“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
– Jesus, Luke 12:25
Author of Life and New Life
Free me from worry
Break the chains of dread
Loose the doors of perspective
So I may see your path of hope
Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath
Lord of the Sabbath
King of Glory
Lift up our face
We are bent
Bowed low in stature and spirit
So much is out of our control
So much we have brought upon ourselves
What can we see with our eyes on the dust?
You see our need
Your blessing twisted
Your word weaponized
Fear and Falsehood
Shame and Gatekeeping
Lord of the Sabbath
King of Glory
Lift up our face
Enter in with Your blessing
For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.
Oseola McCarty was born in Hattiesburg Mississippi in 1908, the child of rape. She was raised by her grandmother and aunt who were washerwomen. She joined them in the family business at age 8, learning to wash clothes by hand over an open fire. Oseola left school in the 6th grade to care for her beloved aunt and work full time. She never went back to school and served her neighbors as a washerwoman for 74 years. She never married, never had a child, and never owned a car. When it became possible for her to use a washing machine, she tried it and went back to handwashing clothes. The machine didn’t do as good of a job as she could.
As a child, she began putting some of her small earnings into savings. First, in her doll carriage and later in a savings account she opened herself. In time, she decided to establish a scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi with $150,000 she’d saved. She did this at a school that would not have admitted her in the days of segregation.
When asked why, Oseola said, “I’m too old to get an education but they can. I can’t do everything but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more.”
When asked how she accumulated that much money, she said, “It wasn’t hard. I didn’t buy things I didn’t need. The Lord helped me, and he’ll help you, too.”
“I start each day on my knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer. Then I get busy about my work,” McCarty told one interviewer. “You have to accept God the best way you know how and then He’ll show Himself to you. And the more you serve Him, the more able you are to serve Him.”
Look how powerful it can be for a follower of Jesus to be in right relationship with money. Think of the legacy she’s leaving, for future students and as a witness to faithful living. Oseola valued:
1. Hard, honest work
2. The meaningful connection between work, money, and faith
3. That work and managing money wisely are both a blessing, are good for us, are good for the community we live in, and good for the Kingdom of God
Now, look at our scripture for today, Luke 12:13-21. It is a cautionary tale, an example not to follow. The Rich Farmer/Fool’s relationship with money is a twisted trap, the opposite of Oseola’s relationship.
What do you see? Someone who is self-centered
Notice the repetition of the words I/my: 10 times in 3 verses
Doesn’t think about the common good
Literally has a conversation with himself with no regard for discussing plans with his family, business partners, a wise friend, or God
Doesn’t attribute his success to anyone else, including his employees or God
There are times when what our society values blends easily with the ways of Jesus. There are times when they bump against one another.
Our society values instant gratification
I can have everything I want and I can have it now
More, More, More Mine, Mine Mine
$$, Stuff, Consuming = happiness
This leads to spending as: a means of entertainment, a pick me up for a bad day, a way of self-medicating and denying hard realities, a way to look successful or “normal”
This leads to overspending, living beyond our means
Instead of using healthy debt as a tool, we feel crushed by debt, enslaved to debt
We experience the burden of too much stuff: how do I store it, care for it, protect it
Many live in constant stress because they are one paycheck away, one unexpected expense away from financial disaster. Many are setting aside little to nothing for emergencies, their future, or the work of God. God gets tips, rather than a tithe.
Oseola models a different way of living, a better way. John Wesley and the Bible’s thoughts on Money John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”
To put it another way, Hard Honest Work partners with Stewardship, the careful, farsighted management of money. The word for that is prudent, like Prudential Insurance.
As followers of Jesus, we believe none of it belongs to us. We are caretakers for God’s belongings to use as God would choose.
Jim Harnish puts it this way, “… everything we are and have is a gift from God. That is, the stuff I have—my money, my possessions, my talents, my body—are not my own. They belong to God, the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17 KJV). They are given to me by the God who trusts me to use everything I am and have in ways that are consistent with the will and way of God.”
2. Careful, Farsighted Money Management (Prudent)
Prudent is not prudish, cheap, stingy, or miserly. It wasn’t wise money management for rich Ebenezer Scrooge to only live in one room of his large house eating gruel every night just as much as it isn’t wise money management to be careless and wasteful like the Prodigal Son.
Be wise and face the facts of your financial situation. Take an honest inventory of what you earn and what you spend.
Chose to be a steward. Manage what God’s entrusted to you. Paying attention to it and direct it’s use making wise choices.
Embrace the good gifts of simplicity and thrift.
Eliminate unhealthy debt
Use the guide to establish a healthy, faithful budget
For followers of Christ, the tithe is an essential practice of faithful stewardship. We acknowledge it all already belongs to God. The tithe is to money what Sabbath is to work. In their practice, our words and actions and beliefs align. God, I trust you to provide. I trust you know what is best for me.
We remember Oseola’s testimony like we remember the widow at the treasure, the little boy giving Jesus his lunch, the woman with the costly jar of perfume anointing Jesus. They saved and used those savings as a lasting legacy. Think how we could be telling your story of faithfulness years from now.
Jim Harnish relates the following: I remember the first time I heard John Ortberg tell a story that later became the title of one of his best-selling books. It’s the story of the day he beat his grandmother in Monopoly. He said it happened at Marvin Gardens, where he wiped her off the board. His grandmother had taught him to play the game, and now he had outplayed her. As he relished his victory, she taught him a far more important lesson with these words: When the game is over, it all goes back in the box.18 All the money, properties, houses, and hotels he had acquired weren’t really his. They had been in the box before he played, and they would be there after he stopped. At the end of the day, it all goes back in the box.
Be a wise, faithful steward. Leave a testimony and a legacy.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.