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Hoarders in the Church

Have you ever watched those shows where family members try to help someone who has a problem with hoarding? It is sometimes unreal to see the things people pile up. And when I see those programs I am left thinking – couldn’t that person have shared some of that excess stuff with a person who actually needed it. I mean, come on, nobody really needs 24 can openers.

In the Bible we see the story of a person who was a hoarder of sorts. We find his story in Matthew 18: 21-35. This person didn’t hoard things, or even money. He hoarded grace. Interestingly the person enters the scene after having been called into court (so to speak) to pay a huge debt of money he had accumulated. A debt that he sadly could not pay. He couldn’t even make a dent in it. We are told he owed 10,000 talents. According to Biblical scholars, one talent was equal to 6,000 days wages. So we are talking here about 60,000,000 days’ wages. Working 5 days a week to pay it off, it would take him over 230,000 years! But miraculously, this man’s debt – a debt he couldn’t pay off in over 3,000 lifetimes – was wiped clean. Paid in full!

So with this guy having been given so much grace, it would stand to reason he would in turn be so full of grace that he’d pour it out on those he knew. Unfortunately this was not the case. Just minutes after he receives this windfall of grace, we find him throwing a friend in jail for owing him some money – a paltry 100 days wages compared to the 60,000,000 he just was cleared of owing. He was a grace hoarder!

So is this post about money? Not at all. Jesus used this scenario to drive a point home. And that point was this – those of us who have been forgiven must not hoard that forgiveness, refusing to love, to forgive, to extend grace. We should be so overwhelmingly transformed by the power of God’s grace that we overflow with it – that anyone who comes within ten feet of us gets inundated with a flood of the grace that just pours out of us. But sadly, that’s not the case. Too many in the church of today are just like this guy in the NT. They hoard grace. Sure, they expect God to forgive them, but forgive their neighbor? Never. Go out of their way to help a stranger? Not me. Be courteous, kind (dare I say, just a bare minimum of decent) in their interactions with others? With their enemies? Nope. And that’s the sad shape of it. All those unused can openers being wasted. All that grace – that so many desperately need – being (dare I say) wasted on folks who won’t share it. And we wonder why the church isn’t effective? Isn’t making the impact it did in the first century? Why the culture has gone to pot – it’s gone to pot because it needs God’s love poured into it – the love we are too often stockpiling inside our churches, inside our lives.

So, may we never forget the cost of our redemption – the very life of the sinless, eternal Son of God. A debt we could never in all of eternity repay. And may we never hoard that boundless, matchless, eternal grace, in effect stealing it from those who only need a small portion of it to point them to Christ!

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