All of us are laying up treasures, all the time, every day. The only question is where? Is it here on earth or is it in heaven? And what do I mean by treasures in heaven?
What Won’t Matter?
When we finally stand before God on Judgement Day some things will matter, and some things won’t. Let me tell you what won’t matter. God is not concerned with the material treasures we’ve managed to accumulate here on earth. What he will want to know is what we have done with Christ. Only what we have done with Christ – and for Christ – will matter.
Life is a pilgrimage between two moments of nakedness. So we shouldn’t make too much of the luggage.
“Remember Job said “naked we come, naked we go” (Job 1:21). Life is a pilgrimage between two moments of nakedness. So we shouldn’t make too much of the luggage.
You can have luggage, you can enjoy luggage. Hopefully you share luggage with others. And it will vary from person to person. But the luggage isn’t the point of the journey.”
Treasure in the Ancient World
“So in Christ’s day, you would keep your wealth sometimes in fabric. The problem is moths got into the fabric. Perhaps you had steel or you had metal and rust got into the metal. And thieves would break into your house and steal. Nothing was safe in the Ancient World. And nothing has changed.
Nothing is Durable
So we try and protect our treasure with insurance, with ADT, with rat poison, with overseas investments. But at the end of the day it still disintegrates through inflation or devaluation or an economic slump.
Your treasures may well last. The problem is, you won’t.”
Because nothing is durable. Nothing lasts. But then you say “but Martin, you know, I’ve had the most wonderful training. I am bright, I am sharp, I’m even psychic in terms of being able to read the economic environment.” Well that may well be true. You may well be sharp and bright. You may well be psychic in being able to read the economic environment. Your treasures may well last. The problem is, you won’t.”
Breaking the Grip of Materialism
Through this passage, Martin unpacks what the Bible has to say on the subject of materialism. Firstly, he sets the record straight and demonstrates why materialism doesn’t pay. Secondly, he demonstrates that materialism isn’t neutral – we have to make a choice to either serve the Creator, or part of his creation.
Finally, Martin provides us with the antidote to materialism. He answers the frequently asked question “how much should we be giving?” Of course, if the treasure belongs to God in the first place, this rather turns the question on it’s head!
Text: Matthew 6:19-24
Date preached: 9 September 2018
Location: Christ Church Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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.
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.
This is the word of God.
Welcome & Prayer
Well let’s pray together.
Father we do pray that as we come to your word again today that we may hear the voice of God. We do need to hear your voice. We live in a broken world. We hear so many voices clamouring for our attention; clamouring for our hearts. And so we pray that we may hear the voice of God and that that may cause us to worship Him and love Him and obey Him more. And we pray this for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Almost every month there’s an air crash somewhere in the world with 50, 100, 200 people being killed. Now let’s imagine some of the people who may be on an aeroplane in an air crash. Perhaps there’s a man who owns a whole chain of 5 star hotels. Perhaps there’s a young kid and she’s going to visit her grandmother and she’s flying for the first time. Perhaps there’s a Russian oil Billionaire with his teenage mistress. Perhaps there’s a Swiss ex-Fifa president with Euros in his back pocket. Perhaps there’s a couple from Bloemfontein who have just won the Lotto.
What Will Matter When We Die?
Question. What do they have in common? Well of course the first thing is they are dead. But the second thing that they have in common is that when they stand before God, when they stand before the judge of all the earth, none – absolutely none of those things of their money or possessions – will matter. Nothing.
Imagine you and I standing before God. Let’s say you are standing before God on judgement Day. Certain things will matter. Certain things will not matter. Let me tell you what will not matter.
What Won’t Matter?
What won’t matter are your title deeds, are your share certificates. Is your bank account, your overseas investments, your Allan Grey investments. Your house, your car, your jewellery. Your Zara outfit your Spitz shoes, your cell phone. None of those things will matter. Nothing.
The only thing that will matter is what you have done with Christ and what you have done for Christ. It’s really the only two things that’ll matter. I think God may well ask us “what did you do with christ my son? What did you do for Christ my son?”
The only thing that will matter is what you have done with Christ and what you have done for Christ.
