Giving

May 11, 2014  Matthew 6:19 – 34   Money and Possessions   

 

    I want to continue the topic this week on giving.   As I think of mother’s day I certainly know that most mothers and all good mothers give and they give a lot so I think it is a topic that fits well with mother’s day.   If you do not want to sacrifice your life then do not have children.     It is rewarding but children are lot of work.  

    I want to start with a story today that happened to a pastor friend of mine in the last few weeks.   This man is married and lives on a very tight budget.  He owes on a vehicle and has bills that he struggles to pay.   One day about a month ago he was given some money.  It was a wad of cash and it started with several 1 dollar bills and he thought well I was given a few dollars but as he unrolled the wad he began to see some bigger bills.      The cash added up to over 900.00 dollars.   He was telling me about it and I said well you can use that money.   He could give 10% of it and use the 90% for bills and needed things plus he has a vacation this month and did not have all the needed money for the trip.  Boy what would you do if you got an extra 900+ dollars?   He said my wife and I prayed about it and we decided to give 90% of it and keep 10 % for ourselves.  We are thinking of some folks who have some needs. 

     Well end of story right?   Some folks would say that is pretty stupid give away 90 % and only keep 10%.   That does not make any sense or does it make sense.   Last week he gets a call from a friend of his and the caller ask him if he was home and he said yes.  Then he ask if he could come over and so the pastor said is everything OK?   Can I help you and the caller said I am coming by.   In a few minutes he called again and ask if the pastor could come outside.   When he went outside his friend had a 1300CC motor cycle and he said I wanted to sell this but God told me to give it to you.  It is in very good shape and it is worth 4 to 5K dollars.   My pastor friend loves to ride motor cycles with his wife and it was twice the size of his old bike. 

     Howard Dayton said in a leadership magazine issue that 1 out of 10 verses in the gospels speak on the subject of money.   Jesus taught on money a lot.   He says the bible offers 500 verses on prayer and less than 500 verses on faith but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.   He also states that 16 of the 38 parables are concerned with how to handle money and possessions.   Another source said 2/3 of the parables deal with that topic.   It is very important and it needs to be preached on. 

    In Haggai 1we read the following.     Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”    Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.    You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”   This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.     Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.    “You expected much, but see it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.  Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.    I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands. 

      God says I oppose you.  I am standing in your way.  I am against you.  I will not bless you until you deal with this issue.  Isn’t that what he is saying here?    Do you think that God is against his people sometimes?   If you had a child that you loved with all your heart and they were doing something that really bad what would you do?   I will guarantee that you would be involved.    Would you resist them and be in their face.   God loves you perfectly with an infinite love.   God wants us to grow in our walk with him.  God can be very persistent when there are things in our life that are not right.   What good would God be if God was not involved in people’s lives?   What kind of a god would he be if he ignored people? 

     People love money.   I Timothy tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil.  I know a man right now who wants to preach and he is in debt.  He has made some bad financial decisions and now he has to deal with it.   Many people have over spent.  We all know that money can go through a person’s hands so fast.   Many Americans are not good at saving and many Americans live from check to check without thinking about what are we going to do when things get tighter.   I can warn people and some see me as negative and some would not like the warning.  It is your friend who tells you your house is on fire.  Proverbs 22:3 says a prudent man sees the danger and takes refuge but the simple keep going and suffer for it.  A prudent or wise man sees something and considers it.   He ponders it and thinks about it.  Then he makes some tough decisions and changes how he is living. 

     I just watched Thursday night a documentary on what would happen in the world if America pulled all of our troop’s home from the world.  It is amazing what would happen with China and North Korea, and in Europe, and in the Middle East and in Africa.  These leaders and dictators and countries are greedy.    If or when America falls the wars and killing around the world would be horrendous.  Chaos, war, ethnic cleansing and starvation would happen overnight.  We are talking about Revelation type of struggle and suffering here.   The documentary said that Sadaam wanted to take over Kuwait Saudi Arabia and control 40% of the world’s oil from 3 countries.   The greedy little bugger.  China used to export oil and now they import.    Japan and Europe are huge importers of oil and their economies are dead without it.  . 

     Jesus in this passage tells us to store up treasures in heaven.   Jesus tells you that for your good.   God looks out for us and is interested in your best good.  Mom’s I would tell you today that as you change that diaper and you pray for that child that you lay up for yourself treasure s in heaven.   When you talk to and encourage that child and share God’s word with them you lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.   I would say today that you hold the most important position in the whole world.  The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.  Your work and your walk with God are so important.  Those precious kids are the future of the nation.   Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. 

    There has been a lot of concern and talk about losing our children from church.   Why do many Christian children turn from God when they become adults?    What do we teach our children about God by our actions?   Do our children learn that they must sacrifice to God?   What do parents teach their children when they pull them out of church for sports or recreation?     Does that tell them that sports or recreation trump God?   Do we unwittingly send a message to children that God is not worth sacrifice?     Do you go to church on Sunday or to the sports activity?     Do you deny your kids sports?   Many parents say no.  Sports are the most important thing.  These are tough decisions.   I believe that some families have their own personal worship time at home but for many I believe that nothing is done. 

     Is church important?   Is corporate worship important?  Are we laying up treasures in heaven?   Many Christian kids go to lots of school activities but do nothing extra for God – no evening of bible study or worship.  Many have never really sacrificed anything for God by the time they are adults and what does God then mean to them.     I know this is not popular to talk about but I fear we are filling our kids with secular stuff and not God stuff.    Parents you teach your kids.  Moses told the Israelites to write God’s word’s around them and talk about God’s words.  In verse 33 Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.    Seek Jesus first.  If you put Jesus first with your kids God will bless you.  Perhaps some of us have not done that and now they are adults.   God can use your prayers for them but it can be a long and difficult road. 

