Summary: 2nd in a five part series on seeing your possessions from a Biblical prespective. Part 2- Understand your money from a God’s eye-view.
UNDERSTAND YOUR MONEY BIBLICALLY
In the book of Revelation Jesus Christ addresses seven churches. He has praise for all of them, but He rebukes 5 of them for not holding to the faith more fully. The Church at Laodecia, in particular, is called to task by our Lord, because of their attitude toward abundance. Jesus says to them, "You say, `I am rich and well off; I have all I need.’ But you do not know how miserable and pitiful you really are! You are poor, naked and blind." (Rev. 3:17 GN) His condemnation was based on the fact that they had made their possessions their priority. If Jesus were to address the American Church would He have a similar rebuke?
It’s certainly very clear that we as Americans have trouble handling money. The late Larry Burkett, a Christian financial counselor & founder of Crown Ministries, gives these statistics. 40% borrow more than they can make monthly payments on. The average American family is always only 3 weeks away from bankruptcy. According to Burkett and social security statistics, 85 out of 100 Americans have less than $250 in cash saved up by age 65. Why do we have such problems? Is it because we’re over generous? The statistics would deny that as they tell us that the average American gives only 2% of their income to charitable institutions We have more resources at our disposable than any people in history but somehow financial matters are a source of constant difficulty and stress. In many cases it’s not so much a factor of not having enough as it is not understanding how to handle our possessions.
That’s why as we continue in our series I want to concentrate on understanding our money from a Biblical perspective. In Lk. 12 Jesus tells about a farmer who was consumed by possessions. His fields produced an abundant crop but his reaction was typical of many. He said, "I’m going to tear down my barns and build bigger ones, then I’ll store up my goods so that I’ll have plenty to enjoy when I retire." This guy may be the "patron saint" for Americans. We would call him a great success, Jesus calls him a "fool." For his evaluation of his possessions was really out of whack. From this story I hope we will better see & understand our resources from God’s perspective.
I. A MATTER OF PRIORITY: vs:15
First, let’s see our possessions as a matter of priority. In vs:15, Jesus gives us a warning-- He says, "Beware!” Beware of what? Vs: 15- “Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.” Then He told a parable about a man whose whole priority was wrapped up in things. Notice what the Rich farmer did not say when he had an abundance. He did not say, "God has been so good to me, I’m going straight to the temple to thank Him." He did not say, "I have more than I need, therefore, I’m going to see who is wanting and meet their needs." What did he say? He said in Vs:18- “I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything.” Now, please understand, it is not inherently wrong to increase the yield or to build warehouses. The problem here was that his primary focus, his top priority for life, was in what he had. His farm mattered more than his family, his grain mattered more than God.
This man had no concept of stewardship. Stewardship is the foundational principle to seeing our possessions with a God’s-eye view. A “steward” in the Bible was a manager, one who was trusted with the things of his master or employer. And the Bible tells us that we are all stewards which makes it clear that the things we have are not really ours. Scripture teaches that the things we possess have been given to us temporarily as a loan of opportunity. Psa. 24:1- "The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him." The rich farmer hadn’t come to grips with the eternal truth that he was not the owner of his things but simply the user of God’s property. That’s clearly seen in the fact that he calls his things "my goods," "my crops," "my grain." But in order to understand our money and possessions from a Biblical perspective we must first admit, and this is the hinge pin upon which everything else rests: our things are not our things, they are God’s. That’s why this becomes a matter of priority: not how much we have but how we use what we have.
I say, "my car," but it’s not really my car, it’s the Lord’s. He has just loaned it to me to use for Him. Every bit of metal, plastic, every bit of glass and for my car, every bit of rust belongs to God. And someday my car will be dropped into some giant compressing machine, be folded up into about a 4’ square, recycled and used for someone else’s car.