Dealing With Heart Disease
Before we get started this morning, boy this is a bit embarrassing. I was going to take Trista and the boys to Willie Burgers today for lunch and they only take cash. I forgot to get any, so I was wondering if someone give me $50? Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
Now, before you all get excited and run and see ____________________ after service and ask for money I want you to know that he was just giving me back the money I gave him before the service. You see it was mine and he was simply returning it to me.
I wanted to start with this illustration this morning because many of you are going to turn me off very quickly when you figure out what we are talking about. But I need to plant this mustard seed. We are asked to give back to God the things that were His in the first place. The truth is that we’ve never given God anything. When we make an offering of our time, talents, or treasures we’re giving what He already owns.
Now, let me put you at ease, my goal is not to try to pry money out of you this morning because I believe that money is a symptom and not the problem. The Bible has an awful lot to say about our money, because according to Jesus, money is a spiritual issue. My mentor Jerrie Barber used to say that, Money is an outside indication of what’s going on, on the inside.
Over the past four weeks our Shepherds have talked with us about our current level of giving of our time, talents, and treasures. While many of us may think that we have a money problem, the truth is that our level of giving reveals that we are dealing with a bit of heart disease.
When we are not living by faith, we try to grab a hold of things and use them for our purpose and security. Another word for that is materialism. We put our faith in the things we think we can control. Jesus knew that we would struggle with money, that’s why He spent so much time talking about not being possessed by our possessions.
Our text this morning comes the Sermon on the Mount. In this part of the sermon Jesus challenges us with the question, Where is your treasure? and He helps us find the answer by giving four tests.
The Durability Test.
The first test is found in verses 19-20 and asks the question, How long will it last? Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
The first word that leaps out at us in these verses is the word treasures. Jesus did not say, money because while everyone does not have a lot of cash, we all have things that we treasure. Our treasure may be a home, a car, a computer, our clothes, or even a position that we hold or seek after. While Jesus is not saying that it is wrong to have treasures, He is telling us that our focus should be on laying up treasures in heaven, not on earth.
The first life-skill that Jesus wants us to develop is to stop living just for today. This command is in the present tense. It literally means to stop storing up. Jesus knows that our natural, inborn desire is to accumulate things.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t have material possessions, or own property, or save for the future. The key lies in the little phrase, for yourselves. Jesus is forbidding the selfish, self-centered accumulating of goods as the major end of life.
Two things happen to the things we own. First, they decay. My first car was a 1980 Datsun 210. I loved that car and when I first got it I spent my afternoons washing and waxing that little car. But pretty soon rust, and wear and tear took it’s toll and my love for that car dissipated. You could tell the same story about clothes, TV’s, cars, and other treasures. How many state of the art computers are now wasting away in the city dump?
Second, our possessions can disappear. Valuables were often buried out in the field or hidden in a brick wall. Back then, thieves would literally break into the walls and dig up the yard as they searched for valuables.
If you try to store your wealth, the moths will find it, or rust will consume it. If you try to hide it for yourself, thieves can steal it. Jesus is saying that earthly wealth is very insecure. It either decays over time, or it disappears altogether.
The issue is not whether we will store up wealth, but where we will do our banking. Since earthly treasures are unstable and insecure, Jesus challenges us to make long-term investments that are permanent and guaranteed. We need to build up a treasure in Heaven that is protected and insured by God Himself.
We make deposits in Heaven by investing your time, talents and treasures in things that last for eternity. There are only two things that fit that description: The Word of God and People. Everything else will decay or disappear. Cars, boats, homes, clothes, jobs, salaries, vacations, books, and buildings will all pass away. They wear out, rust out, blow up, or fall apart. Nothing you can touch will last forever.
The Heart Test
The second test asks the question, Where are you investing your time and money? and is found in verse 21: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Jesus is saying that your heart follows your money. That’s not the way most of us think. We tend to think our money follows our heart, if our heart is right, we will spend our money wisely. That’s not the way it works because your heart always follows your treasure. That’s why we are struggling with heart disease.
Whatever you invest your time and money in will become very important to you. Too many of us spend all that we have on the things of this world and then we wonder why we have trouble concentrating on the things of God. Our money has kept our heart tied to the earth. You’ll never be able to get your heart focused on heaven as long as your attention is on material things.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to sell everything and live in poverty to be a fully committed follower of Christ. What I am saying is this. Your heart will always follow your money. Your heart will be wrapped up in what you treasure. Possessions can very easily become the center of our life.
