Save All You Can
By: Pastor Pete Grassow
Luke 12: 13-21
I remember the moment I first got an allowance: heard that kids in my class were given money by their parents - and went home and challenged my dad...well challenged my mom to speak to my dad. So He sat me and my sister down: and said that we would get an allowance each week...
He placed three jars in front of each of us:
"These are yours: marked: Give / Save / Spend
...Now divide your money- 10% for the Jar marked Give. 10% for the Jar marked Save, and the rest is yours.
And here's where it got weird. Because each week we faithfully divided out our money: two jars gradually filled up, but one jar always stayed empty - the one that got the 80% never seemed to stay full - and I often looked at the other two jars and thought of taking money out of them to help me get through the week.
As I watch the world around me - I see us all doing this: The fact is that we like to spend money ....and we find it very difficult to restrain ourselves!
The adverts come thick and fast:
Right now it is Halloween sales Soon it will be Black Friday sales
And the Christmas sales ....we cannot resist sales.
We never pause to ask if there is any money in the spending jar - we say to ourselves that it is a sale, and we might never have the opportunity again!
This is not new - human beings have always has trouble managing wealth: John Wesley, the founder of our Methodist movement suggests the following guidelines for managing wealth:
Earn all you can
Save all you can
Give all you can
Last week in church we spoke about the first point: "Gaining money", this week we speak about the second "Saving money". John Wesley suggests that there are ethical guidelines to both earning, and saving...... Wesley speaks of money as a God-given resource. God gives us our money and expects us to think about how we use it.
Last week I spoke about earning money in a way that pleases God: If money is gained from theft, or from unethical business practices - it is not good money.
So let us gain our money in a God-pleasing way. Then, says Wesley - let us use what we gain in a way that pleases God. This refers to the jars that my father placed in front of me: Giving, Saving and Spending. Next week I will speak about giving money to the work of God - today we reflect on saving.
Listen to a story that Jesus told:
Luk 12:15 And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Luk 12:16 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully,
Luk 12:17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?'
Luk 12:18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
Luk 12:19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'"
Luk 12:20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'
Luk 12:21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."
A man who had a bigger harvest than he expected: he wonders what to do with it: and he decides to keep it. The key question to this story is "Why?"
Why does he decide that he wants to keep the extra?
This is not about needing to survive.. he already had a barn for the annual harvest. Here is a successful farmer - he knew how much he needed to come out each year and had a barn that helped him manage his budget. And then he get extra - and he says "I am going to keep it"
So why does anyone want to gather extra stuff? And we are all guilty of this:
Why do we put stuff away in our basement or our attics or our garages?
Why do we hire extra storage and put stuff in them? The answer is not easy - some of the stuff is memories -
We have memories of our children they move away but we hang onto the memories of their childhood.
Or the memories of our parents.. they are no longer with us but having something from them keeps their memory alive.
But again - how much stuff do we need to keep their memory alive?
Let me try a more difficult question: how much wealth is enough? How big must the barn be before we say to ourselves - it is big enough.
Jesus tells a story of a man who was not satisfied with what he had
- and wanted more.
Tis is the American way - "get more" is the mantra
You might be familiar with the saying: You can never be too rich or too thin.
Well Jesus disagrees: He does not discourage saving - but tells a parable that speaks against the accumulation of wealth for wealth's sake.
I suggest our savings reflect our willingness to trust God.
Jesus seems to be saying - save enough to be able to sow again the next year - but building a bigger barn just to hang onto more wealth shows a lack of trust in God.
If God has helped you through the years up to now - why would God suddenly abandon you - leaving you to make your own plans for survival.
By all means have a barn to store your things - but do not think of increasing it as if God is not with you.
Let me illustrate this with a story from the life of John Wesley:
In 1731 John Wesley began think about what he needed for life - and what was not necessary to keep:
In the first year his income was 30 pounds. He found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away. In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and he gave away 62 pounds.
Now it is difficult to compare with our time, because of different rates of inflation - but the point is that John Wesley did not build bigger barns as his income increased: he budgeted for his needs - and gave the rest away.
When he died in 1791 at the age of 87 it was thought that he had earned 30 000 pounds from his published books - but the only money mentioned in his will was the coins to be found in his pockets and dresser. Most of the wealth he had earned in his life had been given away.
"Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?"
- John Wesley
Conclusion: I want to invite us to trust God with our money -
Earn it honorably: let the way we earn our money give honor to the Lord.
Save enough to live honorably.
And pray that God will help you discover why you have extra money:
►Sometimes it is God's way of saying "Be blessed and have some fun"
►Sometimes it is God's way of saying "Bless someone else so that they can have some joy"
►And sometimes it is so that you can help our church in our mission to bless the people of Brookings: next week we will ask you to think about your pledge for 2022....pray about this!