Sermon on the Mount Series - Sermon # 7 - Generosity
Rev. April S. Blaine, Given on Sunday, September 8, 2013
Max Lucado tells a story in many of his children’s books – of a people called Wemmicks.
The Wemmicks are wooden people who are made by a wooden carver, Eli.
And all day long – the Wemmicks will give one another stickers. To the Wemmicks who could jump high in the air and who were brightly colored – they would give stars. And to the Wemmicks whose paint was peeling, and who couldn’t jump as high – they would give dots.
The story goes that there is a Wemmick named Punchinello – a Wemmick with lots of dots. He couldn’t jump high, his paint was peeling and he always seemed to mess it up when he spoke.
He tried to gain the approval of others. But he would fall or say something out of line – and they would give him more dots.
But one day – he meets a Wemmick named Lucia.
With no dots.
And no stars.
People would see that she had no stars – and they would try and give her a dot. But it wouldn’t stick.
And people would see that she had no dots – and they would try and reward her with a star. But they wouldn’t stick either.
Punchinello decides that he wants to become like Lucia
What’s your secret asks Punchinello? How do you do it?
And she responds – that she spends time with the wood carver every day.
She spends time being reminded who she is.
What her identity is.
That she is blessed.
And no approval or disapproval matters.
Jesus has told us that we are blessed.
But – if we’re honest.
Sometimes – what we really want are those stickers. What we really want is for others to tell us that we are doing a good job.
We want the stars.
We want that approval from the parent who never quite told us we were good enough.
We want to be seen with approval and respect by that old friend who seems to think they are better than us.
We want the boss to see our talents and we want to be noticed – to be told that we are beautiful and good and that we matter.
We want the stars.
And so sometimes we will “play a part” – we will perform a role – a good one, even, - so that people will see us as we want them to.
The word “hypocrite” – was the word in that time for a stage actor.
A person who plays a part.
A person who takes on a character that isn’t fully their identity.
Sometimes we will play the part – to get the stars.
Knowing this about us – Jesus offers a caution.
When you give your alms, do it in secret – to not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.
The word translated as give our alms (means to practice mercy and generosity) – it would have included things like caring for the needy, offering resources and money to the poor, and advocating for the oppressed.
When you live in the world as a generous person – (because your heart is filled with love) – then live in such a way that your actions flow out of your identity.
They are just a part of what you are doing.
You don’t have to think about it. You do it – your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing – because it is so automatic. It is so a part of your identity – so integrated into who you are – that it doesn’t even notice.
Don’t just go around practicing good things to get noticed.
If you do that, you are missing the point.
Nurture a heart of love and generosity – and then follow that wherever it goes.
Follow the call that is in your heart – regardless of who is watching.
God has made you unique, with beautiful and amazing gifts to offer the world.
Gifts that only you have. Our generosity flows out of the beauty and joy of sharing those gifts with the world.
Some of us struggle to balance our desire for people to tell us that we are doing a good job with the call to shine the light and make God the center.
But to be honest – there are some of you, perhaps more of you, who are sitting in the seats – who have been called to be generous with your money and your gifts and your talents with the world – but you are too afraid to do it.
Because others might not like it, others might not appreciate it or understand it, others might not approve. Because others might give you dots.
I can’t sing in church, I can’t pray in front of others, I can’t write that book, or voice my thoughts – or give away my stuff.
Lucia says to Punchinello in the story, “The stickers only stick if you let them. They only stick, if they matter to you.”
So, where have you been called to be a person of generosity – sharing your gifts, your resources, and your talents?
And to do so without concern of what others will think?
To shine the light of God into the places of darkness so others will see – not YOU, but the very presence of the living God.