Priceless

 

By Pastor Michael Cofer
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 10

The first few years of our marriage, Alisha and I moved a lot.  Like, 5 moves in the first 4 years.  And as many of you are probably aware, moving a lot encourage you to sort out what’s valuable and what isn’t.

Now we’ve been in the same house for 8 years… and over time you start to accumulate stuff.  So now, it’s requires an effort of will to decide to get rid of stuff.  Getting rid of stuff can feel really good.  It makes the house feel bigger and at the same time more manageable.  And there’s this air of enlightenment that you get when you unburden yourself from a meaningful amount of stuff.

But the actual sorting and disposal can be tough.  I mean, some things are obviously trash… and those are easily disposed of.  The next category is, “Honey… do you know what this is?”  That probably takes the most time.  And then there’s the, “These are really nice… but we don’t actually use them” category.  Above that are the “keepers.”  “Keepers” tend to be items in fairly good condition that you are either currently using or intend in good faith to use in the future.

And above the “keepers,” are the “priceless” things.  Now, when somebody says “priceless,” maybe what comes to mind is something too expensive for you to afford.  Like a priceless work of art, or a priceless antique.  But that stuff goes on auction all the time… and it turns out, you can assign a price to it.

“Priceless” is different.  Priceless stuff means more than any amount of money.  Priceless stuff is stuff you genuinely love and would never trade away… although, one day you might pass it along to someone you love.  And when you do, you hope they’ll love it too.

I don’t think I have a lot of priceless stuff in my house.  But there are a few things.  The hat Sam wore the day he was born.  The flag that was presented at Alisha’s grandfather’s graveside.  My mom’s Bible.  It’s stuff that no auctioneer or collector would ever be interested in – but to me they’re priceless treasures.

I don’t know what you have at home that’s priceless.  But we share some treasures that are.  We have the unfailing, unwavering, eternal love of our Heavenly Father.  We have the assurance of eternal life.  We have the freedom and joy that comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven, and now we can stand unashamed before Almighty God.  We have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and that means we are never, ever alone.

I wouldn’t trade those treasures for anything.  They are priceless to me.

But they weren’t free to God.  There was an unthinkably high cost to Him.  He gave His only begotten Son to face rejection, ridicule, abuse and death to give you these treasures.  Which is why you could never buy them.  What could you possibly give to God that would rival the value of His Son’s life?  Any offer would be an insult.

And yet, He bought these treasures specifically so that you could have them.  So He gives them to you freely – not because they are cheap but because they are priceless.  When you needed it most and when you deserved it least, God gave His grace to you.

Last week we talked a lot about making disciples… and I didn’t talk too much about evangelism specifically beyond mentioning that it’s a part of it.  Today’s text addresses evangelism more directly, and so I will too.

From the outset, it’s worth recognizing that these were not “fully formed” disciples.  Jesus hadn’t even been to the cross yet.  They were theologically pretty green and they couldn’t even point to the resurrection yet.  But they had met Jesus and He sent them out – and that, in reality, is enough.

And I mean that literally.  Jesus stripped them of almost every worldly resource before sending them out because He knew they would be most effective and their message would be most clear if they were wholly dependent on God.  These guys may not have even been particularly talented “public speakers.”  They’re blue-collar dudes from backwater Galilee.

But they received from Jesus priceless treasures: the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, the good news of God’s kingdom, the call to follow Christ and be a part of the most important life-saving mission in all of human history.  So as Jesus is sending them out, He frames the work that they are going to do with this simple statement: Freely you have received, freely give.

I think if we take these 5 words to heart, it will have a huge impact on the life of this church.

It should soften our hearts toward the people around us.  I think we get that we don’t deserve God’s love – and that God didn’t wait for us to get our acts together before He’d love and forgive us.  Well, if that’s how we received Christ, what should our message to the folks still lost in their sin be?  “As soon as you get cleaned up like me, you can be part of my church.” “As soon as you are less of a sinner, God will love you a lot more.” God didn’t say that to us, why would we ever act that way to someone else?

Maybe you’re good with that… but you don’t think you’ve been gifted as an evangelist.  “I get tongue-tied… I don’t know what to say… I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of person.”  I’m not saying that God is calling you to step into the pulpit… but you do have the gifts you need to do this.

See, God isn’t calling you to give away anything He hasn’t given you.  But what He has given you, He does expect you to give away. The grace and forgiveness He shows to you, He expects you to show to others.  The hope that He gives you, He expects you to share with others.  The love He shows you, He expects you to reflect in your life.

This isn’t about memorizing scripts or walking people through a carefully curated list of Bible verses or passing out tracts or even necessarily inviting someone to church.  The call to evangelize is nothing more complicated than accepting the priceless gifts of God for what they truly are, and then passing them along to the next person.

Freely we have received.  Freely we can give.

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