Go and love others that you're with. But, how can we do that with when we seem so materialistic? What we need is to handle His provision for us with care, and be set free from our desire for material things. Let's live solely for God with a perpetual passion.
All the Church Wants for You is What Christ Wants
Seeing Clearly Through Debt and Savings
Why God Doesn't Want You to be Jerked Around by Materialism
The Danger of the "Bad Eye" and the Beauty of Seeing Clearly
Let me just say this. I love my friend, Rob, and the videos we make to share with a lot of different people about the things that are true and creative in a way that's going to bless them if they understand different truths. We use the medium of video and whatnot, but that's my favorite video we've ever produced and he's ever done at Igniter.
The reason is because it, better than anything I've ever seen, shows how spiritual transformation happens. It happens not with just some quick prayer and some idea that if I've told God I want to be his man I become his man. No. Spiritual disciplines are the means of grace that God gives us to change us. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
As we get ready to head into a time of family, I quote Jeff Foxworthy. Everybody's family is crazy, so call your mama and hug your kids. That's what we need to do, but when you get there, the way to change the dynamics of your family is to draw a circle around yourself and change everything in it. Let everything in there be informed by the Word of God and the way of God. Then, with that transformation go and love others you're with, realizing the most difficult part of any conflict is seeing your part in it.
I love that video. We have actually taken all of the verses that were in that video and others and reminded you of this series we did a while back called Conflict: Our Constant Opportunity. You can go to watermarkblogs.org. You'll see it there today. There is a hyperlink to all of those verses.
I would encourage this body to be a group of people who go over those verses as you move to times of family gathering and getting with other people. Meditate on them. Then, you'll be ready to love. Then, you'll have an opportunity to speak to your family about the transforming power of Christ, because they'll see it in you, and they will be filled with thanks. Amen? Let me pray for us.
Father, as we move now into a time of gathering with others, we thank you that the world slows down a little bit. I pray, as we get ready to be with family and friends, we would prepare our hearts by spending extended time with you and by meditating on your Word and having it inform our hearts of all that we do.
Lord, part of everything we do needs to be informed by you. We want to sanctify our entire lives by the Word of God and prayer. That includes the way we see material things and money and any possession we have. We pray you'd just use this morning in this little series we're in just to change our thinking and to help us be in step with you. The truth is, Father, not in part but in whole do we want to start to see with your eyes that we might be set free and live in a way that's glorious for you. In Christ's name, amen.
Here they are (a pair of 34 x 34 Donna Karan leather pants). I actually used that illustration about six years ago, and when I did there was a member of the body who actually had those pants in his closet, so he had given them to me. If you don't know what I'm talking about, listen to last week's message. I'm going to keep it there before you to let you know that sometimes we can be pretty sure we're making a good investment and it doesn't always turn out that way.
Also, to my right and to my left is a good reminder of what we're in the middle of. When we see things with a bad eye (an eye that is not informed with the perspective of heaven where true beauty comes from) what we see is chaos and unfinished and not artistic and beautiful. I know many of you last week when my friend was up here painting thought, "Wow! I think he needed another song, because he's not quite done," and you were a little embarrassed for him and you were probably a lot embarrassed for me because we had him up here.
In fact, I heard a conversation with one of my friends. When he was done, they were kind of looking at it, and the one guy said, "What do you think?" and his buddy next to him goes, "I think I'd throw it in the dumpster." Then, a little bit later, I took that painting, and I flipped it, and he looked at the other guy and goes, "I think I'd get it out of the dumpster." The other guy goes, "I think I'd get it out of the dumpster, too."
They started talking about their thought about how he just needed some more time to get it right. They realized that guy didn't need more time; they just needed to see it correctly and see it for what it really is (a thing of beauty). Some of the way we have been dealing with money, because we don't see it correctly, people are looking at us going, "I'm not really sure they're using that money in all of the ways God wants them to," and they might even think of you and go, "I think they just need a little bit more time to make it beautiful."
That's what this series is really all about. It's to help you see money and material possessions with a good eye so you might use the more time you've been given…you're still here today…to start to make this thing which can be really ugly and divisive a thing of beauty. Others are going to see your wealth and your prosperity and your riches and your life as a beautiful thing the more you see your life and everything God has given you in it the way God wants you to see it.
