God and Money 3

Luke 14:7-24

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: (Luke 14:7)

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. (Luke 14:8)

If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. (Luke 14:9)

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. (Luke 14:10)

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. (Luke 14:12)

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (Luke 14:13)

and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14)

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15)

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. (Luke 14:16)

At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ (Luke 14:17)

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ (Luke 14:18)

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

(Luke 14:19)

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ (Luke 14:20)

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ (Luke 14:21)

“ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ (Luke 14:22)

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. (Luke 14:23)

I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ” (Luke 14:24)

Series - God & Money.

Doing a series on money. One of the reasons I’m glad to be doing this series now is that there’s nothing going on that we’re asking you to give to. B/C often when we talk about money in church, it’s really linked to a ‘cause’ and then your heart ends up focusing on the ‘cause’ instead of just sitting back and asking ‘What does God want me to think about my money in general? What should my attitude be toward it?”

So that’s what we’re doing. And as it turns out, Jesus has a TON to say about money - and it’s really emphasized in the gospel of Luke, so that’s where we’ve been.

Review

So the first week we talked about the ‘woes’ of Jesus - where Jesus would come and say ‘If at the center of your life is “Power / Comfort / Success / Recognition” then I pity you.’ And then he goes on to tell about the Kingdom of God and how it’s really upside down from the kingdom of the world.

Then the second week (last week) we talked about the universal disease of Greed. A disease most people have but no one THINK they have. - And then we talked about the solution.

This week, I want to talk about ‘The Logic of Grace'.

How Jesus comes and sets this impossible standard of generosity, so much so that it will seem insane to most of us, and then how he uses the Gospel to rationalize it.

Here’s - story

Here’s the story

Let’s set the stage

Jesus has gone to a dinner at very prominent man’s home.

Jesus notices that the guests were picking places of honor at the table.

We’ve talked about this before, but essentially what’s happening is it’s kinda like a wedding, the closer you sit to the head of the table, the more prominent you are.

We’ve talked before about the ‘patronage’ system that was alive there. And without getting into it, in this culture, who you knew was everything. Much more than today.

So at this dinner, there was lots of networking and rubbing shoulders with uppity-ups happening.

And the goal to network with people a higher status than you.

And when Jesus sees this he says to the host in v12 - “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors …” (Which if of course exactly what was happening)

He’s essentially telling this man that his party is stupid.

And has the nerve to say:

“If you do, they will invite you back and they will repay you.” Well yeah, that’s kinda the hope.

He says, “Here’s what I want my disciples to do.” “… when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.”


Now what does that mean?!

Well at first at might look like he’s saying “Never invite your friends over!” And the reason it looks like he’s saying that is because that’s exactly what he says. ‘When you have a dinner, do not invite your friends.’ - Those ARE the words of Jesus.

You have to understand ‘Hyperbole’. ‘Hyperbole' - “Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.” - "Raining cats and dogs." - "I could eat a horse.” Jesus uses this all the time. “If you eye causes you to sin, pluck it out!” “If you want to follow me, you must hate your mom and dad."

So to understand what he’s saying, you have to remember that these weren’t just parties. These were networking opportunities, and they were extremely expensive. But they always paid for themselves because you were able to work yourself up the economic ladder. So these dinners were a huge deal. They were your entertainment, but they were also your social status. If you were ever curious for a first century rich person would spend their extra dough, well here you have it.

Instead, Jesus says ‘Have parties where you invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. Have parties that don’t benefit you in any way. Have parties that benefit the poor. Specifically Jesus mentions having a party for people who have no chance of ever paying you back. So what’s he talking about? He’s talking about charity.

He’s talking about doing something with your money that makes a difference is someone else’s life instead of just spending it all on things that benefit yourself.

So maybe for you that’s giving to a church or a ministry - maybe this church, maybe some other church. And maybe additionally it’s giving to charity - either directly to those or need or supporting organizations that do that. And Jesus is saying that needs to be a priority to you.

So again, when Jesus says ‘Hate your father and mother and follow me.’ - He’s not saying you can’t love your father and mother. What he’s saying is ‘You need to love me more. I’m the priority.’ And so what’s he saying here? The same thing. He’s not saying ‘Never buy yourself a new shirt!’ ‘Never have a business lunch.’ - No he’s saying ‘Giving has to be a priority to you.'

You could even say it like this: Giving to ministry and charity needs to be your priority. What’s negotiable is the money you spend on yourself. - So you have to switch it.

