I Chronicles 29:1-18
Luke 12:13-21

A fellow was riding a bus when he suddenly realized he needed to pass gas. The music was really loud, so he decided to decrepitate with the beat. After a couple of songs, he felt better much as he approached his stop. As he was leaving the bus, people were really giving him the stink eye. And that’s when it hit him; the music he’s been tooting to is coming through his own ear-buds.

You could say that he needed to brush up on his ‘SA’; Situational Awareness.

The term ‘Situational Awareness,’ simply knowing what is going on around you, was coined first during the Korean War as it concerned aircraft and naval vessels. But it began to make its way into our everyday vernacular about 10 years ago as it concerns the ability to survive in an emergency situation. Today the term now includes Cyber SA, Emergency Response SA, Healthcare SA, Nursing SA, Plant Management SA, and so on.

It seems to me the term Situational Awareness can be adopted for use in the church as it regards our spiritual lives. For us to faithfully live as Jesus wishes us to, requires a sense of SA. This can be applied to many aspects of our life with God. Two weeks ago, I didn’t mention Situational Awareness, but it was implied as we talked about avoiding temptation. Last Wednesday, the Senior’s watched a video that reminded us that no matter how bad things might become, Situational Awareness remind us that God is closer than we think.

However today, I want to apply SA to Christian stewardship; that is our use of our resources, possessions and particularly money. If we are going to be faithful to God in this regard, then it is imperative that we are Situationally Aware.

And for us to be Situationally Aware as it concerns our use of money, we must come to grips with the Bible fact that GOD OWNS IT ALL!

Everything that you and I have accumulated over the years and that now populates our homes, garages, attics, storage buildings and our banks accounts really, according to the Bible, belongs to God.

Now I know this is a tough pill to swallow because all of our lives have been invested in going to school to get an education that would prepare us for the working world for the purpose of being able to receive remunerations that would then enable us to buy primarily food, clothing and shelter. In addition, because our society is so affluent, we in America can also trade money for transportation, vacationing, entertainment, and literally millions of things available in box stores or on-line.

The danger is that when we trade money for goods and services, we get this self-satisfied feeling that all of our hard work has paid off and now we own everything we have.

When we fall into that trap, we resemble the man in the story Jesus told, a man who was certainly not Situationally Aware. If he had been, he would have known what David prayed:

Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion, people are made great and given strength. “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. “O Lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you! (I Chronicles 29:12-16).

And where did David ever come up with that? I don’t know, maybe Moses? In Chapter 8 of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is giving his farewell address before the people of Israel head across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. And in part of that sermon, Moses says:

Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, … He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful (Deuteronomy 8:11b-14a, 17-18a).

But the man in Jesus story forgot, if indeed he was ever aware, of what Moses and David had said. He forgot that God was responsible for everything he had. He chose to ignore that God said, “Do not become proud at that time, (when you accumulate wealth) and forget the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:14). In other words, he had lost Situational Awareness. And when he did, indeed, his pride took over: “And I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink and be merry!’” (Luke 12:19).

He had what we might call ‘Bigger Barn Syndrome.’

In the 1960s Jim Knuppe was building apartments around San Francisco. Apartments are cramped and usually do not have garages, and he noticed his renters were frustrated by the lack of space for all their stuff. As he looked into it, he realized renters weren’t the only ones with a problem. Most Americans were acquiring more possessions than their homes could hold. So in 1970, he purchased a small piece of land in Alameda and built California’s first Self-Storage Facility. People in California told Jim Knuppe he was nuts.

They said, ‘Who will ever pay money just to use a 10×10 space to store stuff?’ But in just a few weeks he rented out all the units he owned, so he opened another in Berkley, then San Pablo, then Foster City. Soon Mr. Knuppe owned hundreds of storage units up and down the coast. He made millions simply giving people a place to store their stuff. 1

Today the self-storage business is big business, generating more than $24 billion in revenues in 2014. The Wall Street Journal says it is recession proof business. 2

The late comedian George Carlin had a routine: “You know what the whole meaning of life is? Trying to find a place for your stuff. That’s all your house is; a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff. Sometimes you’ve got to move, you’ve got to get a bigger house. Why? Too much stuff!”

Sure enough, we Americans are not filling our houses with people. In 1950, the average home size was 983 square feet and 3.37 people lived in it. 2009, the average home’s square footage ballooned to 2,700 with only 2.57 people. In other words, in 59 years, the average American home grew by 175% while the average family size shrunk by 24%. 3

Bigger barn syndrome. It strikes people who have lost Situational Awareness with God and rather than ascribe rightful ownership of all we have to God we claim it all for ourselves!

But Jesus said, “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:21).

Am I saying that it is wrong to buy or build a larger house that we now own? I am not saying that at all. As long as we accept that everything is a gift from God and we are responding to His invitation to handle His money in His way, have at it!

Those who are spiritually Situational Aware of their surroundings not only accept, but also live by the truth that the One who created the universe also owns it all.

Faithful Christian stewardship begins right there! God owns everything. And since He does, He is allowing us to play with some of His stuff.

It is only when we accept this Situational Awareness in this regard that we will be enabled to give to God’s Kingdom, through His church faithfully, generously, consistently, proportionately and cheerfully.

Dutchcraft Furniture Store is located in Berlin in Amish Country. I was there this past Tuesday ordering a hand built oak cabinet for the church. I had dealt with Gary Yoder as Gail and I purchased a dining room table and chairs from Dutchcraft and we had it stripped and resealed last year. Gary was filling out the paperwork for our transaction, and I asked, “Gary, are you the owner of this store?” And Gary said, “No, I am not.” And just when I expected him to say that his colleague, Reuben, was the owner, he said, “God owns this business.” And he continued, “Randy, every evening when I gather my family for dinner, we always give thanks to God for all He has done for us in Jesus and for allowing us to use this business so that I can provide for the needs of my family.”
I said, “Gary, can I quote you on that this Sunday?”
And he said, “I would be honored.”

Yes, God owns it all; and that even includes you and I.

In his letter to the Corinthians (the first one), Paul is helping his readers become more Situationally Aware when he writes: “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price” (1 Cor 6:19b-20a).

To illustrate the truth that the Christian’s body is no longer their own, Pastor and Author Ray Ortlund writes:

I try to drive very carefully. But when I happen to borrow a friend’s car, I drive very carefully. I don’t want to damage the property of a friend and return it all banged up.

Even so, our bodies are the personal property of someone else (God). The only way we could say, ‘Who does He think He is, telling me what to do with my body and my possessions is by not belonging to Him at all.’”

But none of us would say that. Our Situational Awareness tells us do belong to Him. And we agree, don’t we, with the 3rd verse of the Psalm we opened with today? We “acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

We have been bought by God with a price! What was that price? According to Peter in his first letter, we have been bought “with the precious blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:19).

Isn’t that amazing? Jesus bought and paid for us with His own blood. “Jesus, I adore You, lay my life before You, how I love You.”

1 Adapted from Palmer Chinchen, The Barefoot Tribe (Howard Books, 2014), page 168

2 Through America’s Love Affair With Stuff (Chicago Review Press, 2016)

1 Ted Scofield, “Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 3: How Much Is Too Much?” Mockingbird (8-11-15)

4 Ray Ortlund, Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel (Crossway, 2016), page 90; Submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky