November 26, 2022

God’s Desire for Us 18-09-2022

18th September 2022 (Pentecost 15)

Sermon Title: God’s Desire for Us
(1 Timothy 2:1-7 & Luke 16:1-13)

                                                                                  By Heeyoung Lim 

Paul had just written of the wonderful grace of God exhibited in Christ who came into the world to save sinners and told Timothy that the first order of the church is to pray for all people. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul urges that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone. Everyone includes kings and all who are in high positions. 

This was written during the reign of Nero as emperor of Rome. Knowing that the mission of the church is to spread the truth of Jesus Christ, Paul emphasized the need to pray for those in authority even under his harsh rule. Even under degenerate rule and persecution, the kingdom of God was enlarged in those days. In our own time, we must recognize that corporate prayer is not only a central expression of worship, but a requirement in our daily lives. Regardless of political loyalties or preferences, churches need to pray for national, local, worldwide governmental leaders, and influential people. It is directly or indirectly related to our freedom to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). He urged the Colossians and us, “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2). Prayer is a uniting with God. It is to be entered with joy, respect, and a sense of responsibility. We are engaged in the worldwide mission of glorifying God by praying. The glorification of God is manifested in the spread of the gospel, and people are saved through Jesus Christ. As in verse 4, the desire of God is that all people will be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. 

Certainly, we desire our nation and the world to be peaceful and quiet. It is for the expression of godliness and holiness; it is for Christian witness. God desires order, peace, and holiness in our lives, in our worship, and in our relationships within the church and our communities. This reflects the order, constancy, and righteous character of God. When we live this way, God is revealed, and people will embrace him as Saviour. May we see the community and world, the spread of the gospel, and the salvation of the lost and live in godliness and holiness. 

As we work with Jesus or serve the Lord, the starting point for us is in prayer and full dependence upon God. We are called to pray to God and to depend on God. The full expression of our transformed lives and faith in God pleases God. God is not silent about what pleases Him and glorifies His name. Our faith and transformed lives are used by God who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

As in verse 5, there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Salvation comes through the man Christ Jesus who is fully God and fully man. Jesus is not one among many. He is the One and only and bridges the gap between sinful humanity and the righteous God. He gave himself as a ransom for all men. Christ’s gift to the world was a self-giving sacrifice. Christ is the witness of the Father’s love and God’s desire to bring his creation back to Himself.

Paul knew who he was and his calling. He was an apostle and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. (v.7) May we also know who we are and respond to God’s calling that causes great dynamic and motivation in our lives.

In Luke 16, the parable of the dishonest steward poses significant theological challenges, one of them is the apparent injunction to imitate the unrighteous behaviour of the steward. Today’s text takes another turn in verses 10–12, where the command to renounce the dishonest practices of the steward cancels out the previous order to imitate him. In verse 13, there is a warning about the danger of money as a rival to God.

His goal is to make friends so that when unemployed, someone will take him in. Jesus does not commend the manager’s practices, but rather his insight into the connection between resources and relationships. The problems with the unjust steward are about mammon which is dishonest wealth and the hidden motive of receiving something back from those to whom he gave. His giving was polluted by his greedy desire. Jesus encourages us to imitate the man’s scattering of wealth in order to receive the gift that is beyond return and outside any economy of exchange.

This parable is difficult to read and preach. As in this parable, we need to prove ourselves trustworthy in small tasks before we will be considered capable of greater tasks. As in Luke 16, we must prove ourselves trustworthy with worldly resources before we will be entrusted with God’s resources. The lifestyle of God’s kingdom includes managing worldly goods for God’s willingness. God’s people should use the world’s resources in ways that reflect God’s kingdom’s life and help others. 

May we check to see if we are using worldly resources in worldly ways or kingdom ways. 

Living current life according to God’s purpose today is more important than gathering riches for tomorrow. Many people serve mammon and other masters they are tempted to serve besides Christ. We must choose between being justified in the eyes of people or being justified by God. Do we choose to serve the Lord instead of the worldly value or mammon all the time? God wants us to understand God’s desire and choose kingdom ways. May we testify and share ways we are serving Christ each other as good stewards.

According to a theologian, Helen, today’s text warns that people have lost that eternal perspective of who God is and who we are in relationship to God. Too easily many people separate life as it is now from life in the future kingdom. 

Somewhere in the middle of the faith journey many people stopped living for Christ. They stopped believing that Jesus died and was resurrected, and that life was made new. Somewhere along the way it became easy to serve all those demands of people and money. Somewhere along the way, the vision for God’s call became cloudy. Some people stopped hearing God’s voice and joined the worldly values. Some people forgot about living for something greater, and others buried heavenly treasures. Many people are ignoring Jesus’ warning that it is impossible to serve God and mammon. 

The larger the wealth gap in favour of a few, the more people are impoverished. We should choose to be more conscious in our daily transactions so that we contribute less to the pursuit of wealth for ourselves and others. The service of greed and creation of poverty and at the expense of equality and the justice and love of God are not God’s desires.

This is the crisis that Jesus addresses in his parable. God calls us to reclaim who we are and to renew our vision today for the kingdom of God beyond us and among us. The world values wealth and possessions, while kingdom living obeys God’s Word instead of the world’s worth. We cannot serve God and wealth. We are stewards of God. As good stewards, may we use what we have in light of our eternal relationship with God.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)