To Die for Riches

To Die for Riches

Lent 4

Ephesians 2:4-10 


There is an interesting case going on in the court system of New Hampshire right now. A woman won the Powerball jackpot in January. She won a 560 million dollar jackpot. After taxes and a lump sum payout, it comes to about $264 million. What is interesting about this woman is that she wants to remain anonymous. The riches that she is going to receive are great, but she is afraid of all of the terrible tales of people who have won the lottery before her. Having that kind of newly acquired wealth attracts a certain type of people that will try to take advantage of you. Some robbers, con-artists, destroyed relationships, have led many people to say that winning the lottery was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Just having all of the money doesn’t necessarily make your life better. You need the right kind of riches. You need to riches that Jesus died for so that you could have them. You need the incomparable riches of God’s mercy. Today we will see that “He died for riches.”


Our lesson in from Ephesians 2: 4-10


But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 


Rich is having an excess of something. It doesn’t just have to be cash rich- having money to burn on ridiculous things. There are many different types of rich. What we talk about soil is rich in nutrients, a perfect spot to plant a seed. We talk about a chocolate cake being extremely rich if the sugar content is through the roof. God is rich in mercy. Because of his great love for us. The Greek for this verse says “on account of his great love with which he loved us.” God is rich in mercy because of his great love for you. 


Love allows us to be merciful. It is what allows us not to enact justice even when we deserve to receive it. Because God loves you so very much. God shows you mercy. Instead of letting you remain dead in your sins, he made you alive with Christ. 


We need God’s mercy. Because we have not done what God wants us to do. We have trespassed against God. “No trespassing" is a clear concept. Do not cross this line. You are not welcome over here. Every once in a while in Northern Wisconsin I see in gas stations novelty signs  that instead of just saying “No Trespassing” it would say “No Trespassing, Trespassers will be shot on sight.” There is not only command but a very clear punishment given for disobeying that command. Our God tells us to be holy. Our God tells us not to sin. Our God gives us the ten commandments. And he says the wages of sin is death. If you sin- If you cross this line. You will die.  And we all do, we all cross the lines in the sand that God has drawn for us. 


By nature, we are born into sin. We are born not knowing God’s love for us. We need to be taught what God has done for you, what Jesus has done for you, what the Holy Spirit has done for you.  But even as we get older and many of us knowing what God’s will is for us, there are still times that we fall into the devil's traps. We are still the ones responsible for our actions. But, It’s scary when that happens. It’s scary when we know what we should do, We know what we want to do. We know what the best thing to do is. We still cross the line. 


When your dead your riches are pointless. There’s that old saying whoever dies with the most toys wins. But in reality, a Tempurpedic coffin doesn’t make death any more comfortable.  No matter what you accumulate in your life when we experience death those riches show their true value. They are nice for the years while you are here, but they aren’t going to last forever.  Things that are truly valuable last.


God made you alive in Christ. He raised you from death. He rescued you even when you were dead in your transgressions. Without a plea to him, without a favor promised to him, without some grand work promising your love. God made you alive because he loved you. Beyond that…. 



And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 


If you want to talk about riches and value. Let’s talk about what God is offering to you here today. God is offering the cure for death. I have seen quiet a few medical bill sin my day, and I am sure you have to. And never once have I seen a line item


Death cure………………………………………………………………………..     $0.00

Do you know why your doctor doesn’t give you a death cure? It’s because he doesn’t have it. For all of the money that we or our insurance companies pay to our doctors, or nurses or physical therapists, or hospitals, none of them have the cure for death. 119 dollars for a 10-minute visit, how much do you think they would charge for the cure of death. What Christ offers you is incomparable with what this world offers. 

What about peace How much would you pay for that. What is the value that you would attach to peace? Not having to worry about anything in this world. Not worrying about where the next meal is going to come from. Not having to worry about who is in control of the country. Not having to worry about who has what weapon. Not having to worry about if someone is going to forgive you. Not having to worry about if you are good enough to be loved. Not having to worry if you are going to be enough for your kids, or your spouse, or your job. Just being at peace because you know that your God is in control of all things and you are just following behind him. 

Is there a value that can be attached to that?  What would you give to be able to live your life without fear or worry because you know that someone is always going to take care of you? Someone far more powerful than you or anyone else in this world is in control of all things and every day he is thinking about you and the ways that he can show his love to you. 

This isn’t just for you. This is also something that you can pass on to your children and their children and their children’s children. Whether or not you realize it, your actions could affect many generations to come, whether or not they have this incredible wealth. And this is how it comes to you. 


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

 By Grace, which is love that God gives to us that is completely undeserved, through faith you are saved. You are saved from evil. You are saved from death. You are saved from worry. You are saved from the punishment that you deserve for every one of your sins. You are saved from guilt. 

There is an old saying that “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” There are plenty of people in this world that try to take advantage of other people. They will offer you the world, but there is always a catch. We will cut your cable bill in half to only $20 a year, for the first year, the second year it will be $150. It is good to read the fine print and have a healthy skepticism about anyone trying to sell us anything. But we aren’t selling anything here. This church doesn’t sell grace or love or Jesus or eternity; we just pass them out. I have an unlimited supply of death cure. I have an unlimited supply of life-changing perspective. I have an eternal guarantee on this that you can pass on to your children for generations to come. The value of these riches that God charges us nothing for is incompatible with anything that this world can or ever will be able to offer to you. 

And there is one reason that you and I can freely give to them every single person that will ever on this earth. It is because Jesus paid the highest price that he could. Jesus took a perfect life. A perfect life is what God demands to enter into his presence. He took that perfect life lived by someone that was not only true man but also true God. And he sacrificed it for you. He gave it up. He gave up the comforts of heaven, he gave up power, he gave up glory, he gave up honor, and instead, he suffered, and ultimately paid his life for you. There is an old Lutheran saying that your salvation is free, but it certainly wasn’t cheap. 

Now it is given to you. As a gift. And you don’t have to remain anonymous about it. It isn’t something that is going to destroy you. No one can try to steal it from you because you are giving it away. You are giving away God’s love. You are giving away God’s grace.  You are giving away God’s forgiveness. You are giving away God’s mercy when you are loving. When you are gracious. When you are merciful. When you are forgiving. And the rich keep getting richer. That love multiplies. That merciful increases. That forgiveness is contagious. And that is why he did it. That’s why he died. He died for riches. So that he could give them to you. So that you could give them to others. Amen.