Sermon in a nutshell: Share the opportunities (Lev. 25:8-12)
Who is the Owner of Everything?
To us believers, God is the creator and owner of everything. The Bible declared that the land belongs to God. We believe that our life, our possessions, and our talents are all God’s. This is the foundation of our ethics and laws. Even though we have houses, cars, and many other things, we are not the owners!
If God is the owner, who are we?
From this statement, God is the Creator and Owner, we can realize that we are not the owner. Then who are we? The Bible says that we are stewards. We are the ones who are managing and taking care of God’s people and property. This is the second foundation of our ethics and laws. We use everything but at the end of our journey we have to return all of them to the owner. We should use then with care. These two foundations will change our behaviors. We are neither greedy nor desperate for things. We can relax and enjoy our lives with freedom. God wants us to practice this freedom every week.
Sabbath is the baby step.
Every week, we rest one day a week. It used to be Saturday, Sabbath. We work hard as if everything depends on us. Then when one person dies we realize that we have to leave everything right there. Still the world does not stop. Everything goes well without the deceased. We are important but not absolute. Once we realize that we can comfortably take a rest. After the resurrection of Jesus, now we can even comfortably die! Death is not the final answer. Eternal life is. To celebrate the victory over the death, now we take a rest on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. It was the day when people used to worship sun god, a pagan god, but we replace that worship with the worship of true God, Jesus, to celebrate our participation in the eternal life with Jesus. We are finite ourselves but eternal with Jesus. Confessing our faith in Jesus and take one day rest for worship is the baby step.
Sabbatical year is the next step!
We realize that our financial and physical conditions are better with regular rest and rhythm. We do not have to work 24/7. We do not have to worry about everything as if everything depends on us. Once we have enough confidence in God’s rule, we can even take Sabbatical year! Are you willing to take a year off every six year? Can you resign your position and take time for renewal? Many people will not or cannot do that. However, it is the second step for us to do the third step, the Jubilee Year!
Jubilee is the last and final step!
Seven times seven is 49. When we take Sabbatical year seven times, we now have Jubilee. As Sabbath start on Friday sun down to Saturday sundown, Sabbatical year starts in sixth year and ends in seventh year. Jubilee starts in 49th year and ends in 50th year. What is more important than the timing of Jubilee, is the commandment that we have to forgive all the debts, free all the slaves, and send exiles back to their home. Restoration and redemption are the theme of Jubilee.
That means rich people who own many slaves, lands, and credits have to give them all up and start all over again! Historically, people did not observe the Year of Jubilee. We all know the reason why. Nobody was able to do that! From time to time, we hear stories of saints who gave up all their properties and positions to become monks. From time to time we hear news about someone who donates all her possessions for others. She is usually a poor widow. However, we have never heard news about someone who gave up all the possession after 50 years of business operation and started over.
We could not even practice the second step!
We all know that the third step was not taken because the second step was not practiced yet. They are progressive steps. We cannot jump to the third one right away. We cannot go from the first to the third, either. God’s commandment is up there and we are down here. I suggest that we need to practice at least the first step faithfully before we even think about the second step.
Come to church every Sunday, Give tithe, and share what you have as much as you can.
When I run, I run one mile first. Then later I want to run more. I can run two miles. Then I can run 4 miles. I may want to run half marathon. Someday I want to run full marathon. However, if I try full marathon now, I may want to give up the race in the middle of it. I may feel frustration and disappointment. I may not like myself and hate my running. So, let us not do it. Let us do it step by step. First, come to church every Sunday. Then start giving money to the offering. Increase the amount, remembering you are not going to die without it. Trust God and start tithing. See if you can still live with the left. Then start serve here and there and share this and that. After many years, you will realize that people start calling you a great person, generous giver, and role model of their lives. Well, maybe then, we can give up all we have and donate them to the church for their mission and ministry. Jubilee may happen after 60, 70 or 80 years not 50 because our trust in God needs time to grow!
- How often do you worship God regularly with other worshippers?
- What makes you to hesitate to give tithe?