Let me just remind you very quickly how we started last week. We were talking about the myth that money is the root of all evil. The truth is the Scripture says the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. The truth is money is a tool. It's a tool to provide for you, to glorify God, and to serve others. It's a test, and it's a testimony.
Are you going to get a lot of money and think you're the reason you're rich and maybe just cut God in with a little bit or are you going to always see money as an opportunity to honor God and serve others? Is it a testimony to the fact that you know this world is not your home? We talk about how money can also be a temptation and can cause great trouble and can be a trap, but we said that money is not evil. Money is amoral. It is what you do with it that makes it a source of blessing to others, a source of glory to God, or a curse to yourself.
We talked last week that there's a great myth that you can't love God and be rich. It's not whether you have or whether you don't have. What makes you a person who is holy is whether or not you know that God is the source of all holiness and truth. There are too many people who think and come from a perspective that my lack of possessions is a sign of my love for God.
All I would tell you is that's not necessarily true any more than your abundance of possessions is evidence that you love God and the reason you have all of those possessions is because God is blessing you. I told you last week he could be setting you up. We talked about the fact that when we are richly blessed the Lord expects that blessing to be a blessing for others. That's why he blesses us. We'll look at that just a little bit more briefly today.
The truth is money is one of the big three that Jesus tells us will choke out faithfulness and fruitfulness in our lives along with the worries of the world and the concern for many things. The deceitfulness of riches can keep you from being the man God wants you to be, so whether you have or don't have is not the thing.
The question is…Are you holy? You'll be holy if what possesses you is the Spirit of truth (the Spirit of Christ), but if you're possessed by a love of money and if you're possessed by a love of comfort and if you're possessed by the mindset that right now is the time I'm supposed to move into this heavenly experience, then you are not paying attention to God's Word.
There's a myth that all the church wants is your money. We gave you last week this simple truth. The truth is we want for you what God wants for you. Our goal is not that we would get your money; our goal is that money would not get ahold of you. The truth is what we want for you is what Christ wants, and what Christ wants is faithfulness.
Stewardship is not spending less; stewardship is faithfulness. A steward is somebody who handles the Master's possessions faithfully. All we want for you is what Christ wants for you, so for you to do what Christ wants (your leader) you must see things the way Christ sees things, and this little time we're spending together is helping you get it all right.
The last myth we closed with is that the money we gave you last week is more God's money than everything you possess. The truth is God owns everything, and you are his money manager. Let me just get a little sense here. How many folks are here today who were not here last week? Let me just check you out.
A lot of you guys didn't see this painting go up there. A lot of you didn't get an envelope with money in it. Last week, we handed out tens of thousands of dollars to everybody who was here. We gave you that money, and we said, "You are stewards of this money." We told you what to do with it. We're collecting the stories.
You want to just go to #switch13 if you're on social media. You can go to the Watermark Facebook page and plug it in right there. Email us and tell us what the Lord is doing with the money he gave the church to be faithful with. The stories are great. You can go there and read them. We'll celebrate them in different ways going ahead.
Remember, the money we gave you last week… Some people got $1,000. Some people got hundreds. Some people got $100. Some people got $50, some $20, and some $10. Everybody got a couple of dollars, at least. Here and at Fort Worth, tens of thousands of dollars were spread all throughout this body.
All we said to you was, "If you have a need, one of the reasons God gives you resources is to meet a need, but if all of your needs are largely met, the reason he gives you more resources is probably to meet the needs of others, so be prayerful and not lazy and not impulsive and use it in a way that glorifies God and brings honor to him," but lose that myth that the envelope worth of money is any more God's money than everything he gives you and me. Are you ready? Let's dive in.
Let's give you another myth.
If we don't believe in God, we are not accountable to God for what we have. In other words, I get why the church thinks it has to give its money and use its money responsibly, because they see themselves as the servants of the Lord. Well, I want to remind you again that biblically the truth is that every man will give an account of all he has been given, and just because you don't honor him as God doesn't make him not your God.
You might be in rebellion against him. You might misunderstand him. You might have a wrong idea about who God is and how to love him and honor him, but the fact is every man will give an account of all he has been given. Every man is accountable to God. I love what one writer said a long time ago. He simply said that we can no more diminish God's glory or God's presence by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word darkness in a cell.
