“We are beggars; this is true.”
~ Martin Luther
I feel like I have buried my talents in the dirt.
Not like, juggling or something, like, the parable of the talents.
You know the story right? Wealthy guy leaves a bunch of money with three servants. One servant is totally “Mr. Wall Street,” and that guy doubles his money. The next dude is, “Mr. fresh out of college investment broker man,” and even he somehow manages to double the cash. The third guy, well, he does the only logical thing, and he digs a hole and buries the money…
That third guy is me.
And, if I may be so bold, he is probably you as well.
We as Christians have been given certain resources (each according to the grace apportioned him/her), and we are called to be good stewards with those resources while the Master is away. But instead of doubling our money like we should — you know, by taking the good things that God has given us and using them to further His kingdom and produce good fruit — instead, we bury that biz.
It’s almost as if we have looked at all of our responsibilities given to us as Christians, and decided that Jesus actually left us more chores than we could handle on our own. (That, or we are just lazy. Nah, that’s not it.)
So, we did the very most American thing that we could possibly do with our responsibilities. We outsourced them to other people.
And in so doing, we actually have ended up outsourcing ourselves right out of our jobs.
The ways in which we have done this is numerous, and if I listed them all it would probably make us super sad and convicted, and nobody wants that.
So, I will instead focus on just one aspect of our outsourcing: taking care of the poor.
And yes, I know the arguments, I just don’t particularly like many of them.
“But Heath, we just aren’t equipped to be able to take care of those people!”
The Spirit Empowered Church of God isn’t equipped?
“But Heath, Goodwill and homeless shelters do a great job, and we can come alongside them and help that way.”
Do you know where all that Goodwill money goes? Do you know how they overprice the stuff that YOU give to them freely? Are those homeless shelters addressing the deeper spiritual need of the person, or just the physical need? So many questions! (I love questions!)
Coming alongside a gospel-centered-Bible-believing homeless shelter or mercy ministry is great, but can we all agree that we should do more than that?
“But Heath, I don’t know what that person will do with the money I give them!”
I understand that response, and I honestly used to feel that way until I read this story about C.S. Lewis.
“C.S. Lewis is walking with a friend — a fellow by the name of Tolkien — and they happen upon a beggar. The man asks Jack, as C.S. Lewis is called by his friends, for a few shillings. Jack reaches deep into his pocket and empties its contents into the beggars hands. Tolkien quickly rebukes him: ‘Jack, you shouldn’t have given that fellow all that money; he’ll just spend it all on drink.’ Jacks reply is just a quick: ‘Well, if I had kept it, I would have only spent it on drink myself.”
Do you understand what Lewis and Luther understood? WE are beggars; this is true.
Because at some point in your life, you met Jesus on the street, and He completely emptied His pockets for you.
And not only that, but He knew you were going to blow all that money on easy living. He knew you would abuse His love and grace, and yet every time you meet, the same thing happens. He empties His pockets.
He knew you stole the silverware, and when you got caught, He gave you the candlesticks as well.
We are called to lives of charity. We are called to lives of sacrifice. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
We need to start emptying our pockets. (Metaphorically and literally)
Because after all, isn’t that the gospel?
The gospel of Jesus Christ empties pockets, it gives long drawn out hugs, it calls just to say I love you, it picks up the check, it drives hours to see you, its a 24/7 all you can eat buffet, it provides free healthcare, its extravagant, abundant, over the top, it goes all out, it hustles, it comforts, it restores, it provides freedom, it is better than Christmas, it is Christmas, it is so much more than Christmas, it lets you go over your data limit, it doesn’t complain, its password is your name, it always picks up the phone, it wants you to be its valentine, and it is the greatest love story ever written.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9
You see, the gospel message is that Jesus became a beggar, so that we might become rich.
The Master gives the talents, so that we might share in His wealth.
Jesus empties Himself, so that we might be filled.
We have to stop outsourcing our jobs to the secular world, because I don’t know about you, but when the Master returns, I want to give back more than He left me with.
Some practical ways of doing this is by working together as Churches to create new charities, new ideas, and new ways of helping the poor and needy. Maybe go buy $50 bucks worth of gift cards to hand out whenever you see someone in need. Go buy a couple of $5 Bibles that can go along with those gift cards. Keep a grocery bag of canned goods in your car. Be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you, and don’t be afraid to empty your pockets every once in awhile.
We need to realize that apart from Christ, we would have all stayed as beggars. We would all still be sitting in our respective gutters, had Christ not taken us by the hand and pulled us out.
And lastly, we have to stop projecting sin upon people we don’t even know. Maybe the guy I give money to is going to spend it all on adult beverages. Or, maybe he is going to spend it on a cheeseburger like he said he would. Call me naïve, but isn’t that honestly between him and God? If that homeless person knew my heart, I wonder if he would be ashamed to even accept money from me. Hopefully he would see me as a fellow beggar, and together we could rejoice over the fact that in Christ, all of us have been carried to the table and given our fill. Not when we were clean and dressed properly, but, “while we were yet sinners.”
Investing in people will always produce a return.
Let’s take back our jobs, and double our money.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matt. 25:21