    Then Jesus tells us that where your treasure is there is where your heart will be also.   For many Americans their heart is in the bank or in their stuff.     In one poll said Americans said the biggest problem in America is financial bondage.   What exactly is financial bondage?   As we look in the Bible, it becomes obvious that excessive debt led to bondage.

         In America people are experiencing mental and physical aspects of financial bondage.   I think it was Crown Financial ministries that put the following list together of symptoms of financial bondage.   Overdue Bills: - Investment Worries: - . A Get-Rich-Quick Attitude: Prosperity foolishness. -  No Gainful Employment: - Deceitfulness: - Greediness: - Covetousness: - Family Needs Unmet: - Unmet Christian Needs: - Over commitment to Work:-  Money Entanglements:  - Financial Unfairness: - Lack of Commitment to God’s Work -  Financial superiority: -.and Financial resentment.   It is too bad that in the richest nation in the world we see ourselves in financial bondage.  Some of us may be in financial bondage.   That is not God’s plan for you.    

        We’ve all heard the expression “Money Talks.”   What is it saying to you?   Have you ever listened to what it says?   What does money say to you?    The fool said I will tear down my barns and build bigger barns and God said no you will not.   As someone has said, “Money is a wonderful servant, but a lousy master.”   You can be a slave to money.   You can be in bondage to money.   Money can pull your right down into the grave.   Money is a lousy master.   You see, according to Jesus, money is a spiritual issue.   I read about an old Jack Benny skit.     An armed robber approaches Benny and demands, “Your money or your life!”    Benny hesitates and says nothing.  Finally, the robber says, “Well, what will it be?”    To which Benny replies, “Don’t rush me, I’m thinking about it!”    Your money is really your life in a way.  When we work we lay down our life to earn a living but Jesus teaches us in this passage that there is more to life than the things of this world. 

      The topic of money is both personal and theological and it certainly has spiritual implications to it so Jesus taught on money.   We can get hung up on money.   There are many responses to money.   Some people take a vow of poverty.         Some have a poverty theology which is an imbalanced view teaches that we should look down on and not want possessions or money.    Some who hold this position would say that it’s wrong to have excess money and things.   Some have a prosperity theology.    This teaching wrongly assumes that prosperity is the reward of the righteous.  To me this is like the health and wealth gospel.   This cause and effect relationship implies that if God is happy with you, He will bless you financially.     If He’s not pleased with you, you won’t be blessed with money.  That is very dangerous thinking.  Contrary to what some think money does not always bring happiness.  It is not sinful to be rich. There are many rich Christians who handle their money well.   Some give 90% of their income.   Money is not the root of all evil it is the love of money that is the root of all evil I Timothy 6.  

       A proper attitude and theology is to view our possessions as a trust given by God that we are responsible to manage.     Everything belongs to God and we are to serve as stewards of all that we have whether we are blessed with a lot or with a little.   That includes money, possessions, our time and talent.  Jesus realizes that most people struggle with managing money—that’s why Jesus devoted much of His teaching to this critical area of life. He dealt with money matters because money matters.   

       The first life-skill that Jesus wants us to develop is to stop living just for this world.     Don’t just store on earth – store in heaven.  We’re to stop doing something that by nature we’ve been doing.   Jesus knows that our natural, inborn desire is to accumulate things on earth.    If you try to store your wealth here, the moths will find it, or rust will consume it.  If you try to hide it for yourself, thieves can steal it.    Jesus is saying that earthly wealth is very insecure.  For one thing we will all leave this world.    It either decays over time, or it disappears altogether.  Earthly treasures are fleeting and futile but heavenly treasures are secure.    1 Peter 1:4: “And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”    Treasures that we send on ahead are mothproof, rustproof, and burglarproof.    Verse 20: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”   These are wise words of our Lord.  

    It seems to me that there is often a bondage to our money.   We can become slaves to it and Jesus said where your money is there will be your heart also.   God wants your heart.   A verse in Proverbs says my son give me your heart.   Where is your heart today?   The borrower is servant to the lender.   Those that love money become slaves to make more money.   If a person’s total life is wrapped up in their possessions and money they are in bondage.   If our love and concern is in the bank only, we are to be pitied. 

       Where is your treasure?”    The issue is not whether we will store up wealth.   That’s a given.  We have all collected stuff.   The only question is where we will do our banking.  Since earthly treasures are unstable and insecure, Jesus challenges us to make long-term investments that are permanent and guaranteed.    Deposits made in the First National Bank of Heaven will not decay or disappear.  They are protected.  They are protected forever.   To put it plainly, Jesus is saying that your heart follows your money.    Money can keep your heart tied to the physical the temporal possessions.     Verse 24 you cannot serve both money and God Jesus said.   If you are offending God in some way today are you willing to deal with it? 

        To be a committed Christ-follower is not merely a matter of the emotions but also of our minds and wills.   To love God requires service and even sacrifice.   This type of allegiance cannot be rendered to two parties.      There is tension that many Christians experience when we try to love both God and the world or money.    Sooner or later our real loyalty is seen.    Only one master will win out.   Money is not just a neutral medium of exchange, but is a “power” with a life of its own which seeks to control, and even consume us.    Shortly after his death, someone asked John D. Rockefeller Junior’s chief financial advisor, “He was one of the richest men in the world, how much did he leave?”  To which the advisor answered, “everything!”   What we give to God is a solid investment.   It is an eternal investment.     Christians belong to Jesus and we are to be bound to Jesus and not to money.   Jesus wants us to experience peace and freedom and his blessing.    When we walk close to Jesus our money and possessions do not own us.  We are set free from that bondage.