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'The Treasure Chest'



I need not remind you how important it is to keep Christians from tithing and giving generously. 

Resources: Sermon

A Letter from the Devil

By the Rev. Ken Wyneken

Our enemy is sly, but he's also careless. Sometimes he slips up.

This past week, the devil read our Sunday bulletin and noticed our emphasis on having "a heart change." If there's one thing the Devil doesn't want, it's a congregation with a strong, expanding heart. He much prefers a tight, constricted, narrow heart. So when he found out we were going to be dealing with money and stewardship in 2002, he faxed a letter to his Bourbonnais town office on 666 Main Street. The letter was intended for his field rep who covers King of King's Lutheran Church, but when he went to fax the letter, he slipped up. He mis-dialed. And the letter came to our church office. And so, courtesy of our enemy's carelessness, here is the letter he sent, a fax, from Satan himself . . .

Text From Fax

Dear D.T., (Devil-in-Training)

Received your emergency message on the Undernet Wednesday evening. I wasn't surprised. Your handling of the King of King's account has made your name mud in the lower region. Our losses there have been horrendous. The church has made quite a dent in our clientele and plans. Need I remind you that most of your peers are leading people astray and hardening hearts? This doesn't look good on your permanent record. Here are some of my comments to help you fix this bad situation:

First of all, remember that tithing is evidence of a restored relationship to God! As I understand it, the preacher at King of King's is starting the year by emphasizing a "heart" change and taking about stewardship of time and money. Let me explain to you what we're up against.

A long time ago the Creator crafted a luscious garden and put our clients in it. He gave them everything they needed and he gave them the run of the place, except for one tree in the center of the garden. It wasn't that the Creator was selfish about this tree; He just wanted it to stand for respect. The tree became a test of the relationship between God and humankind. That's where I came in. Forgive my humility, but my plan was brilliant. I was able to deceive the woman and then the man. First, I made them think that the Creator was holding out on them. Then, I convinced them that nothing would happen if they raided the Creator's tree. It worked! I just love it when a plan comes together. So they raided His tree because they cared more about controlling things than about having a trusting relationship with You-know-who. He would have given them everything He had-apples, branches, trunk and all-but He knew that greedy hearts had no room for honor. And so just as I planned, the relationship was broken. Well, ever since then, they've been easy pickings! As you know, D.T., most of them are still raiding His tree, pocketing His tithe, controlling their turf, and defending their stuff. What this no good preacher is attempting to do is help them to restore the relationship with You-know-who, to honor their Creator, and to give the tithe as an act of trust and respect. Remember as an employee of Satan Inc., you have many great tactics to stop stewardship! It is imperative that you put as many roadblocks as you can in their way. Here are several proven strategies to keeping them for their goal:

  1. Scotchguard their hearts with any excuse to keep truth from penetrating. Make them think, "It's my money and you're not gonna' get it!" As long as they think it's theirs and somebody's trying to manipulate them, we're home free. Don't let them figure out the money never really was theirs-just on loan for a few years from You-Know-Who. If they ever recognize how kind You-Know-Who has been to them, it will soften their hearts and I hate to think what might happen. As we both know, the only thing that makes a person generous over the long haul is a fully devoted heart to You-Know-Who.
  2. Make sure most of the prospects hear the sermon against the backdrop of financial pressure. Assure them they can't afford to give. There's something sanctimonious in getting them to say, "If I only could afford to, I'd gladly tithe." Once again, you know the routine:
    bulletMake them worry about their jobs.
    bulletHelp them spend more than they should. Work those Visa cards!
    bulletMake their kids' teeth crooked.
    bulletBreak their washing machine or car transmission.
    bulletRemind them they're saving for their kids college education.
  3. Don't dare let them even consider tithing to You-know-who as the first step of obedience toward getting out of debt. Let them stay in charge. If they tithe, they bring You-know-who into the picture, and we know what that means. It's a hard habit to break because it stretches the heart to be generous.
  4. D.T., if it looks like they're leaning towards generosity, give them a reason not to give to this particular church. Any excuse will do. Amazing when it isn't in the heart to give how flimsy the excuses can be. Feel free to use anything within your power:
    bulletthe way somebody looks at them
    bullettheir kid didn't get a leading part in the Christmas musical
    bulletsomething the preacher said
    bulletthe drummer, or better yet, that movin' guitar player
  5. Bring up those issues. Keep them arguing and discussing so they won't reach for their checkbooks. I love to see them argue the finer points of the law. I hate to see them get serious. My favorite issues (in descending order, of course):
    bulletIs it gross or net income?
    bulletTithing is outdated, just an Old Testament law.
    bulletWhat's the storehouse anyway?
    bulletI tithe my time.

Reel 'em back, D.T.; reel 'em back. And be sure to sit on those who declare that 90% with God on their side is better than 100% without God. Put a sock in it. Don't let that word get out.

Well, D.T., that just about does it. Good luck this Sunday. I'm expecting a lot from you, but you've got plenty of weapons in your arsenal: greed excuses bad theology flabby hearts

Fight hard. You're up against the gospel, and we both know the power it holds. I need not remind you how important it is to keep Christians from tithing and giving generously. If you lose this one, you might be in for a transfer to somewhere much, much warmer.


So ? how is your heart doing?

 The Rev. Ken Wyneken is pastor of King of Kings Lutheran Church, LCMS, Renton, Wash. He preached  this stewardship sermon in January 2002, adapting the idea from another source.