In this sermon, Rev. Murray warns his congregation against materialism. He reminds them that Jesus is number one, and that nothing besides Jesus is permanent. Rev. Murray also reminds his congregation not to let other people or things control their actions.
During his 27 years as the pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME), Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray transformed a small congregation into a megachurch that brought jobs, housing and corporate investment into South Los Angeles neighborhoods. After the 1992 civil unrest, FAME Renaissance, the economic development arm of the church, brought more than $400 million in investments to L.A.’s minority and low-income neighborhoods. Rev. Murray remains a vibrant force in the Los Angeles faith community through his leadership of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement.
The Murray Archive preserves Rev. Murray‘s sermons and interviews in order to inspire the next generation of pastors, activists and scholars.
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Following is a lightly edited transcript of the above sermon. To quote from the sermon, please provide credit to: Rev. Cecil L. Murray, Murray Archives, USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.
“Enough Is Enough”
December 12, 2000
So, help me God to see that giving is living. Everybody say, “I’m a giver!” Some of you didn’t say it because you don’t feel it. Everybody say, “I’m a giver, not a taker!”
So, help me God to see that giving is living, and when God gives to you, God gives you what you need. Somebody here can witness amen to that. When you didn’t have the rent money, where did it come from? When your loved one betrayed you and you didn’t want to wake up the next morning, but you’re here today, where did it come from? God gives you what you need, not what you want. What you need is something for your pathway. It may not be much. What you need is something for your pathway. What you want is everything for your pocket.
I never saw a dollar sign on a tombstone. I never saw a Brinks truck following a hearse. Don’t wait for a hearse to bring you to church. Don’t wait for a hearse to bring you to your common sense. Don’t wait for a hearse to give you the lecture, “You can’t take it with you.” The only thing you can take with you is yourself. Yourself. The church has always taught that what you give, you have. What you keep, you lose. Roman soldiers at the time of Jesus were going around, taking treasures everywhere they could find it, taking treasures. They come to the temple in Jerusalem and they say, “Give us your treasure now.”
The priest takes them outside where the orphans and the widows are being fed, where the sick are being healed, and where the homeless are being cared for, the poor are being cared for. Then the priest says, “These are our treasures.” Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there is your heart.” Let’s turn to the Sermon on the Mount. A portion of it. Matthew 6, page 750. Please use every pew Bible. Page 750, and the radio audience, Matthew 6. We’re going to be reading at verse 19. Just two verses here. Verse 19. Do you mind standing? Matthew 6, verse 19.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can erode away or may be stolen.” King James Version. “Lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth, rust doth corrupt, where thieves break through and steal. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in heaven, your heart will be there too.” Please take your seats. Take your seats.
Turn to your neighbor on your right and tell them, “Enough is enough.” Turn back to your neighbor on your left and tell them, “Enough is enough.” Tell them, tell each other, “Enough is enough.” Enough is enough. Jesus is here using that which all of us are familiar with—money–to make some vital points. Every sixth word Jesus spoke about in the New Testament is about money. You and I sometimes get obsessed with money. You and I just want more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, and the money begins to corrupt us. The more we get, the more we want. The more we want, the less we care about what we do. We just want more and we’re raising some kids now who don’t know how to eat oatmeal, no meal and miss meal. We just want more, more, more, more, more.
We get to Christmastime and you can’t afford it. Your kids ought to learn how to do with one toy when they can’t get two toys, two toys when they can’t get three toys. Stop with the more, more, more. Everybody say, “Enough is enough.” Enough is enough. Jesus reaches to the bottom of your bank account. Jesus reaches to the bottom of your bank account. Somebody will say, “He doesn’t have too far to reach with mine.”
Jesus is not trying to take it from you or you from it. Jesus is trying to make sure it doesn’t take you from yourself. Jesus is trying to make sure your treasure doesn’t take you from Him. Jesus, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. Can anybody here say that? Jesus, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. Now, some of us rub our clothes and say, “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” Some of us rub our cologne. “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” Some of us rub our checkbook. “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” Some of us look in the mirror and say, “Mirror, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” And Jesus is saying, “Don’t you ever let anything in this world be number one in your life except God. Don’t you ever tell anything, ‘You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.'” Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to me.
