St. John’s Baptist Church

Worship | Sundays @ 10:30am

Stewardship: Missional Harvest Seeds

The St. John’s Pulpit

St. John’s Baptist Church    300 Hawthorne Lane    Charlotte, NC 28204


Gospel of Matthew 13:24-30, 36-40 and 2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost, October 13, 2019

by Senior Minister, Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD 


This autumn, we are renewing our commitments in the St. John’s Church Covenant.

This is our fifth Sunday focused on the theme:



God’s Mission Is Our Mission

As my Father sent me, so send I you.”

(Jesus, in John 20:21)


Thus far, we have focused on our commitments to be God’s Covenant People, to be a Worshipping Church and to be Vocational Disciples and to be live as a Community of Faith. Today, we renew our commitment is to be Faithful Stewards.

“We will be faithful stewards, as God has prospered us, contributing our financial support for the Church and its ministries and offering ourselves for God’s work in the world.”

 Today, I call your attention to the stained-glass roundel window in our sanctuary which depicts the shock of harvested wheat. This roundel proclaims God’s promise to faithful stewards: if you are actively faithful in stewardship, the harvest will be plentiful and abundant.

In this hour, our worship of The Living God will unite our voices in singing, ‘God Whose Giving Knows No Ending,’ ‘A Farmer in the Field,’ ‘Lord, Thou Lovest a Cheerful Giver,’ and ‘God of the Fertile Fields.’ We will offer prayers, read and listen to scriptures, reflect on the meaning of Christian stewardship and present our tithes and offerings unto God for the work of God’s mission.

Let us begin our worship as our Handbell Choir presents ‘For the Beauty of the Earth,’ as their offering unto the Lord. FOLLOWING BELL CHOIR:

“As the family of the Church, please greet one another as a covenant community!”


The Good Samaritan was a bad economist.

At least, that is your perspective if you subscribe to the economic ideology of Adam Smith.

He was the original proponent of what is called Neo-classic economic theory.

This theory teaches that ‘self-interest is the key to economics.’

Neo-classicists say that all decisions and actions are based upon self-interests.

They also teach that, within the structure of a free market economy, actions based

on self-interest always produce an aggregate good – even without intention.

Of course, if you put your weight down on that side of the economic philosophy scale, you

are presented with a faith conundrum in your applications of Jesus’ teachings.

Emeritus Wake Forest University Professor of Economics, Donald Frey, is very interested in

economic morality. His writing invites us to consider whether we can subscribe to Adam

Smith’s economic philosophy and still follow Jesus Christ as Lord of our living.

Theologians point out that, while ‘self-interest’ is always part of the human condition, we

are also social beings. Our commitment to worship and to live in a relationship with God,

as followers of Jesus, names Jesus as Lord of our faith; we name him to be our authority

in how we perceive and order our lives. Our commitment to be obedient learners of

Jesus is a life of salvation. By following Jesus, we are being saved from a way of life

that is self-centered to the way of life that is God-centered. This is more than

economical, sociological or political theory; this is Christian theology.

Jesus’ taught that our treasures are placed alongside our desires.  

Jesus also taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth…

If we really make this prayer our desire, we use our resources to seek this treasure.

For followers of Jesus, economics is based on the treasure we name the Kingdom of God.

God’s economic philosophy places us in the role of the Good Samaritan.

As followers of Jesus, we invest our lives in loving one another and the needs of others.

We are stewards of more than money; we are stewards of God’s mission.

Please allow me to bestow upon you a pastoral affirmation. You are a generous people.

You take seriously this covenant commitment to be faithful stewards.

“We will be faithful stewards, as God has prospered us, contributing our financial support for the Church and its ministries and offering ourselves for God’s work in the world.”

Almost all of you give financial resources to support the life and ministries of St. John’s.

And, several of you are committed to growing in your giving. This is commendable.

I do have a challenge for you, as we move toward our centennial anniversary in 2022.

Let’s grow toward becoming a Tithing Church. A tithe is 10% of your income.

I do not encourage tithing – giving ten percent of your income to the church’s annual

financial ministry plan budget – because I believe it to be a legalistic directive of God.

Yet, tithing was a stewardship practice affirmed by Jesus; he expected it of his followers.

I do not think that tithing Christians go to heaven while non-tithing Christians go to hell.

