surrendering more of ourselves to God, & by taking investment advise from Jesus and answering his call to live lives that are astonishingly generous.
Finally, Jesus says that’s not enough, I want to push you a little further, “Give to everyone who asks of you…”
- Storing up treasure requires that we increase our trust, not our striving.
- Storing up treasure requires that we increase our surrender, not our hoarding.
- Storing up treasure requires that we increase our risk-taking, not our safety-making.
It’s not enough to be generous, Jesus was saying. Our generosity must astonish the people around us, leaving them dumbfounded for an explanation, flabbergasted for a rationale. It’s not enough to be good to the people who are good to us, if we are going to follow Jesus, our generosity must flow to the very people we don’t want to be generous to.
Generosity is not just a strategy for adding some kindness to the world. It’s a strategy for transforming the world. (It’s a revolution strategy!)
Generosity is not just about making the world a better place; it’s about making the world new, bringing in a new kingdom.
Generosity is not just about making people think that Christians are “nice;” it is about helping people see that God is good, compassionate, and responsive to their cries.
Generosity is, or should be, a central activity of the followers of Christ to reveal God to the world.
Our generosity reminds people of God’s generosity. Our generous forgiveness of those who fail us, generous giving to those in need, generous of kindness to those who are struggling with life, and generous welcome of those who are without a place in this world, would be nothing more than a reflection of the “generous love of God into the whole world.”
We can only do this empowered by the Spirit of God and in response to a God who sees us, and loves us.
GIVE TO WHOMEVER ASKS
Thomas Merton and his book, New Seeds of Contemplation for insight, states:
“Detachment from things does not mean setting up a contradiction between ‘things’ and ‘God’ as if God were another ‘thing’ and as if His creatures were His rivals. We do not detach ourselves from things in order to attach ourselves to God, but rather we become detached from ourselves in order to see and use all things in and for God.”
I want to invite you to try and increase your trust in Jesus by being astonishingly generous.
Two ways forward, one internal, one external.
Internal: Take some time this week to inspect what you treasure. What drives or motivates you? What do you like to collect? Is your treasure material or immaterial? It could be anything from money, possessions time, power, relationships, or image. How often do you think about it daily? After you have identified your treasure imagine giving it away or giving it up. Notice the feelings that arise. Spend time talking to God about how attached you are to your treasure. Are you able to let go?
External: In the company of Jesus as your guide, do what Jesus says and when asked, if you can, give to all who ask of you.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: email@example.com.