Summary: It all belongs to God - how are we to handle the resources that God blesses us with? part 1 or a 2 part sermon.
Where is your treasure?
September 28, 2008
Open with illustration. Have someone come and pick between two good things.
Is your heart with the cash, or is it with the chocolate? You can’t serve both cash and candy, at least this morning. You have to make a choice.
Jesus told us about a much more important choice in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 6:19-24 (NIV) "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
In spite of what we hear from our culture in so many ways, money is not the most important thing in the world. Money is not our master, and we are not its slaves. You might think money is all-important if you’ve watched or read any news this week.
Our economy is struggling, and money, or the lack of it, or the misuse of it, has been in the news a lot in recent weeks. How to handle money at a national level is one thing, and certainly not an unimportant thing. But how we view money and possessions as individuals is perhaps even more important in the Kingdom of God.
In spite of the messages that we see on television, on billboards and every kind of advertisement there is, we don’t exist to acquire or possess. Money is not our god. However, it can become a god, an idol, if we don’t guard our hearts from the wrong kinds of affection. One pastor talked about money this way:
When I take ministry trips abroad, one of my first priorities after I deplane is to find an airport bank where I can convert my dollars into the local currency. Once I convert those dollars, I often also need to adapt to new customs for buying goods, giving away money, and paying those who serve me. Likewise, when we enter God’s Kingdom, our approach to money needs to be converted to the customs and economy we find there. Jesus wants to transform our entire stance – all our thinking and doing – toward money and wealth.
Let’s consider what that transformation in our attitudes about money might look like.
Did you know it has been ten years since we heard a full message related to money and possessions at TCF? I know – I looked it up. I know because I preached a message on this theme and it was 10 years ago.
We hear references to money or possessions in the context of other sermons, but I honestly can’t remember one message entirely devoted to this topic in the past 10 years.
Why do you think that is? In some churches, they take as much time or more receiving the offering as they do for many other elements of the service. Here, it’s about 90 seconds – at least that’s what Hallett tells me the worship team plans for each week while the offering bag is being passed, unless of course there’s some special music.
I think there are several reasons we don’t hear messages on money at TCF. One is that the leadership of TCF has always been sensitive to the idea of manipulation. When you give a tithe, an offering, or you give to missions, our true desire is that you would hear from God and respond to His voice. We don’t want to appeal to your emotions alone (though as Jim noted in his sermon last week, God is the creator of our emotions, and there’s something important about loving God with our emotions – and clearly one way we love God is in our giving).
We also don’t want you to feel guilty, and to give for that reason alone, though we do want you to discern between guilt and the righteous conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit in all areas, including how we use the resources God has blessed us with.
We certainly don’t want to promise you a hundredfold return.
I think in part because of these kinds of thoughts, we don’t usually spend much time receiving the offering, beyond perhaps an occasional passage of scripture and a prayer over the offering.