So all that will actually matter when we stand before God on Judgement Day is the question “did you submit to my son King Jesus? Did you trust in Him? Did you believe in Him?” Did you live for His glory not your glory? Did you share his love, did you share his forgiveness, did you share his words? Did you do everything unto the Lord? Is that where you lived – wherever God placed you?
Now really that’s what this passage is all about. Notice verse 19, the passage that Linda read to us. We are gonna look at a couple of passages, but let’s start off here. Matthew 6:19-21. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” – it’s quite a statement. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” why not? “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Where Are Your Treasures?
So the question for all of us is where are you laying up your treasures? All of us are laying up treasures. The only question is where? Is it here on earth or is it in heaven?
Let me recap from last week – just very quickly. Those 3 great principles – and they are so well put by Randy Alcorn. Randy Alcorn probably has written the best books on money. The one is called The Treasure Principle, the other is called Money and Eternity. And if you really want the best book on money from the Christian point of view – or from any point of view – turn to Randy Alcorn. It is just stunning. In fact he has also got a stunning book on Heaven.
So if you want to know what heaven is like you get Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven.
3 Principles: A Basic Theology of Money
Now, he gives us 3 principles which are kind of obvious. It gives us a theology of money and the Bible.
1. God is the Creator of All Things
The first principle is that God is the Creator of all things. Genesis 1:1 “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God created all things.”
2. God Owns All Things
Principle number 2. God owns all things. So God not only created all things, God owns all things. Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Everything! So he owns everything. He owns your car, he owns your house, he owns your outfits. He owns your jewellery. He owns your share certificates, he owns your… everything! Your overseas investments your bank account – God owns everything.
Life is a pilgrimage between two moments of nakedness. So we shouldn’t make too much of the luggage.
Because at the end of the day we own nothing. Remember Job said “naked we come, naked we go” (Job 1:21). So life is a pilgrimage between two moments of nakedness. It’s not a pretty sight, but anyway – there we go! Life is a pilgrimage between two moments of nakedness. So we shouldn’t make too much of the luggage.
So you can have luggage, you can enjoy luggage. Hopefully you share luggage with others. And it will vary from person to person. But the luggage isn’t the point of the journey. It’s not the essence of the journey because it’s so transient – it’s so temporary. What a fool if you devote yourself to the luggage, knowing that naked we come and naked we go.
3. God Has Given Us Management of All Things
The third principle. Number one, God created all things. Number two, God owns all things. Number three, God has given us management of all things. We are the trustees. That’s all we are. We are trustees of everything we have. Your bank account, your jewellery, your money, your car, your house, your cell phone. We are trustees. And God will hold us to account as to how we have used his things as trustees. We don’t own it. God owns it.
God actually owns everything. We are only trustees and God will hold us accountable
So a little bit later on we will be talking about how much we should give to God. In a sense, as I said last week, God actually owns everything. He owns everything. We are only trustees, we are caretakers. And God will hold us accountable and say “how did you use the things that I’ve given you?”
Breaking the Grip of Materialism
Now, when you grasp those three principles, it’ll change everything. In fact it will give you freedom. The grip of materialism – the grip of greed – which can be so strong, will be broken.
Think about it like this. Do you know how much your grandparents owned? Possibly. Do you know how much your great-grandparents owned. Probably not. Do you know how much your great-great-grandparents owned? Well none of us. Do you think it will be any different with us?
It’s only what we do for Christ, with Christ and for Christ, that will matter.
Alright – let’s dig into our passage. It’s a well-known passage. We’ve looked at this before but let’s have a look. We pick up three principles. We’ll look at one or two passages, but we’ll start here in Matthew 6.
1. Materialism Doesn’t Pay
Principle number 1: Materialism doesn’t pay. Let me read again fro Matthew 6:19-21. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Some Financial Advice from Jesus
Now you’ve probably never thought of Jesus as a financial consultant. I don’t think he would ever be employed by Investec or Allan Grey – I really don’t. But actually he is giving us financial advice. And he gives us two options. Two kinds of investments. Jesus – perhaps the original Warren Buffet – but just a lot smarter!
