Sunday, January 12, 2020
Sermon: Stewarding our Money
Verse: Matthew 6:33 ESV But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Description: Money can seem like a necessary evil at times: we need and want more of it; we stress over it; we argue about it. Yet we also see good from money: providing for needs; giving it away to good causes. What is the Lord’s view on money? He is our Creator and heavenly Father, so what does he tell us? What heavenly perspectives and solutions does he have?
My grandparents raised my dad and his four sisters through 10 years of the Depression and another 4-5 years of World War II.
Those were very stressful times for them and most of the nation.
And if you knew people from that generation, more than likely you noticed that they viewed money and possessions much differently than later generations.
Such stress and frugality for 15 years changes a person.
Finances for all of us is typically shaped in large part by our upbringing.
If your family was quite frugal, that affected you.
If they were stingy or generous, that shaped you.
Sometimes our shaping from childhood goes the opposite way. We say to ourselves, “My family was this way, but I want to be the opposite.”
So family shapes us. Our own personality shapes us. Some of us just naturally seem to be frugal, while others like to spend, while others like to give.
I want to propose that the One dominating influence in our lives concerning Money and Stuff—the Bible calls it Mammon—ought to be God Himself.
Slide A long-time favorite passage of mine:
Psalm 24:1 NIV The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
The whole earth and all who live on it belong to him.
And since he is Owner of all things, we ought to take our cue from him.
And ask him, “How should we use what we have?”
We are in Week 2 of a 3-week series on Stewardship.
We are stewards of our lives. Managers. Not owners. God is the Owner.
And He entrusts us with all that goes on in our lives.
He asks us out of love and respect for him to steward our lives.
One passage that says it so well:
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
To do it for his glory. That is, “do it for his honor.”
Let everything you do, even your use of money and possessions—earning, saving, spending, giving—everything… everything…. do it to bring him glory.
To honor him. To lift him up high in your heart and to everyone around you. To thank him for who he is and what he has done. To love him more.
We steward our lives because, fundamentally, he is worthy of it.
We honor him with our very lives.
This is our Stewardship.
In this 3-part series, we are looking at three areas of our lives in which we are to steward:
- Our time. (last week)
- Our money. (today)
- Our health. (next week)
In today’s passage, an assortment of topics come up: What we treasure. Comparing eternity to this life. Worry. Faith.
Lord, we may have many distractions in our lives, even this morning. Would you help us to place ourselves at your feet this morning, to find peace, to listen to your Word.
We humbly yield ourselves to you.
Welcome to you who are visiting. We are glad you are here.
I am Brad Barrett, one of the pastors here.
I hope that my wife and I can meet you afterwards.
Matthew 6:19–34 (ESV)
This morning our main text is from a sermon given by Jesus on a mountain.
It’s called the Sermon on the Mount. One of the more well-known and well-loved passages in the Bible.
Matthew 6 [page 811].
If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, there are 66 books written by about 40 different authors over many centuries.
Each book is broken up with labels of chapters and verses.
They were not originally written with those labels, but someone many centuries ago added them to assist in reading portions of the Bible.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus is concerned about our hearts and how we are relating to money.
Money and stuff are neutral. Neither good nor bad.
But our attitude towards money is what ought to be our foundational concern with money.
What is our attitude toward our earning, spending, saving, and giving of money and possessions?
So Jesus speaks about “treasure.”
We know what a treasure is. It’s something of great value, at least value to us. Something we cherish. Something our affections are set on. Something we admire and protect and keep.
We cling to it. Worry if something happens to it. Won’t let others touch it without permission. Would never give it away. We store it carefully with great protection.
It can be a possession, such as a house or jewelry.
It can be in a bank or retirement account.
Really, anything of cash or stuff.
There is something quite alluring to stuff. And what is ironic, the more we have, typically the more we want.
It’s like drinking salt water. It makes you thirstier.
If you understand “treasure” better, hang out with two 2-year olds for an hour. Watch them play with toys.
They treasure the toy they have— try taking it away from them. And then they treasure the toy that the other kid has.
Jesus says, “Don’t treasure the things in this world. Treasure those things in the next world.”
The implication from Jesus is that we believe there actually is another world beyond this.
There is an unseen but real world where God Almighty dwells and where his people will dwell with him.
We are to treasure that world. And this is by faith, for we can’t see that world, can we? We cannot touch it or taste it.
