Saturday, October 26, 2013

131027 Grace is not Empty

Galatians 2:15-21, We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Paul has had to stand up to Peter and the others who were intimidated by Jewish Christians who had come from Jerusalem. He shows that both Jew and Gentile were justified through faith in Jesus Christ. If Christians are to return to the covenant of works they will be declaring that grace is empty of power to justify. The Judaizers argued that in order to be a Christian one had to first follow the laws of Moses. They accuse Paul, and those with him, of sin because they did not keep the law of Moses anymore. Paul says if leaving the law is sin then Christ is a servant of sin. And that cannot be.
Anyone who adds anything to grace through faith for justification before God makes Jesus into a cruel tyrant who demands what we cannot give absolute obedience! Grace through faith, and grace alone, is the path to salvation. People are drawn to a covenant of works, or works salvation, because we want to be in control of our lives and, therefore, proud of our accomplishments. Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, writes: “Faith is the one human attitude that is the opposite of depending on oneself, for it involves trust in or dependence upon another. Thus, it is devoid of self-reliance or attempts to gain righteousness by human effort. If God’s favor is to come to us apart from our own merit, then it must come when we depend not on our own merit but on the merits of another, and that is precisely when we have faith.”
The law was designed by God to draw us out of the security of our self-trust into the presence of Holy God so we can see how exceedingly sinful our lives are without Christ.
We must remember that
The law brings death not life!
The law does not forgive sin. Listen while I read, Romans 3:19-20, Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The law was designed by God to make people aware that they could not be pleasing to him through what they did. In order to try to live by the Law of Moses the Jewish rabbis compiled a huge list of rules to follow. They were designed to get around the law because, honestly, it could not be kept.
For example, the Bible refers to a distance called “a Sabbath day’s journey” and that amounts to about a half mile that a person can travel without “working” on the Sabbath. If a person had to walk further than a half-mile it was simply a matter of having some food placed beforehand at the end of the Sabbath day’s journey. A person could then stop for the meal and continue on another Sabbath day’s journey. Presumably this could go on as far as the person needed to go. Walk about a half-mile, declare that to be where he lived, eat something that had been placed there to prove it was his residence, and then go on. Of course, this does not work. No matter how the rabbis twisted things around they cannot make the Law of Moses doable. God never intended the law to do anything other than cause a person to rely on him completely for salvation. Not only does the law not forgive sin …

The law enhances indwelling sin. Paul points out how the law worked in his life. Let me read some of his explanation. Romans 7:7-12. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
The law serves a very important purpose. It is extremely important that we know what sin is otherwise we might accidentally do things that would condemn us. Paul uses the example of the tenth commandment. We are commanded not to covet and when Paul first read that he realized that he coveted many things and that it was sin. And as a result sin worked in his life causing all kinds of covetousness. This law that he thought was to have given him life instead deceived him and enhanced his sin. Works salvation cannot save us and only drives us to redouble our efforts in a failed attempt to please a God who demands perfection.
The law cannot save us it only increases our sin and…
Indwelling sin condemns us. Now let’s look at Romans 5:19-21. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The one man’s disobedience refers to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The consequence of Adam’s sin was that we all became sinners. We inherit from Adam and Eve rebellion against God. So we are born in trespasses and sin and in need of a Savior.
The law increases the guilt and condemns the person who attempts to live by it. God, knowing that man could not save himself, by his grace ruled over the law of sin in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The law came through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus. It is not possible to live by the law and those who attempt to are condemned to struggle without ever having real peace.
I remember once talking to a pastor’s wife from a church that teaches salvation by works. She told me that if she died with one unconfessed sin she would go to hell. Being the gracious diplomat that I am I simply said to her, “Then you are going to bust hell wide open.” She thought that her salvation depended upon her confession rather than upon Christ’s work on the cross. We need to remember…
Christians have been crucified with Christ! I know that we live a long time after Jesus was crucified. But we need to remember that we do not think the way God does. God sees us in Christ not in our human nature. There is nothing about us, apart from the grace of God, that makes us acceptable to him. We owe a debt we cannot pay. We have sinned — all have sinned — and the wages of sin is death! Apart from the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Praise God there was more than paying our sin debt when Jesus went to the cross…
Our old self was crucified with him.
