1 Corinthians 16:1-4

Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia. 2On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. 3And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem. 4If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.    (NRSV)

Proper 23B/Pentecost 20B       God’s Apple

The Church has been taking up a collection each week for almost two thousand years. Paul makes it clear that if Corinthian Christians are less than generous, he intends to pass the Corinthian collection plate around himself when he stops by on a future visit. Paul zeroed in on the stewardship of money.

God’s Word says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it,” and God’s Word also says, “that you must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts.”

God’s Word goes on to say, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”

And God’s Word also says,”Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.”

To the end that, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

And since we’re Lutheran, it’s good to know that Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.”

What does this mean?

It means your heart is wherever you put God’s money.

To this end—imagine that God gives you ten apples.

  1. One is for the mortgage or the rent.
  2. Two is for the car payment and car repair.
  3. Three is for the car insurance.
  4. Four is for the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
  5. Five is for the health insurance.
  6. Six is for the groceries.
  7. Seven is for the utility bill and household needs.
  8. Eight is for gasoline/diesel for the car.
  9. Nine is for clothing, plus health and beauty aids.
  10. And number ten is God’s apple—-God gives us ten—and asks that we hold back the tenth for God to be used for God’s purpose.

And so it goes that we have 9 apples to meet our needs and a tenth apple given by God to be given back to God as God directs.

The Hubby

But what happens when the hubby wants new tires for his pickup truck—tires more expensive than our apple designated for our car? Where will the money come from? It can’t come from these other apples because they’re spoken for? So what do we do? I’ll tell you what we do—–the hubs really wants that set o’ tires! So, take a bite out of God’s apple. God’ll never miss it!

The Wifey-Poo

It’s Valentine’s Day and the wife has had her eye on a new tennis bracelet—-and she needs it—-and since the hubby knows that every kiss begins with Kay, he has to get it for her. He just must! But the price is beyond the apple budgeted for household needs—and the other apples are spoken for—-but she needs that tennis bracelet—the one with the princess cut sapphires. So what’s a guy to do? I’ll tell you what he’ll do—–the wifey-poo needs that bracelet! So, take a bite out of God’s apple. It’s only stealing from God—take a big bite—‘cause that’s a pricey bracelet!

The Cute Kid

Sweet little Suzie got here because more than just a kiss began with Kay. And she has been a good child and she is so smart and she has daddy wrapped around her finger and although she was going to get his late model pickup truck with the snazzy tires for her sweet 16th she wants a Mercedes-Maybach S600——convertible if they make it. And mama and daddy kick the idea around, and both know she would be just fine with the truck, but that she’d be angry with ‘em about not getting the car—and since she only turns sixteen once—-she just has to have the S600. And since baby girl’s car costs more than the apple budgeted for car payments and repair, where can the parents go for the gold? I’ll tell you where they’ll go—-they’ll take a bite out of God’s golden delicious apple! Baby girl needs her car and it’s pricey, so take a few bites of God’s apple!

And while you’re at it—–

Take a bite for the Clemson season tickets package,

And a bite for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Concert series,

And snag a bite for Summer beach vacation!

Heck—-don’t stop there—take a bite for a new Sea-Doo to take along on that vacation, and once we’ve eaten some more of God’s apple by tricking out the Sea-Doo and living large we’ll give God what’s left.

Speaking of that—–what’s left for God?

Just the core——–God gives us ten apples, asks us to hold back one for God’s purposes—-and we give God the core.

Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I wonder when it comes to being Lord or Lady of the Checkbook, who clings to the title—-and is God at the core?

(Grateful to Pr. George Rushe, my field church pastor of years ago, who taught me the apple example.)