Summary: My desire as your pastor is that all of you experience success in your Christian life. One of the more important aspects of any Christian’s life is giving and tithing and we will look at that topic today. The passage that we will look at is a simple one
8 RULES FOR LIVING A SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN LIFE:
OBEY GOD’S PLAN FOR GIVING
What does a successful Christian life look like? My desire as your pastor is that all of you experience success in your Christian life. I would define ‘success’ in the Christian life as being whole-heartedly strong and knowledgeable in the faith, steady in prayer, and capable of sharing the Gospel with others. I want your relationship with Christ to be deep and meaningful. Sometimes we might wonder, how do we get there? Is there a process? Are there things we can do or cultivate to produce good fruit in our lives? One of the more important aspects of any Christian’s life is giving and tithing and we will look at that topic today. The passage that we will look at is a simple one and I hope to not make this more complicated than it ought to be.
READ MATTHEW 19:16-22 = “16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ 17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." 18"Which ones?" the man inquired. 19Jesus replied, " ’Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ’love your neighbor as yourself.’" 20"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
ILLUSTRATION… From Steve Williams
From the standpoint of material wealth, Americans have difficulty realizing how rich we are. Going through a little mental exercise suggested by Robert Heilbroner can help us to count our blessings, however. Imagine doing the following, and you will see how daily life is for as many as a billion people in the world.
1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blanket and pads for beds.
2. Take away all of your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt or blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.
3. Empty the pantry and the refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
6. Place your "house’ in a shantytown.
7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss because now none of you can read anyway.
8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
9. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a midwife in charge instead of a doctor.
10. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.
11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which one third will go to the landlord and one tenth to the moneylenders.
12. Lop off twenty-five or more years in life expectancy.
By comparison how rich we are! And with our wealth comes responsibility to use it wisely, not to be wasteful, and to help others. Think on these things.
I. WE FIND A MAN SEEKING THE RIGHT GOALS (verse 16)
I am sure that you have studied this passage before and when we study it, we always look down on this rich young man. I think sometimes this man gets more bad publicity than he deserves. We find in verse 16 that this man came up to Jesus. Matthew does not tell us a lot about this man. We know that he is a ‘young’ man which means he was probably between the ages of twenty and forty. We are also told that he has wealth. I think the only reason this fact about him is mentioned is because it relates directly to the point of the passage. Does this mean he was wealthy beyond our comprehension? I don’t think so. The rich and powerful would have been the Romans. This man was probably of the upper-middle class of Israel… kind of like us.
He comes to Jesus and speaks to Jesus with respect and gives Jesus the honor that He deserved. We get no sense that this young man is trying to trap Jesus in any way. We know that this happened often and usually it was the Pharisees and teachers of the Law that were trying to trap Him. We get no sense of that here. We get no sense that his question was political or entrapping in any way. This young rich man approaches the Teacher with a genuine question about ‘eternal life.’