Summary: Is the stuff in your house yours or God’s? Who owns it?
God and Your Stuff
Hope for the Financially Challenged - Part 4
Two men crashed in their private plane on a South Pacific island. Both survived. One of the men brushed himself off and then proceeded to run all over the island to see if they had any chance of survival. When he returned, he rushed up to the other man and screamed, "This island is uninhabited, there is no food, there is no water. We are going to die!"
The other man leaned back against the fuselage of the wrecked plane, folded his arms and responded, "No we’re not. I make over $250,000 week."
The first man grabbed his friend and shook him. "Listen, did you just hear what I said? We are going to die!"
The other man, unruffled, again responded. "No, I make over $250,000 week."
"So what... , I’m telling you we ARE doomed. We are going to die a slow death."
Still unfazed, the first man looked the other in the eyes and said, "Do not make me say this again. I make over $250,000 per week -- and I tithe. MY PASTOR WILL FIND US."
Some of you may feel like the typical church and pastor is like the one mentioned in this shipwreck story—all they are interested in is your money. That might be the typical church, but WE aren’t the typical church!
Throughout this series, I have been acutely aware of the fact that there are a number of people here at Cornerstone because of something in your past, you avoided church because you felt like the church was only after your wallet. Nothing within me wants to ad to that perception whatsoever.
At the same time, I always realize that when I am preparing a series like this that regardless of what I say, regardless of how well I am able to say it, that there will be people that will take offense at the things that I say. There are people that will sometimes be irrationally offended, because it really doesn’t have to do so much with what the Bible teaches, or what I say, or how I say it—there’s just some real wounds and fears there that will be surfaced.
It’s like a letter I came across in a book by Randy Alcorn entitled Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Randy is a pastor, and he was talking about doing a giving series one time, and somebody in the congregation decided to write him an anonymous letter to tell them what they thought about his message. This is what they wrote:
I was never so disappointed in a service as I was on Sunday. I had an unbelieving friend come with me, and what were you preaching about? Money. I can assure you, she was not impressed. And why ‘money’, when there is so many other beautiful things to talk about? You had better reconsider such messages in the future. Leave money to God, and He will handle everything. Believe me. I love this
church, and usually like the sermons, but that one was terrible.
The writer then signed off with a typical knife-turning flair that is so common in anonymous letters: “A Christian who loves to go to church to hear the Word.”
I don’t know what Bible they read from, but the Word that I read talks more about giving and money than it does love, faith, belief, hope, heaven, or hell. Jesus had more to say about money and our relationship to it, than any other topic that He talked about, with the exception of the Kingdom of God.
Wesley Wilmer wrote a book entitled God and Your Stuff-The vital Link Between Your Possessions and Your Soul. In it, He pointed out that 17 of Jesus’ 38 parables was about possessions. Possessions and money are mentioned 2,172 in scripture. That is 3 times more often than love; 7 times more frequently than prayer; 8 times more common than beliefs.
About 15% of the teaching of the Bible is devoted to the topic of money, our possessions, and our relationship to it. So this is a very important topic to God. And it is in the Word, if you had any doubts.
If I would decide not to teach about it, based on people’s fears, or prejudices, or suspicions, then I would be guilty of pastoral malpractice. I would have no right to stand before you today. If I stand up here and tell people what they want to hear, instead of what the Bible says and what they need to hear.
This is a key developmental issue in our relationship to God. Whether we like it or not, or whether we agree with it or not.
Why is that? It’s not because God thinks that our stuff is the most important thing about us, but because how we handle our stuff—particular our money—is a diagnostic tool that reveals where our heart is with God, and what He can trust us with both now and for eternity.