Sermon Reflections from Sharing the Abundance | Alex Hardt | November 26, 2023
I was caught this week by Pastor Alex’s closing remarks. He said, “Any generosity we show is just a reflection of what God has given us.” As I reflected upon these words I reviewed the sermon in my mind.
First, we saw the rulers and religious leaders in Luke 3:1-3. They were a powerful bunch both politically and religiously. Herod, his brother Phillip, the high priests Annas and Caliphas were leaders that definitely knew of God. They were blessed with great power and material goods. How did they use God’s generosity towards them? They held onto their power and sought to use it against their fellow Jews. They disregarded God’s laws and Herod did much evil including marrying his brother’s wife. Pilate, the Roman governor, was a pagan who sought to please Caesar and keeping the peace was essential for his career. All of them had been blessed with position and wealth, but they chose not acknowledge God’s generosity towards them. Hence, they did not reflect God in their lives. Herod, the High Priests and Pharisees all sought to kill Jesus as they did not believe He was who He said He was and they were threatened by the power He seemed to have with the people. Pilate did not turn to God and do what was right as he too was threatened by the religious leaders and the crowds as he needed to keep the peace at all cost.
Next, Pastor Alex looked at John the Baptist in Luke 3:4-18. He was an itinerate preacher wandering in the desert. People came to him and wanted to hear his message from God and be baptized. They considered him a prophet with a true message from God. John was given a special message to deliver prior to Jesus’ coming. He faithfully and humbly delivered his message regardless of the cost to himself personally. He saw many repent and turn to God. He had little in the way of material wealth but was rich spiritually. He generously used his time and talents to lead, persuade and baptize leading many to repentance. He reflected in a mighty way what God had given to him. In turn, John exhorted others to give of what they had, be generous and to live rightly. He did not take glory for himself but pointed others to Jesus. He lifted what he had and knew towards God and was blessed.
In our last portion of scripture from Luke 3:19-20, we see Herod using his power to enact revenge upon John. John called Herod up short on his sin of marrying his brother’s wife. He had had enough and used his power to silence John by putting him in prison for speaking the unpopular truth. Later we see his wife Herodias getting her daughter to ask for John’s head and Herod granting this wish. (Matthew 14:1-12) Herod was brave enough to put John in prison but he did not want to kill him as he feared him as a prophet. Herodias wanted him dead. Herod and Herodias had much to be thankful for and showed generosity towards the kingdom in the lavish parties and many building projects, but their generosity was aimed at making themselves look better and more powerful. They had no interest in showing thanks for the goodness of God.
The question for all of us is “How do we reflect God’s goodness to us in our generosity?” Do we share our time, talents, joys, and money with others? Do we consider all that we have as God’s? If we do, then our hearts should be open and reflecting His goodness, His richness, His kindness, His patience and His love for others. Am I more like humble John who was willing and able to share constantly and boldly and courageously shared the truth about God? Or am I more like Herod holding on to my gifts and seeking to use them to make my way better? Am I more like the religious and political rulers who were threatened, hostile and openly resistant to God’s leading? Do I have blinders on and refuse to see what God has given to me? Am I claiming those things as belonging to me and not God?
I pray this message touched you and causes you to think about your own generosity. Where does it come from and how are you using it? Seek God in prayer and ask His Holy Spirit to guide you and mold your generosity so that it reflects God in all you say and do.
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