ADVENT 1, A – December 1, 2013

SCRIPTURES – Ps. 118; Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matt. 21:1-11 



Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Rom. 13:8-10 


Every now and then someone proclaims that he has discovered some new teaching or principle in the Bible. It had been there all along but was hidden within and behind its words, just waiting to be discovered and put to use. Such is the case with an advertisement I’ve been hearing lately. “There’s a money code hidden in the Bible!” it says. If you learn this Biblical money code and follow it, it will help you to invest your money wisely and make substantial profits. You can not only become richer; you can be a greater blessing to others! You can be sure of this, the ad says, because this code was discovered by a man who formerly was a pastor; and you can trust a pastor!

Boy, isn’t this good timing! We sure could use a Biblical money code right now. After all, the economy’s been bad for quite a while; and here we are in the Christmas shopping season again. Yes, we sure could use more money right now –– to enable us to be a greater blessing to others, of course! Thank you, former pastor Sean Hyman, for using your wisdom and theological insight to discover the Biblical money code and uncover for us the way to godly wealth!

If I sound skeptical… I am. No, I am more than skeptical. I out and out reject this. How can one who once devoted himself to serving God as a pastor think that God’s desire is to bless us with worldly wealth? Did he not see how Jesus, who more than anyone else devoted Himself completely to following God and honoring Him with His life and with all that He had, was utterly unconcerned with attaining wealth and honor? When He did speak of it, He warned of the desire for it and the false security it gives. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21)

Now, God is concerned with our lives on this earth. He gave us our lives, after all, and gave His Son into our sin and death to redeem our lives and make us His children who live under His care, now and forever. God the Holy Spirit also inspired the prophets and apostles to write down His words, not only that we might know God as our Father in Christ but also know how we are to live our lives as His people and be a blessing to others. But, He didn’t hide this information in some code. He made it plain and clear for all to hear and learn. In his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul sums up very plainly and clearly for us how God wants us to live:
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Love each other. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the wealth God has given you as His people in Christ. Sharing it is how you will be a blessing in this life.

So much for shopping and maxing out credit cards and going into debt! So much for focusing on money at all, whether it be the spending of it or the saving and investing and increasing of it. God doesn’t want you to focus on getting and receiving, but on giving! And, He wants you to focus less on the giving of things and more on the giving of yourself.

Give out what you have received in Jesus: that is the message of this 1st Sunday in Advent. What have you received? “Your King comes to you; righteous and having salvation!” Our God and King Jesus comes in humility and gentleness, not with power and in judgment. He comes with the forgiveness of your every sin, which He gained for you by His own life, death and resurrection for you. He comes with God’s full and complete and endless love for you. Whether you have worldly wealth or not, you are fabulously wealthy in Christ! You have the love and mercy and abiding presence of God with you as your Father! Give out this gift of love that you have received.

You will have plenty of opportunities to do so in this Advent season. Advent is a time of preparing for the coming of Christ through repentance: the confessing of our sins and receiving of forgiveness, and the turning to God’s Word for His good direction for our lives. Our society knows little of this, of course. There’s no Advent season in our society, but only the desire for Christmas, with its wants and desires and yearnings and frustrations. The preparations for Christmas that are urged upon us serve to feed our own desires, or bring to the fore our sinful pride when we claim to be above this!

God says to love one another. You don’t have to go to some special place or take part in some special event to do this. Every day, at home or at work – and even at church! – you’ll have opportunities to do this. 

  • To love and forgive others as God has loved and forgiven you in Christ: before asked to do so, and without bringing your sins up again. As you freely forgive and don’t hold grudges or talk about what someone did to you, you show God’s love in Christ. 
  • To be content with what you have and not yearn for the best TV or the most stylish shoes. “You shall not covet,” God says. Contentment is His gift!

So much more could be said, so many more examples given. But, if you are glad of Christ’s love for you and love Him in return, you don’t need examples. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor.” It only does right. “Therefore, love is the fulfilling of the Law.”

God has shown the riches of His love for us so clearly in Christ! The love He bestows on us every day is never-ending. And, “Behold, Your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation!” We have a glorious day to look forward to, a day when Christ returns from heaven and His love is seen and felt and fills us! Look forward to that Day by living in His love and living His love, showing it forth and sharing it. This is the message of Advent, the preparation that should fill these December days; to the praise and honor of Jesus, our coming King!