Matthew 6:11-13, Acts 20:35 Storing up Treasure

Reader’s Theatre:   Use Chapter 1, page 6-8 from The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and act it out!

“A first century Hebrew walks alone on a hot afternoon, staff in hand.  His shoulders are stooped, sandals covered with dirt, tunic stained with sweat.  But he doesn’t stop to rest.  He hs pressing business in the city.  He veers off the road in to a field, seeking a shortcut.  The owner won’t mind – travelers are permitted this courtesy.  The field is uneven.  To keep his balance he thrusts his staff into the dirt.

Thunk.  Thge staff strikes somethig hard.

He stops, wipes his brow, and pokes again.

Thunk.  Something’s under there, and its not a rock.

The weary traveler tells himself that he can’t afford to linger.  But his curiosity won’t let him go.  He jabs at the ground.  Something reflects a sliver of sunlight.  He drops to his knees and starts digging.

Five minutes later, he’s uncovered it – a case fringed in gold.  By the looks of it, it’s been there for decades.  Heart racing, he pries off the rusty lock and opens the lid.

Gold coins!  Jewelry!  Precious stones of every color!  A treasure more valuable than anything he’s ever imagined.

Hands shaking, the traveler inspects the coins, issued in Rome over seventy years ago.  Some wealthy man must have buried the case and died suddenly, the secret of the treasure’s location dying with him.  There is no homestead nearby.  Surely the current landowner has no clue that the treasure’s here.

The traveler closes the lid, buries the chest, and marks the spot.  He turns around, heading home – only now he’s not plodding.  He’s skipping like a little boy, smiling broadly.

What a find! Unbelievable! Ive got to have that treasure! But I cant just take it that would be stealing.  Whoever owns the field owns whats in it.  But how can I afford to buy it?  Ill sell my farm…and crops…all my tools…my prize oxen.  Yes, if I sell everything, that should be enough!

From the moment of his discovery, the traveler’s life changes.  The treasure caputres his imagination, becomes the stuff of his dreams.  It’s his reference point, his new center of gravity.  The traveler takes every new step with this treasure in him.  He experiences a radical paradigm shift.

This story is captured by Jesus in a single verse: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.  Whten a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Mattehw 13:44).”

 

 

Did you know that Jesus spoke about money and wealth roughly 15% of the time, that is more than he talked about heaven and hell combined.  That would be like hearing a sermon on wealth roughly 8 times a year or 2 full months of weekly church attendance.  Obviously, Jesus thought the topic of wealth and money management was very important. He uses it as the main illustration in almost all of his parables.  Have you ever considered why that is?  Might it be that Jesus understood the power that wealth has over the heart of the one it possesses?  Did you know, that John the Baptist also thought money and wealth were important.  Many of us are familiar with this passage in Luke 3:11-14, where we find people asking John what the fruit of repentance looks like in daily life.  Think about his answers very carefully, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same. Tax collectors also came to be baptized. Teacher, they asked, what should we do?  Dont collect any more than you are required to, he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, And what should we do? He replied, Dont extort money and dont accuse people falsely be content with your pay.

 

Every single answer John gives about the fruit of repentance is an economic answer.  They all relate to wealth: share it, don’t cheat others for it, and be content with what you have.  I must admit that when I first read Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle, it caught me off guard and I struggle with the frankness of the book’s thesis that repentance is illustrated in the way we handle finances.  But much of what I am going to share with you today comes from that book, which I believe to be a solid distillation of a biblical theology of wealth.

 

We are all storing up wealth.  It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor or somewhere in between.  If we are not a believer, our life’s wealth is being stored up on this earth – in a bank or investment account, maybe in real estate or art collections, cars or rare gems. You are storing up something, somewhere. But did you know, the Christian also has a bank account in heaven.  Hold on for a moment before you dismiss that statement as crazy and listen to what I am about to say. In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus is very clear about this reality of a savings account, an investment plan, if you will when he says, (Matt. 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 (Matt 6:20-21a). But what is so unfortunate is that so many believers fail to recognize the connection between their earthly and heavenly bank account.  We, Christians, struggle to see the relevance of how our money affects, or better yet, reflects our spiritual condition, the things we value and our deepest desires.

 

This morning, I hope to address how wealth and resources can be used to store up heavenly treasure. And since we are all storing up wealth, or treasures, somewhere let’s start by talking about the risks associated with storing up wealth in this world and the risks associated with storing it up in the next before we move on to discussing the benefits of storing up wealth in each location as well.  The Scriptures are very clear about the risks of worldly wealth, that money we have in the bank, stock market, hidden in our mattress, or buried in real estate.  Jesus commands us (Matt. 6:19) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.  This is a command, not a suggestion, or a nice thing to try It is a command, given by God himself.