Many of us we have certain goals. We have financial goals, we have lifestyle goals - certain way we want to live. Vacations we want to take. Clothes we want to buy. And so we spend all our money on that kind of ‘party’ and if we have money left over for the other kind of party - caring for people’s souls and their physical well being, then we will. But caring for yourself, that’s the priority. Jesus here is saying ‘Switch it'.

Farmer - raised livestock.

Some years ago, there was a British farmer who raised livestock, and he had a cow who was pregnant. He was very happy about that, because he actually had enough livestock on the farm to produce the things he needed, and therefore, he was going to be able to sell that calf once the calf was born and grew up. He was going to sell the calf and make a tidy profit. To his joy, the cow had two calves … twins … which meant he was going to get twice as much money from the sale when he sold them.

He was very excited. He came in to his wife, and he had a sort of magnanimous moment. He says, “Honey, we are Christians, and we go to church, and you know what? When these two calves grow up and I sell them, I’m going to give half the proceeds to the Lord. Half the proceeds are going to go to the church. I’m going to sell the two calves, I’m going to get X amount of money, and the amount of money I get from one will go to the Lord, and the rest we’ll keep ourselves.” She says, “That’s wonderful. How spiritual.”

Several weeks later, he walks into the house very, very sad in his face. She says, “What’s wrong?” He says, “Oh, the Lord’s calf died. They got sick. The one got better, but the other one didn’t get better, and it died.” She says, “That’s interesting. I didn’t remember that we designated one of those calves to be the Lord’s.” He says, “Oh no. Almost from the beginning I said, ‘That’s the Lord’s calf right there,’ and that’s the one that died. What a shame.”

The point of the story : It’s always the Lord’s calf that dies. In other words: There’s certain things that we want for ourselves: cars, vacations, video games, hobbies. And then if there’s some left over we’ll give it to God. But if something unexpected happens, you can be darn sure who’s fronting the bill. Jesus is saying ‘I want you to switch those. I want you to front the bill.’

Which goes back to what we were talking about last week and that’s that you giving should not just be generous, but it should also be sacrificial. You should FEEL it.

Tithing

Ok, let’s talk about tithing. In the OT, the standard for giving for believers was very clear : 10%. Called the ‘tithe’. “Give 10% to the levites, or the tablenacle, to the ministry, to charity.' However when you get to the New Testament, there IS one place where Jesus says you should tithe. - Luke 11:42-43 - He’s talking to the pharisees about how they tithe, and he said you SHOULD do that, that’s it right. So Jesus is not against tithing. But almost nowhere else in the NT does the tithe even get mentioned. Instead you’ve got statements like this is 2 Corinthians 8:3 “They gave as much as they were able and beyond their abilities.”

So again, the NT instructs us to give to the place where it’s sacrificial. Where it’s you sacrificing something. So to say “I’d like to give, but can’t afford it.” Really what that means is I want to give but I’m not willing to sacrifice. So in the OT, it’s give 10%. Boom done. NT it’s ‘give in a way that makes you sacrifice something.’

Like there’s things you don’t do, b/c you’re giving. That’s the whole point. So I DO believe in tithing. I tithe. But more importantly, I believe in giving in a way that costs you something. That maybe you don’t do something else, b/c you give. And that’s the whole point. Again to go to the parable, if you were to throw a party that’s for the people who are the uppidy-ups of society, that’s basically a business expense. And you get it back, in the form of business associates and contacts and opportunities. But if you throw a huge party for the poor, I mean that’s just money out the door. So Jesus is saying ‘One way of using your money is NOT sacrificial, and the other is, and that’s what I want. The second one.


Bigger Point: Understand the gospel?

But this all goes back to a bigger point and that’s whether or not we understand the gospel. - 3 ways that Jesus shows this to us.

1. Inner wealth

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. (Luke 14:10)

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

So on one hand Jesus is just being practical. “Don’t toot your own horn.” If you’re always self promoting, you’re not likely going to be the one promoted, but nobody likes you.

I watch a lot of youtube videos, I don’t know what that says about me, but have you even seen that ad of the guy with the Ferraris pumping his ‘success coaching’. Oh my gosh, all his videos he’s like ‘I’m just out here hanging out in my multimillion dollar condo with all my sweet cars. And I’ll show you how to be just like me, with this $400 program’ Oh my gosh, it’s excruciating. And here’s the thing, to the internet, he’s a huge joke. And I think of what Jesus says ‘When you exalt yourself, you’re gonna be humbled.'