Nor, do I believe that if you tithe you will become a millionaire. (Sorry)

However, I do believe that your sense of joy, fulfillment and closeness with God is affected

by your financial commitment to God’s Church and God’s mission for the world.

I also believe that tithing is God’s design for a financial plan for God’s mission in the world.

As we lay a foundation for our second century, I challenge us to become A Tithing Church. Future generations will be blessed and inspired by our example of financial stewardship.

Jesus said more about stewardship than he said about heaven or being born again.

One sixth of all Jesus’ teachings are related to stewardship.

Jesus spoke five times more about stewardship than he did about prayer.

One third of Jesus’ parables speak about stewardship.

We read one of Jesus’ stewardship parables today.

Jesus teaches us that good seed and weed seed grow together in the field of the world.

Children of the kingdom of God and children of self-centeredness live together.

We see evidence of extreme good and extreme evil alongside one another every day.

Like the farmhands in Jesus’ parable, we want to pluck up and remove the weeds.

Jesus teaches us to leave the evil; uprooting the weeds also damages the wheat.

However, Jesus also taught there is a day of reckoning in the future.

Since you have never been  Palestinian farmers, let me explain Jesus’ parable.

A common weed grew among the wheat; it was called ‘bearded darnel.’

It looked like wheat in the early stages of growth; but by the time you could distinguish it

from wheat, the underground root structures were so intertwined that to pull up the

bearded darnel would damage the wheat harvest.

One of the blessings of my journey was to be a friend of Dr. Alan Graves.

Alan was the father of Dr. Tom Graves, a former senior minister of St. John’s.

One day, as I sat on the front porch of Dr. Alan Graves, sipping iced tea, I explained to him a situation in the church I was serving as pastor. He told me about a stump in a field when he was a boy. He told me what his father had told him: “We let the stump stay. If there is life in the stump, it will show signs of good growth. If it is truly dead, it will decay from the inside out. To remove the stump will tear up too much good topsoil. It’s not worth it.”

Beloved, as followers of Jesus, let us continue the ministry of Jesus.

Let us tend to the planting, nurturing and harvesting of the good seed of God’s mission.

Yes, yes, the evil of self-centeredness is all around us.

And we cannot ignore it growing in our midst – even in our own lives.

Yet, we must not become so focused on the evil that we fail to plant, nurture and harvest

the efforts of God’s mission.


According to Jesus, God’s economic theory is very different from that of Adam Smith.

According to Jesus, God’s economic theory was practiced by the Good Samaritan.

According to Jesus, God’s economic theory incarnates the character of The Loving God.

From our earliest history, Christ’s Church has been confronted with the challenge God’s economic theory called actively faithful stewardship. The reading of this morning’s scroll letter, first heard by the Church in Corinth, tells of a time they were aware of the suffering being faced by the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem; the Mother Church of all the churches. Paul encouraged the Center City Church of Corinth to be generous in their financial stewardship as they expressed compassion toward Jerusalem. He challenged them to match the exemplary generosity of the Macedonians. He seemed a bit concerned that the Corinthians would not meet their capacity for actively faithful stewardship. If they pursued self-interest, they would sow stingy seed and live a stingy life; in other words, their giving would be more like bearded darnel than good seed. If their giving was motivated by compassionate generosity, their lives would be filled with compassionate generosity.

Paul was hoping the Corinthians were living under the authority of Jesus as Lord.

Their generosity should reflect God’s generosity; their compassion – God’s compassion.

Paul was encouraging them to live out the spirit and teachings of Jesus’ about stewardship.

He was doing what many pastoral persons have tried to do for centuries,


“We will be faithful stewards, as God has prospered us, contributing our financial support for the Church and its ministries and offering ourselves for God’s work in the world.”

God presents you with five options as to what you can do with your lives and resources:

You can waste your resources on trivial pursuits and self-interests;

You can spend your resources on trinkets and things that merely carry your resources away;

You can barter or trade your resources for gadgets and goods that add no value to your life;

You can give your resources to causes, organizations or institutions that do good work; or

You can invest your resources in the mission of God; the work of God’s kingdom.





After Aristotle Onassis died, his rich friends started asking, “How much did he leave?”

You know the answer. He left it all. He left everything.

According to Adam Smith, the Good Samaritan was a bad economist.

Maybe so; but he was an actively faithful steward of God.

The Good Samaritan invested his resources and himself in God’s work in the world.

He invested in God’s missional harvest seeds as a faithful steward.

May it be so with us! Amen and AMEN!