Look for Long-Term Results
So, Jesus says don’t invest in fly-by-night companies. Don’t invest in pyramid schemes. Perhaps he would have said don’t invest in Bitcoin… but you can have your own opinion – but I’m not investing in Bitcoin I can tell you that! What he says is don’t invest in fly-by-night companies. No. Invest in durable companies – Bluechip companies – that will give you the best long term results. That’s what he says.
Nothing was safe in the Ancient World. And nothing has changed.
So in those days, you would keep your wealth sometimes in fabric. The problem is moths got into the fabric. Perhaps you had steel or you had metal and rust got into the metal. And thieves would break into your house and steal. Nothing was safe in the Ancient World. And nothing has changed.
Nothing is Durable
So we try and protect our treasures with insurance, with ADT, with rat poison, with overseas investments. But at the end of the day it still disintegrates through inflation or devaluation or an economic slump. Remember 2008 the slump, the depression. You could have had someone who the Thursday night went to bed rich. They had USA stocks they had UK sterling and they woke up poor. Right? Perhaps there’s someone here this morning… You go to bed rich and you can wake up poor.
Your treasures may well last. The problem is, you won’t.
Because nothing is durable. Nothing lasts. But then you say “but Martin, you know, I’ve had the most wonderful training. I am bright, I am sharp, I’m even psychic in terms of being able to read the economic environment.” Well that may well be true. You may well be sharp and bright. You may well be psychic in being able to read the economic environment. Your treasures may well last. The problem is, you won’t.
Wealth and the Grave
You may not know this, but none of us in this room are going to get out alive. That’s true of our church. You’re not gonna get out of here alive. If you don’t like that you’d better join another church.
So Job says, Job is right “naked you come, naked you go.” Life is a journey between two moments of nakedness. So don’t get too tied up with the luggage. As I said, we will have different amounts of luggage. We can use it, we can enjoy it. Hopefully we share it. But it’s not the point of the journey. It’s not the essence of the journey.
Psalm 49:16 the Psalmist says “don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become even more splendid. For when they die they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.”
Think VERY Long Term
So Jesus as a financial consultant is saying here change your worldview. Change your parameters. don’t invest in short term investments – even if it’s 30, 40, 50 years. Think longer. Thing 30 Billion years. You see your money, your influence, can carry on for 30 or 40 or 50 Billion years.
So Jesus is really saying life is two phases. Notice there verse 19 he talks about treasures on earth and he talks about treasures in heaven. Two phases. First phase here on earth is short, brief, it’s temporary. It doesn’t take long. Second phase is infinite. It’s forever. And Jesus is saying which phase are you gonna live for?
So let me try and draw that here on the whiteboard. So the question is this – which phase are you gonna live for? There are two phases. The first phase is the dot. That’s this life – this earth – this world. That’s the first phase. It’s short. It doesn’t last long. The second phase is forever; it’s infinite.
So Jesus is saying in this passage “which phase are you gonna live for?” Short sighted people live for the dot. They live for the here and now. Far sighted people, wise people, live for the duration, for the infinite, for the eternal.
So the question is what are you living for? All of us will live for something. The question is what are you living for?
Don’t Waste Your Life
John Piper. John Piper is a great, great author. If you’ve never read any of his books you need to get them. He’s got a fantastic website called Desiring God and there’s some fantastic material on that. One of his books is called Don’t Waste Your Life (free download here) and it’s a short section where he says “An American Tragedy: How Not to Finish Your One Life. Let me quote. It’s quite a long quote but it’s brilliant.
John Piper says “I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.”
End of quote. Isn’t that good? It’s not just about money it’s about your time, it’s about your energy, it’s about your talents, it’s about your gifts. Don’t waste your life. Your one and only precious life.
2. Materialism Isn’t Neutral
Principle number two: Materialism isn’t neutral. So verse 19, let’s get back to our passage – are you with me? Verse 19 tells about two kinds of treasures. Verse 24 Jesus tells us that there are two kinds of 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.”
Either you serve the Creator or you serve some part of his creation.
