Sermons

Jesus on Money | Matthew 6.19-24 (Snoh)

April 14, 2014 Series: The King Has Come | Matthew

Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 6:14–6:24

Strangely, I think it is appropriate that we are preaching on money to celebrate Palm Sunday. According to the Bible, this is the day that King Jesus entered Jerusalem resolved to reveal what is TRULY important in and to SET things right—it would be both painful and joyful—just like sermons on money.

Introduction | JESUS & MONEY
The Sermon on the mount is Jesus’ longest recorded Sermon in the Bible. The entire sermon is not an explanation of the rules beyond the rules. It is about the gospel applied to life. If we don’t read this sermon through the lens of the gospel, we’ll end up either prideful that we’re so godly; or despairing because we aren’t. The sermon should lead us to the cross where, through faith, we become children of the Father and citizens of the King. Jesus does not tell us we need to LIVE LIKE THIS in order to enter the Kingdom. Rather, He says that because you are a citizen of the King, live like this. The Sermon is not merely how Christians OUGHT to live; it is how Christians are MEANT to live.

Jesus began His sermon speaking about the nature of unrighteousness—the sin that exists even when the rules are followed. Then, as we continue into chapter 6, Jesus warns us about false-righteous hypocrisy—that we can act righteous but sin when we give, fast, or even pray. Jesus teaches his disciples to pray in a way that will help guard them from doing good works for the wrong reasons—to help orient them toward God’s glory. Help me know your glory. Help me adore your glory. Help me seek your glory. Help me desire your glory. Help me depend on your glory. Help me deny self-glory. Help me become more glorifying. Praying and believing the Lord’s Prayer will keep your heart Christ-ward and it will change every outward attitude, perception, and action. Every heart is governed by a god or THE God.

In this text, Jesus warns us about the power that money can have over our hearts. Jesus reveals that there is a battle raging in our heart over whether money will be a gift or a god in our lives. However uncomfortable it might be for all of us, he makes the conversation about money a spiritual one. Unlike most pastors, Jesus talks about money all of the time because he does not care about the approval of men. If I talked as much about money as Jesus did, you would all leave. Jesus, and the disciples of Jesus, talked more about money than they talked about heaven, hell, fasting, or even praying. Numbers range from 15 up to 50 percent of all that Jesus spoke about concerned money and/or possessions. People disagree whether this amounts to 800 or well over 2,000 verses in the N.T. Depending on whose calculation you accept, that can amount to almost a 1/3 of Jesus teaching or one verse about money/possession for every seven verses in the first three gospels. Without question, our Lord Jesus knew there was a fundamental connection between one’s spiritual’s life and one’s attitude toward giving. Seeing as Jesus was crucified for what he taught, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that pastors, or disciples with the courage to speak up, will be hated for repeating what Jesus said. We welcome others to inquire, even admonish us, about spiritual things—but don’t you dare talk about my money.

SIN BLINDS TO MY OWN BLINDNESS
Most of Jesus words about money were warnings. Jesus does not warn us because money is evil in itself. He warns us because, like good works, the sin if greed (love of money) is unlike other sins. Jesus began his sermon talking about murder, adultery, and divorce. It is unlikely that you can be mistaken about when you commit the act of murder or adultery—that guy is dead and that woman is not my wife. But how do you know when you are greedy? In listening to Tim Keller recently talk about greed, he shared that in all of his years of ministry, he has had many sins confessed. His experience resonated with me in that, as a pastor I had heard people confess to stealing, abortion, adultery, all forms of addictions, even things like slander or lying. But neither Tim Keller, nor myself, have every sat down with someone who confessed to the sin of greed. No one has ever told me they are materialistic. No one, not a friend, not a member of our church, not a stranger has ever inquired about whether or not I thought they spent too much, gave too little, or what greed or generosity looks like for them. We are very private with our finances and it makes us uncomfortable to talk about them. I don’t think we are private because most of us think we’re greedy. I think we’re private because most of us think we’re not—or perhaps we don’t want to think about it at all. Similar to the sin of lust, the sin of greed is one with a telltale sign—our first reaction is, “I can’t possibly be greedy.”