And the opposite is true, when you humble yourself, you’re gonna be exalted. Need an example? Mother Teresa. No one is laughing at mother teresa. History has been and will continue to be kind to her, not because she was perfect, but b/c she was humble. And now what is she? She’s exalted.

So that’s just the real practical side of what Jesus said here. But there’s also another side… This is also a picture of salvation. The people who would come to God and say ‘You should accept me b/c I’m so wonderful’ - they’ll be rejected. - Why? B/C that’s salvation by works. Which isn’t a thing. If you come to God and say ‘Look at all the great things I’ve done! I’ve cast out demons in your name!’ - You’ll be rejected. But if you come to God humbly, if you take the ‘lower seat’, as a sinner in need of grace, you’ll be accepted.

And that’s where the miracle starts. He comes and rearranges your inner being and gives you an inner wealth. - Real riches, real value. But if you don’t have Jesus at the center of your life, then money is more than money. It’s security, it’s worth, it’s significance. It is God. And I think there’s something really beautiful here, which is Jesus saying ‘I don’t want you to be obsessed with climbing the ladder of success and getting into the inner circles. But if someone invites you in, fine.' ‘I’m not against Christians being successful, but it can’t be the center of your life.’

And then when good things come that’s great and when good things go, that’s ok too, because they’re not the center of your life. But the sad reality is you can see people find their identity in their success. - I’m a great basketball player, I’m a great preacher, I’m a successful businessman, I’m a successful whatever. And then when that goes away, you’re nothing. B/C you found your identity there. No, here Jesus is showing another way which is finding inner worth, inner wealth, and so when things on the outside change, you’re ok. And that’s one of the things that will allow you to be generous.

2. Future wealth

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (Luke 14:13)

and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14)

So this is an amazing idea, here you have Jesus himself saying that the poor aren’;t going to pay you back. Even if they say ‘I just need enough gas money to get to Socorro and give me your address I’ll send you your money back.’ Yeah that’s not gonna happen. They’re not gonna pay you back. But here Jesus says that HE will pay you back - in eternity. Which, if you would allow me to say, is a BETTER place to have riches. And I don’t know how all that works out, it’s mysterious to me too, but it’s amazing that Jesus is saying ‘I’m keeping track, and I’ll pay you back.’ I love that.


3. Christ’s Example

(Prep - Communion)

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. (Luke 14:16)

At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ (Luke 14:17)

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ (Luke 14:18)

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ (Luke 14:19)

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ (Luke 14:20)

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ (Luke 14:21)

“ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ (Luke 14:22)

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. (Luke 14:23)

You know in this parable you might be wondering what person represents you… And the answer is this: The poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. - That’s you. And so you can see Jesus giving to the poor when he’s giving to you.

The part I’d like to emphasize here is that the “Everything is now ready.” It’s an incredible idea that these people - the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame - not deserving of any of it, but everything is prepared for them.

Tim Keller says ‘The Feast of the Lord is not a potlock.’ A potluck of course is where you have to bring some of the food, but with Jesus, everything is finished, everything is cooked.

So let me ask you a question: Is that something you DESERVE? No, of course not.

It’s offered freely to you. Honest question, when Jesus gives to you, is it because needs you to give something to him? No of course not, that’s nonsense. You ARE the poor who can’t pay back. And so they key is seeing that, and then modeling that. You see Jesus’s generosity to you, and that changes your heart. He had the HIGHEST seat, and for you, he took the LOWEST seat.

Let me be clear, that I don’t have this down. I’m not up here saying ‘I’m great at this, you need to be more like me.’ No I wrestle with this too.

So again, let me say that for some of you, you might be guests here, and this whole thing sounds like another preacher asking for money, we are most certainly not doing that. - Like, you don’t even live here. What I’m wanting us to do tonight is ask the question: “What should my attitude be toward money in the light of Jesus?” That’s it.

Closing Statement: The gospel teaches us to be generous. It does this by revealing to us our inner wealth, our future wealth, and most of all, the example of Jesus. If you don’t understand the gospel, giving will be very hard for you. Because money has a place in your heart that is reserved for God alone. On the other hand, the gospel and the Logic of Grace will (if you let it) teach you to find your worth and your significance in something other than financial success. When you understand the gospel, finding your significance in money will seem completely ridiculous, which of course it is. Instead we find our significance in the beautiful love of the father and the opportunity to make a difference in the world he so deeply loves.