Let me say that again. A madman in a room who writes darkness on a wall can no more extinguish the sun than you can extinguish the reality of who God is and the fact that all men were created by him and are accountable to him just because they don't want to believe they're his.
There were a number of people last week who got envelopes, and they wanted to get rid of that envelope as quickly as they could. They did. They walked up and said, "I don't want this money. I don't know God, I don't honor God, and I don't want this money." They were easily able to get rid of that envelope, but you are not able to get rid of the fact that you are accountable. There is a God who is there, and you will answer to him.
This is 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 10. It says, " For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done…" Now, remember that. Judgment is always based on what you do. Now, this is why we as people who are followers of Christ and have asked the mercy of God to be imputed to us and have asked that God's righteousness would become our righteousness, because we know we could never earn God's favor and love… We are given the gift of salvation.
Biblically, the gift of salvation always comes by grace through faith. Judgment always comes as a result of what you do. That is true for those who are saved and true for those who are not saved. Those who have not asked for God's righteousness to be given to them have nothing to be judged with except their works (what they have done), and God says, "My standard is perfection, so if you can't present to me a perfect life, your judgment will be severe."
We've come to God and we've said, "I don't offer you a perfect life. I offer you my faith in the perfect life of Jesus Christ who you judged as worthy because you raised him from the dead. He paid the wages of sin even though he knew no sin, so he had a debt he did not owe, and I had a debt I could not pay. He loved me. He gave his life for me. I am here to tell you I want Christ's righteousness applied to me." We are saved by grace through faith, but watch this.
Having then been saved by grace through faith and having come into a relationship with God by grace through faith, we are then his servants. We don't talk about this enough. Even as believers, we are judged for what we do. I'm going to make that very clear to you as we plow through some of this and explain it to you.
It is a myth that because we don't see a consequence to our choices today that there is no consequence to our choices. Let me just talk about this in terms of people we see who have no relationship with God and don't really walk with God who yet sometimes seem to be the happiest, fullest, most provided for people on the face of the earth. Tyrants, dictators, drug lords… It doesn't matter. This actually happened to a man who was a servant of God. He was a leader of worship. He was walking through the city, and he saw the prosperity of the wicked. Listen to Psalm 73.
" For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death, and their body is fat. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them. Their eye bulges from fatness; the imaginations of their heart run riot. They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high. They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth."
Where is God? Where is judgment? " They say, 'How does God know? and is there knowledge with the Most High?' Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth." This is what the worship leader said."Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence. For I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning."
The psalmist goes on to say, "Had I stopped there and had I believed such I would have led all of Israel astray," because from that moment on God walks into the temple. It says that when he got to the temple, "Behold! I saw the truth," and that is that there is a God, he is just, and he does require a payment for sin. We just don't always see it right away.
Let me tell you the myth. The myth is because we don't see a consequence right away we think there is no consequence. In fact, one more verse. This is Ecclesiastes, chapter 8, verse 11. It says, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil."
In other words, we don't see a reaping of what we sow. We forget the law of the harvest. The law of the harvest is that you do reap what you sow, but you reap it later than you sow it, and you always reap it in more abundance than what you sowed. One seed does not bring forth one apple; it brings forth an entire tree.
Because we don't see a consequence always to our behavior immediately, we think there is no God. We sometimes watch men who run right on this earth and mock God who spend their lives accumulating for themselves wealth, abusing others, and taking advantage of people living unholy lives, and we wonder, "Is there any real consequence to this?" and God says, "Oh, yes, there is. Don't you buy the myth that there's not and that just because you don't see it right away there is none."
The truth is just because judgment hasn't come does not mean judgment doesn't exist. In fact, this is the whole argument of Peter at one point. When people say, "Where is God?" when they talk of his coming, Peter says this at the very end of his life. He said, "Remember, it was that way in the days of Noah. Noah talked about a coming flood of judgment."
I don't know if you know or not, but almost every scholar believes there had never been rain on the earth. God had not opened up a deep deluge before. It was just a heavy mist in the morning and a heavy mist in the evening. The prediluvian earth had a very different atmosphere and a very different day-by-day means of keeping the earth fertile, so when Noah talked of a flood, they go, "What's a flood?"
