Summary: This is the sixth message of my SURVIVOR series, focusing upon a proper perspective for personal finances and the ongoing battle against materialism. (10-20-02)
Begin this message with a fun activity. The following items are needed:
1. An empty, old bottle
2. A large key made of cardboard and spray painted gold. The key will have the
verses of Matthew 6:19-21 printed and attached to one side.
3. A treasure map with the following directions: Find a person wearing red. Move three people to the left. Go two rows back. Find the closest personwearing glasses. Move one row forward, then take five steps toward the center of the building. Go to the closest person with a birthday in this month. Look under that person’s seat for the treasure.
1. Hide the key under a chair prior to the church service.
2. Roll up the map and put it in the bottle. Take it to the pulpit to begin the sermon.
3. Say: I am so excited because I found this bottle with a note inside. It must be a treasure map! Read the title, which says, “The Key to Riches.” Would anyone like to see where it leads? Select a volunteer, then let them start following the directions. Have fun!
4. Of course, the key probably will not be under the chair that they land on. Say: Maybe we misread the directions. Everyone look under your seat and see if you can find the hidden treasure!
5. When someone finds the key, ask them to come forward and read the verses.
*Adapted from Bore No More by Mike and Amy Nappa, Vital Ministry (1995), p. 75.
Friends, that passage of Scripture really is a treasure. It has the greatest instruction that we could ever receive regarding our finances. It shifts the focus from saving up treasures here on earth to saving up treasures in heaven. It advises us to shift from worldly, materialistic things to the things of God.
Money, wealth, and materialism are cancers that eat away at the character of Christians and the ministries of the church. Our culture is saturated with materialism. From the moment of our birth we are encouraged to make the most money that we can, buy the most stuff that we can, and gain the most power that we can. We are constantly bombarded with the message that more wealth and more stuff are the answers to our problems in life … they are the things which bring true happiness.
But this is not a problem that is limited to the western culture. It infects almost every society.
A financial advisor named Ron Blue visited a rural village in Africa. He asked one of the villagers, “What is the biggest problem in your village?” He fully expected to hear about a food shortage or lack of medical supplies. He was hot prepared for the response he received. The man said, “materialism.” He explained, “If a man had a mud hut, he wants one made of stone. If he has a thatch roof, he wants a tin roof. If he has one acre, he wants two. Materialism is a disease of the heart.” You see, friends, even in a place that is completely lacking in all of the luxuries that we take for granted, materialism is alive and well.
*From In other Words…, Raymond McHenry, Summer 2001, p. 10.
Tragically, many Christians have bought into this philosophy of the need for more. And that quest for more money, more property, and more stuff has gotten us into financial turmoil. The quest for more things and the lack of enough money is a stressor that destroys homes and families … even Christian homes and families. It is a serious problem that, thanks to a downturn in our economy, is affecting many of us now more than it ever has before. And the temptations to go for more are constant. Four or five new credit card applications a day … everyone on the planet wanting to lend us money, help us refinance away what little equity we have in our homes … telemarketers who try to sell us windows, gutters, vinyl siding, and dream vacations. Everyone around us is pressuring us to go for more, more, more!
But, friends, Jesus has another plan for us. He has some important lessons for us with regard to our money, our finances, and our possessions. So, today, as we struggle to Survive our Finances, let’s look to the words of Jesus found in Luke’s Gospel and see if we can understand what really matters in this life.
***Read Luke 12:13-21***
You see, Jesus is dealing with a specific financial and material situation here. He has encountered a man who wants Jesus to make his brother divide his inheritance with him. Jesus wisely refuses to take sides, but he does make the most of this teachable moment to share a lesson about wealth, possessions, and materialism. And, as we look at this passage a little more closely, we can see how Jesus points out our fundamental problem, gives us a stern warning, and shares some great life lessons in the form of one of His parables. So, let’s look closely at these words of Jesus and see what He has to teach us today.