The Balancing Act

 

(This is the third post and an exploration for January 2018 sermon series at Cheatham Memorial UMC, Click here for more information)

Success is more than just how we feel. What are the touchable parts of success and how do they link together? This will be a central part of the first of these January messages. These posts are my personal journey but can apply to anyone who to struggling to find success.

This Sunday is “Epiphany Sunday”, the last of the 12 days of Christmas and begins our quest to find success. This is the Sunday that we traditionally tell the story of the Magi and their three gifts to the Christ Child. The mysterious treasure of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The gold is easy to understand. This “metal of kings” is still a portable store of wealth and tradable for just about anything you want. Frankincense is not a western thing. In the orient, this incense. was a common item of worship. Owned by the rich, it is burned and produces both smoke and aroma that are a see-able gift to God. Myrrh is a fragrant oil, often used as a burial preparation, usually reserved for people with wealth. These were the best gifts for Jesus and the trappings of success.

My lesson is that of balance. Success is not just one thing. Scripture gives us clues through the gifts of these mysterious strangers.

  • Gold-life must have money in it. Money to keep things together, money to manage well and stretch its worth, money to share and help others. Monetary wealth is not inherently evil and poverty is not inherently spiritual. There are both wealthy and impoverished people in the Bible’s witness. The spirituality of money is more than accounting.
  • Frankincense-Life is worship. The successful life must express God. This is done through personal and corporate worship and brings strength and certainty. A life with churchy stuff but the absence of faith is empty too. Success stems from spiritual integrity.
  • Myrrh. Life includes death and all of its stuff is temporary. The successful life is an investment that grows and not merely a safe that holds the experiences and possessions that we acquire. Value on our things, possessions, experiences, or feelings, must be seen in light of their permanence. Salvation keeps death from defining life as failure.

Lesson for Success:  You are not successful simply because you got the promotion, built the house, earned the degree, married the girl, had the baby or got the really cool car.  You may feel successful for a moment but, without balance, you will come up empty and success will be false.  

Faith can make wealth and poverty, varying worship styles and doctrines, and qualities of life and death successful. Our plan must contain all of these three gifts bound by God’s Holy Spirit. This study is an exploration and must parse out the role of faith in success. The acquiring of success must include this trinity of things and concrete ways to express them.

More to come…..

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