But by faith we believe it is there. And we believe that life there lasts not for 70-80 years, but forever and ever and ever.
Are we living out our faith for the next world and the reward that is there?
Are we consciously rejecting giving our hearts to earthly treasures?
Are we instead giving our minds and hearts to the next world?
Are you heavenly minded, or earthly minded?
You can tell by what you treasure.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,
23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
This illustration is not easy to understand, but I think Jesus’ point is this:
If you have eyesight, it brings illumination to your whole body. Seeing is so beautiful.
If you are blind and in darkness, it brings a sense of darkness to your body.
In that way, how you view money is going to affect your whole life.
If you treasure eternal things, you have good spiritual eyesight, and your whole life is illumined.
If you treasure earthly things, you are blind spiritually, and your whole life is darkened.
If you want real life and light, treasure the right things. Heavenly things.
24 “No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.
I have known a few people who, in the workplace, have two bosses.
It didn’t go well.
One boss tells you to do this. The other boss tells you that.
Either God or Mammon—Money and Stuff—will rule our lives.
Interestingly, we think Money and Stuff is our slave, but it can be the opposite. Money can rule us. We are its slaves.
And it is a cruel master.
We deceive ourselves if we think we can have one foot in both worlds.
One foot in God’s kingdom, trying to be very Christian.
The other foot set in the affairs of this world, and we are carnal. Fleshly.
It won’t work. We will try it, but it won’t work.
We must decide this day whom we will serve and what we will treasure.
Will we be faith-filled, heavenly-minded people?
Or will we walk by sight and be earthly-minded?
Money will test and refine our hearts.
Jesus keeps going.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
First, on anxiety.
Many of us are natural worriers. It is a quality of the human condition. I honestly can say I don’t know anyone who at least occasionally doesn’t have anxiety. That never worries about anything. Perhaps you don’t ever get worried and stressed about money, but you are a rarity, I believe.
I know I can worry.
- I can worry about my savings.
- I can worry about the economy.
- I can fret if I’m using my money the way the Lord wants.
- I can worry about future unknowns, like the health of my wife and I as we get older.
- I can stress about long term income in the retirement years.
Anxiety can crush us and consume us. It can weigh us down and fill our minds so full that we can hardly think about other things.
Some of you know this to be true.
Slide And if you don’t believe me, believe Jesus.
Matthew 13:22 NIV The seed [THE WORD of GOD] falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Worries—it’s the same word as in Chapter 6. The worries of this life… AND….the deceitfulness of riches (HAVING riches or WANTING riches) … choke God’s Word and his will in our lives, and we don’t bear the fruit of God.
No one wants to live in a state of anxious, stressful consuming thinking. Everyone wants peace. Tranquility. Don’t you?
So one important question is, “HOW”? How can we find peace?
Do we simply and somehow convince ourselves not to be anxious?
Let’s try this. Say this with me three times: “I won’t be anxious. I won’t be anxious. I won’t be anxious.”
Do you feel better? Probably not.
The solution to peaceful, anxiety-free living is not about mumbling some positive-thinking mantra.
We don’t have to wonder how we find the peace of God, because Jesus clearly and with his heavenly authority TELLS us how to walk in peace.
So let’s begin. First, Jesus gives the command to not be anxious.
In my limited wisdom, I can read that and think, “OK, hearing a command should be enough. Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious,” so I just need to hear over and over, “DON’T. STOP IT.” Right? He is the Lord, so I should listen to him and be at peace.
That is true.
But what is remarkable is that Jesus gives us more than the simple command. He gives us other considerations. Other motivations. Other reasoning.
So the first key word is, “DON’T.” Don’t be anxious. Or said positively, “Be at peace.”
The second key word is, “LOOK” in vs. 26. And similarly, “CONSIDER,” in vs. 28.
We are to look and consider something.
In other words, we are to THINK. Think. Use our brains. Get our minds going.
Jesus’ solution to anxiety is not ignorance.
Some of us may not get anxious— or we try to avoid anxiety– by simply ignoring money issues. But that’s not holy living, and it’s not stewardship.
We are to use our minds. Think. He says, “Look and consider something in our natural world, reflect on God our Creator and Father, and believe.”
God made the birds and feeds them. And are not we are far, far more valuable than they?
His point is this: “Look at the birds and believe. Consider the flowers in the field and trust him.”