You Choose Your Master
So Jesus gives us the stark choice. It’s quite a stark choice – it’s one or the other. You cannot serve God and money. You can have one of two masters. Either you serve the Creator or you serve some part of his creation. You can’t have both.
If you go to Exclusive Books they will have a whole section on business. There are shelves on how to grow rich. The classic of course is one by Napoleon Hill called Think and Grown Rich. It’s been through 42 editions it has sold over 7 Million copies. There is a book there called the Top 10 Habits of a Millionaire. And just by the way I don’t have any of them – but here we go – I missed out!
“Everyone can be a millionaire”. So he is talking about US millionaire – which is now like R50 Million. Something like that. “Everyone can be a millionaire. You just need to know the 10 habits. Learn, use and study these great habits and become a millionaire.”
Is Your Goal To Be Rich?
Now the underlying assumption behind all those books is that the greatest goal in life is to be rich. Now of course that doesn’t surprise us, we live in Joburg! The underlying goal of many people’s lives is to be rich.
One author says “whatever you do, whatever you do you must strive to be rich.” Now my dear friends, if that is true I have totally failed! Because I have no interest in being rich – do you know that? God has taken that away, for which I am so thankful. Now of course I need money: to pay the bills, to pay the bond. And God has been good in the provision of God’s people to this church to provide for me and my family and our staff. But I really have no desire, no motivation whatsoever to be rich. So I have failed! If whatever you do you must strive to be rich.
Just by the way, if you don’t strive to be rich you will have freedom. It will free you and it will give you joy. We saw this from last week. You cannot serve both God and money.
Just by the way, if you don’t strive to be rich you will have freedom.
Why Talking About Money Is Uncomfortable
The reason you find it uncomfortable listening to me talking about money – preaching on money – on a Sunday morning… and you probably thought to yourself “shall we go this morning? I’m not quite sure, Martin is talking about money, why don’t we give it a miss?” And those who have given it a miss I hope you hear on the website.
The reason we find it uncomfortable – I find it uncomfortable talking about money! I think it’s because like I said last week it’s touching a raw nerve. It’s touching the alternative God. Especially for us Joburgers. It’s the religious nature of money; the seductive nature of money. Money has that power to inspire devotion and worship. Which is precisely why Jesus said you cannot serve both God and money.
It’s almost as if Jesus has lived in Joburg. I mean he knows Joburg! Do you remember – some of you may remember the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Before it moved to Sandton it was in Johannesburg. And do you remember it was made of glass? And you may remember it looked like a cathedral. And the reason it looked like a cathedral is because that’s where you go to worship.
I mean – isn’t that ironic? Dietrich Bonhoeffer wisely said “our hearts have room for only one all-embracing devotion. We can cleave to only one Lord.”
Falling Away From Christ
Matthew 6:22-23 : “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!”
Now I’ve been Rector of this church for 24 years. Next year will be 25 years and some of you weren’t even born. And I’ve been the Rector here… yesterday we in fact had a wedding and the two who were getting married came from our school and I knew them since they were 5 years old. I’ve seen people come and go. Sometimes they’ve emigrated, sometimes they’ve moved. Sometimes they don’t like me and they go to another church and that’s fine. But almost all the others who have fallen away from Christ, there are two reasons as I think back. It’s either sin or it’s money. Those are the two things.
So, there’s a greed for money, for leisure, for pleasure, so there is no time for life group in the middle of the week. There is no time to serve. You are not sure if you can go to church on Sunday because you have to do some work. You are working too hard. Or perhaps you are playing too hard.
We all know people who have stopped coming to church because they are just playing too hard over weekends.
So the weekends you can’t come to church, you can’t teach in C-Zone, you can’t commit yourself. Why? Because every other week you go boating on the Vaal or fishing at Dulstroom or cycling or running or gambling or drinking. There’s nothing wrong with most of those. And 947 is coming up and if you are doing 947 that’s fine.
