As we at the church are ramping up towards Stewardship Sunday (and what I affectionately call Stewardship Season…it’s not just one Sunday!), I’m working on a series of sermons called “Revolutionizing Church.” This particular Sunday I’m preaching from Deuteronomy 6, and I’m calling the sermon “Giving.” Yup. I’m gonna talk about money. I’m also gonna talk about lots of other things. a
You see, Deuteronomy 6 is about serving God and teaching His commandments. It’s about following God’s rules and teaching them to our children and our children’s children. In the church as a family, we are called to do this for each other and each other’s children as well. It’s about keeping His commands always before us (“wearing them as a frontlet” and “writing them on our doorposts”) and thinking about them so that they aren’t thought any more – they’ve become a habit.
And in the cultivation of that habit, worn like a familiar sweater, you give. You give away your money, your time, your talent, your thoughts and your joys and fears – you share. The Shema – which begins “Hear O Israel…” in verse four is something that Orthodox Jews did and still recite three times a day, to remind them that living for God is the most important thing in life. “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul and all of your might.”
“Love” is the difficult word, if you will. Love, to us, mostly means a short term hormonal or other imbalance that messes with what you think. We use the same word to describe how we “love” our spouse as how we “love” cheeseburgers. Love is a useless term in today’s America. It doesn’t really mean anything. If anything, the way most people use it today it means leaving people alone – if you love people then you’ll let them live the way they want no matter what. It doesn’t mean anything.
But for God, it means obedience and heartfelt following. It means doing your best no matter what. It means reading and thinking and talking and perhaps most of all – doing. It means actually DOING what He says. It means thinking and praying about what HE says and how it applies to you today. The rules haven’t changed. The world hasn’t really changed all that much – if there’s anything I’ve learned by studying the Bible and ancient societies as well as trying to pay attention to the society around me – it’s that we as humans haven’t changed that much. We’re still selfish and misguided and prone to taking things too far or not far enough. We’re still thinking about ourselves before we think about anyone else. But that’s not what God wants for us. God wants us to be our best and to be our real selves – which are better than who we normally think we are!
Giving – our money, our time, our talent – it is what we were made for. It is what we do when we are at our best. Remember who God made us to be. Remember who we are supposed to be. And then…give yourself away.