Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Our hearts will be where our treasure is. Those who are greedy and anxious about stuff put their emphasis on worldly goods. Those who trust in God’s provision invest their hearts in heaven.

All of us are stewards.

Does that seem strange to you? Well, it shouldn’t. All of us have responsibilities over one corner or another of God’s household. Just as we have to look after our own households, we also have to look after the part of God’s household that he has given us to look after.

The task may seem to be difficult or even impossible, but we do not have to be afraid. Jesus assures us that we will overcome, not by drawing on our limited resources or by force but by relying on our Father’s generosity to his flock. It isn’t over until he says it’s over. Life’s hardships and tragedies are a reason to sit tight and wait for his return. They are not an excuse for us to bail out. Life’s trials do not matter if we are faithful to Christ. The kingdom is ours. Stress will be a distant memory. Worry will turn to rest.

“Treasure” refers to a place where one keeps valuables, such as a vault. Jesus urged his disciples to cling to their love for God and his kingdom above all. Everything else they should hold loosely. The giving of alms to the poor generates treasures in heaven, so it makes no sense to limit almsgiving to that which is of little value. (Pause)

Humanity looks for solutions but wealth, prestige, glamour, sexuality, substance abuse and rebellion are not solutions. All of them have failed miserably. Sometimes we hold on to our possessions because we are afraid of what will happen when we get rid of them, including our money. Given the current worldwide economic situation, this concern is understandable. In addition, people have accumulated earthly possessions in the hope that they would provide security, when they need to lay up treasures in heaven instead. We need to let go of the lives we fearfully protect and hold on to before we can receive our heavenly treasures. If we centre our lives on our possessions, then our lives will revolve around protecting and keeping them. This obsession could get to the point where we will live in constant fear that they will be taken from us. As we accumulate stuff we find that we have to keep our doors locked or install alarm systems or join groups such as Neighbourhood Watch.

This does not mean that we have to give up all of our possessions. In fact, we need some of our possessions in order to live both now and in the future. The key is getting rid of possessions that we don’t need. We can do what early believers did and sell some possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. We can also donate these possessions to the poor or to stores that serve the poor such as Value Village or the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

If we look at our belongings and decide that there are some things we can never part with or if it’s something God told us to give away and we can’t give it away, then we do not own that item. It owns us. We are possessed by our possessions. They become idols for us, and the Bible says in Ezekiel 20:7, “Get rid of every idol.” To put it another way, in a recent newspaper column Billy Graham answered a question about how much debt is too much. In his reply, he asked:

“What place do things have in your life? Have your possessions become so important to you that they possess you, rather than you possessing them? Are you more concerned about impressing others than living wisely? Most of all, have things taken the place God should have in your lives?”

We don’t need to be afraid of possessions. If they come, we can use them to do God’s work in our world. We can go to the other extreme by giving away so many of our possessions to the poor that it causes hardship for us. There is a time for extravagant gesture as well as a time for practical concerns. There is a time to do things such as fixing the roof, painting walls or feeding the poor, but there is also a time to celebrate. If we feel that we can’t have things or if we feel that we must have them, we are letting the things of the world rule our lives. We must go through life as stewards of everything God gives us. We need to heed these words from the hymn, “We Plow the Fields and Scatter:”

We thank thee, then, O Father,

For all things bright and good,

The seed time and the harvest,

Our life, our health, our food:

No gifts have we to offer

For all thy love imparts,

But that which thou desirest,

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