Redeeming Money

June 15, 2008 Series: Redemption

Topic: Gospel Passage: 2 Corinthians 8:9–8:9

Redeeming Money (1Timothy 6.17-19, Matthew 6.19-33, 2Cor 8.9, 2Cor 9.6-15)

June 14, 2008

Sam Ford

 

A Dependent Child

In  Matthew 18 Jesus says that we must become like children if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven.  I don't believe that that means we must go back to diapers.  I am more inclined to believe that we're supposed to realize that we're already there-making a mess of ourselves all the time.  We are such a prideful people, pretending are diapers are not full, pretending we don't stink, running away from our Father who wants to help us as we say, "I don't need you...I'll do it myself."  In our pride, we believe that we have much more than we do figured out.  Ever since the Garden of Eden, we have declared ourselves independent and secure when, in reality, we're desperately dependent and in need.

 

My children are desperately dependent upon me for everything.  If I don't provide them food, they will starve.  If I don't provide them clothing, they will freeze.  If I don't give them a place to sleep they will suffer.  If I don't encourage my boys and their mannishness; give them my smile, my high five, or my "well done", they will be insecure, and if I don't actively cuddle and speak of my daughter's beauty in a way that can see, she will not feel loved.  How much more are we children when compared with the infinite Father who loves us; and yet, we look to many other things to find that identity, that security, that joy. 

 

Tell me about Jesus, not "my" money

Matthew 19.13-22   13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said,  "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. 

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said,  "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him,  "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 

I fear that many of you are going to have the experience of this man who:

  • Believes his being a "good" Christian, doing "good", following the "rules" of Christianity.
  • But when God picks on the ONE thing that we haven't surrendered to him, we go away, sad because God asked for something that would actually hurt us.

 

[AD] Whenever a church or pastor talks about money, a lot of people either check out completely or bitterly declare, "Yep, just like I thought, they just want my money."  This attitude shouldn't surprise anyone when you consider history of abuses by a church that has given Jesus a bad name since AD 33.  But as a pastor, I am charged with the responsibility to tell you what the Bible says about ALL aspects of your life-not just the comfortable ones.  Tell me about the spiritual things, but leave my money alone. 

 

It's all about the gospel.

At the bottom of ALL of our unwillingness to give, to invest in God's kingdom and build our own, is a complete misunderstanding or ignorance of the gospel AND what it means to be rich. 2Cor 8.9 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.  Some of us simply don't understand the gospel, some of us understand and don't believe, and still others say they believe and do not confess it by their actions.   

 

#1  we don't give because WE BELIEVE A FALSE GOSPEL. 1Timothy 6.17-19

These facts should convict us, but they don't. We do not give because we are enslaved by a false gospel, the gospel of money.  It is a gospel that tells us our hell is poverty, financial insecurity, and a lack of power and our SAVIOR is Money.  It is a false gospel, a gospel of works, self-dependence, a gospel that Paul condemned as a demon-gospel.  Paul says 1Timothy 6.10 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 is our master; we try to "harness" in order to direct our lives, but in the end, it ends up directing us away from God.

 

The core of a false gospel is always the same as it was in the Garden of Eden. 1John 2.16 says, "For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions is not from the Father but is from the world."

 

Enslaved to Desires of the Eyes:  "Delight to the Eyes"

We have a desire to be rich.  Our desire to be rich is rooted in the inability for our eyes to see clearly, especially in America.  Paul charges a young pastor to command (the same word Jesus used to call out Demons) the rich in his church to give. 1Timothy 6.17-19  17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  Our eyes are so messed up that they do not see things rightly.  We play the compare game with our friends and family not realizing that nearly everyone around us is rich (Sudhakr comments)

  • The richest 20% of the world's population earn 75% of the world's income.
  • The poorest 40% of the world's population earn 5% of the world's income.
  • 20% of the population in the developed nations, consume 86% of the world's goods.
  • 6.5 billion people in the world
  • 2.4 billion people earn less than $1 a day (37% of the world's population)
  • 50% live on less than two dollars a day.
  • According to UNICEF, 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty.
  • Based on enrolment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005
  • Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
  • A mere 12 percent of the world's population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
  • Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day

 

United States [i]

  • Average income is $140 a day
  • o 86% of India will work 70 days to earn this
  • o 44% of India will work 140 days to earn this
  • Average American will live off of $51,128 this year
  • The average citizen of India will live off of $730 this year
  • It will take him 70 years to earn the average annual American income

 

Enslaved to Pride in Possessions - "Make me wise."