Jesus says as you read your Scripture at home, “Don’t call things glory. Don’t call anything in your life your glory.” You go out and step into your car. Don’t call that car your glory, because your glory may not start. Please forgive me if I get a little personal, sister, but when you find the right man, don’t call that man glory. He ain’t even the right man. The right man is Jesus. The right man is Jesus. The man you are hooked up with is Jesus. If he feels the same way, then you got a match. If he thinks he’s the number one man in your life, then you got a match, that you’re gonna strike it and it’s gonna burn you up.
If he don’t care about God, how could he care about you, brother? Brother? Brother? You don’t want to tie up with some sister who when she’s out with you is looking at another car or a man with some more expensive clothes or up there drooling over some brother who owns his own company. You don’t want her, let her go to the man who owns his own company. If she ain’t satisfied with you, with what you are and what you can be, then y’all ain’t never gonna make it. When is enough, enough?
You don’t call glory to anything material. Only God, to God do you say glory. It’s like when you go shopping, you want something permanent. You feel it. You pull at it. When you’re buying a car, you kick the tire. You know you can’t do no good kicking it, but you want to know, “Is it gonna last?” If that tire shoots out, then you’re going to another car. You want something permanent as you go through life. You want something permanent when you shop, and I want to tell you this morning, I know that you know that you know that the only thing permanent in this life is Jesus Christ, the Lord. The only thing you can count on is Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Jesus, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. Jesus is kind enough to give each of us a way to test what belongs to you, whether it’s permanent or not. Jesus said, “Now, you’ve got to live on Earth. I know that. I was a carpenter.” Paul says, “I was a tentmaker.” Peter, John, say, “We were fishermen.” You’ve got to earn a living on Earth, but you can’t let what you have, have you. You’ve got to understand there’s a life beyond Earth. You’ve got to understand that somewhere there’s a Heaven. How many of you believe in Heaven? How many of you here believe in Heaven? Look at that.
Then Jesus is saying, “You’ve got to act like it. You’ve got to lay up treasures in heaven.” He says, “Where neither moth nor rust have corrupted and where thieves don’t break through and steal.” So, he gives us those three tests. First, a moth. That which wears away, that a moth can get to. That which wears away. When you go home, look in your closet. Let Jesus walk with you. Jesus will go with you to your closet and ask you, “Is there anything in there that won’t wear away?” Your “Needless Markup” is in there. It’s going to wear away. It’s going to wear away as sure as you live. All them clothes came from France. They’re going to wear away. Them London clothes, they’re going to wear away.
In the time of Jesus and thousands of years before, a man valued his great belongings by his clothing, by his clothing. The brothers sure must come from them people, because the brothers sure like good clothes. Come on, brothers, and say amen. Yeah, when you all hug each other, brothers feeling there. Sisters the same way. They just love clothing and they valued their possessions by clothing. When you read Joshua 7:21, you will run across Amon. Amon was with God’s forces and they conquer Jericho. They march around the walls of Jericho how many times? Seven times, and the walls … They conquered Jericho. Then they go on east to the city of Ai.
There they can’t conquer that little city. They say, “We must be doing something wrong. God must have left us. Somebody here must be sinning.” So, they search and they search until they come across Achan. Oh, what has he done? He has taken all those valuable suits of clothing from Jericho and has taken them to Ai. When we agreed that everything in Jericho was to be sacrificed to God, he has taken what belongs to God and taken it for himself, so they take him out and stone him and then the walls of Ai come tumbling down.
Well, we’re not about stoning, but we don’t want to get stoned over what belongs to God. You and I don’t want to have moth corrupting what belongs to God. If you’ve got anything in your life that the moth can eat, you’ve got anything into your life that can be eaten away, that something is second to Jesus Christ, the Lord. Lay not up for yourselves treasures where moth can corrupt.
The second test is rust. We looked at what can wear away. Now we look at what can be eaten away, what can be eaten away. The ancient stored corn and grains in great granaries, in great buildings. They were rich when they had it, but they were constantly fighting worms and rice and rats. All of us know that problem.
What did the blues singer used to sing? [Singing]
A rat. A rat takes everything and gives nothing. There’s a rat in God’s house. Just takes everything that God has got. Take God’s food, God’s clothing, God’s shelter, God’s health, God’s singing. Come to church this morning and gonna shout and feel better. Get $200 worth of therapy and put a dollar in the offering tray. [Singing] Now, if you can live with a rat, you know what hell is. Jesus says, “You need to get rid of them rats, and more than that, you need to get rid of that attitude of you being a rat.” Things that can be eaten away.