Another reason it is unlike other sins is that we have a tendency to evaluate our greediness, as we do our wealth, only in comparison to others. And this is not a comparison based on opening checkbooks and comparing our spending and our giving. It is based on what we see. And we can always find someone who we believe makes more money, makes more money than us, or gives less than us in order to make us feel good about our own relationship to money. Greater greed compared to lesser greed is still greed.

EYES CONTROL WHAT WE DO
We don’t see clearly. In the middle of this section on money, Jesus uses an image of an “eye” to illustrate the power of money and possessions. The Jews viewed an eye like a window. The state of the window decides what light gets into the room. If they window is clear, clean, and undistorted, the light will come flooding into the room, and will illuminate every corner of it. Similarly, when the window is dark, the room is dark. Good vision literally requires a good eye that can process light correctly. When the eye is bad the body is dark. Jesus is teaching that if you do not view money, treasure, and possessions correctly, your body will not function correctly. Your perceptions will be distorted, your attitudes off kilter, your expectations twisted, and your movements around life difficult. How we see money actually governs not only what we do with it, but how we live all other parts of our life.

No one ever likes to admit their eyes are going bad. We know we have bad eyesight (relative to money) when we maximize the power of money to save us, or minimize the power of money to control us. The faith we put in money to save us is evidenced by one common truth: most of us believe that most of our problems would be solved with more money. We say to ourselves, “If I could only have ___________________”, life would be worth it and I would be worthy. Of course, you could say that about a great many things (position, status, lifestyle, relationship, power, etc.) but most of those things could probably be obtained with one thing: MORE MONEY. We minimize the power of money to change us, to cause us to forget God, to cause us to relate others differently (rich/inferior or poor/superior), and ultimately, to enslave us. How do people get see money wrongly? Some people are UNEDUCATED. Some people are UNACCOUNTABLE. Most people are simply UNREPENTANT.

TREASURE ON EARTH |MONEY AS MASTER
Of course, no one wants to view how they spend money as an act of worship. Until you see that all of life is spiritual (eating, drinking, spending) then you’ll work hard to divide your life into compartments and only allow Jesus to reign in them it is doesn’t interfere with your desires. Jesus says you cannot serve two masters. It’s not that you “shouldn’t” serve two, you can’t. Someone owns you. In the eyes of the law, a slave was a piece of property. No aspect of his life, not his time, his clothes, even his body was owned by the slave. The master owned everything. When we begin to view money as a powerful savior that will bring us identity, joy, and security, we will begin to love money and lay up treasures on earth. Success now, prosperity now, security now will reign supreme. Our affection may be displayed in what we give or what we withhold, but numbers don’t lie. We all have treasure and wherever we give our time, talent, and treasure reveals where our treasure is.

And Jesus says, where the treasure is, there your heart is. It doesn’t just reveal where you heart is, as much as it actually takes it there. Our lives are driven by what we value, not what we say we value. Our thoughts, our words, our actions, even our attitudes and our perspectives are governed by what our heart treasures most. And Jesus warns us not to allow earthly things be our governing ambition. Earthly things don’t last—they tire out and we tire of them. All they offer is temporary satisfaction, temporary beauty, and temporary security. If we find our ultimate meaning, hope, and joy in earthly things—we will be disappointed.

What does your heart treasure above all things? How do I know where my treasure is being laid up? Ask yourself some simple questions: 1) What do you save for most? 2) What do you spend on most? 3) What do you sacrifice for most? 4) What do you look forward to most? 5) What do think about when there is nothing to think about most? 6) What do you fear losing most? 7) What mostly gets the best of your time, talent, and treasure? This is your master.