He said, "It's what happens when it rains." They go, "What's rain?" He said, "It's what's going to happen when God opens the waters of the deep from above and from below." People mocked him and thought he was crazy. "Why would you build a ship in the middle of dry land?" The answer was, "Because Noah had a word from the Lord that judgment was coming."
Second Peter 3 says that when people say, "God has always been talking about returning in the person of Jesus, so where is his returning?" he said, "He is going to return. It will be just like in the days of Noah when men were eating and drinking and marrying and participating in every kind of act as if there was never any accountability."
I love the story of the two farmers who lived next to one another. The one was a godly man. The other was an atheistic man. He said, "You say your God is there. You say your God is real. Why don't we both plant the exact same number of potential produce? You pray to God every day and do everything you should, and I'll be right next to you with the same weather experience. I'll curse God every day, and we'll see who has a better harvest come this October."
Sure enough, they did that. The one man was faithful and honored God with the best he could. He took care of his land and sowed his seed and protected his seed and did everything he should. So did the atheist. The atheist every day partied and railed against God and mocked his friend's worship and favor.
Come October, sure enough, the atheist's farm had far much more produce in this instance than did this guy's farm. The atheist leans over that fence and says to his neighbor, "What do you think of your God now?" The godly man said, "I think my God doesn't always call all the accounts due in October." In other words, "I don't think this is the end. I don't think some immediate temporal response to what you have done is evidence that you are with God or against God."
By the way, this is the error always of prosperity theologians. They will tell you, "If you love God and do what God wants you to, it's always going to lead to a physical, temporal, exponential blessing." Likewise, there are people on the opposite side who teach a poverty theology which says, "If you don't discipline yourself and give away all you have, you must not really love God." Loving God has very little to do with whether you have a little or have a lot; it has everything to do with whether or not you have a relationship with him.
Some of us have a great relationship with him, and due to situations well beyond our control, are not going to have much. Others love God, and because of the way he has wired us, blessed us, and placed us in history, we're going to have much, but you need to know this. What you do in want or what you do in plenty says everything about your relationship with God not whether you have or whether you don't have. Likewise, there are wicked people who have a lot. That's not evidence of God's love.
It is a myth that my attitude toward money and material possessions has nothing to do with God. Your attitude toward money and material possessions has an inseparable, irrefutable relationship with what you say about God, and for you to sit there and think for a moment, "I can deal with money over here and God over here, and I can deal with all that I've been given over here… What I do during the week is my business."
God says, "That's crazy!" We don't have a spiritual and a secular divide. "Everything is mine," says the Lord. Let me just read you a couple of really good insightful ideas from men I respect. One is a guy named A.W. Tozer who I really love. He says, "The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed…" In other words, he'll argue with you all day long about what he believes.
"…but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in. What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day."
Let me ask you guys a question. Do you trust God today the way you're planning on trusting him on the last day, or have you consistently given yourself an out? I love what my buddy, Randy Alcorn, says. He says that our use of money and material possession is a decisive statement of our eternal values.
What we do with our money loudly affirms which kingdom we belong to. Far too many professing Christians have succumbed to the heresy that this present life may be lived disobediently without serious effects on their eternal state. Never have so many thought that as long as they affirm with their lips a certain doctrinal statement that they may live their lives indifferent to human need and divine command and that all will turn out well in the end.
I want to let you guys know in this series I'm trying to switch that thinking. There is an eternal difference between a said faith and a saving faith. There is an eternal difference in professing belief in God and possessing a relationship with God, and one of the clearest ways to see where our hearts are is how we handle money.
It is a myth to think your attitude toward money and material possessions has nothing to do with God. The truth is there is an irrefutable relationship between our spiritual condition and our attitude and actions concerning money and possessions. By the way, this is why it is insane for people to say, "Let's do life together," or "Let's do business together," but you have no idea what I make. You have no idea what I've saved. You have no idea about my debt. You have no idea what I do with my money.
Jesus says how you handle money is one of the leading indicators of what you think about him, so if you're going to say to somebody, "Do business with me and help me be faithful till Christ returns, but don't you dare ask me any question about anything material as to what I have. Just speculate by the way I drive, where I live, what I do, how I eat, and how I vacation, but don't you dare try and meddle with me in this one area." That is foolish!
