In this video, Fr. Barnabas talks about how easily our possessions will start possessing us: “My possessions aren’t mine. Everything I have, everything you have and that includes your checkbook, belongs to God.”
Fr. Barnabas Powell is the parish priest at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming, GA. Follow his homilies on YouTube at Faith Encouraged TV. This sermon was delivered on October 2nd, 2022. Watch the full video here.
I walked and put my suitcase in my back and I looked at the rear passenger door… new car… and somebody had crinkled it… And I… how do I put this without getting in real trouble…
Later on I was amazed at how upset I was that some thing being damaged could steal that kind of peace from me, could make me that unhappy, could make me that upset, and I was upset, I was angry!
You see ladies and gentlemen, if you’re not attentive to your spiritual development, to your spiritual formation, if you don’t take seriously what Jesus says today: “lend expecting nothing in return”…
– Oh father, that’s a bad business model!
– Yeah, it is!
But so what? Are your possessions yours? Do you have the right to do this?
Our entire society has become heart sick and soul sick over this notion of this is mine and I can do anything I want. And yet ladies and gentlemen, if you do anything you want you become addicted to the things that you say you want: if they stop being desires and you actually have to do them. Ask any drug addict, ask any alcoholic, “I can quit anytime I want”, it’s not true! They’re a slave to the thing they started out saying “I can do anything I want”. If your character isn’t confronted with the message of Jesus Christ, your possessions will start possessing you, your car will possess you, your bank account will possess you, your house will possess you, your clothes will possess you instead of you possessing them.
If the spiritual confrontation with the challenging and radical message of Jesus Christ isn’t drawn deep inside your soul so that you are becoming a changed person, if that doesn’t happen to you brothers and sisters, trust me, in your spiritual life you will find places where “if that gets touched, I’m going to be really upset”.
How do you get free from that? Well, you listened to the message of Jesus Christ this morning: “if you love those who love you what credit is that to you? Isn’t that great credit.
If you love those what is your spiritual credit score by the way? Do you know it? No seriously, when was the last time you actually did a spiritual inventory on your own heart to find out what your spiritual credit score was. If you love those who only love you what credit is that to you? If you give expecting something in return, man even the Gentiles do that, those are the outsiders by the way… if you give expecting something in return, what credit is that to you?
Give expecting nothing in return! And then Jesus really goes off the rails and says: “and by, the way, love your enemies!”
Isn’t it interesting that this whole idea of spiritual credit has everything to do with your salvation and your spiritual health. Doesn’t have anything to do with getting goodies from God or God blessing me or anything like that, no, this is about you becoming a human being.
This is about you becoming what you were created to be in the first place: a person that is like God, acts this way, you love your enemies, you give expecting nothing in return, you share and you hold your life freely in your hands, you’re generous and your generosity looks like craziness to the people around you. How can you do that? Father, how can you afford that?
Well, number one folks, it has already been made very clear to me that my possessions aren’t mine especially since I ain’t carrying none of them with me. My possessions aren’t mine. Everything I have, everything you have and that includes your checkbook, belongs to God, folks.
At the graveside I guarantee you all your creditors are going to be without until they go through probate.
You’re not going to carry any of your wealth, physical wealth or any of your possessions into the hole.
If that doesn’t challenge your attitude and your actions right now and forms your character, if the message of Jesus Christ doesn’t form your character, trust me my angels, you are a sitting duck for addictions and selfishness and self-centeredness and a blind spiritual smallness that will always make you less than what you were created to be in the first place.
That’s your choice this morning. Step into the radical message of Christ and have your inside transformed, have your thinking transformed, your attitude transformed, formed to be like Jesus Christ. When that happens to you brothers and sisters, understand that’s the purpose of you practicing the faith, it isn’t to make you feel good, it’s to make you like Jesus Christ. Anything smaller than that and it’s just a hobby.
So will you accept the challenge this morning? Why don’t you sign up for your spiritual credit score? Keep tabs on it, find out what direction it’s going and allow the message of Jesus Christ the generosity of God to become your standard of how you live. Amen.