Summary: This sermon is about establishing the first step in financial freedom and that starts with establishing a trust with God
In God We Trust
Everyone wants to be free of debt. Until we are, we can’t be free to give generously. Today we are starting a new series called “Money Matters.” We will hear the challenge to experience God’s goodness by our own disciplined living and trusting God’s ability to provide through every circumstance. It is not God’s will that we be in debt. It is for freedom that Christ died on the cross so that we might have liberation in every part of our lives. However, there are many parts of our lives which we have surrendered to Jesus and experienced transformation. But what most experts have found in personal finance is that when it comes to financial matters, the average turnaround time is 7 years which means it’s not enough for just a short period of time to commit yourself to these financial disciplines. These have to be lifelong decisions. You are only going to experience financial freedom if these disciplines become a lifestyle rather than a short term decision. Freedom comes through cooperating and working with God in the act of liberation.
In 2006, the average American was spending a $1.22 for every dollar they earned. The average outstanding credit card debt for households that have a credit card was $10,679 at the end of 2008. One year earlier, that average was $10,637. Today we’re going to talk about establishing the first step in financial freedom and that starts with establishing a trust with God. Believing in God and trusting in God are two totally different things. Most people believe in God but very few trust God with their financial matters. In our Scripture today, we have one of those people, a young man who is a member of the wealthy elite. He may very well have been a trust fund baby. Now not everything he does is bad. In fact, he starts off on the right path. The first thing he does is ask the right kind of question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Second, he’s asking the big God questions of Jesus, God’s son, for the answer. So he’s headed in the right direction for answers. So this man is asking the right kind of questions, he’s going to the right source for the answers and he’s committed to moral Biblical living.
Now Jesus says to him in the 22nd verse that there’s still an area of your life which is holding you back, which is binding you and where you are not experiencing freedom and the fullness life that God has in store for you. Alot of us are saved, but we have areas of our lives where God is not working in his full entirety. We have things that we haven’t given over to God, habits we are still holding onto and ways of thinking we haven’t released to the healing power of God. Isn’t it interesting that this young man is wealthy and has more than he’ll ever need and yet he’s bound in his finances? You can be rich in the world but poor in faith. Now this is what Jesus says, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." In other words, release all that you are and all that you have to God’s purpose and give to the poor. As long was we are holding onto things in our lives, we’re limiting what God can do. There’s a lesson here: we have power with God when we make our resources available to Him. When Jesus is saying “you will have treasure in heaven”, he’s talking about a permanent investment portfolio. Following Jesus is all about faith. And the primary way we demonstrate our trust in God is with our money. For Jesus says, “where your money is, there will be your heart also.”
This is more than the young man can bear. He’s so bound that he cannot let go and so he walks away sad. And Jesus turns to the disciples and says, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When we hear this, we think of people like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates or Tom Benson but Jesus is talking about us too. Why? I’m a wealthy person and you’re a wealthy person, because if your household income is more than $35,000 a year, you’re in the top 1% of wealthy in the world. Why is it hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom? Because we depend on our security from our money and possessions. We get comfortable in our material possessions instead of turning to God for our security.