Any man who is serious about really, really having their heart exposed is going to invite trusted other people in and say, "Here are the details. Here's everything I make. Here's everything I have. Here's everything I'm doing. Would you help me align that with what Scripture says? Would you pray with me? Would you admonish me? Would you encourage me? Would you help me?"
The truth is most of us would rather walk in our Community Group naked than we would walk in our Community Group and share financial information, because most of us don't really want to be people who change this one area. Jesus says, "It's going to change every area, including this one that is most indicative of where your heart is."
There's a very famous story of Jesus coming up against a young man who was very rich and very influential. To this guy who asked him, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus basically said, "You have to basically keep the commandments." Jesus specifically gave commandments that had a lot to do with the way he treated others. "Don't steal. Don't commit adultery. Don't murder."
The guy goes, "Hey! I haven't done those things." This guy probably was not with Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus was explaining to the guys, "If you look at a woman with lust in your heart, you've committed adultery, and if you call a brother a fool, you've committed murder," but, nonetheless, this guy said, "Hey! I've done all of those things."
Jesus looked at him and in Mark, chapter 10, he says, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." Here's the thing. Jesus is not teaching poverty theology there. He's not saying, "If you give away everything, you will therefore be saved because you gave away everything." Jesus has said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the Lord God."
The guy said, "What must I do?" Jesus said, "You must listen to me and follow me. In your case, I'm going to show you that you haven't kept the commandments, because the very first commandment is to have no other god." He knew this young man had another god. It was his love of position, prestige, and possessions.
Jesus called him to repent of that and to follow him. We know that because it says, "…he was saddened, and he went away grieving…" He owned a lot of things that were life-giving to him. Jesus said, "Here's the truth. It's really hard for people with a lot of things to see their need because they think right now in their prosperity and the strength of their riches, which is a high wall in their imagination, that they don't need anything, but they need everything." They need to be freed up from the love of fleeting things, and they need to be reconciled to God.
What Jesus was showing this young man was that he didn't know how great the kingdom of God was. He says the kingdom of God is like a treasure in a field. When a man sees it, he buries the treasure. He goes and sells all of his possession that he might buy the field so he can own the treasure.
Jesus is saying, "If you knew who I was and if you knew the kingdom I represented, you would be thrilled to leave this fleeting kingdom that won't be yours long, and you would come and follow me," but the guy wasn't going to come and follow him, and it was evidence that he had broken the very first commandment (he loved something more than God).
The truth is your attitudes and actions with money have everything to do with your relationship with God. We see that also on the other side with Zacchaeus in Luke 19. Zacchaeus was a man who had become extremely rich because he was abusing and manipulating his relationships with his fellow citizens in order to make himself very, very rich, but he was still miserable though he owned many things.
Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, come here. I have a plan for you." He called Zacchaeus to come and fellowship with him. In the midst of that fellowship, Zacchaeus saw him for who he really was (the author and giver of life), and he told Zacchaeus he could have life if he would just come into a relationship with him.
Zacchaeus coming into relationship with him was so overjoyed at the forgiveness and the grace of God that he had come to know through Christ that he said, "Behold! I'm going to sell everything I need to sell. I'm going to pay back all that I've stolen. I'm going to give back four times what I have taken from them."
Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, now the way you're dealing with money and material possessions is evidence of you really knowing who I really am, but that's not what is going to give you life. You also know when you wrong people you ought to make amends and seek forgiveness. I see you doing all of those things. You're not saved because of those things, but because you know who I am, it changes everything about money and relationships."
It is a myth that you can deal with money separate and apart from God and you can deal with material possessions and think the way you handle that has nothing to do with God. It has everything to do with God. More than any area of your life, it's a testimony of what you really think about God.
I started to touch on this a little bit earlier. Let me just say this. It is a myth that because we are saved by grace through faith it doesn't matter what we do here and now. The truth is our accounting will be an evaluation of what we have done. That is true of all of us. If you don't have a Savior to present before the Lord as a means through which you can be saved (a perfect, righteous Savior who has covered your sin), all you're going to be able to offer is your own resume, and that will not work out well for you, because your righteous deeds, the Scripture says, are as filthy rags.
