Part 1 can be read here
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 real treasure is, who owns what we have, what stewards do and address a few practical questions.
In Luke 19 we encounter the Parable of the 10 Minas: The King who gives 1 mina to each person to manage. I am jumping in midway at verse 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.’”
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 challenge and encourage us. We are challenged not to waste our master’s resources by doing nothing with them of any value, as the one who buried his mina did. Burying it is like spending it on ourselves and saying, here is the extension of your kingdom, it was all poured out on me. But as an encouragement we are told that something awaits us for using the master’s resources for his purpose – the extension of his rule.
The reward each of these stewards is given for their proper use of the master’s wealth was authority. Spiritual Authority is one of the heavenly treasures awaiting those who use their wealth appropriately. Have you ever wondered why Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, and others like them have had such a great impact on the lives of people? They had spiritual authority because they bowed to God in every area of life.
Do you want to gain authority in the kingdom? Then give generously of all you have to see the kingdom of God extended. Listen to J. I. Packer’s words from A Quest for Godliness (p. 77):
“Spiritual authority is hard to pin down in words, but we recognise it when we meet it. It is a product compounded of conscientious faithfulness to the Bible; vivid perception of God’s reality and greatness; inflexible desire to honour and please him; deep self-searching and radical self-denial…The man of God has authority as he bows to divine authority…”
The way we steward earthly wealth is illustrative of all of these qualities – Are we faithful to the very words of Scripture? Do we believe God is alive and present? Will we honor and please him in every way? Can we deny ourselves in order to love others?
What other treasures await the people of God? 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. What are they you may ask? 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. The more we give, the more we come to understand the gift of Christ. The more we understand the gift of Christ, the more we are filled with joy. The more we are filled with joy, the more we want to share with others what we have learned. The more we share with others, the more we grow in faith. The more we grow in faith, the more we are willing to give to see his kingdom extended. And the cycle starts all over again. 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 – authority, joy, righteousness, , etc. And what is so amazing is we can store up and experience those treasures now, by 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 fully 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!” Are we set on amassing the wisdom and knowledge of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the joy of Christ and the authority of Christ?
Do we, as Christians truly understand what real treasures are? They aren’t green and printed on paper, they aren’t gold or silver and pressed in a die, the real treasure is Christ. 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 Christ’s 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 Lord’s, 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 LORD’s, 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.
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.”
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? If your financial planner sat down with you and said, “Today I have decided to do what makes me the most amount of money, I hope you don’t mind.” Would you keep any funds with that person? I hope not, 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?
Who here collects something – cars, coins, houses, shoes, antiques, trinkets…? Tell me, how does that expand the Father’s kingdom? Don’t try to legitimize it, be honest, your collection of stuff isn’t in the Father’s best interest is it? Sell it and give it to the furtherance of the kingdom.
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 each of us must make is to determine how much of the Lord’s money we are called to live on and what we are going 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 kingdom profits. I have heard it 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 so he withdrew his providential hand from it and allowed it to die, or maybe he didn’t want us to have it so he broke it for us. Did we ever consider that?
I remember the furniture and carpet we had in our home after returning from Zambia. It was an old junky 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 away 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 it?” Future intentions to give don’t count for heavenly treasure. 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 He 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 man’s 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 the earthly treasure under the control of the church lost, having not been used to expand the Kingdom?
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? Give it away now. 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.”
Seriously, why has God given us so much wealth? Can anyone venture a guess after the past two weeks? 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 all of us in order for us to bless others. Kind of has an Abrahamic covenant ring to it doesn’t it? We are to bless others by loving those in need and expanding the preaching of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Money and wealth are a test. How are you doing?
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 a 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 God 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. 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).
Lest I be charged with preaching a gospel devoid of Christ, let me tell you that such a radical lifestyle is grounded in the gospel. It was Jesus who gave away everything, each day he lived on the earth. It was Christ who dies with only a tunic to his name and yet his generosity has become our salvation. He calls us to take up our cross and follow in his footsteps and so receive the treasure of fellowship with him in his suffering, in his death and ultimately in his resurrection as JI Packer went on to say, “and the pattern of God’s power in him is the baptismal pattern of being supernaturally raised from under burdens that feel like death.”
- Real Treasure is
- Luke 19:15-19, 12:32, 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
- Who owns it anyway? (1Cor 10:26, Haggai 2:8, Deut 8:18, Ps 24:1
- We are stewards
- What do stewards do?
- 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
 “and the pattern of God’s power in him is the baptismal pattern of being supernaturally raised from under burdens that feel like death.”
 Alcorn, pg. 25.
 Alcorn, pg. 70
 David in 1Chron 29:6-9 told exactly how much he gave to the temple building