 

Why would Jesus command such a thing?  Here’s why, in this world is “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”  There is a very real risk of loss in storing up wealth on this planet.  The past crashes in the stock and real estate markets are illustration enough.  Wealth that once existed for many of us on paper, no longer exists.  It is gone, vanished, stolen by crooked businessmen, eaten by the collapse of housing bubble, eroded away by inflation.  Many of us stored up wealth only to have one dollar be worth less today than a few years ago.  Did you know this year is the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, that wonderful central banking institution of our land?  Did you know that a dollar, 100 years ago is only worth 4 cents today.[1]  Talk about moth and rust destroying and thieves breaking in and stealing.  Investments are dangerous; wealth is deceitful. Is that why Solomon declared, (Prov. 23:5) Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

 

The lure of saving and storing up wealth must be checked by the very real probability that there won’t be enough if you live too long and there will be too much if you die early.  One of the great risks of storing up wealth in this world, is that you can’t take it with you.  Speaking of the rich man, the psalmist writes, (Psa. 49:17) for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.  Or as Abraham cries who will inherit my estate, Eliezer of Damascus? (Gen 15:2).  Worldly wealth is only of use in this world if it is spent. I have yet to see a hearse pulling a U-Haul loaded with dollar bills.  So the question each of us must ask, is How will I spend the wealth entrusted to me?

 

A second risk in accumulating worldly wealth is the false sense of security it gives people.  As wealth increases people tend to become slothful and distrustful of its transience.  They think it will always be there.  Their focus shifts from the important things about life – what is eternal and what matters to the unimportant and temporal things which are destined for the purifying fire at the end of time.  Jesus speaks about this in his parable of the rich fool who builds bigger barns. The rich fool says, (Luke 12:19-20) [I] 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?’  The answer, “Someone else, but not you.”

 

Randy Alcorn has a wonderful quote, a proverb of sorts that many would do well to remember, “People tend to run out of money before mirages, so they cling to the myth that things they can’t afford will satisfy them.”[2] What he is saying is that our eyes are always larger than our pocket books and so we live in ignorance thinking that money would fix our problems. Solomon in all his wisdom has written about this risks of wealth and its inherit inability to satisfy or matter. (Eccl. 2:10-11) I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

 

And the third risk I would like to share today is this: There is a sort of physics of money that I would like to share with you.  Newton developed the scientific formula, F = m*a, that states the amount of Force one object exerts on another is equal to its mass times acceleration.  In terms of wealth, this means that amount of influence money will have over you is directly equal to the amount of money you have and the rate at which you are accumulating it.  So there is a real danger and risk for every person, that their wealth will become their god, that ultimate force that sucks them into its gravity and orbit.  And that risk can only be mitigated by divesting yourself of worldly wealth faster than you accumulate it.  Or in Jesus’s words, give us this day our daily bread (Matt 6:11), not tomorrows or next years, just what I need today, the rest I will give away, because It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

 

So we talked about the risks of worldly treasure in this life, what about the risks of accumulating treasures in the next?  There are some pretty great risks associated with accumulating treasure in the world to come.  First, there is the possibility that all of this talk about Jesus and the afterlife is a hoax, and truly this earth and these things are all that really exist.  Honestly, who doesn’t wonder that sometime.  Who hasn’t thought, “If I don’t get it now, I will never get it.”  That is part of what it means to be a sinful human.  We struggle with unbelief, which is why I love this prayer uttered in the Scriptures, “I believe, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)”.  We need to counter our unbelief with prayer, crying out to God for faith in the promises of the Scripture so that we can beat triumph over this risk.

 

Second, there is the risk that one’s needs might not be met if one shifts his or her focus from accumulating worldly wealth to accumulating heavenly treasure.  Though I don’t think that risk is really as big as we want to make it, Jesus told us, (Matt. 6:25, 32b-33)  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  How many of us can honestly say our core needs have not been met in this life?  Have we ever run through the streets naked as an adult?  Have we really been hungry and starving?  Our Lord has been faithful thus far, what makes us think he won’t be faithful if we used all of our wealth today to bring in heavenly treasure?

