Do you suppose Jesus ever had a sermon he didn’t want to preach? It’s a question worth pondering. Did the Father ever lay a message on Jesus’ heart that the human part of Jesus responded to by saying, “Yes, Father, I know you are right… but boy is this gonna make me unpopular.”
There is a famous sermon Jesus once gave that is now known as the “Seven Woes”. In that sermon he said things like this to the religious leaders of his day:
“23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!” - Matthew 23:23-24
I believe it to be very possible that going into that message that day there was part of Jesus that said - “OK Father, you want me to give THIS message?”
We know from Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus was not eager to go to the cross, and such sermons as this certainly didn’t win Jesus any favor among those who would later cry out “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
We are often told in our culture today that there are three subjects we should just avoid if we are to participate in “polite society’. These subjects are “Religion, Politics and Money”.
Well friends, guess what… Jesus spoke often about all three… very often. Indeed the passage quoted above is about BOTH religion and money, at the same time!
Friends, I’ve a confession to make - as your pastor I don’t always want to deliver the message that I feel God lay on my heart. Indeed, any minister sensitive to the Spirit’s leading is familiar with this feeling. This October we will enter the season of our church calendar that I approach always with a little feeling of dread because this is the time of the year we talk about one of the subjects I like preaching on the least, but that spoke about quite often… money.
Indeed of the 39 parables Jesus told, 11 of them were about finances. If my preaching schedule was to follow this same ratio (28.21%), I’d be preaching about money about 14 to 15 times a year.
Fortunately, I’ve not (yet) felt lead to do so. But for the month of October, we will be taking seriously Jesus’ statement in verse 23 from his sermon above that “you should tithe, yes…”
We will be discussing what a tithe is, why being faithful with our finances is part of being faithful in how we follow Jesus, and the blessings that come from following the Biblical directives in how we manage what God has entrusted to us.
And my favorite part of this season, is we are going to get to hear personal testimony from a few people within the congregation who have practiced God-pleasing stewardship in their own lives and how they have found blessings from following God’s directive.
It is true… each year as I enter this season of planning and preparation, I do so with a hint of dread. That cultural teaching that some subjects are off-limits runs deep in my people-pleasing heart. And yet each year that we come out of this study I find that being faithful to the prompting of the Spirit has led to blessing. Imagine that!
I am looking forward to this month of study with each of you. And let me say this: If finances are a source of stress in your life, it is my belief that learning how God calls us to faithfulness with our resources will lead to joy. Indeed, anytime we follow God’s direction, it leads to joy.