Summary: Stewardship of life is the aim of this message. Believers are challenged to consider the employment of their money, of their time and of their spiritual gifts.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Christian values are always under assault, though never more so than in this present day. Those in the world resist living lives marked by seeking and doing the will of the True and Living God. Moreover, the world about us subtly infiltrates our thinking, gradually transforming our values until we are indistinguishable from those identified as belonging to the world. The pressure seems calculated to compel conformity to the lowest common denominator—socially and culturally.
While I could speak of bold, new cultural attitudes that have become regnant in contemporary society—acceptance of homosexuality as normal, multiple sexual partners even among church members, approval of murder of the unborn for convenience sake and tolerance of raw sexuality as entertainment—it is a more insidious area of assault that concerns me in this message. The question that I present to you today is, “Where have you hidden your treasure?”
If I review the lives of the professed people of God, would I discover that God is the centre of life? Would I find evidence that He is our priority? Christians sometimes profess to be unable to say what they treasure most; however, there is a simple test to discover one’s treasure. Your treasure is the one thing that you would most hate to be without. Your treasure is that which consumes your thoughts—it is where your thoughts turn when you are free to think whatever you wish. That which you treasure is what you speak of most and most ardently. By this criterion, it is difficult, even impossible, to believe that knowledge of the True and Living God is a priority for contemporary Christians.
Should I ask individuals where their moneys are invested, I would undoubtedly receive a variety of responses. Some responses would reveal that the individuals were holding stocks and bonds, T-bills and GICs. Others would speak of the acquisition of collectibles, or tell how they were upgrading their home or purchasing vehicles. I actually have some friends who have defended spending all they have, asserting that the government will provide for them as they age. Such talk is foolish in the extreme; but it is more common than any of us might imagine, I fear. What I seldom hear is talk of investing in the Kingdom of God.
We can defend the purchase of life insurance, knowing that we are responsible to provide for loved ones who survive us. However, few Christians purchase policies that name the congregation or a missionary agency as the beneficiary. We are careful to arrange our financial affairs to ensure that there is continuing income for our family, which is good and proper. However, we seldom give thought to the need for continuing income for the work of God.
Summarising these observations, it is apparent that too often our priority is neither the church we profess to love nor the Head of the church. We cannot say that we love the Kingdom of our Lord if our wealth is invested solely in this dying world. If our worth is defined by what we hold, rather than who we are, we are not in love with God’s Kingdom.
Before considering the words of the Master, I do need to address one further point. Sermons concerning the way we handle our money is an irritant to many people. Sermons on giving are the stuff of caricature of preachers. The charge is frequently made by outsiders that all the church wants is their money. Let me say very clearly that I do not want anyone’s money. Certainly, I do not want to receive money from anyone who is unhappy about giving.
Biblical instruction makes abundantly clear that giving is to be seen as an act of worship [see 2 CORINTHIANS 8:1 ff.; 1 CORINTHIANS 16:1, 2]. Whenever we prepare to receive the gifts of God’s people during our worship, I make it a point to discourage giving from those who are unsaved. It is my practise to urge the unsaved to receive the priceless gift of life that is freely given to each one who receives Christ Jesus as Lord [see 1 CORINTHIANS 2:12; 2 CORINTHIANS 9:9]. Based upon Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian Christians, I emphasise that those who have no joy in the act of giving should not give, but rather they should take the time to reflect on God’s goodness and mercy as others worship through bringing their gifts [cf. 2 CORINTHIANS 9:6, 7].
God has proven Himself generous toward me and my family throughout many years of service. I have been supported through the generosity of God’s people for many years. I have not begged for money, nor shall I do so. If God who appointed me to His service is incapable of supplying my need, I will cease to serve Him. However, if He has appointed me to this service, then He is responsible to provide for me; and the means by which God provides is the same as revealed through His Word—the gifts of His people [cf. PHILIPPIANS 4:10-20].