Sermon in a nutshell: Give your possession to God (Leviticus 2:1-10)
What makes us slaves?
When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were in difficult situation. I went to Israel last week, and the place is actually a wilderness. It was an endless rocks and sands. I can see some shrubs but it is hard to see any living things. They say that at night some animals come out and do their activities but in the day sunlight, heat and wind, I do not see any living thing except me and my colleagues and God!
In this situation, I cannot blame the Israelites when they complained about food and water. They actually missed the Egyptian slave life style. As long as they missed that, there were still slaves. Even though they were free people, their spirit still belonged to the Egyptians and to their gods.
However, when I went to Masada, the last place where all the Jewish people fought against the Roman soldiers and died, I could see the different spirit. They fought and finally they knew that their ending were near. They decided to die as free persons than to be slaves. The heads of the households kill their families, the head of the men kill all the men and committed suicide. Before their communal action, they asked this question, “Do you want to die as free persons or live as slaves?” They shouted out that they rather wanted to die as free persons.
When we choose physical and financial comforts, replacing them with spiritual laziness and moral corruption, we become slaves. We become slaves of money, sex, and power. To get out of those slavery, we should choose life over death. We should willingly take the narrow way of discipleship than the wide road of selfish desires.
The most powerful idol.
Knowing human hearts, God commanded the newly freed Israelites to give “grain offering.” In the wilderness, they could not save grains Manna was their daily provisions. Then God gave this commandments about grain offerings. This commandments meant two things: First, someday, they will have their own land and crops to give to God. It was a language of hope. Secondly, God wanted to make sure that they knew that all the grains came from God. The grain offering was a symbol to show that all of our possessions and income are given to us through God’s grace. We give God our offering because we want to acknowledge God’s grace and intervention in our lives. We want to say thank you to God when we have foods to eat and other things to enjoy in life. God wants us to enjoy material things but God does not want us to be slaves of them.
The most powerful idol that we serve is money, however. Jesus said that we cannot serve God and idol. When we give grain offering, to show that our income comes from God, we actually proclaim that we do not serve idols. Whenever we have hesitation to give God our money, we are deciding between God and this most powerful idol. We need to answer to God whether we want to live as free people or to live as slaves to money.
Mission is a good litmus paper for us to test our desires
From time to time, we are faced with those tests: Do you want to live as free person or a slave to money? We have to answer that through our tithe first. One tenth of our income belong to God. When we give back God’s belongings to God, we proclaim that we serve God and not idols.
Then we have opportunities to be a part of God’s mission. We are asked again: Do you want to be a part of free people or of the slaves to the world? We cannot give to all the missions, obviously. We have to be selective according to our hearts that God’s Spirit moves. However, we want to give as much as we can, trusting God who provides.
If we cannot give at all because of financial difficulties, we can pray for the mission. Some people can even bring cookies and brownies, modern day grain offerings. For the Winter Night homeless mission we bring grain offerings. For the SHARE program, we bring grain offerings to share them with the homeless people.
Whenever we share what we have, those are modern day grain offerings. We proclaim that all our possessions belong to God and we can share it with others with joy and gladness. Notice that this grain offering comes after the burnt offering, which symbolizes that our life belongs to God. Once we proclaim that our lives are in God’s hands, we do not worry about the daily bread and our resources. If we as wicked fathers know how to provide goods for our children, how much more our good Father in heaven knows and provides for us, His children?
Brothers and sisters, let us demonstrate our faith in God through our offering. Tithe is the basic faith statement that our possessions belong to God. Other offerings are still active proclamation that God is in control. When we give our grain offering, we know that we are not slaves any more. We are free people.
- What makes you to hesitate giving to God?
- When do you feel that all your possession belong to God?
- In what ways, do you want to show that God is the owner of your possession?