“Don’t be anxious. Instead, trust your King.”
We are to use our minds in all aspects of the Christian life.
Look and consider not just birds and flowers. Look and consider God and how he gave his Son for you.
Romans 8:32 ESV He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Paul says think. Consider. Reflect on the gospel message.
God gave his own Son for you, right? While you were a sinner and an enemy, he loved you anyway and sent his Son to die like a lamb to the slaughter.
Now, if God did that, won’t he graciously and kindly and tenderly give you everything else you need?
This requires remembering and pondering and looking and considering. Just like Jesus told us to do in Matthew 6.
This is one of several reasons why it is so vital that we regularly read and hear the Scriptures.
- Reading God’s Word daily in our homes.
- Coming on Sundays and listening and singing earnestly. Paying attention. Taking notes.
- Joining a Community Group and centering yourself on the Scriptures.
In every situation, we think and hear and remember and consider. And we realize, God is trustworthy.
The only logical conclusion to Matthew 6 and Romans 8 is TRUST. I can trust my God and Creator and Father. I can trust him.
And even more, in light of who God is and what he has done and the love he has shown, it is offensive and dishonoring to NOT believe. To not trust. To continue in anxiety.
I am offending God when I continue in my worry, for I am saying, “God, you are not good enough and caring enough and powerful enough to care for me. I will figure it out on my own.”
So there is a process we go through to walk in holiness with God. It’s called sanctification.
One aspect of that sanctification process is this: We reject sin. And we embrace righteousness.
We turn from one thing, and turn towards another.
2 Timothy 2:22 NIV Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
So in Matthew 6, we reject… we flee from anxiety.
And then we pursue looking and considering and reflecting. And trusting.
We reject a life of SELF-reliance, and we pursue a life of GOD-reliance.
This is the life of faith in our God and King.
Before going on, let me say that none of this negates the need for wisdom.
We must have wisdom and apply it to money.
For example, it is wise to PLAN.
We plan how we will get training to get a job. Like finishing high school. Perhaps college or some other training.
We plan for known, longterm needs like car repair or replacing a furnace.
Proverbs 21:20 NIV The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.
The fool uses everything he has immediately and makes no plan for future needs.
Also, it is wise to be DILIGENT.
We diligently work at our jobs, increasing our skills.
We diligently plan how to spend and save and give money. Like a budget.
Proverbs 13:4 CSB The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied.
Often our anxiety is increased because we are not wise.
We have no plan. We have not considered what we need. We are careless and lazy.
If we were wiser and more diligent, our anxiety would probably decrease.
This doesn’t mean our plans always work out the way we wanted. We are not God with all power and wisdom and insight and authority.
Yet we still apply wisdom. To be a good steward requires wisdom.
Speaking of PLANNING and DILIGENCE: We are holding a four-week course on finances. A friend of ours, Justin Bennett, is coming here on every Tuesday in February. See your bulletin for details.
Many of us could benefit.
- You need reminders
- You need a tune up.
- You need an overhaul.
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Again Jesus tells us not to be anxious.
And again he tells us to consider and think and remember.
He says, “Even the Gentiles… the pagans in the world… even they need food and clothing. Even they seek after those things. Your heavenly Father knows what you need.”
This is significant. If you believe in Jesus, then God is your Father.
The Fatherhood of God is one of the more powerful truths about God. The deeper you go in understanding and believing this, the richer your Christian life will be.
The Fatherhood of God changes everything. If he is our Father, that means we are his children.
There are some bad human fathers who neglect and abandon their children. And that is very sad.
But even an average pagan father cares for his children. He feeds them, protects them, and provides for them.
Story: One of my bigger goals as a dad to my four daughters while they were growing up was to be the best picture of my heavenly Father to them as I could be.
But whether I was a good father or a bad one, our Father in heaven surpasses us all.
How much more… how much more…how much more… will your heavenly Father care for you.
He is not inattentive. He has not fallen asleep.
He will not abandon you like your earthly father may have. He never runs out of resources. He cannot die and leave you as an orphan.
He is a tenaciously protective and providing Father.
Now, Jesus says, now TRUST him. Be anxious no more.
And now Jesus gives one more command in vs. 33.
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. What does this mean?
Matthew’s Gospel speaks often of the kingdom and kingdom living.
So in light of that, this verse can be better understood.
We can then say,
Are we living first for the King?