But we all know people who have stopped coming to church because they are just playing too hard over weekends. That’s what weekends are for… and they have lost their faith
Trapped in Darkness
So if ‘eye’ in verse 22 is a materialistic, hedonistic eye, for more money, more pleasure, more leisure, that then overshadows everything. And that can lead – Matthew 6:23 – into the most terrible darkness. And some of you have been there. You’ve travelled down that road for money, for materialism, for greed, for leisure, for pleasure. And it’s led you into the most terrible darkness and you are so thankful that God rescued you.
Perhaps there’s someone today listening on the website or here this morning who are in that darkness. Because you’ve been trapped. And it can be the most terrible, terrible darkness.
If you get it right, you will love Jesus and use money, If you get it wrong you will love money and use Jesus.
Last Saturday we had the Men’s Convention and Glen Lyons was here – he was speaking. And he said we all recognise the need for Jesus and money. We all need Jesus – and we all need money. I mean that’s obvious. If you get it right, you will love Jesus and use money, If you get it wrong you will love money and use Jesus. Isn’t that a wise comment? We do need money – of course we need money! But we love Jesus, and we use money. Not the other way round.
3. Materialism Must Be Broken
Principle number 3. First principle is that materialism doesn’t pay. Materialism isn’t neutral. Thirdly, materialism must be broken. So let’s have a look at that.
The only way you can break the grip of greed is to give freely to others.
Give It Away Now
The only antidote to materialism is to give some of it away. I mean isn’t that bad news! But it is the only antidote. The only way you can break the grip of greed is to give freely to others. There is no other way.
And if you are a Christian your first obligation will be to God’s people; will be to God’s Church. Where the gospel is taught. Where the Bible is taught where the gospel is taught. I mean where are people gonna hear the gospel? You are not gonna hear it on DSTV. You are not gonna hear it on Netflix. No. It’s in the local church. The gospel is taught, the Bible is taught, our children are taught, our teenagers are taught. We are reaching out so that people like Yumna who is a Muslim – or was a Muslim – can come to Christ.
How Much Should We Give?
So we give to God’s work. Now the question is this. How much should we give? How much should we give to the Church? How much should we give to God’s work? And I do think that should be your first obligation in giving as a Christian. It’s certainly my first obligation.
None of us are givers by nature
Let me be straight and up front and say that none of us are givers by nature. By nature we are not like that. It goes against the grain – it goes against our nature. We are selfish. We are self-centred by nature.
Think about this, you’ve got a little toddler of 2 years old. Some friends come round and they’ve also got a toddler of 2 years old. You’ve got a blanket. You have put about 40, 50 toys for the two toddlers. The friends’ toddler takes the one toy. There are 49 other toys on the blanket, but mark my words, your toddler wants THAT toy. Am I right? We are not givers by nature. We don’t do it naturally. Which is why we all need – you do, I do – we need encouragement. We need reminders to give to God’s work.
New Testament & Old Testament Guidance
So the question is how much should we give. Now let’s have a look just quickly at an Old Testament passage and a New Testament passage, because it’s interesting how the New Testament and the Old Testament use different terminology. And they state it in different ways. So let’s quickly turn to Malachi 3:8-10
Giving in the Old Testament
Here Malachi the prophet of God is speaking to his people – the nation of Israel. Malachi 3:8. Malachi speaks to the nation of Israel and says “will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
So, in the Law of Moses Jews had to give 10% of their income to the temple. It could be grain, it could be sheep, it could be cattle, it could be oil. It was always one tenth called a ‘tithe.’ And Malachi accuses the nation of robbing God. They say how have we robbed God? Malachi says by not bringing in the tithes and the offerings.
So the Old Testament is quite clear for God’s people, for the nation of Israel in terms of tithes and the one tenth. Now turn with me to 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 and we will discover that the New Testament uses different terminology, and looks at it from a slightly different perspective.
Giving in the New Testament
There’s nothing wrong about talking about tithes. But the New Testament does give us a slightly different perspective and uses different terminology. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4. Here Paul is writing to the church in Corinth – that is in Greece. And he’s speaking about the churches in Macedonia – which is in Turkey. And he is recommending or commending them for their generosity. They gave of their means to help the churches in Jerusalem and Judea in their need.
So let me read from verse 1. “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints.”