Listen to Romans 6:6,
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Our old self, or old man, is who we are as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. In order to be able to accomplish our salvation Jesus became flesh and blood like us. He was tempted in every way like we are except that he had no sin of his own. He did this so that he could set us free from the bondage of the old man and destroy the power of the enemy over us. Romans 6:6 tells us that this “old self” was put to death with Jesus Christ on the cross to take away the power of sin over us. In the mind of God Jesus became the substitutionary atonement for those who put their faith in him.
There is an old hymn by an anonymous author entitled, “What Wondrous Love is This”. This is one of my favorite songs because it is so full of truth. It goes like this:
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, What wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down, when I was sinking down, sinking down, when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul, Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!
To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing, to God and to the Lamb I will sing! To God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM, while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing, while millions join the theme, I will sing!
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on, and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on! And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be, and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on, and through eternity I’ll sing on!
When we were sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside his crown for our souls. Jesus took our Adamic nature to the cross and put it to death! God sees us in Christ and Paul could say to us, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” The life that we now live as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is Christ himself living his life through us for the glory of God and the good of God’s people! When he took us to the cross…
Jesus took our sins to the cross. The wages of sin is death and those wages have to be paid! Listen to 1 Peter 2:24, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. He bore our sins along with our old man paying the price for Adam’s sin and our sins. He did this in order that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. The only sinless perfection that’s ever been on this earth was Adam before he sinned and Jesus all his life. No matter how well we may obey God we will never be sinlessly perfect. Our sins have to be paid for. So in our account books we have a debit filed against us. Sin is in that line! By God’s grace, Jesus entered into our account, “Paid in Full”! He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God in him. And the righteousness of God that is ours because of the work of Jesus Christ is God’s grace at work. We were crucified with Christ and our sins were nailed to the cross…
So that we might live with him. Having come to faith in Jesus Christ, the life that we now live we live by the faith he has given us through his grace. Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy. 2 Timothy 2:10-11. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
Wow, salvation in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The Bible tells us that we died with Christ and were raised up with him and seated with him in heavenly places. Since we have been raised with him already we should be seeking the things that are above not focusing on the things of this earth. We should set our minds on heavenly things. Our focus should always be living out the faith that God has put in us. Jesus took us to the cross and paid the price for our sins so that we might live with him forever. He said that he was going to prepare a place for us so that where he is we could be also. We don’t know when that will be but we have confidence that it will be. We were crucified with Christ…
Yet, we live by faith in the Son of God! Faith is…
Not just belief about Jesus. Faith is much more than “belief”. James tells us that the demons believe and they are no less demons. Jesus had many experiences with demons when he was on this earth. We find the account of one of them in Matthew 8:28-29, And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”
These demons immediately knew who Jesus was. They were with him before they fell with Satan. They had seen him in the creation before there was any people. They had been part of the rebellion led by Satan himself. They immediately knew who Jesus was and that he had the power to do whatever he wanted to with them.
Their belief about Jesus certainly is not reflected as faith. There are people all over the world today who believe about Jesus. Sometimes what they believe is very accurate but it doesn’t translate as faith. They are like the fool who says, “There is no God.” They know he exists but will not allow him to rule over them. Faith is more than believing about Jesus it is…
Trusting in Jesus. Jesus himself talks about this in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God,…” And John adds more information, including that in verses 35-36, The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Faith is not believing about Jesus it is putting one’s trust in him. Jesus tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes “in him” should not perish but have eternal life. The word “in” in the original language is most often used for “into”. Believing into Jesus may not sound right but it is right. Not just believe about but enter into is the sense in which this should be taken. The concept is absolute trust in Jesus Christ. As the songwriter Edgar Stites said, “Simply trusting every day, trusting through a stormy way.” No matter what I trust Jesus! Trust in Jesus is not something that we work up in a “fake it till you make it” concept…
That trust is a gift from God. Listen to these familiar words in Ephesians 2:8-10.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
There have been many attempts to explain what these verses mean without making them mean what seems clearly, to me, the simple understanding. Grace is a word that indicates God’s pleasure in giving to his people. What he gives, in this passage, is faith! We are saved by grace through faith and that faith is a gift of God. It’s not something that a person can work up from the inside it is a gift bestowed from God. Salvation is not by works but instead salvation produces works that God has prepared for us to do. Praise God for his grace and the gift of faith it bestows on those who believe!
