Sermon in a nutshell: How to live together? (Leviticus 6:1-7)
What are the stumbling blocks against evangelism?
Someone said, “I like Christ but I do not like Christians.” I asked him the reason why. He said, “I do not like Christians because they do not act like Christ.” For the people around us, non-believers, or people who do not go to church, our actions speak louder than our confessions. To spread the Gospel among non-believers, we need to be honest and kind in our actions.
We have great confessions and faith statements.
As we have read in Leviticus chapters 1-5, these offerings are our faith statements. We confess that we commit ourselves totally to God (Burnt Offering) and all our possessions belong to God (Grain Offering). We are also told that when we make mistakes, we have to make a triple recovery: One with the victims (Peace Offering), one with the community (Sin Offering), and one with God (Guilt Offering). These theological abstract confessions have to be put to practice in practical ways.
Important habits for living together in a community.
Every moment and every behavior should be holy in order for us to be fitting to our faith statement and to our confessions that we make through those offerings. However, there are several behaviors that have more importance than others in the Bible. They are the ones selected to maintain the well being of a community. They are the also the ones that make our Christian communities more attractive to non-believers. The following are the ones that God commands us to AVOID in order to maintain the well being of our community. (Lev. 6:2-5)
- “A matter of a deposit or a pledge” (embezzlement)
- “Robbery” (by force)
- “Fraud” (by deception)
- “Lost and Found” (theft)
- “Swear falsely regarding any of the various things that one may do” (false witness)
Before God talks about anything else in Leviticus, God says that we have to be honest in dealing with our money, possessions, and properties. God wants us to earn money with honest labor and spend it with integrity. Many times, people are disappointed when they find out Christians are not honest in their money issues. Why is the financial ethic important for us to keep the community healthy?
Three stories that we can consider.
1) Enron Scandal
Many of us remember the Enron Scandal that happened in 2001-2002. Some of the executives lied about their financial status and auditors gave false audit reports. Finally, they were caught and both the Enron Company and its auditor, Arthur Andersen, experienced financial failure. Also, millions of people lost their pensions and retirement money because of Enron’s lies. If the people involved in this scandal had followed the words in the Bible and behaved accordingly, this would not have happened. To live together as a community, we need to be honest in money matters.
2) Even on a smaller scale, we sometimes encounter scams in many different forms.
For example, one of our church members found this type of scam in her bank statement.
RECUR DEBIT CRD PMTO3/16BLS*WEBLEARN888461 ST JULIANS MH $10.83
Somebody in Malta was taking $10.83 from her account every month. If she had not been careful, she would not have noticed those charges. If the hacker did this against 1 million people, the
criminal could easily have a monthly income of 10 million dollars. To live together as a community,
we need to be honest in money matters.
3) Dave Clegg and Others
On the other hand, we have many good people who demonstrate financial integrity through their lives. Many of us know our church member, Dave. He is 84 years old but he still uses the vacuum cleaner to shampoo the carpets in the church. For many years, he has faithfully donated his time, talent, and money. In terms of financial integrity, he is one of the role models about whom we can say with confidence, “Be like him!” Because of his contributions, many people have benefitted without knowing it. I can say many other names of people who are like Dave. (Shout out a name that you can say with confidence!) I do not have enough time to mention all the names. Dave is just one of the many faithful persons in our church.
Do you trust God or money?
The reason why these sins are discussed first is that all these actions show our lack of trust in God. If we trusted God that He would provide what we need to sustain our lives, we would not use such sinful ways to get what we need or what our flesh desires. These acts are flatly denying God’s providence and control. When we believe in honest income and hard work, we express our faith in God. When we try to use deceitful ways or force to take possession of anything, we demonstrate our unbelief. Building God’s Kingdom with honesty and integrity actually needs faith. Let us keep our faith! God will free us from all the anxieties and worries concerning our finances.
- Why do you think that paying honest taxes is important for the Kingdom of God?
- Why do you think that giving rightful wages is important for the Kingdom of God?