 

And the final risk that comes with storing up treasure in heaven is that one might actually grow in faith.  “A risk?” you say, “That sounds like a benefit.”  Awe, but faith is a great risk, for faith demands trust and trust requires God to stretch us, to bring difficulty upon us and to set us on our knees in prayer. (James 1:2-4) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  This is a great risk, especially for an affluent people like ourselves.  Are we willing to suffer in order to be mature and complete in Christ, a people of great faith in our Lord?  These are the risks.  Which risk holds you back from storing up heavenly treasure by means of the earthly resources God has given you?  Are you willing to pray for God to change your heart and give you courage to grow in Christ?

 

Now that we have talked about the risks, let’s shift to the benefits. What benefits do we accrue from storing up wealth in this world and what benefits do we receive from storing it up in the next?

 

As we store up wealth in this world, we reap the benefits of the world: wealth, prestige, power. We gain a sense of independence and invulnerability.  We get the desires of our hearts, along with the comfort of our bodies. We can travel freely, buy toys, eat out, stop working long before our bodies have given out and generally indulge in serving ourselves.  And if we have a good money manager, we may even gain more wealth during this time and the allusion that we can do so indefinitely in order to propagate such a wonderfully selfish life. Have I not just described the American Dream?  (Prov. 18:11) The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.  Proverbs 19:4 tells us Wealth brings many friends. Rev. 3:17 You say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  These are the benefits of worldly wealth, now lets compare this to the benefits of heavenly treasure.

 

After Jesus spoke about the dangers of worldly wealth, he went on to say, 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 you treasure is there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:20-21).  The first point I want to make is that this is a command; this is an imperative, a direct instruction from God himself.  We are commanded to be rich, but rich in our heavenly bank.  God wants you to store up wealth in a place where it will last, never to be decreased, but rather to perpetually increase.  The benefits of heavenly wealth are their permanence and their guaranteed returns.  They are everlastingly present.  The stuff of this world doesn’t last, but the stuff of the next can never fade spoil or rot.  It is permanent.  The benefits of using worldly wealth to gain heavenly wealth are that we never lose it.   Worldly wealth used in a kingdom treasure building manner allows us to accrue friends that will welcome us into glory. Wealth is an evangelistic tool.  This is one of hte blessings: The things we have in this world can be used to build up the world to come, to populate it with souls who are saved.  Luke 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

 

The benefits of using worldly wealth to gain heavenly wealth is the right to steward true wealth. (Matt. 25:21) “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masters happiness!’ In Luke 16:11-12, Jesus says, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone elses property, who will give you property of your own?” But the opposite is true and implied for those who do know the benefit and purpose of worldly wealth – gaining heavenly treasure by extending the Father’s kingdom. If you can’t use your resources to extend the kingdom, how will you ever see people come to faith and gain a spiritual family which you direct?

 

And all who store up heavenly treasure will find the Rate of Return to be staggering.  Jesus says gaining the kingdom will bring about a 100-fold return, which equates to 10,000%. (Matt. 19:29) And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.  Those are pretty astounding benefits aren’t they – permanence, evangelistic tool, right to bring folks into the kingdom, wonderful other worldly return.

  • Which of us wouldn’t love to get 10,000% on our investments, especially when the bank is giving a measly 1/10 of 1 percent?
  • Who doesn’t want to the guarantee that their wealth will be around never to decrease, perfectly secure, with the opportunity to have friends in heaven who will have their own wealth but will have a desire to share it with us and vice versa.
  • Who doesn’t want to see more people in the kingdom and to be welcomed there?

We all do.  And what is cool is that Jesus wants us to have all of this, which is why he commands us to store up heavenly treasure and to eschew earthly loss.

 

He isn’t commanding selfishness, for selfishness means gaining wealth at another’s expense.  Christ isn’t commanding selfishness, he is commanding generosity, its just another odd reality of the kingdom that generosity brings true wealth to those who are storing up in heaven.    Are you storing up treasure by the use of your worldly resources?

 

As I close, I would like to tell you about Howard Cooper.[3]  Did anyone hear about Mr. Cooper in the news this week?  He is 83 years old and retiring from the Auto dealership he has owned for 47 years. He employed 89 other people in his company and as a parting gift, Mr. Cooper gave every employee working for him $1000 per year of service with the dealership.  Now I don’t know if Mr. Cooper was a Christian, though I am strongly inclined to think that he is, and I am not sure how much he gave away that day, though it is estimated that he gave away more than $1 million, but what I want to bring to your attention is the way Mr. Cooper viewed his money.  He wasn’t intent on keeping every penny for himself.  He saw it as a way of blessing others who had blessed him. He used worldly wealth to win friends, and his whole life is a testament to this kind of generosity his workers declared. Maybe Mr. Cooper is a modern day illustration of Jesus’ words,

 

It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)  for in giving away we store up true treasure.