The Judaizers came to Antioch in an attempt to draw the believers there into the Jewish law. Even Peter, and others with him, were caused to turn away from salvation by grace through faith. Paul had the responsibility, which he accepted gladly, to confront Peter, and the others with him. Through the study of the word, and his time alone with Jesus, Paul was thoroughly convinced that the covenant of works could never justify a person before God. Paul could see the strength in grace to bring all people, no matter what their race or culture was, to faith in Jesus Christ apart from works of the law. In fact, the law brings death because it can never be kept. Christ took our sins into his own body and in the understanding of God we died with him on the cross so that we can rise with him and be seated with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Have you placed your faith in him? It is the most important decision you could ever make. If you have a desire in your heart to put your faith in Christ it comes from God.

All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Monday, October 21, 2013

131020 Whose Wealth Is It?

From time to time we need to visit what the Scriptures teach us about wealth and material blessings. As I was working on my message this week I kept being drawn back to the words of Jesus when he said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Those words had nothing to do with the message I was preparing so I had to stop and think. Thinking is not always easy with all the other stuff going on around me. But I feel sure God was leading me to change the message. So, here it is!
Our text for today is, Luke 12:13-21, A large crowd had gathered around Jesus. Listen while I read. Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
We might not consider this story to apply to us because Jesus is talking about a rich man and by our standards none of us are really rich. Bear with me. I believe I will show you how this passage applies to us. At the request of the man in the crowd Jesus replied…
Guard against covetousness. I am sure that the man believed that he was concerned with justice not covetousness. He just wanted what was right! He wanted his share of the family wealth. In response to his request Jesus pointed towards…
The tenth commandment. Found in Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
The last of the Ten Commandments may also be considered to be the least of them. After all, admiring someone’s wealth whether it be in the form of a spouse, an employee or his, or her, “stuff” is just that — admiring — isn’t it? God says, “No, admiration quickly turns to desire and demand.” The man who wanted his share of the inheritance was coveting what his brother had the right to. He was asking for a ruling in his favor in order to consume it on his own desires. He certainly wasn’t placing his faith in God. Because…
Covetousness is idolatry. Let’s read from Paul’s letter to the Colossians found in chapter three verses five through ten, Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Here Paul gives us a list of character traits that’s pretty much common to mankind. Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness. And then he notes that covetousness is idolatry. We are to put all these things to death. In other words we are to take an active part in changing our outlook on life. And in the midst of this is the statement that covetousness is idolatry!
We live in a materialistic world that circulates around wealth and possessions. If a person doesn’t have wealth and possessions we are encouraged to admire those who have such and desire the same for ourselves. You see…
Our world is filled with covetousness. Wherever we look we see advertisements for material things designed to make us covet them. Gambling, through the state lotteries, has become very common and is based entirely on a desire to have wealth that was not earned. A desire to be rich is a very dangerous thing. Paul wrote to Timothy words that really apply to every age. Listen while I read, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Money itself is not evil. It’s not even a necessary evil. Morally, money is neutral and is simply a way of our exchanging labor for material goods. It’s the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. The world we live in is filled with the love of money. Everywhere we look there is the drug culture, robbery, bribery, prostitution, violence, corrupt politicians and greedy businessmen. In order to illustrate the problem Jesus told the story of…
A good farmer with wrong values. We know this man was a good farmer because his land produced an abundant crop year after year. Abundant crops are not an accident. They are caused by a combination of good soil, hard work and common sense. I am sure that Jesus did not have to look far to find a farmer whose story provided a very good illustration.
