Summary: How do we handle our possessions? Do we honor God or self?
Malachi 3.6-12 “Stewardship of Treasure”
1. I was listening to a report recently about black Friday. About how companies like Circuit City and Best Buy are going to try to bring consumers in to buy big ticket items like digital television sets by marking them down and also by giving away free items like surround sound or other items. I wonder how many people get up on black Friday with the intention of buying things on sale for themselves rather than giving them as gifts. The companies that have these great sales are doing it for one reason: to make money. Now, it seems incredible to me that these companies can do this. You know what they are doing right? They are telling you that they have something for you, something you need and they will allow you to have it, if you will let go of your hard earned money.
2. Can I tell you something that you already know but that you may not have thought about. The CEOs of Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Kmart, and all the others who are going to put out their best sales in just a few days don’t care about you or your comfort. They don’t really care about your feelings. They don’t even really care about you. I’m sorry to tell you that. I’m sure they are nice men and women in some ways, I don’t mean to suggest that they have no feelings or that they are totally cruel. They have families and friends just like you and I do. But the truth is that when they advertise big sales on all the most desirable items, they are only after one thing: your money.
3. And yet, I’ve never heard anyone say about them, “I’m never going back there again, they just want my money.” However, when we talk about money in the church, sometimes people will make that accusation. They say, “I’ll never go back to that church, all they ever talk about is money”, or “they just want my money.” How is it that people have a worse opinion of the church than they do of the companies that will be digging deep into your pocket books telling you that you need a lot of things that you really don’t. They try hard to get your money and yet somehow the church has gotten a reputation for being the bad guy.
4. But we need to understand the benefits of being a steward of our treasure, no matter how great or small that treasure may be.
5. The first benefit that comes from being a good steward is ours. The word steward simply means manager. And if we are good managers of our money, of our possessions, than we benefit. John Wesley was known to say, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” That was his plan for managing money. First, earn all you can. That makes sense to us. Work hard on the job. Do a days work for a days wage. When you are at work, give it your best. Second, save all you can. In other words, don’t foolishly spend money. There are more things today that people can spend their money on than maybe ever before. And many things that people can spend their money on like the lottery or in the casino that cause serious consequences. So when it comes to being a steward, we would be wise to follow John Wesley’s advice to “save all you can.” And finally he encourages us, “give all you can.” What he’s speaking of is our consideration of the needs of others. Work hard, save money, and give generously to those in need. That might be a modern rendition of what Wesley said. If you are a good steward, you keep the bill collectors from calling. You keep the stress down. You feel better about life in general. So a benefit of being a good steward is ours.
6. But our being good stewards benefits not only us, it also benefits others. Again, John Wesley said, “give all you can”. In other words, be generous with what you have to those who have less, to those who have needs. John Wesley lived in a time in which the poor were pretty well left alone and without care in England. And John Wesley believed that those who were a part of the church ought to do something about it. So he challenged the church and still does so today, “consider the needs of others.” A second quote in regards to this from John Wesley is this, “Money is an excellent gift of God if it is used excellently, answering the noblest needs of humanity." Money, he says, is a gift and a better gift if we use it to help others. Now, let’s be clear at this point, neither Wesley nor myself are suggesting to you that you just pass out money to whoever. There is certainly a sense in which we need to be discerning about the people we help. However, we are not to be so discerning that we discern to not give any money to help anyone. We need to be wise and generous both. So first, by being good stewards we benefit ourselves, secondly, we benefit others.