Time to Plant
Sermon by Rev. Steven McClelland on Planting and growing our talents. Focus: Stewardship of all that we have and why it matters.
When a farmer plants seeds, he has a purpose. He wants to see it grow and he wants to reap some sort of fruit for his efforts. The planter may not be the one who waters what he has planted, and he may not be the one who reaps, but in the end, the system worked because someone sowed seed in the beginning.
God uses a system of sowing and reaping in our world, which is where we come in. We are the stewards of our time and money and God asks us to use these resources to plant seeds in this world through generosity. If we sow little, we reap very little. If we sow a lot, we reap a lot.
In a previous video we saw Re tell Frank that living generously was more than simply writing checks. This time we see a type of generosity that goes beyond simply throwing money at a problem. The construction company has not only been hired to fix up the soup kitchen, but is hiring workers from those that eat there.
This is what happens when we stop viewing the poor as a group to viewing them as individuals. This act of generosity didn’t just fix the roof, it employed individuals and in one case even offered job training to an individual.
This is simple kingdom economics. What you so you will reap. Re being a gardener and spending his day quite literally sowing seed understands this well. Just as Jesus is the sower and the seed is the of the good seed in the kingdom we too sow with our time, and our talent and our money, and with our witness to our neighbors about what becomes possible when God is in charge.
Here are a couple of questions for us to ponder. When you have faced economic set backs like Frank, what have your learned from them? Many people learn very quickly what they truly need and what they truly don’t. Many learn they can survive if they cut back. Others learn to trust in God instead of their money, which leads to my second question for us to ponder.
Should we give when we are financially hurting? Times of financial hardship are the perfect time to radically trust God. Christ didn’t give when it was easy, the widow who gave everything she had didn’t give because she had a room full of gold at home. What they model for us is radical trust the kind of trust that means you are all in and when you are all in miracles begin to happen quickly.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:2 lifts up the Macedonian church as a model for the Corinthians to emulate. The Macedonians were in the midst of extreme poverty when Paul lifted them up, because they gave of themselves first to the Lord. The storms in life are meant to test our faith. They show us very clearly where we run to put our trust.
Today less than 10% of people who attend church tithe. Less than 50% of the people serve or volunteer in their churches at all. What do you think needs to happen to change that? People need to understand that we give because God commands us to do so. Not giving is disobedience. Though institutions like the church or the government have not commanded our trust or even earned it. We still need to trust the institutions we give to and make sure their investments are planting seeds that will lead to eternal life.
People need to realize just how blessed they already are and how faith in Christ leads us to an abundance of life and not to death. Generosity is about much more than giving a person something to eat. It’s teaching them how and what to eat. When Frank’s company hires the folks who work at the soup kitchen to rebuild it they are helping people experience their worth, which leads to a sense of confidence and accomplishment, which leads to a foundation from which to build a new life.
In today’s video we see that everyone has a need in this story. Frank needs to give. The people at the soup kitchen need a functioning building. But they also need self-respect and self-worth, which a decent job provides. By giving, many are blessed in the process, from the giver to the receiver and beyond.
As the farmer knows there is always a risk when you plant seeds. We risk our security. We risk your future plans. We risk getting hurt or rejected. But a steward is a risk manager. We need to approach our future with humility and faith rather than fear. We need to prayerfully and humbly live by the faith that Christ taught us to live by and this means we must take risks.
In our parable of the talents there is only one person criticized. There is only one person who is called wicked and lazy. And according to the master, the servant who was lazy and wicked was the servant who did nothing with what he had been given. He was afraid, trying to protect himself from a misconception he had of God. That servant did absolutely nothing to try to please the master. That servant was unwilling to take a risk in order to use the master’s resources well.
Later when we dedicate our pledges and our tithes we need to remember that the money and resources that we have are not from us. God has given us the talents. Some of us have more than others, but we are all called to do the same thing – invest and multiply what we already have for the master. This is not a call to make more money for ourselves, but to make more for God and to give it back to him.
The only thing we need fear is doing nothing. God never chastises those who take the risk – no matter what the outcome, because the outcome is up to God and not to us. As Paul puts it in Galatians “But each one must examine his own work, and then he or she will have reason for boasting in regard to him or herself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his or her own load. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. ‘Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this will they also reap.’” Amen