Summary: 14th in long series on Joshua. This sermon deals with tithing, the NT standard for tithing, and greed.
Joshua 7:1,11,15,19-26 – Can’t Get Enough
A notorious miser was called on by the chairman of the community charity. “Sir,” said the fund-raiser, “our records show that despite your wealth, you’ve never once given to our drive.”
“Do your records show that I have an elderly mother who was left penniless when my father died?” fumed the tightwad. “Do your records show that I have a disabled brother who is unable to work? Do your records show I have a widowed sister with small children who can barely make ends meet?”
“No, sir,” replied the embarrassed volunteer. “Our records don’t show those things.”
“Well, I don’t give to any of them, so why should I give anything to you?”
Today we are taking one more look at Joshua 7, the story of Achan’s sin and the Israelites’ defeat at the hands of the men from Ai. I’d like to look at one thing that stuck out in my mind as I read and re-read this passage. It’s the issue of greed. Let’s read selected passages from the chapter: v1,11,15,19-26.
Greed is what we call a sin of the spirit. That is, it happens inside, and a person can cleverly hide it for quite some time from others without their knowledge. It doesn’t always bubble over into the visible realm, though it sometimes does. Greed has a tendency to simmer underneath the skin, to brood until it has a chance to be released. It takes its time to stalk out its prey. Then, when the opportunity arises, it leaps and grabs and takes and hides and keeps for itself. This is greed.
This is what Achan fell prey to. V1 says that he took some of the things devoted to God. Things that belonged to God, Achan took. He stole from God. Well, this begs the question, what belongs to God? What is God’s? Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” So, everything belongs to God. He made it, and it all belongs to Him.
Matthew 22:15-22 paints a slightly different picture. Let’s read it. Jesus says that we should give to the ruler what belongs to Him, and we should give to God what belongs to Him. Well, how does that work then? Putting the whole picture together, it means we should pay taxes as citizens of this world, but we should give to God what He wants too, as citizens of heaven. It’s hard to live in one world while belonging to the next, but Jesus tells us to. He tells us to pay taxes, even though God deserves everything. Jesus really is telling us that we need to give to God what belongs to Him.
But we like to think of it as ours. Our paycheck, our hard work, what we have earned though unemployment or pension… ours, ours, ours. But really, if everything belongs to God, absolutely none of it is ours. Understand one basic principle of life: what you have, God gave you. What you are is not an owner; what you are is a manager. Yes, you may make the decisions for how money is spent, but it’s not your money. It’s God’s.
Juan Carlos Oriz wrote a story one time about a conversation between a man considering salvation, and God. “So when man finds Jesus, it costs him everything. Jesus has happiness, joy, peace, healing, security, eternity. Man marvels at such a pearl and says, ‘I want this pearl. How much does it cost?”
“The seller says, ‘it’s too dear, too costly.’
“But how much?’
“Well, it’s very expensive.’
“Do you think I could buy it?’
“It costs everything you have—no more, no less—so anybody can buy it.’
“I’ll buy it.’
“What do you have? Let’s write it down.’
“I have $10,000 in the bank.’
“Good, $10,000. What else?’
“I have nothing more. That’s all I have.’
“Have you nothing more?’
“Well, I have some dollars here in my pocket.’
“I’ll see: Thirty, forty, fifty, eighty, one hundred, one hundred twenty—one hundred twenty dollars.’
“That’s fine. What else do you have?’
“I have nothing else. That’s all.’
“Where do you live?”
“I live in my house.’
“The house, too.’
“Then you mean I must live in the garage?’
“Have you a garage, too? That, too. What else?’
“Do you mean that I must live in my car, then?’
“Have you a car?’
“I have two.’
“Both become mine. Both cars. What else?’
“Well, you have my house, the garage, the cars, the money, everything.’
“Are you alone in the world?’
“No, I have a wife, two children...’
“Your wife and children, too.’
“Yes, everything you have. What else?’
“I have nothing else, I am left alone now.”
“Oh, you too! Everything becomes mine—wife, children, house, money, cars—everything. And you too. Now you can use all those things here but don’t forget they are mine, as you are. When I need any of the things you are using, you must give them to me because now I am the owner.”