 

 

 

[Part 2]

 

  1. 2 Reasons we don’t store up treasure in heaven
    1. Short time horizon (Matt 6:20-21, Acts 20:35, Luke 6:38)
    2. Don’t know what true treasure is
  2. Real Treasure is
    1. Luke 19:15-19, 12:32, 2Cor 4:6-7, 5:20, 9:10, Matt 19, 13:44, Col 2:3, Ps 16:11, Phil 3:8-9, 20,  Heb 11:16, 1Pet 2:11
  3. Who owns it anyway?  (1Cor 10:26, Haggai 2:8, Deut 8:18, Ps 24:1
  4. We are stewards
  5. What do stewards do? 1 Sam 15
  6. Practical Questions about wealth (Luke 19:8, 12:48, 1Cor 3:12-15, Matt 6:11, 2Cor 9:10-11, 8:14-15, 8:2, Acts 20:35

 

Last week, we spoke about the risks and the benefits of storing up treasures both in this world and in the next. This week we are going to speak about what keeps people from storing up treasure in heaven?  There are two reasons Christians fail to store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust dont destroy and thieves dont break in and steal (Matt 6:20).

 

 

The first reason is that most of us have an extremely short time horizon.  We are worried about 40, 50, or 60 years in the future, when in fact we should be considering 1 million, 5 million, 30 million years in the future. Humans are an easily distracted species, our focus is the immediate and we strive to mitigate any form of discomfort.  Generally that is good; say when you hand being held over a flame and the pain sensors register, “Ouch!”  You pull away. You wouldn’t want to have a long horizon in that situation.

 

But we are not talking about burning our hand; we are talking about our spiritual inheritance.  We are speaking about the treasures being amassed in heaven under our account.  And that is of infinitely more worth and magnitude than some short-term discomfort.  If you knew that for every dollar you gave away, I would give you two, what would you start doing?

 

That is the spiritual reality each of us live in.  God has promised that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  He has declared to us, (Luke 6:38) Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Are we ready as people to step into the realm of generosity knowing that it may cause us short-term discomfort but without any true long-term pain? Do we believe that in the long run the benefits will far exceed anything we could do with dollars and cents in this life?  These are the first questions we must grapple to answer.  We must come to believe that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matt 6:21).

 

The second reason many Christians fail to take full benefit of their heavenly portfolio is that they don’t know what real treasure is.  No one has ever taken the time to unfold the Scriptural teaching about heavenly treasures. So lets take a few minutes this morning to explore it.

 

In Luke 19:15-19, we read the following, He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.  The first one came and said, Sir, your mina has earned ten more.  “‘Well done, my good servant! his master replied. Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.  The second came and said, Sir, your mina has earned five more.  His master answered, You take charge of five cities.’”  The reward each of these stewards earned for their proper use of the master’s wealth was authority.  As men and women given a charge to steward the earth for the Lord we can assume that Jesus’ teaching in this parable is meant to both challenge and encourage us.  We are challenged not to waste the master’s resources by doing nothing with them of any value, as the one who buried his mina did.  But as encouragement we are told that a something awaits us for using the master’s resources for his purpose, namely to extend the range of his rule.  As a reward, we are given spiritual power and authority in the kingdom.  That is one of the treasures being amassed in heaven. As 2Cor. 4:[6]-7 But we have this treasure [the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

 

In Matthew 19, the rich young man is told by Jesus to divest himself of his earthly wealth and in exchange he will receive treasure in heaven.  He will get real possessions.  Things like (Col. 2:3) all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, a harvest of righteousness, (2Cor. 9:10) Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. A kingdom that our Father has been pleased to give us. (Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.) And my favorite treasure, the one I look forward to the most, joy. Psa. 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Matt. 13:44  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

 

In the Kingdom, one of our greatest treasures is Joy.  Joy unspeakable, Joy immeasurable. Joy Incarnate for we will be found in Christ.  Or as Paul says, Phil. 3:8-9 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

 

In the kingdom, we are going to have the ultimate treasure, the person of Christ, in the place of Christ, with all the rewards Christ brings.  And what is so amazing is we can store up those treasures now, but the way we use our worldly wealth.  We can invest ourselves in the 4 things that last: God, His Word, His people, and His purposes.  Does your financial balance sheet reflect a heart full invested in these 4 things?  Can you say like Jim Elliot, “He is not a fool who loses what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose!”