If you come and say, "Jesus is my Savior. Christ died for me. He is my Lord and my Master, and all I have done is pushed all of my account under his name, and he is my Lord and my Savior, so I have lived for him," the Scripture says that we will give an account for how we have done as servants.
Watch this. Very carefully listen to this with me. Salvation is won on the basis of Christ's work for humanity. Rewards are won on the basis of our work for God. We don't talk much about eternal rewards. The Scripture does. There is a world of difference between how you determine your eternal home and your eternal honor. Those are two very different things.
Your eternal home is going to be decided by who your Savior is. Your eternal honor is going to be decided by how you lived in response to that Savior. In fact, there are going to be some people who Jesus says, "Depart from me. I never knew you. You said certain things about me in your little pseudo creeds, but it was obvious that even though you said something you didn't really mean it."
In fact, if you remember, the rich young ruler approached Jesus, and he used the word for perfect and intrinsically honorable and righteous teacher. Jesus' response to the rich young ruler was, "Why do you call me intrinsically righteous? Nobody is intrinsically righteous but God. If you knew I was intrinsically righteous and ultimately good, you would do whatever I tell you to do, but you're not going to do whatever I tell you to do, but just so we'll know, I'll ask you, 'Have you kept the commandments? Have you murdered anybody? Have you committed adultery? Have you lied? Have you stolen?'"
"No." "Okay. We're good. Let's just get to your relationship with me. Why don't you go sell everything and follow me? If I'm God, intrinsically righteous and good, and if I called you to leave something, it's only to bring you into something better." The guy didn't want to do that because he loved something more than that which was intrinsically righteous and good.
This is sobering stuff. This is very important. Our work for God is never a substitute for God's work for us. In other words, I can't do good, like give money away, and then show up and say, "God, I've done well! I've given money away," because…I've already told you…God's standard is perfection. God's standard is ultimate righteousness. What fellowship does light have with darkness?
God's word to us is that he will never forget what we have done for him by faith in the name of Christ. This is Hebrews, chapter 6, verse 10. It says, " For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints."
Gang, do you get that? Let me just lay this out really quickly for you one more time, because this is so central to everything. Salvation is won on the basis of God's work for humanity, but rewards are won on the basis of our work for God. Our work for God is never a substitute for God's work for us, and God's word to us is that he will never forget what we have done for him.
What have you done for him? How have you used what he has stewarded you? Again, let me tell you this. Stewardship is not spending less money. It's not being a hyper-coupon fiend. It's not just buying less gifts at Christmas. It might be, but stewardship is operating with a sense that I don't own anything and all that I do I want to do consistently with my Master's will.
The truth is judgment comes for failing to use what you have not for failing to do what others have done. Do you remember the story we told you last week about the guys who were given five talents, some two, and some one? The guy who was given two talents was not judged because he didn't get as much back from his investments as the guy with five talents. The guys were judged because they did not steward their lives well.
Every single one of us will give an account for whatever it is that God has given us the ability to do. You don't have to worry about what you can't do. In fact, this is exactly what 2 Corinthians 8 says. It says, " For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have."
We talked about this last week. If you see somebody faithful with what they have, what are you prone to do? You give them more to be faithful with. That's probably exactly the way the Lord works. Not always, because there are certain people who will amass a great sense of comfort for themselves here, and they should be anything but comfortable. The truth is in the end none of our excuses for not doing what we should have done will work.
Do you remember that? Some people think because we're saved by grace through faith it doesn't matter what we do, and they're going to say, "Lord, I thought I was saved by grace so it wouldn't matter what I would do." He says, "That's not acceptable. I told you that you were saved for a purpose that you should walk in the good works which I have prepared for you. I told you to respond and to bear fruit in keeping with repentance, to walk with me, to deny yourself, and to follow me. You didn't do that! That's not an excuse."
Some people are going to hide behind the prosperity gospel and use that as an excuse to increase wealth and indulge themselves as evidence that God loves his people and God wants his people to be rich and comfortable, but we forget that this world is not our home. Right now, he has told us to follow the example of his Son who, though he was rich, for our sake became poor.