The Example of the Macedonian Churches
So notice there, verse 2, he is talking about the Macedonian churches which is a good example to us. They were generous, even though they were poor. Verse 3 they gave beyond their means. Verse 4 they even begged to give. And the motive – the reason – remember from last week was 2 Corinthians 8:9. It’s because of what God has given to us.
“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.”
Giving Out of Gratitude
So what he is saying there is that God’s saved us. He has rescued us. He did that by sending His son who was rich – spiritually rich. Seated at the right hand of God. He came into this broken world, he took on human form. He died on the cross. He gave his life so that we can be forgiven. So that we who are poor – spiritually poor – could become spiritually rich.
How much do you love God? How much do you give?
And it’s because God is a giving God and a generous God, Paul says we ought to take on the family likeness. So the motive isn’t one that is begrudging, it’s not a law. No. It’s out of thankfulness, it’s out of gratitude.
So you see Paul’s logic? He is saying giving is an imitation of God’s giving to us – God’s grace to us. You say you love God says Paul? Well let’s see it in the generosity of your giving. How much do you love God? How much do you give? 1%, 5%, 10%? Well I think that’s an indication of how much you love God. It’s seen practically.
Tithing vs. Generosity
So, where does that leave us? In the Bible the Old Testament talks about tithing. The New Testament talks about generosity and about sacrificial giving. Now we need to be careful of legalism. So the Bible doesn’t talk about – especially the New Testament – there is no legalism here. We give voluntarily. We give privately. It’s between you and God. It’s not a levy.
This is not membership fees. No! It’s out of thankfulness that we give.
You stay in a complex you pay a levy. Well this is not a levy. It’s not school fees. If your kid is at school it costs you a fortune. It’s not school fees. This is not membership fees. Membership fees to our church or membership fees to get into heaven. No! It’s out of thankfulness that we give.
Beyond the Tithe
And yet it does seem to me that the New Testament goes further than the tithe. That’s what it seems to me. In the Old Testament they didn’t know about Christ and the cross and the resurrection – and they gave a tithe. We live after the death and resurrection of Christ. I would think a tithe is a good place to start, because we are so thankful.
Let me just say to you that – and I don’t want to draw attention to myself or the staff here – but all of us in a sense could have had other jobs. Well the other staff anyway. And I’m sure all of them could have earned more – a lot more. But they decided to give their time, their energy, their lives, to the line. So what I’m talking about isn’t something we don’t do or believe in. And I am not asking you – and Paul is not asking you – to do anything more than he did. It’s out of our gratitude.
We had someone here in church who said to me “God has blessed me to make money.” He said “Martin, there’s only so much you can eat. There’s only so many clothes you can wear, there’s only so many holidays you can have, there’s only so much pension you can have. I can obviously give more than 10%.”
So there’s a wonderful example of somebody who says “I am living for the line”. There is only so much I can consume!
3 Things To Remember
Let me close with 3 points and then we will come to the Lord’s table.
Give More Than You Can Spare
Number one. If there is no element of sacrifice in your giving you are probably not giving enough. C. S. Lewis put it like this: I quote. He always puts it so well. He says “I do not believe one can categorically say how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than you can spare. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our giving to God’s work excludes them.” End of quote.
You Have To Serve Somebody
Point number two. Jesus made it quite clear. You are going to serve one of two masters. Money or God. Get it right. We love God, and we use money. But you are going to serve one of them. Bob Dylan got it right many years ago in that song. I won’t sing it to you – there’s always blessings eh? There’s always blessings.
Remember that song? Years ago! He probably wrote it 20 or 30 years ago. Slow Train Coming – that was it’s title. And the verse goes like this: You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the Devil or it may be the Lord. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” It’s a good line.
You Reap What You Sow
Point number 3. Last point. You can never out-give God. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says if you sow sparingly you will reap sparingly. If you sow generously, you will reap generously. Now he is not talking just about money. He is talking about money, your time, your energy, your gifts, your talents. If you are serving other people, helping other people. Going out of your way when it’s inconvenient. If you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. If you sow generously, you will reap generously. It’s one or the other.
Let us pray.