Sermon on Luke 12:22-34
12th Sunday after Pentecost
Inspired to Serve
1. by a priceless treasure
2. by loving commands
Text: Luke 12:22-34
Way back in time almost 50 years ago it was the early 1960’s. My father and his older sister Janet were in elementary school. It was at this time that Janet had to have a very serious back surgery. They took her to one of the best hospitals in the country, the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Since Janet was there for a while recovering from her surgery—remember this was the 1960s—the family had the chance to meet some of the other patients in the hospital. The children even got to meet a man who was there having surgery on his worn out knees. He had a funny name that everyone knew—Mickey. But everyone knew him not because he had shared the name with a famous mouse. Everyone knew this man because he was the great number 7, New York Yankee’s starting center fielder, Mickey Mantle. So all the little Huebner children got an 8.5” x 11” picture personally autographed by the Hall of Famer. Now this priceless possession sits in a safe in my house.
My wife has some priceless treasures of her own. She wears a ring that used to belong to her grandmother. She has her grandmother’s set of china. Both of us have other miscellaneous bits of clothing, furniture, knick-knacks or pictures that we value very highly.
I’m sure you have your share, too—that first baseball you ever had autographed; your father’s or grandfather’s war medals and uniform; the old abacus that your grandmother used for kindergarten math; the stubs of the movie tickets from the first date you went on with your spouse.
All of us have things like this. They are things that we put in display cases, or we lock them up in fireproof safes, or we even keep them in safe deposit boxes at the bank. These are items that we dare not ever sell at a rummage sale because no price tag would ever have enough zeroes. These are items that we love and value above everything else.
Those aren’t the only things, though. We value our cars or our motorcycles and we spend countless hours cleaning and fine-tuning them. We love our new sofa because it is so much more comfortable than the old one and it matches the décor more appropriately. We love our little collectible porcelain angels or our Mikasa crystal vases. We love our 1000-thread Egyptian cotton sheets that go on our California king pillow-top mattresses. We love our new washing machine because it is front-loading and you can actually see what’s going on inside. We love our wine collection and the assortment of aged cheddar sitting in our fridge.
Come to think of it, a lot (or most) of the things that we treasure in life are possessions. How very American of us! What else would you expect in a country that thrives on the consumer—the person who won’t even get out of his car as long as he can have a Whopper “his way,” or who would buy a whole new wardrobe not because the clothes fell apart, but simply because someone in Hollywood came out with a new design. What other country is obsessed with top ten lists of the most or the most rich? What other country is filled with citizens that want so badly to just make more money so they can finally live their dream and live the good life and have a big mansion and lots of cool gadgets and gizmos?
Maybe you and your family have struggled of late. Maybe you are upside down on your house and property. Maybe you can’t seem to save for retirement right now. Maybe you can’t do all the fun things or have all the nice things like others. But then again, maybe we all need to do a little world traveling. We could visit the slums of Mexico where clean water is unheard of. We could fly to Haiti to see a country so poor it simply can’t get on its feet alone after the earthquakes. We could travel to Africa and try living in huts without air conditioning.
Last week we heard Jesus warn, “Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” This week Jesus continues where we left off with verse 21 last week. Jesus continues teaching his disciples who were worrying about possessions. They were worrying about simply scraping by and surviving. They had a great concern for things of this life and for their possessions. So Jesus reminded them in verse 34 what we just sang, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
You must wonder where our heart really is. Even the most generous among us, even the poorest among us own things that are collecting dust and sitting in storage. We all own things that we really could live without. We all have been consumed by the idea of American consumerism. We all have been greedy. We all have had misplaced focus. We all have treasured things that really have no eternal value at all.
Compare that with what God values. God doesn’t value a leather recliner or a big screen TV or a lanai-covered in ground pool. God values you. God loves you. In fact, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The most treasured possession, the crown of God’s creation, is the human race that he made—the same human race that has rebelled and sinned against him. Yet despite the sin and the arrogance and the worldly thinking, God has valued our worth beyond what we could ever imagine or ever afford. No amount of zeroes, no combination of celebrities or billionaires could come up with this price tag. God placed a value on us of his own Son, Jesus Christ. The price paid to forgive our sins and to make us God’s dear children once more was the death of the sinless Son of God. Through Jesus, God has opened up the doors to countless treasures in heaven that will not and cannot fade away or rot or crumble or break. Or as Jesus says in verse 33, “a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”
Now that is a treasure to value! That is a treasure to hold near and dear to your heart. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Hold the treasure of forgiveness and eternal life close to your heart. There is nothing worth more. And there is nothing that inspires more.