1Timothy 6.17-19  17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, ...  Having "stuff" makes us feel good.  It makes us think we are somebody to have brand names, cool clothes, a nice care.  Whether we ant to admit it or not, status symbols are huge in our lives even they are subtle.  Just like Adam and Eve, we believe that our stuff will make us something.  That all the different pieces of creation will give us significance APART from the Creator.

 

Enslaved to Desires of the Flesh: "Good for Food"

1Timothy 6.17-19  17 ... nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.   We place our hope, our certainty of what is to come by anxiously investing in the goods of this world that we might be secure.  And, in the process, we no longer find our refuge in the Creator, but we idolize, serve, and devote ourselves to money.  Our current economy shows us the futility of finding our ultimate security in riches.  But that does not prevent men and women from dedicating their lives to this pursuit.

 

#2 We don't give because we don't UNDERSTAND the TRUE GOSPEL. 2Cor 8.9

At the core of all of our enslavement is a lack of UNDERSTANDING of the gospel, specifically, HOW MUCH God has given us. Until you see man for who and what he is, a rebel, a disobedient child, a broken, dirty, and hostile enemy of God, until you recognize how undeserving of anything you are, THEN see how much God has given you, it makes sense that you will hold onto your money with a close hand saying "Mine".  You don't know God.  We don't give primarily because God has demanded we do and we're scared.  We don't give to appease God's wrath.  We don't give because God will love us more. 

 

We give because we understand the gospel-the good news of what Jesus has done in history to bring us back to God.  News that tells us our God who creates and owns everything, the infinite, all knowing, all powerful, ever-present sovereign God-the richest of rich-gave us ALL that He had that we might become wealthy. We give out of response to how much God has loved and given us-for the fact that while I had NOTHING to give to him, Christ died.   Our response to him will be give him all that we have because He has given everything to us. 2Cor 8.9 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

 

And do we even realize how "poor" Jesus became.  He was not poor because he came as a carpenter, or lived as a peasant for most of his life.  He was poor because he was the infinite God becoming man.  Philippians 2.5-8 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  He gave it all up. 

 

All that we have is grace

But I've worked so hard for what I have.  When other people were unwise with their money, I was wise.  When others wanted to play, I worked. Many of us are so delusional to believe that what we have is our own, of our own efforts, and a result of simply hard work.  Exodus 4.11 11 Then the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

  • Education: God gave you your mind, the ability to learn, the capacity to grow, the desires to understand.
  • Arms, Hands, Legs: God gave you your muscles, your fingers, toes, abilities to walk and lift.
  • Art & Music: God gave you the eye for photography, the mind to see visually, the ability to dance, to play instruments

 

#3 We don't give because we don't have FAITH in the gospel. - Matthew 6.19-33

Even when we understand the gospel, we often fail to TRUST and put FAITH in the gospel.  Even though God tells us we're weak, blind, and lame, we try see and walk by our own efforts.  Jesus warned us in Matthew 6.19-21  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.   Our faith in the gospel has less to do with our minds and more to do with our hearts.  What we believe, not what we say we believe, but what we truly believe will be proved by our actions.  We will either live as members of another kingdom, loyal to another King, living according to those kingdom values, investing all that we've have  in God's kingdom OR we'll work to build our own Kingdom to protect and provide for us .

 

We fail to keep our eyes fixed true gospel

Matthew 6.22-33 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! 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.   When our hearts are taken captive to the "stuff" of this world, then all that we look at is to lust, covet, or envy (I want or need that).  God's Word often uses the eye to represent the point of intake for all our motivations and attitudes. When the eye is properly focused on the light, then we do not walk in darkness.  Jesus said,  "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (Jn 8.12).  If the eye is out of focus, in low light, or seeing double, it results in being unable to find our way.  If our aim in life is to get material gain, it will mean darkness within.  That is a false gospel, with a false savior, and a false hope ALL resulting from failing to intently fix your eyes on true gospel. Because our "savior" can be taken with the rise and fall of a stock market, we fear, and worry, and stress.

