Sunday, July 19, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "God vs Money: Part Two"

“God vs. Money: Part Two”
In God We Trust - What the Bible Says About Money
July 19, 2009
Matthew 6:24

This is only the fourth message in our series on money: In God We Trust–What the Bible Says About Money. But it is the third time I’ve had you turn to Matthew 6. You can tell that I think that Matthew 6 is a key place in the Bible for understanding God’s view of money. It’s some of Jesus’ own words about the subject.

While you’re turning there, let’s remind ourselves what we’ve learned so far.

There were two foundational truths that we learned early on:

#1. Money is Profoundly Spiritual.

You’re probably tired of me saying it by now, but I don’t care! We need to get this drilled into our heads.

Money is not neutral.
It is not just physical.
It is not just financial.

Money is spiritual. Profoundly so.

Jesus said, in this chapter, “Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Money is tied to our hearts.

Money reveals our hearts.

What did you do with money this week? That tells God something about your heart.

You and I made financial decisions this week that reveal our hearts–they were profoundly spiritual.

And I don’t just mean what we chose to give. But also what we chose to save or borrow or loan or buy.

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Many of you have been telling me how this sermon series has been helping you. And it starts right here, by recognizing the spiritual nature of money.

Our second foundation truth was this:

#2. God Owns All Of the Money in the World.

“The Earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it.” “The fullness thereof.”

So, what does that make us?

Simply stewards. Money managers for the Lord.

You and I are financial agents of the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

That’s immediately freeing and also a great responsibility.

Because, we will each have to give an account.

We saw this illustrated by Roye Houston being a good steward of the money that Heather and I entrusted into his care.

And he had to give an account for it. And he did. A good one.

We are all money managers and will have to give an account of it.

This church may likely pay me over a million dollars.

Does that sound scarey?

Not all at once!

I’ve set a personal goal of being here more than 25 years.

And if the church spent $40,000 each year on me and my family, it would only take 25 years for it be one million dollars.

I will have to give an account for all of that before the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

And you will, too, for the money entrusted to you.

God Owns All of the Money in the World.

Has that changed the way that you’ve been thinking about your finances this Summer?

Because not only does what we do with money reveal our hearts, it also reveals what we think about our Lord’s heart! Our Heavenly Father’s heart!

Do you see how much hearts are involved in this?

And we learned last time (two weeks ago), that our hearts are the problem.

Sin still exists in our hearts, and it tries to mess up our relationship with God through our relationship with money.

And that’s where Jesus’ statement in Matthew chapter 6, verse 24 comes in.

Jesus says, “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.”

“You cannot serve both God and Money.”

You have to make the choice. Once and for (conversion) and every day (the Christian life).

“You cannot serve both God and Money.”

“God Vs. Money.”

And last time, we learned that even though it’s that simple, it isn’t easy!

Money (not the good thing that God owns all of, but MONEY the thing that our hearts and the world and the devil twist it into being, Money) doesn’t always come right out and say, “Hey! Serve me! I’m better than God!”

It’s subtle and powerful and seductive. And dangerous.

So, we’ve begun to think about the ways that Money entices us to serve it and how to break free from that and serve God instead.

“God Vs. Money.”

Last time, I told you that there were at least 4 major ways, 4 categories of ways that we tend to serve money. (Is money bad? No. Is serving Money bad? Absolutely.)

And we introduced 4 categories of Money’s temptations.

Last time, we only had time to go deeply into one of them: Worry.

We serve money when we worry about money.

And Jesus says to not worry about money.

Do not worry about money.

How are you doing on that one? Did all of your worries clear up since we met last time?

I have done better in the last two weeks. But my temptation, the pull, to worry about Money is still there. I have to continue to fight it.

And how do you fight it? By faith.

Not worrying about money, not putting my hope there, but putting my trust in God.

In God We Trust (written on all of our US money!).

Now, for today, here are the other three. I want to turn each one over a bit and go to different passages that talk about them.

In addition to worrying about money, there is:

Stealing Money
Hoarding Money
Craving Money

Let’s take them one at a time.


That’s sound familiar, doesn’t it?

Which of the 10 Commandments is that?

“You shall not steal.”

It’s the 8th Commandment.

And it’s pretty basic. Don’t take what is not yours. We tell that to our children every day!

It’s a fundamental building block of a healthy society.

Do not steal money.

But Money is subtle sometimes, isn’t it?

I doubt that anyone here needs to be told not to pick pockets. Or to snatch purses. Or to break into houses or to hotwire and run off with cars.

But what about file-sharing? Copying digital music that you don’t have the rights to.