Luke calls this story a “parable” and for a lot of people that means it’s not necessarily true. One definition of a biblical parable is, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. While that definition is correct, yet no way implies that the events didn’t really happen. Jesus, as the Son of God, had access to knowledge about everyone and everything. So when you read a parable in the Bible I hope you will always know that it’s true because Jesus does not lie!
Throughout human history people have confused material blessings with spiritual approval. I can assure you that…
Material blessings do not guarantee God’s approval.
Let’s look at, Psalm 73:2-3,
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
The psalmist looked around himself and saw that there were many people who enjoyed wealth, health and apparent happiness. Yet, they did not honor God with their lives and it began to draw him away from his faith in God. As he said, he almost stumbled and his steps nearly slipped. He saw the arrogant and wicked people who seemed to enjoy abundant prosperity.
The same kind of observation can be made today. How is it that the wealth of this world seems often to flow to the wicked of the world? It just doesn’t seem fair! We just can’t see the big picture. The psalmist came to see that…
God settles his accounts in his own time. Listen while I read, Psalm 73:16-24. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. 21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
In the midst of his confusion and concern over the unfair system of the world the psalmist went to church! He went into the sanctuary of God and there he saw something he had not seen before. “I discerned their end” he said. While the arrogant and the wicked seem to prosper the truth is their feet are in a slippery place. God will make them fall in his own time and in his own way.
There is a story about two farmers who had similar farms side by side. One of the farmers was a very godly man who loved the Lord. The other farmer was an unbeliever and was very arrogant in his unbelief.
One year, when they took their crops to market, there was a clear difference between the two crops. The Christian farmer had the smallest crop even though everything had been about the same for his farm as the farm of the unbeliever.
The unbeliever couldn’t wait to rub it in. Looking at the disparity between the crops he said to the Christian farmer, “You know what this means don’t you?” To which the Christian farmer promptly replied, “Yes, God doesn’t settle his accounts in September.” Like the psalmist he had been in the sanctuary of God.
The psalmist realized that he was wrong in his admiration of the wicked. In fact, he said that he was like an animal rather than like a man who trusted God. In his time of worship he came to see that God held him by the hand. He then understood that God guided him by his counsel and he rejoiced in that. A little further in the Psalm he said, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” He understood that God would provide all his needs. He knew that God had a purpose in the things of this life and that he would provide for him. He might fail but God never would and we need to remember that also.
You see…
Our resources are gifts to be shared. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians commending them for their giving he wanted them to understand that God had a purpose in supplying them with their needs. Listen while I read, 2 Corinthians 9:10-11, He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Notice that it is God who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food. The world’s way of thinking doesn’t see that at all. We think that we provide the resources that we use. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he instructs the rich to not set their hopes on their riches but instead to set their hopes upon God. You see it is God who richly provides us with everything that we need. Without him none of us would have anything to enjoy. It causes the rain to fall on the good and the bad equally. We need to remember that it is His wealth not ours! It is God who has enriched us in every way.
Enriched in every way! Wow, that’s a pretty comprehensive thought! And if we stopped with just that phrase we might think that we’ve been enriched so that we can enjoy prosperity. But that’s nowhere near what Paul is saying. We are enriched in every way so that we can be generous in every way. Not so we can have more and more wealth but so we can share with others.
The context of this passage is the taking of an offering to relieve the suffering of Christians during a time of famine. Since they had given abundantly they can expect God to reward them abundantly so that they could give even more.
God rewards those who give cheerfully. His reward is in direct proportion to their giving. This giving is in the context of the fellowship of believers. He’s not writing to individual Christians thanking them for giving here, there and the other place. He is thanking them and assuring them of God’s support for giving to and through their church. I believe the Bible teaches that our first level of giving should always be to the local congregation to support the local ministry and the local church’s outreach to the world.