Thirdly, the test is can it be stolen? Can your car be stolen? Can your clothes be stolen? Can your reputation be stolen? Hey, can your mate be stolen? Then don’t you put your hopes on anything that thieves can break through and steal. At the time of Jesus, we lived in red clay houses, baked clay houses, and the easiest thing was for a thief to bore a hole in that wall and to come through while you’re going, and they can take everything you got, so Jesus is saying, “Look here. Here’s your test. If it’s invisible, that’s permanent. If it’s visible, that’s not permanent.” Don’t you worry about them taking anything visible.
The same way they took it, God can give you something else, but don’t you let them take away your character. Don’t you let them take away your righteousness. Don’t you let them take away your eternal life. Those things are the invisible. Invisible will last forever. Slander. Slander crawls through that wall in your house. You have to be careful about what you do about slander.
When somebody’s scandalizing your name, brush it off. Shake it off because if you stand for something, the truth will come out in the end. People lied on Jesus. People lied on God. People gonna lie on you. Don’t you worry about somebody lying on you. You better mind how you talk. You better mind what you’re talking about. You’ve got to give an account in the judgment. You better mind. Just don’t you go out and talk about anybody else. Don’t you let anybody make out your agenda. You know what you stand for. Don’t you let a liar make out your agenda, a scandaler make out your agenda, a scandaler make out your agenda, a thief make out your agenda. Don’t even let the undertaker make out your agenda. Not the undertaker, but the upper-taker. Only God.
Everybody say out loud, “You can’t always have what you want!”
Congregation: You can’t always have what you want!
Please remember that. God will give you what you need. Some of you are just beginning your careers. Get this, there is no shortcut to success. Shortcuts end you up at county jail. Shortcuts make you end up needing a lawyer. Shortcuts make you end up needing an ambulance. Shortcuts make you end up needing a treatment program. Shortcuts. Shortcuts. Only rich folks can have a shortcut. Poor folks got to work, fight and pray for everything you have. There are no shortcuts.
If you’re supposed to be to work at seven o’clock, be there 10 minutes to 7:00. The boss don’t want to hear no excuses from you. “My car broke down.” Catch the bus. “Bus broke down on strike.” Walk. Ain’t no shortcuts. In school, you got to stay up late at night when everybody else is at the Laker game. You’ve got to be at your desk studying. You can’t have everything you want. You look at the sister and she got on $1,000 worth of clothes. If you can’t afford but $200 worth of clothes, you wear that and get yourself buffed out so that you can fit them clothes and them clothes ain’t just hanging on you. Ain’t nobody studying about them clothes no way. It’s what’s the character. There ain’t no shortcuts.
If by middle age, you’re comfortable in your income, you’re blessed. You ain’t gonna be rich at age 20. A few will, but most gonna have to plod, and then when you get it at 50 where you get comfortable, the cost of your house gonna be 30 percent higher. You better learn how to make do with what you got and don’t look at nobody else but Jesus. Drummer, little drummer boy, do it again. Give God what you got. That’s all he’s got. You understand? I’m here now. I can beat the drums. I’m gonna beat the drums for God. I’m gonna play the power of God. That’s what I have. That’s all I have. I’m gonna give God all I have.
God says, “I’ll give you health. I’ll give you a full-time job. I’ll give you a good wife. I’ll give you children. I’ll give you old age. I’ll give you a home. I’ll give you transportation, if you only give me your best.” Use what you have. I’m coming home.
I want to tell you about this little boy like the drummer, got up early. Lord, joyous, he was gonna make some pancakes for his mom and daddy. Goes in the kitchen and reaches up for the flour and it topples, covers him and spills on the floor. Then he reaches for the milk and he fumbles that and the milk ends up on the floor. And he ends up pouring the rest into the dish with the flour, and you can imagine what happens to the eggs when he tries to handle the eggs. Eggs all over the floor, all over him.
His father walks into the room and just looks, just looks. Then he goes over and picks up his son who is weeping. He wanted to do something good, and he just cradles him and rocks with him like the love of God. Even when we want to do well, we do poorly. Even when we want to do right, we do wrong. Even when we bring the very best we’ve got, it’s not up to snuff, but God is the best thing that ever happened to us. God is the only good thing, complete thing that ever happened to us. God will rock us in the cradle of the deep. God will say, “I’m so proud of you, my child.” Drummer, beat the drum again. Little drummer boy, thank you for giving me what you have.
Enough is enough until you can get some more. Thank you, Lord, for life. Thank you, Lord, for breath. Thank you, Lord, for health. Thank you, Lord.