They'll use predestination and election and the sovereignty of God as an excuse to not share their faith with their neighbor. There are all kinds of excuses that people give, but the truth is that in the end none of our excuses will do to get us freed from judgment of what we have done. I'll say it again.
How you determine your eternal home and how you receive your eternal honor are two very different things, but people who do not steward their lives and their possessions and their days well are called wicked and lazy and selfish slaves, and they are cast into the outer darkness, and empty words of profession will not do.
This is serious stuff! Eternal rewards are guaranteed for all of us who are faithful, but temporal rewards, at least in outward expression, are not. Just because you give doesn't always mean you're going to get more. False teachers want you to believe that, and they'll use that as a way to get what they want from you.
It's a myth that God hates materialism because it keeps us from investing in his kingdom and helping others. Let me say this again. It's a myth that God hates materialism because it keeps us from investing in his kingdom and it keeps us from helping others. That's not the primary reason God hates materialism.
Do you know why God hates materialism? By the way, I want to remind you again that materialism is not an amount; materialism is an attitude. It's an attitude that all that really matters is what I can see, what is tangible, and what is here. Anybody who loves what is tangible and what is here is loving fleeting things.
The reason God hates materialism, which is a false worldview, is because he loves you. The truth is God hates materialism for the same reason he hates every other worthless idol, because it obligates, enslaves, and leaves empty people who he loves. The truth is God hates things that bring a false hope to his people.
He's here to tell you there is more to this world than comfort and cash, and the reason he has maybe given you comfort is so that you can comfort those with a comfort with which you've been comforted. The reason he gives you cash is to meet your needs but also to maybe meet the needs of others.
Listen to this. God hates things that bring a false hope to his people, because he wants his people to be truly secure. Proverbs 11:4: " Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death." Proverbs 18:11:" A rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own imagination."
Proverbs 23:4-5: " Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens." Here's how you ought to pray. Proverbs 30, verses 7 through 9, says,
" Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God."
God hates things that bring a false sense of security. Watch this. In Luke, chapter 12, verses 15 and following he said, "'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.' And He told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man was very productive.' And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?'
Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'"
So many lessons from this story. We've taught this entire parable at one time, but you need to know Jesus says that storing up earthly treasures isn't just simply wrong; it's just plain stupid. There are only two people in all of the Scriptures that Jesus calls a fool. This is one of them. The other one is somebody who hears the Word of God and does not put it to work. Do you see how the two are related?
So many of us say we have a love for God, but we say, "What does that have to do with the way I handle my money?" This guy thought many goods meant many days, and he could not have been more wrong. Jesus hates materialism, because things are to be used and God is to be loved. Materialism makes God something you use to get something you think you will love, and God hates anything that is an idol that causes us to give ourselves in pursuit of it that will never bring what we want from it.
He's just trying to change your eye and change your view. Let me just take you right back again to Matthew, chapter 6. Here we go. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…" Watch this. Not because earthly treasures are bad. Jesus' motivation for you not to store up for yourselves treasures here is because he says they won't last. It's not the best place for you to invest them.
"…where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." He warns us to not store up treasures on earth not because they might be lost but because they're always lost. Do you get that? Who does he have in mind here when he's speaking? He's talking to you. He says, "I want you to invest here."
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal…" It's not just that Jesus is pessimistic about earth's financial forecast; he knows earth's currency will become worthless when Christ returns or when you die. What he really is is bullish in investing in eternity. He says, "…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Let me just give you, if you have a right eye, some simple facts about this little thing that started our whole series.
First, you have a chance to store things. Secondly, don't wait for your heart to move your money. Move your money and your heart will move with it. Let me ask you a question. I don't know how many of you guys own stocks. You might look at the financial pages of the newspaper and see all of the lists of stocks that are right there, but if you invest in a certain company, where does your eye always go? It goes to the stocks you own. That's where you focus.
A lot of us are focused on ourselves because all of our money is right now allocated in an investment in self, but if you start to move your money where you're investing in other people's well-being, you're going to make sure those people are really being helped. We're not just going to throw money at them, because if we really pay attention, we'll find sometimes helping in certain ways hurts, which is why we invest as a church the way we do: very carefully.
We're not here to just enable irresponsible lifestyles, but we're here to really help people. You have a chance to store. Don't wait for your heart to move your money; move your money and your heart will follow.