How we view money is not merely an economic question, it’s a spiritual one. It is not bad to have or enjoy money or possessions, it is wrong to want them too badly. Jesus wants our conversation about money to be about worship; for us to see that what we give, what we withhold, how we spend is not just a commentary on our stewardship but a reflection of our relationship with God. The real question is how is not simply…what do you do with your money. The real question is how is your what is your happiness dependent upon? Is it built upon things that you can lose?

TREASURE IN HEAVEN | GOD AS MASTER
The positive side of Jesus command is to lay up treasures in heaven. Laying up treasures in heaven is connected with true worship of the one true God. What does it mean to lay up treasures in heaven? Paul writes in 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. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. Again, as we hear that Scripture the majority of us do not think we are rich.

When Christians see that they are children of the King they become generous. God gives to us to that we will be generous to others. He intends for us to be GENEROUS people, in every way because it displays his generosity. God desires for us to be generous in our love, generous in our judgments, generous in our mercy, generous in our words, generous in our forgiveness, and generous in our giving. And Jesus tells us something that makes us uncomfortable but should make us radically generous. He implies that there is a way to build up eternal imperishable reward in heaven, in contrast to building up rewards here. For some of us, the idea of rewards makes us uncomfortable. Regardless of what you think or feel about rewards, the point is made, God notices our generosity or lack thereof. In an effort sound humble or uber-spiritual, some of us are tempted to say, “I’m not interested in heavenly a reward…that is not why I am generous.” You’re missing the point and your missing out. Jesus says our giving now matters in eternity. God is going to say something in eternity, and it’s not going to be: you should have spent more on yourself.

JESUS CONTROLS OUR GENEROSITY

Why must we be generous? | 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. The Son of God, took on human flesh and gave himself to us. esus gave up everything to make us his treasure. 2Cor 8.9 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.

What does it mean to be generous? |.
We give like Jesus gave. 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. He emptied himself of all his position, all his power, all his glory. And in giving grace, mercy, love, forgiveness generously, he reveals that true nature of generous giving. Generous giving is sacrificial giving—we deny ourselves, we ignore the world’s view of success, we find security in God, and we give so much it hurts, that others might be blessed. 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 gave His life. He gave so we give. If your giving does not cause you to change your lifestyle, then it is not radically generous like Jesus.

[We play games and never want to get specific…we get uncomfortable. Is 5 minutes of prayer enough for a 24 hour day? My point is we all know what generosity is and isn’t. We don’t even want to ask the question like how could I be giving more to the poor, or to the church, or to my neighbor. We don’t even want to think about it.]

How do I become generous?|
Start living as if the gospel is true. You live out the conviction that ALL of your stuff is God’s; that ALL of your life is spiritual; and that ALL of your behavior, even spending money, is governed by one great principle: I AM HERE FOR GOD and NOT MYSELF. Accept that you are just passing through, and you get to use God’s steward God’s stuff while you’re here. IF GOD IS YOUR MASTER then, like a slave (who is loved) you have no rights of our own. God is the undisputed master of our lives. We never ask, “What do I want to do.” We have no time, money, or energy which is our own. I regard myself as a steward of God’s stuff and, therefore, His stuff doesn’t become the center of my existence. As Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote, I hold everything in a “state of blessed detachment”. I am not governed by them, I govern them as I consider how I can give away more.

How do I know if I am generous? |
Hopefully good theology makes you generous, but Jesus reminds us we are self-delusional. Without question, our Lord Jesus knew there was a fundamental connection between one’s spiritual’s life and one’s attitude toward giving. Seeing as Jesus was crucified for what he taught, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that pastors, or disciples with the courage to speak up, will be hated for repeating what Jesus said. We welcome others to inquire, even admonish us, about spiritual things—but don’t you dare talk about my money or my stuff. Fight your flesh—become accountable to another couple, a friend, or your pastor. [AM I GENEROUS?]

CONCLUSION:
God commands us to give, not because he needs it, but because WE DO. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Do you believe that?
COMMUNION REMINDS US THAT the best thing that we can give is the gospel—the news that we’ve been given everything. 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.