Certainly, Jesus, our priceless treasure, inspires us to serve. Today is Time, Talents, and Treasures Sunday. The focus of the day is how we can better use our lives, our abilities, and our possessions to serve the Lord. Considering the price God paid for us, considering how much God has valued and loved us, what better thing is there to do than to look at how we can serve the Lord more?
We don’t want to clean the church or to be a happy and smiling greeter or a helpful usher because no on else will do it. We don’t want to sing in the church choir because we like to hear our own voice or because we’re sick of Pastor’s voice (which is probably true anyways). We gladly give of our time because Jesus gave us his life!
And we don’t serve on the church council or on the CTK vision team and we don’t volunteer for Sunday School or children’s church because someone has to make this church and school run—someone’s got to help us reach our next building goal. No! We love to give of our talents and abilities because Jesus gave us the best ability of all—the ability to live forever in heaven.
And we don’t give our treasures because everyone else does, or because we will look silly as the only person who doesn’t put something in the offering plate. We don’t collect offerings because we really stretched ourselves with this mortgage and budget and we need to pay some bills. No! We willingly and freely and joyfully give to God our very best treasures because he has given to us the very best gifts of life and salvation.
You see, We Are Inspired to Serve. Jesus is our priceless treasure. That’s where our heart is. That’s what and who motivates us to serve.
Right now I could stop and say that magical word A-M-E-N and the sermon would be over. Then we could quickly pray and sing a hymn and we would be off and ready to go, filled with the Spirit and fired up for serving God. But I just can’t stop now. The sermon can’t end here. You want to know why? Because there is more amazing and inspiring news to share with you! Not only does Jesus inspire us to serve him by his innocent life and death for us, but Jesus also inspires us to serve him with his loving commands for us.
You see, Jesus knows how we think and operate. Jesus knows that even though he provides for us every day, even though he gives us even more than we might want or need, we still will doubt and worry. We will grumble when we don’t have as much as others. We will be upset that we aren’t making enough money. We will complain that life could be better. We will worry that we won’t be able to make it. We will doubt whether God has our best interest in mind.
But listen to Jesus’ loving commands, beginning in the first verse, verse 22: “Therefore I tell you, (command #1) do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes.” There are more important things in life that food and clothing—like your relationship with Jesus. Moreover, he continues with command #2, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Even insignificant birds that are a dime a dozen, like ravens, are provided for by God. If God cares enough to feed the birds, won’t God also provide for us? The answer of course is, “YES!”
If that isn’t argument enough, Jesus continues in verse 27 with command #3, “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown in to the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” Solomon was one of the richest men that ever lived. His closet was filled with Versace and Docle and Gabana and Calvin Klein. But yet a little lily of the field is more beautiful. If God dresses a simply flower, certainly he will provide for us!
Therefore (command #4), “Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; (command #5) do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.” So instead (command #6), “Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Continue to follow the Lord, Jesus says, and the Lord will continue to provide for you as is best.
Since that is true (command #7), “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Our Father doesn’t give to us power over a city or a country, he doesn’t give us millions of dollars or fortified mansions. He has been pleased to give us something even better—eternity in his heavenly kingdom!
God cares for us so much, we could even follow command #8, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor,” because God has made command #9 possible: We can, “Provide purses for [ourselves] that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”
Wow! Nine amazing and loving commands from Jesus! We can become so consumed with things in this life, with all the worries of the world and worldly possessions. But listen to the loving commands of our Savior: “Do not worry,” “Do not be afraid,” “Seek first [God’s] kingdom.” We have no reason to fear because our heavenly Father provides for every creature in this world, like the ravens and the lilies, and he will certainly provide for us. After all, he has given us a treasure in heaven that no thief could ever steal and no moth could ever destroy.
Talk about inspiring! As if it wasn’t enough motivation for us to serve that Jesus gave his own life for us to buy us back from the depths of hell. NO! He does even more! He calms our fears and eases our worries by telling us that he will watch over, protect, and provide for us. It’s no wonder we have a Time, Talents, and Treasures Sunday! In fact, every Sunday is a Time, Talents, and Treasures Sunday! As we gather together in God’s house each week and continue to hear of the wonders that God has done, of the forgiveness and heaven that he has given us, our reaction every single week is one of thanks and praise. We give him our best as we sing songs of thanks with our whole heart. We give him our best as we give money offerings of thanks that will support his work here and around the world. We give him our very best as we set up for church and clean up after. We give him our very best as we coordinate special events and special meetings. We give him our best as we give of our time and abilities to serve other people, to reach out to other people, or to simply clean this house of worship so we can do it all again the next week.
What a joy to have a Time, Talents, and Treasures Sunday, when we can find more ways that we can serve our God! What a joy to have such a priceless treasure! What a joy to have such a loving Savior! What a joy to be able to show him our thanks and praise! What a joy to serve! Let’s get started!
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