Thirdly, you must store for yourself. Nobody can store for you. You only have one place to store that's really secure. The primary motivation Christ has for you to be giving and living with an eternal perspective in relationship with money is because it will bless you. It's not because he needs something.
It's because he wants us to live wise lives. Note Jesus is not against us storing up treasures for ourselves. In fact, he commands it, but he wants us to stop storing them in the wrong place and start storing them in the right place, and only when you have the eye and the mind of God can you really do that.
He does not want you to be a fool or to be a jerk or to be someone who walks around with this sense that, "One more thing will make me happy." I want to remind you that whenever we show clips here we're not endorsing the whole movie. Let me just tell you how silly it is to think, "Ah! This will do it for me. Ah! This will do it for me." Here's a classic film, The Jerk. Check it out.
It's pitiful, isn't it? "This is all I need. Just this new car. I'll never need another new car. I only need just a little bit better house. That's all I need. Just a spouse. Just a spouse. That's all I need. Just a kid. Just one healthy kid is all I need. Just one healthy kid who does well in school. All I need is one little bit of a raise. If I had one little bit more of a raise. That's all I need."
No. What we need is to see Christ for who he is. What we need is to handle resources he gives us the way he wants. What we need is him. What we need is to give him our hearts. What we need is to see with a good eye. We look like jerks. We look like pitiful jerks when we walk around saying, "I just need one more thing," when we say we know the God who meets all of our needs.
We look like we're really not serious about walking with the Lord when we say that we're serious about walking with the Lord but we don't want anyone else to help us in an area that Jesus says, "This is one of the easiest ways to see where you're really invested." We're not jerks but we're deluded when we do that, and Jesus' primary motivation for you to switch is because he loves you.
It's a myth that God is trying to rip you off. The truth is he's trying to set you free from being a jerk and judged and miserable. Our goal for you is that you would have a heart that has been given to the Lord and is informed by his Word that people would see the beauty of God in you to the praise of his glorious name for their salvation and for your eternal good.
Father, I pray for my friends that we wouldn't just sing songs but we would mean them. When we say, "Here's our heart, Lord," we would give you our hearts and we would let our hearts be informed by your will and by your Word just like we saw in that very first video. We would start to meditate on this Scripture and it would change the way we handle everything in our lives.
Lord, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, you are our Master, so what we want to do is to serve you. Thank you for your grace and your patience. We thank you that today you taught us again how we might live in a way that would bring honor to you. As we say these words, I pray, Lord, they'd be not just on our lips but it would be true of who we are. In Christ's name, amen.
It's a trustworthy statement worthy of full acceptance that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of which I am the foremost. In his love for me, he who was rich became poor that I might be reconciled to God. He has taught me to use the riches of my mind, the riches of my days, and the riches of what my mind and my hands can earn in these days to bring him glory, to provide for myself, to be a blessing to others, to invest in the kingdom which is to come, and to realize this world is not my home.
I shouldn't look at it like it's my home, but I should set my mind on the things above. I should have a different eye toward this world. It's not a place I'm trying to make into some utopian experience, but understanding why it's not a utopian experience, because this world has left God. It has gone its own way. It is trapped by sin and death and lies, and people are addicted to fleeting things, and it's the source of all of our quarrels. We have not because we ask not.
Jesus says, "Ask of me and I will give you life." Jesus says, "Ask of me and I'll help you live in this life with all that I've given you in a way that will be a blessing to you now. Maybe not in all of the material ways you want but a blessing to your heart right now and a blessing to you forever."
What a great God! How you determine your eternal home and how you receive your eternal honor are two very different things. Jesus had better be at the center of both. What this series is all about is helping you switch. When we say, "God, here's my heart. Speak what is true," that's what his Word is for. That's what his people are for (people who speak his Word into your life as you share all of your life with them for the glory of God, the salvation of others, and the good of your soul).
If you're here and you don't know that Jesus I'm talking about this morning, would you come and talk with us? We'd love to share him with you. Just check the box that says, "I want to know more about how to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ." If you know that Savior, will you worship him? Will you live what is true? Will you bear fruit in keeping with repentance? Will you invest in the world to come? God bless you.
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.