The Old Testament tells us that the tithe is the Lord’s. And, that we are to bring the tithe into the storehouse. Immediately someone will argue that this is not necessary anymore because we live under grace not law. Well, Jesus said, while talking about the Pharisees’ tithing the herbs in their garden while ignoring the weightier matters of love and justice, that they should have done both. They should have been concerned with love and justice but at the same time they should have tithed even the littlest things in their garden.
If that’s the way we would have lived under the law, shouldn’t we give even more under grace?
I remember when we first began the church here in Stamford when a new member came to me one day asking why I gave to the offering. She believed that the offering all went to me personally. I had the privilege of explaining to her that this was the Lord’s offering and only that part of it the church designated as salary went to me. But, in so far as giving is concerned, I have the same responsibilities as every other member of the church. I can honestly tell you that Cherlyn and I do not tithe. We do, and have always, given more than 10% of our income to the church. We give very little to causes that are not directly related to the church. I don’t tell you this in order to bring you under some kind of bondage. I tell you this to encourage you.
God rewards a cheerful giver and will meet every need of our lives if we give first and then let him guide us in the use of the rest of our money.
We need to recognize that…
Real treasures are eternal.
Let’s look at what Jesus had to say in Matthew chapter 6.
Earthly treasures are temporary. Listen while I read the words of Jesus found in Matthew 6:19-20, 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.
All of our material things are temporary. Why bother to lay up treasures on earth beyond our day-to-day need? Jesus was very specific. Moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Whatever we have in the way of material things is not going to last very long.
Instead, we are to lay up treasures in heaven. When we do that whatever we have will always be secure. How do we go about laying up treasures in heaven? We certainly can’t send a check to heaven. Instead we give through the local church so that our resources can be used to win men, women, boys and girls to Jesus Christ. Those that have gone on before become our treasures in heaven.
Investing in this world is a foolish waste of money. I don’t mean by this that we should not provide adequate housing, nourishment and transportation while we’re on this earth. I mean that we should limit our investment in material things so that we can give more, through the church, to eternal things.
What you treasure reveals what you love. Read on in Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Is your heart focused on the world and material things? If it is that’s where your investment will be made. Such an investment, as I said before, is a foolish waste of money. This world is temporary and ultimately will be destroyed. Expending our treasure on worldly things is like the person whose house has been condemned spending on new carpet and paint. It’s just a waste! But it is evidence of where the heart is focused. What we invest in is ultimately what we love. Those who love the Lord invest in the things of God. Those who love the world invest in the things of the world.
One problem is that people in America often do not think of themselves as having wealth. However when we’re compared to the rest of the world we are wealthy beyond imagination. Even the poorest of us have a better standard of living than the middle class in most countries much less than the poorer classes.
Jesus goes on to say…
You cannot serve two masters. Matthew 6:24, 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.
What is the evidence that we’re serving money rather than God? Jesus goes on to say, immediately after this verse, that we are not to be anxious about life. Instead we are to look at the birds of the air how the Father feeds them. Then he adds, “Are you not of more value than they?” Tragically, some people have such a poor self-image that they do not believe they are more valuable than a bird. Folks, remember, we are made in the image of God!
We are to be faithful in managing our resources in such a way that it is obvious we serve God and not money.
When Paul wrote that God would supply all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus he was writing in the context of the Philippians having given abundantly to meet his needs. God is under no obligation to supply us if we are not going to manage well what he has already entrusted us with. After all, whose wealth is it that we manage? It is God’s wealth and we are simply stewards of it. We return a tithe to God through the church as part of the evidence that we serve God not money.
After the conquest of the land of Israel, Joshua called the people together and repeated to them the covenant story of their deliverance from Egypt. He then challenged them to put away the gods of the past and serve the Lord. He said to them, “… choose this day whom you will serve.” And he concluded by saying, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We need to make the same kind of challenge with regard to the material things God has blessed us with. Will we worship the things that we have and covet the things of others? Or, will we commit ourselves to trust God for all our needs and worship and honor him with the wealth he has given us? That’s really a choice we make on a day-to-day basis. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. What will you and your house do?

All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.