 

Do we, as Christians truly understand what real treasures are?  Do we really understand that we don’t belong in this world, but belong in the world to come?  We are simply passing through this world; we are stopping over for a brief time with the opportunity to earn earthly treasures for the express purpose of sending them on ahead to our final resting place.

 

The Word declares this to us in unmistakable words: 2Cor. 5:20 we are therefore Christs ambassadors… Phil. 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven… Heb. 11:16 Instead, they [the Old Testament saints] were longing for a better country a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  There is no getting around these very clear and understandable statements, We are made for another place, we are (1Pet. 2:11)…aliens and strangers in the world…As disciples of Jesus Christ, let’s act like it in the way we steward God’s resources.

 

For that is what we truly are – stewards.  The wealth we have under our possession in this world, in our banks, brokerages, land holdings, property – it all belongs to God. For, The earth is the Lords, and everything in it.” (1Cor. 10:26) Hag. 2:8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the Lord Almighty. Deut. 8:18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. Is there any doubt as to who everything belongs to: Psa. 24:1 The earth is the LORDs, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

.

We are stewards commissioned to use the things of the present world for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. We are to use it the way he would use it.  We are to be unattached to it, for everything in the world we cherish, our old car collections, our fancy furniture and clothes, the stereos, computers, jewelry, RV’s and whatever else we value will all ultimately end up in the eternal junkyard.  This world is to be destroyed by fire and this stuff isn’t going to last.

 

John Wesley was once told by a distraught man who rode up shouting, “Mr. Wesley, something terrible happened! Your house burned to the ground!”  Wesley weighed the news, then calmly replied, “No.  The Lord’s house burned to the ground.  That means one less responsibility for me.”  Wesley’s reaction wasn’t denial.  Rather, it was a bold affirmation of reality – God is the owner of all things, and we are simply His stewards.”[4]

 

Stewards manage things for the benefit of the master and his kingdom and his wishes, not for the benefit of the steward’s desires.  Which of us would put money in the control of someone who had his best interest at heart and not our own?  But isn’t that the way many Christians approach the management of their earthly resources, to maximize their experience instead of the Father’s kingdom?

 

This was the struggle that Saul faced when returning from the slaughter of the Amalekites.  Saul wanted to manage those sheep and cattle for what he thought was best, instead of according to the express commands of God, to utterly destroy them in the place where they were found.  You can read about it in 1Samuel 15.

God has done an amazing thing by making us cosigners on his account.  He has placed immense responsibility into our hands.  He has given us the ability to set our own salaries and determine our own expenses.  One of the greatest spiritual decisions we must make is to determine how much of the Lord’s money we are called to live on and what we are to do with the excess funds – will we hoard it, spend it or give it away to further his kingdom?

 

So lets talk some practical things about managing earthly treasures for the kingdom profits.  I have heard it often stated, both in this church and in other locations things like, “As a steward, I must take good care of my possessions and not loan them to people who might destroy them.” Or, “the last time I loaned this out, it came back broken, or cost me a lot of money, so I won’t loan it again.” Isn’t this a sad reality?  While it is true that we are to care for those things in our lives, are we to be more concerned about caring for an object than we are to be concerned with blessing another even if it cost us something? Did you hear anything wrong with the statements I made – I must take care of my possessions…it cost me a lot of money, so I wont…

 

These statements, and all of us have made them; betray a heart attitude and belief that we and not God are the true owners of this world.  They betray a deep-rooted selfishness that our enjoyment of something may be harmed by another’s misuse.  So what.  It’s god’s.  If it is broken, God has suffered the loss, not you or me.  If it costs money to repair, it was God’s money anyway.  Maybe he didn’t need it anymore, or want us to have it.  Did we ever consider that?

 

I remember the furniture and carpet we had in our home after returning to Colorado.  IT was an old junking couch with stains, blemishes and the carpet was well used, lets say.  We didn’t care about the students coming over and spilling stuff, eating on the furniture, putting their shoes on it, etc…  Then one day we were given a nice sofa and we replaced the flooring, suddenly we were concerned about stuff, stuff that we hadn’t worried about ever before.  We began backing off on inviting others over because they didn’t care for it, as we wanted.  Was that really stewardship?  NO.  That was the opposite of stewardship.  Ministry was impacted and lessened all for a couch and floor.  Can you think of similar examples in your life?