 

Matthew 6.25-33  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? 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.

 

We seek our kingdom instead of God's because we do not TRUST that God will in fact provide our needs.  Jesus says at the heart of our failure is a lack of faith in God.  So, we make decisions about what to do with our money based on conservative or liberal earthly standards and how well our decisions BUILD or INCREASE our kingdom.  That's not what God has called us to do. John Piper says it best as an IF, THEN statement:

 

"If we are refugees and exiles on earth (1Peter 2.11), and if our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3.20), and if nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8.35), and if his steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63.3), and if all hardship is working for us an eternal weight of glory (2Cor 4.17)...

 

Then we will give to the winds our fears and "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6.33).  We will count everything as rubbish in comparison with Christ (Phillippians 3.7-8).  We will ‘joyfully accept the plundering of our property; for the sake of unpopular acts of mercy (Hebrews 10.34).  We will choose "rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin," and we will count "the reproach of Christ great wealth than the treasures of Egypt."

 

 

#4 We don't give because we don't CONFESS THE GOSPEL.-2Cor 9.6-15

Finally, Paul tells us how we are to give.  The context of this verse is that there is a famine in Jerusalem where most of the Jewish Christians congregate.  Paul is now appealing to the non-Jewish Christians to give in support of them.  2Cor  9.6-15  The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,

"     He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;

          his righteousness endures forever."

  • Difference between giving sparingly and bountifully.
  • Difference  between giving reluctantly and giving cheerfully.

 

10 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 for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15  Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

 

Notice a few things:

  • God provides the SEED to the SOWER in the first place.
  • We are enriched in EVERY WAY through generosity.
  • Not only is the gospel work supported but God is praised.

M

ost IMPORTANTLY, the willingness to give is connected with our confession of the gospel.  If we do not believe the gospel, if we do not recognize what God has given us, that all we have is a gift from Him, a gift that we do not deserve, then we will sow sparingly because we do not want to lose what we think we have, what we think is our own.  If we do give, it will be reluctantly because we feel guilty.

 

Those who believe the gospel, confess the gospel.  Those who confess that Jesus has redeemed us from slavery to sin, that Jesus gave himself to us that we might receive Him.  Those who believe the gospel, believe the more you give, the more you receive and that, in truth, what you are giving is not yours to begin with.  Because we do not fear losing our possessions, our finding our identity in them, we give cheerfully. Like our savior, we love to give.   

 

Conclusion

Jesus wins our salvation through losing, achieves power through weakness and service, and comes to wealth by giving it all away. Those who receive his salvation are not the strong and accomplished, they are not the prideful or the rich, but those who admit they are weak and lost, those who humble themselves like children and admit all that they have belongs to Dad.

 

The rich young man did all the "right" Christian things, he obeyed all of the "laws" that would make him a good man-fearing legalist.  The man said he loved God, but when Jesus asked him to sacrifice what was most precious to him, we saw very quickly which god he worshipped.  

 

  • God commands us to give. If you are a Christian, you are charged to be rich in good works and to give of your time, service, and resources as an act of WORSHIP to God not duty.
  • God owns everything. You are a manager of what is His. By His grace He has given you everything you have from the house you live in to the breath that empowered you to work to buy that house.
  • God wants us to depend on him. As you give, consider whether you really trust that God will provide. If not, who do you trust, or what?
  • God gives to us that we might give to others. The best thing that we can give is the gospel. At Damascus Road, we are called to proclaim the gospel. Quite simply, we are here to tell people that Jesus ALTHOUGH RICHER than any king that ever lived, love us so much that he gave it all up, came to earth lived a perfectly sinless life, died on the cross thereby paying the DEBT that I didn't have enough money to pay, defeated both sin and death by rising from the dead and is seated now as King of King and Lord of Lords. When we confess these things, He gives us the RICHNESS of His righteousness that we might be freed from our bankrupt hearts. And it is those transformed hearts, those hearts who truly understand and believe who cannot help but CONFESS and overflow with blessings for others.

 

2Cor 8.9 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

 

Jesus said, as I was sent, so I am sending you.  We are called to live like Jesus.

 


[i] Statistics also taken from Mark Moore, Hope In Giving, Providence, Dallas, TX

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