Pastor Tom Millner
July 11, 2010
SpiritSong Worship Center
I read this week that the Bible contains more than 2,350 verses dealing with money and possessions. Why would God's WORD contain so many references to what we work for, save for, look for, yearn for, and often live for? The answer is both in the question and in his Word; "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) And when Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees as to which was the greatest of the commandments He replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22: 37-40)
Knowing that money, our possessions or what we desire to possess is at the heart of competition for Christ's lordship in our lives, God has given us guidelines on handling these competitors. Most of the time when we hear sermons about wealth or money, they are focused toward tithing or giving, but the bulk of scriptural instruction is around earning, spending and managing money in a way that honors God.
Let's look at who is responsible for what! (God and us)
- God owns everything! Psalm 24:1 reads "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." Genesis 1:1 reminds us "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." He never transferred that ownership to anyone else, but He did give us the task of caretaking! We treat our income, or job, our home, our car, our credit line, as though it were ours and ours alone, seldom if ever giving recognition to God who is the supplier of all. Yet when we are threatened with the loss of any of it out of economic downturns or poor management on our part, we cry out "oh God; help me!"
- God is in control! Roman's 8:28 reminds us that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." Psalm 135:6 tells us "The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth. We can be assured that whatever pleases Him will be for ultimate good. We often waste our time asking "why," when a much more productive question would be; "How can I honor Him in this?" Joseph, when sold into slavery must have asked himself why this was happening to him. Later he realized "It was not you (brothers) who sent me here, but God…You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 45:5,8; 50:20)
- God will provide for our needs! Matthew 6:33 reminds us to "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all the things (food, clothing, shelter) will be given to you as well." Paul asserts to the believers in Philippi that "My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."(Philippians 4:19). God doesn't specify HOW He's going to meet all our needs, He just affirms that He will meet all our needs. We get lost in our wants and lose sight of the need that underpins them. The true value of a ¼ inch drill, for instance, is not the battery life, the torque, the versatility of the fittings, or the utility of its storage; the value is in the hole it makes!
Where does our responsibility lie?
- God made us stewards over His creation! In Genesis 1 we are told of God's intent for mankind as ruler over what had been created. A more precise translation or interpretation is to be manager or steward over what has been given. When we as a people are not good stewards of the land, air, water, and animals that He has trusted to our care, we fail to live up to the call He's made for all of us.
- He asks us to be faithful to Him! Just as God is faithful to supply our needs according to His riches in heaven, He asks us to be faithful with what He supplies. We are not faithful so that we can measure up to His standard and therefore be justified before Him. We are justified by the blood of Christ only. So we are faithful to give back good management of that to which we have been entrusted. This means being faithful stewards of all we have! Not only are we to be faithful with our 10% tithe, but also with the 90% over which He has given us reign. He wants us to manage in a way that is honoring and pleasing to Him. Managing in such a way that distracts us constantly because of worry about dept, poor investments, or more month than money, keeps us from putting Him first in our thoughts and actions. Luke 16:10 from today's reading reminds us that "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."
- It is to our benefit to be faithful! Jesus said in John 14:21 "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Being faithful to Him with what He has entrusted us brings us close to Him, provides us opportunities to grow our character more like His. How we handle money and possessions reveals much about our character. That's an indicator of our spiritual condition. I hear people say all the time "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual." Yet, those same people fudge, maneuver, connive, and indulge their own whims at the expense of others. What's "spiritual" about that? They're really about as "spiritual" as a hangnail! God calls us in virtually every circumstance to seek the opportunity to find the opportunity to grow in the character of Christ. Salvation is more than a fire insurance policy – it's a lifelong commitment to build and eternal character. This life is the kindergarten to eternity. What we learn here will sustain us! Learning to live response-ably with what He has entrusted us reaps blessings.
Whether God has entrusted you with two cents or millions of assets, His desire for you is to honor Him with all He has entrusted. Today's world is fraught with extremes of thinking. One extreme is that godliness can only occur in poverty. It is not the condition of your wallet that matters to God, it is the condition of your heart. Deuteronomy 30:15-16 reads; "I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and keep His commands… and the Lord your God will bless you…" The Bible does not say that a godly person must live in poverty. Conversely, there is the extreme thought that ever Christian who TRULY has faith will always prosper financially. This is also false. Look at the life of Joseph. From a family of wealth, sold into slavery (impoverished) to grow to a rank of wealth and influence, but chose not to commit adultery and then cast back into poverty, to rise again to be mastermind to the saving of a nation from poverty. God was glorified in the end, not Joseph. Whether rich or poor, in need or holding your own, God desires your heart be on Him and that the management of your life be a reflection of Him. He calls us not to the doing of "Christian" but rather to the being Christ like.