What about taking office supplies home with you?

What about taking longer breaks at work or exaggerating an expense report?

What about taking off with your employer’s patent or database or rollo-dex or intellectual property?

Christians are not immune to the temptation to steal.

I know of a church in Mexico where some of the church members stole the church building! They broke in and changed the locks!

I know of a church where the treasurer embezzled over $100,000 from it.

Christians are not immune to the temptation to steal.

Have you ever gotten more change back at the checkout counter than you were supposed to?

What did you do?

Now, taking the money wasn’t stealing. But keeping it, after you figured it out, that would be.

Kids, how about shoplifting?

I had a buddy when I was a kid who called it, “The Five Finger Discount.” Sounded cool. But it was wrong.

Another way of stealing is to hide what’s wrong with something you’re selling and sell it for too much. Or to lie about what you’re selling. That’s called “fraud.”

Stealing is serving money. And there is a million ways to do it.

Sometimes people use lawyers to do it.

Or they don’t think it’s a bad thing if they steal from some company, some insurance company or some big corporation–as if that made the stealing any different!

Turn with me to Ephesians chapter 4, verse 28.

This is the part of Ephesians were the Apostle Paul is talking about the changes that the gospel makes when it comes to a person.

Here’s verse 28.

“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”

So, the opposite of stealing is working. For Christ-followers, stealing must stop and working takes its place.

Is work good or bad?

The Bible presents work as something very good. Very honorable and God-pleasing.

It, like money, can turn bad. You can work too much or for the wrong things.

But work, including work for money is a God-honoring activity.

The Bible says that those who are not willing to work (willing being the operative word) should not eat!

And the godly man of 1 Timothy works hard to provide for his family.

But it’s more than just work here isn’t it? Stealing must stop. Work must commence. And then what? Giving! V.28

“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”

Working and Giving is the antithesis to stealing.

We’ll talk more about giving in a second.

But before we move to point #2, I have to ask, is there something you have stolen that you need to return?

Zacchaeus had. Remember that evil little man, the evil little man was he?

When Jesus came Zach’s house, he repented of his thieving ways. By the way, his theft was legal.

Sometimes, you can obey the law (or be the law!) and still not be doing what is right (what is God’s law).

Zacchaeus repented of his theft, returned it (fourfold!) and became generous afterwards. Because of Jesus.

If you know Jesus, you’re going to take back what you stole. And you’re going to make amends. And you’re going to work and give, not steal.


Turn with me to James chapter 5. It’s some of the scariest, most prophetic words in the New Testament. James 5.

James turns his attention away from the Christians he’s been teaching to some of the rich landowners that have been oppressing the poorer Christians (and others).

Listen to what he says:

“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”

Whoa. Those are strong words.

Now, there’s a lot more going on here than just hoarding. There is a failure to pay their debts. They aren’t paying their workers. That’s another form of stealing! We’ll have more to say in a couple of weeks about justice and injustice and the poor.

But notice what James says they have done so wrong (v.3): “You have hoarded wealth in the last days.”

As we said last month, we are living now in the last days (have been since Jesus returned to the right hand of the Father).

And one day soon will be the last of the last days. We need to be living for “That Day!”

But these folks weren’t. They were living for the short run, not the long run.

And in the meantime, they were stockpiling their money.

“You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” And it will turn against you.

Now, it doesn’t normally feel like James 5 applies to us.

I’m sure that if we’re employers here, we pay our employees.

But we are all tempted to hoard money. To hold onto it at all costs!

And when we do, we’re serving money, not God.

Turn back to Matthew 6. Verse 19.

Very familiar passage. I think that James is referencing it when he denounces the rich land-owners. Paul draws on it, too in 1 Timothy 6.

Matthew 6:19.

“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.”

Don’t Hoard Money.

Now, this does not mean that we shouldn’t ever save money.

Jesus can sound like that because He’s going to radical root of our hearts.

But the Bible teaches that it is wise and prudent to save money for reasonably anticipated needs.

For example, Proverbs 6:6.

Solomon says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Productive and saving ants are smarter than human sluggards!

The Bible teaches that it is wise and prudent to save money for reasonably anticipated needs.

But don’t hoard it.

Now, where’s the line?

I can’t tell you where your line is. That’s something you’re going to have to work out in your own mind and heart with the Lord.

But I can tell you that there is a line and when we cross over it, we’re sinning.

I think that at least part of what makes something hoarding, is beginning to put your trust and hope and confidence in it.

Worry is putting your hope in something, some money, you don’t have, but desperately wish that you did.