Are we doing what the King wants?
Is the King and His kingdom our first concern in life?
Are we spreading the news of the King and his kingdom?
If so, then this promise is for you and me.
God, the Great Provider, the King, your heavenly Father— will meet all your basic needs, that is, food and clothing (as in vs. 25-31).
And just moments before speaking these words about anxiety and money, Jesus taught us how to pray.
In Matthew 6:10, Jesus says to pray that “God’s kingdom would come.”
We seek and pray for the kingdom of God to be prominent and present in our lives and around us.
Our God is a Great King, and he is worthy of our all.
Also, we are pursuing obedience to the king. This seems to be the thrust of “seek his righteousness.”
Jesus speaks not of gaining justification from God but of walking in the righteous way of life as a devoted subject of the King.
So we ask, are we living in a manner worthy of the King and His kingdom?
If that is our pursuit as we seek the glory of our Great King, then Jesus promises our basic needs will be met.
Therefore, we need not worry.
This is no guarantee of a large bank account or a high paying job.
This is no promise of a huge retirement account or having way more than food and clothing.
This is no promise of a life with no problems or pressures or concerns.
And actually, you need NO SUCH PROMISES…
…because the King, our Heavenly Father, promises to care for our basic needs.
You are part of his family and his kingdom, and he will care for you.
Story: In our political culture, we clamor for someone to take care of us. Our governor, our President, Congress. I get that.
Our hope is not in our government.
Our hope is not in our large 401k retirement account.
Our hope is not in having a great plan for our future.
Our hope is in the Creator of heaven and earth, who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the fields with beautiful flowers. [PAUSE]
Our hope is in our heavenly Father, who deeply loves his children and will watch over them with great diligence and care. [PAUSE]
Our hope is in the King. The King of kings who rules with all wisdom and authority. He watches over every one of his subjects.
One more thought on worry.
The ultimate goal is not simply to not be worried. [REPEAT]
The goal is trust in our God and Father and King.
You see, people all over the world seek peace in various ways apart from God. Meditation and other techniques where we “empty our minds.”
While such things may bring a measure of peace, they are not associated with lives of faith in our God. And as such, they do not honor him.
Jesus tells us not to empty our minds, but to fill them. He says, “Look. Consider. Observe. Think. Believe.” Fill your minds with the truth of God and life and creation.
And besides, why would you want peace from mere emptiness of mind?
Wouldn’t you rather have a peace that comes from knowing the Creator of heaven and earth loves you, is on your side, and never has you out of his sight?
That is a spectacular peace. A heavenly peace. A glorious peace.
Slide Read Paul’s astonishing description of peace that comes from God.
Philippians 4:6–7 ESV … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our God is called “the Lord of peace.”
And his peace surpasses our ability even to understand it. It defies explanation.
So the goal is not merely peace. It is faith in our heavenly Father who grants us such peace.
So let me give you summary points to take with you this week.
Think. Look. Consider.
Slow down. Go outside (even though it’s winter). Look at the plants and trees and flowers. Look at the birds flying. The rabbits hopping.
Then keep thinking: if God cares for all of that, and if I am worth so, so, so much more than that, then I can trust him to care for me.
Then think even more by looking at Jesus. His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return.
Consider this: if God didn’t spare his Son for me, surely I need not worry. Surely I can trust him with everything else in my life.
I can trust him for my health and my children and my retirement and my old age and my employment.
I need never be anxious. I need never be stressed out about money and food and clothing.
This week, let us put our energy into thinking and considering God’s truth.
Seek first the King himself and all that concerns him in his kingdom. Live for the King.
Stop seeking security and hope in fleeting treasures.
Start seeking treasures in heaven. Seeking the will of God in things that will last forever. Like people and service done by faith in the King.
Seek the will of the King.
Pray, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
You are not only his child in Christ, you are his beloved subject, a citizen in heaven. He will never fail the subjects of his kingdom.
This is the life that honors the Lord.
This is the life of a Steward.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Lord, open our eyes to see you. To believe who you are. To believe what you say.
Help us to seek after you. Not merely to seek after peace, but to seek after the God of Peace.
Like David prayed in Psalm 34, help us to “taste and see that you are good.”
It is sweet to trust in Jesus. To take him at his Word.
Go this week in simple, childlike trust in Jesus.
He is a precious Friend who will be with you until the end.