Summary: according to Jesus, money is a spiritual issue. And, since it’s a spiritual issue, we need to address it for at least three reasons: The Bible has more to say about money than almost any other subject,giving will help us get to where we’re going as a chu
Mastering Your Money
According to a recently released survey of over 4,000 people, Americans are more cynical today than ever before. We don’t trust politicians or the economy and many are suspicious of the church. I realize that our topic this morning may create additional cynicism for some of you. One of the raps that churches have today is that they’re always asking for money.
That reminds me of the mother who was hysterical because little Jimmy had swallowed a quarter. She turned to her husband and screamed for him to call a doctor. So he picked up the phone, but instead of calling the doctor, he decided to call his pastor. The wife was upset and said, “We don’t need the pastor, we need some medical help!” To which the husband replied, “Hey, our pastor can get money out of anyone!”
I want to put you at ease. My goal is not to try to pry money out of you this morning. You can breathe a sigh of relief because we’ve already taken the offering! During our Building For The Future campaign, we will not use any underhanded or emotional appeals.
Since I know what I’m up against when tackling the topic of money in church, I hope to persuade you that it’s important to hear what the Bible has to say. You see, according to Jesus, money is a spiritual issue. And, since it’s a spiritual issue, we need to address it for at least three reasons.
1. The Bible has more to say about money than almost any other subject.
2. Giving will help us get to where we’re going as a church.
3. There are incredible benefits to giving.
We discovered last week that in order to find worth in our work, we must view our job as a calling, not just a career. A career can become the altar on which we sacrifice our lives in the pursuit of money and possessions. A calling involves recognizing that we are co-workers with God in accomplishing His purposes by being content, by working in order to have so that our needs can be met, and by working in order to give so that God can meet the needs of others through us.
The topic of money is both personal and theological. I’ve come across three different theological perspectives in my conversations with people.
1. Poverty Theology. This imbalanced view teaches that we should have a disdain for possessions. Some who hold this position would say that it’s wrong to have excess money and things.
2. Prosperity Theology. This teaching wrongly assumes that prosperity is the reward of the righteous. This cause and effect relationship implies that if God is happy with you, He will bless you financially. If He’s not pleased with you, you won’t be blessed with possessions.
[Oh, I’m sorry. I just forgot something. My sister and brother-in-law are here today and we wanted to take them out for lunch. This is really embarrassing. I don’t have any money on me. Could someone give me $50? Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.]
3. Proper Theology. The proper way to view our possessions is that they are a trust given by God that we are responsible to manage. Everything belongs to Him and we are to serve as stewards whether we are blessed with a lot or with a little. Now, I can tell that many of you are wondering why someone would just pop out of their seats and hand me $50. Do you know why he did it? It’s because it wasn’t his money. It was mine. I gave it to him before the service. He was simply returning it to me.
That’s exactly what we do when we practice the joy of biblical stewardship we give back to God that which is His in the first place. Friends, we’ve never given God one thing. When we make an offering or a tithe, we’re giving what He already owns. We’ll talk more about this next Sunday.
Before we jump into our text for today, let me make a couple observations.
We all struggle with materialism. Money magazine has declared that money is now the #1 obsession of Americans. Newsweek reports that we have achieved a new plane of consciousness called “transcendental acquisition.” A recent cover story (8/27/01), quotes a woman who is saddled with debt. By the way, did you know that the average credit cardholder has over $8,100 in credit-card debt? This woman from Dallas recently charged a diving trip to the French East Indies. Instead of trying to break free from the “credit drug,” it’s as if she’s given up when she says: “I’ve spoiled myself and I can’t change my habits.”
We’re not comfortable with the struggle. If we’re honest, we don’t really like materialism’s mantra. John Stott put it this way: “We cannot maintain a life of extravagance and a good conscience simultaneously. One or the other has to be sacrificed. Either we keep our conscience and reduce our affluence by giving generously and helping those in need, or we keep our affluence and smother our conscience. We have to choose between God and money.”