Hoarding is putting your hope in something, some money, you do have, but shouldn’t.

The Bible says to not trust in money because it’s so uncertain.

It wants you to serve it, but it will not deliver what it promises!

And it may not be there tomorrow.

Are you hoarding money? Trying to pile it up and higher and higher and build yourself a safety net and a security wall that is impregnable?

Moth and rust will destroy it.
Thieves will break in and steal it.
And someday, you’ll have to give an account of it. And then what?

That’s what happened to a man in one Jesus’ parables. In Luke 12 Jesus tells this story:

“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' [He loves to talk to himself!] ‘Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’' ‘But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' ‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.’”

Is this saying never to build a barn? No.
Never to open a savings account? A 401k? No.

But beware of storing things up for yourself and not being rich toward God.

Jesus said, “Store up for yourself treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

The antithesis of hoarding is giving. It’s generosity.

It’s taking from that pile and giving it to those who need it and giving to the work of the gospel and giving it to the Lord. Which is actually investing it in the world to come.

Now, we’re going to talk about giving more in the next couple of weeks. I want to give a whole message to that subject.

But do you see how it’s already become the antidote to the first two temptations that Money throws at us? Generosity is not just commanded–we need it!

We need to be generous to escape the seductive pull of Mammon.

At our house, right now, we’re trying to buy a goat.

No, not a goat to mow the lawn for me or to keep the chickens company!

We’re trying to raise money (within our own household) to buy a goat through World Vision to help a poor family.

A goat is good for milk and for goathair and breeding. It’s a great little business for a struggling household in places like Africa.

Today is Isaac’s birthday. He’s five. Getting the goat was his idea.

His mom was talking with all of the kids about their birthday gifts–Robin’s and Peter’s and Heather’s birthday were last week. Isaac’s was coming up. And they had received a lot of great gifts.

And Heather has been teaching that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

And somehow, this idea of buying a goat with our own money came up.

I came home from work one day and there was a can on the counter that said, “Goat – $75). And each one of my kids and my wife had contributed to it–from their birthday money!

Well, I got out my wallet right there and put in $20.

We’re only 30 bucks away!

We want to be rich towards God. We want to store up treasures in heaven.

We don’t want to hoard it right here. Terrible place to put our trust.

Now, this goes along with the last one. And this one is the big one. Probably we could put all of the others in this basket in some ways, too.


Craving money, or wanting it too much, is another way of serving money.

Money becomes god to us!

We need it.
We put everything aside to get it.
We are driven by it.

The Bible uses the word GREED to describe this heart for money.

And it’s clear in the Bible that this is a false worship.

Colossians chapter 4 equates greed with idolatry. Money becomes our idol.

It’s what the 10th Commandment forbids: coveting. Wanting someone else’s money or possessions.

Do not crave money.

The Bible’s most pithy phrase for it, I think is, the love of money.


The love of money is what? A root of all kinds of evils.

Turn with me to Hebrews chapter 13.

Hebrews 13 is the wrap-up chapter of Hebrews where the author gets really practical.

Verse 5 is the key verse for us today (Jeff Schiefer put it on the Money logo on the back of your bulletin and even wrapped the words of it around the G beside the picture of Washington).

Hebrews 13:5 – “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Keep your lives free from the love of money.

I think that’s the hardest one.

Worrying comes from it.
Stealing comes from it.
Hoarding comes from it.

It’s treating money as if it was God.

Use money but love God.

Don’t love money.

Again, this is easier said than done. How do we get there?

How do we pry the tentacles of money-love from our hearts?

What does the verse say?

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have...”

The first thing is to develop contentment.

If we just simply get happy with what we have, that undercuts money’s pull on us.

We should be trying to develop a simple life where we are content with what we have.

I wish I could camp on that right now.

But let me go further. What do we have right now?

We have God!

See what he says? “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ [Even if we don’t have money, we have God!] So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper [NOT MONEY!]; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”

Don’t love money. Trust God.

In God We Trust. And we will be content with that.

I have more that I want to say, but we are out of time.

What are you going to do with what you’ve heard?

Which is it going to be? You can’t have two masters. Is it going to be:

Stealing or Working and Giving?
Hoarding or Generosity?
Craving or Contentment in Christ?

How does this work out in your life?

The Apostle Paul said that he had learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. This is in Philippians 4.

He learned the secret of being content when you have money.
And he also learned the secret of being content when you don’t have money.
And he didn’t have money all of the time!

He said that the secret was Jesus Christ.

That’s why he said, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me.”

If you know Jesus, you have enough to be content from now to all eternity.

God Vs. Money?

Choose God in Christ.


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