Sunday, October 22, 2006

god's money

"What we do in life echoes in eternity" - Maximus in the movie Gladiator.

Today Matt Massey continued in his sermon series about "MyStuff". He spoke rightly from Lk 16.1-13 about God's expectation that all that we use all the resources He gave us to create relationships for Kingdom purposes. How we handle money is more than the topic of what to do with the 10% or whatever figure you arrive at. God's expectation is that we come to understand that every breadth we take is from Him and all that we have and do is for His glory.

James 5.1-6; "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you."

Psalm 39.6 "Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it."

God is interested in us properly investing what He has given us to manage in the short time we are here on earth. That extends beyond the amount we determine to give to Church. In Mt 6.19-24 God tells us to not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. You can live with a view to accumulating valuable things on earth, or you can live with a view to accumulating valuable things in heaven. You must choose one or the other. Jesus says: the mark of a Christian is that his eyes are on heaven and he measures all his behavior by what effect it will have on heaven – everlasting joy with God.

Laying up treasures in heaven and laying up treasures on earth do not work together. Verse 24: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

Devoting our lives to accumulating treasure in heaven – that is increasing our joy in God in heaven – is giving rather than accumulating. Laying up treasures in heaven is the opposite of laying up treasures on earth. Laying up treasures in heaven will NOT be laying up treasures on earth but giving them away in ways that magnify God.

In Lk 12.32-33; Jesus explains how you "provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old" and how you "provide yourselves with treasure in the heavens that does not fail," namely, "Sell your possessions and give to the needy." God's provision is not us to accumulate. He provides so that we would distribute in ways that Christ is honored and our joy in heaven is increased. When we give, we show that Christ is our treasure and that we love others more than we love our own security and comfort.

In Luke 14:13-14, Jesus tells us to give to those who can’t pay us back. "You will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." Giving freely and generously because we trust Jesus to take care of us is laying up treasures in heaven. The reward will be at the resurrection of the just.

1 Tim 6.17-19; "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." For us to truly take hold of life, we must completely let go of any imagination that we possess anything. We must take all that God provides for us to manage and use it to sow treasure in heaven.

Lk 16.1-9 tells us how. We use God's provision to invade the lives of those around us. Into those lives comes the Kingdom. Some number of those will be raised by the power of God into the Kingdom of light. When this is done, the "cloud of witnesses" (He 12.1-3) cheering us on as we run the race and ultimately being there with us at the victory party at the end will be all the more greater.

I'm convinced that treasures in heaven is somehow equal to or related to the number of lives God impacts for the Kingdom through our obedience to Him and His Word. Again, wrestling with the whether or not it is 10% misses the greater point which is all we have, all we see, all we can ever imagine. And any little bit He allows us to put our hands to is only for the purpose of us returning it to Him for His glory.

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