 

Let’s take another situation.  The often unspoken belief that if I invest the money now, I will be able to give more in the future.  Really?  Are you certain about that?  Hopefully we have learned enough from the recent economic realities to know that there is no sure thing.  That money we are investing may not be there next year and so you might not have anything to give, if you don’t give it now.  Again, let me air my failures.  A number of years ago, Jen and I invested $10,000 in an energy exploration startup.  My mother-in-law had worked for a number of these start-ups and they had all been very successful ventures.  After watching a few, we thought, this is a great way to expand money for the kingdom.  We were planning on taking all the profits and using them to finance adoptions.  As of today, that $10,000 is worth exactly the value of the paper it is printed on – nothing.  The company went bankrupt and $10,000 that could have been given to God’s ministry was lost.

 

We aren’t going to get to heaven and hear God say, “You blew it Scott.  You should have invested it over here, or you should have stayed a little longer in this or that investment.”  No.  God isn’t going to chide us for funneling his money into his work today.  Though we may very well hear, “Why didn’t you follow the prompting of your heart when I laid giving to adoption on you?”  Future giving doesn’t count.  What counts in the heavenly logs is the actual giving we have done, not what we hope to do.  I love Zaccheus’ story, after meeting Jesus and eating with him he declares, Luke 19:8 “Look, Lord! Here and now [not later] I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

 

When the Lord returns, what is going to happen to all those resources entrusted to you?  They will be lost.  Paul tells us, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each mans work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Cor 3:12–15)  And we don’t know when the Lord is going to return, ““No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt 24:36)

 

If that is so, then we must be ready, wouldn’t it be a shame for God to come back tonight, or next week and to see all of earthly treasure under the control of the church lost, having not been used to expand the Kingdom already?

 

What about those who ask about leaving kids an inheritance?  Let’s reflect on this.  If your children were raised up to love the Lord and his work, and if they truly believed themselves to be stewards of God’s resources, then wouldn’t they give anything you pass on to them away?  If so, why wait?  If not, why risk allowing God’s money to be wasted?  Let God provide for your children.  If he promises to provide you your daily bread, then he will most certainly provide your children with their daily bread.  (Matt 6:11)  Not to mention the practical realities about inheritances.  More relationships between siblings are destroyed by the way that estates are disposed of.  Is it really worth it?  Or in the words of Andrew Carnegie “The almighty dollar bequeathed to a child is an almighty curse.  No man has the right to handicap his son with such a burden as great wealth.”[5]

 

So practically, why has God given us so much wealth?  Can anyone venture a guess after the past two week?  God has blessed you with earthly riches in order for you to give it away. 2Cor. 9:10-11 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  2Cor. 8:14-15 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

 

God has blessed us in order for us to bless others by giving it away.  Money and wealth is a test.  If God wanted to care for the physical needs of his people among the nations and extend his Kingdom.  What would he do?  He would bless those in the position to extend that kingdom.  Now look around – you and I are among the most privileged people in history.  We control immense amounts of wealth.  We speak the lingua franca of the world natively.  We are educated.  What do you thing he wants from us? Luke 12:48 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

 

Give.  Give generously.  Give liberally.  Be like the Corinthians, who (2Cor. 8:2) Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  Give and tell your stories of giving to (Heb. 10:24) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Speak of God’s faithfulness.[6]  Become a people who compete with one another, seeking to outgive each other in order to see God glorified, for then and only then will you be storing up treasures in heaven and then and only then will you know the meaning of Jesus’ words, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).


[1] 2012 with value of a Morgan silver dollar being $26.82 currently and spot price $34.65.

[2] Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle, pg. 54

[4] Alcorn, pg. 25.

[5] Alcorn, pg. 70

[6] David in 1Chron 29:6-9 told exactly how much he gave to the temple building

 

Sermon Outline

 

  1. Introduction (Luke 3:11-14)
  2. The risks & Benefits of storing up treasure
    1. In this world
      1. Risks: Matt 6:19, Prov 23:5, Ps 49:17, Gen 15:2, Luke 12:19-20, Eccl 2:10-11, Matt 6:11, Acts 20:35
      2. Benefits: Prov 18:11, 19:4, Rev 3:17
    2. In the next
      1. Risks: Matt 6:25, 32-33, James 1:2-4
      2. Benefits: Matt 6:20-21, Luke 16:9, matt 25:21, Luke 16:11-12, Matt 19:29, Acts 20:35
  3. What is real treasure?
  4. Who owns it anyway? We are just stewards
  5. What do stewards do?
    1. Practical issues
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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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