The Mind Test.
The third test asks the question, Where is your focus? and is found in verses 22-23: The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
If money or possessions become the focus of your life then you loose sight of what is really important. It is so easy for us to become fixated on things that we loose sight on what those things are for. A car becomes a chariot for the gods that live in a palace, instead of a means to get you from your home to a place where you can share the love of God.
Jesus knows that we are easily consumed by our thoughts. He created us, and understands us. That’s why He talks about our minds and our focus. When money becomes our number one obsession it kills our spiritual life.
The Master Test.
The fourth and final test focuses on our will and asks the question: Whom do you serve? Verse 24: No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.
To serve means that we’ve made a choice and engaged our wills. If we’re not careful, we can be deluded by thinking material things will last forever. It becomes our god.
The word Jesus uses here for money is the word, Mammon, which is more that just money. It means that we have put our confidence in our possessions. The more stuff we have, the more secure we feel, but attachment to money leads to a detachment from God. The Bible is clear about the nature of money. It fights for supremacy in our lives and it has many of the characteristics of deity. It promises security, freedom and power.
To be a committed to Christ is not merely a matter of the emotions but also of our minds and wills. To love God requires service and even sacrifice. The tension that many of us experience when we try to love both God and money will sooner or later begin to show where our real loyalty lies. Only one master will win out.
In our country money is not neutral, but a power with a life of its own which seeks to control, and even consume us. The goal of this money master is total domination of your value system, without you even being aware of it.
If you’re serving the money master, Jesus says you cannot serve God. He doesn’t say, you better not or it would be unwise to serve both, He says, you cannot serve both God and money. That’s why, how we handle our money tells the truth about how serious we are about obeying God. His words are unsettling. If you love money, you will end up hating God. If you are devoted to the pursuit of possessions and the making of money, you will find yourself despising the things of God.
I don’t think anyone in this room wants to hate God. In fact, you’re here because you want to learn how you can get to know Him better. But you need to know that you will never be able to fully love God if you are in love with money and all that money can buy. Loving God and loving money are mutually exclusive. We need to understand that money is a wonderful servant, but a lousy master.
4 Tests In Everyday Life - Luke 12
When Jesus was asked a question about a money matter, He told a story that illustrates how easy it is to fail these four tests. Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 12. Let’s start by looking at verse 15: Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Greed is something that we all struggle with. If we don’t admit it and put up our guard, we will be consumed by it. The word means a thirst for having more. The reason we have to watch out is because we can begin to think that our life consists of our possessions. If we have a lot, then we’re doing well. If we don’t have much, we feel like we’re missing out on something, almost like we’re not really living. Almost everyone answers the question, how much is enough? By saying, a little more.
So, Jesus tells a parable to show us what can happen if we take a short-term approach to life. Read Luke 12:16-20.
Did you notice how many times this man uses the words, me, myself and I? I counted them: 12 times in 3 verses! His greed is in full bloom and his focus is on what he can see. He begins to feel good about himself and inflates his importance and expertise. It can be dangerous to be successful in your business, or in your career. You can begin to feel like you’ve got it made. The accumulation of things can deceive you into thinking that you’re better off than you really are.
Because of this man’s windfall in his short-term investment, he decided to coast. He could retire and just take life easy. He had no concerns. His life consisted of eating, drinking and partying. Do you see the deception? He was storing up treasures on earth with no long-term investment strategy for the next life. Notice what happens next in verse 20: But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?
Because this man had an earthly perspective instead of a heavenly perspective, he focused his energy only on this life. I’m sure he was considered to be very successful by his friends. Be honest, we look up to people like this. Our culture honors those who make a lot of money. They write books, lead seminars, and do infomercials.
God, however, has a different view of this man. Because he was laying up treasures for himself on earth, and had made no eternal investments, God calls him a fool. When he dies, all his possessions and his shiny new barns will disappear and be given to someone else. He failed the durability test, the heart test, the mind test, and the master test.
Jesus concludes this parable with an application for each of us in verse 21: This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. Are you storing up things only for yourself? Are you just focused on this world? If so, you’re in trouble. If I’m not rich toward God, God says that I’m a fool.
If we are going to fully be devoted to God we must take this four-part test on a regular basis.
1. The Durability Test. How long will my things last? Are they temporary or will they last forever in heaven?
2. The Heart Test. Where am I investing my time and money? What excites me the most, earth or heaven? Which place makes my heart beat faster?
3. The Mind Test. Where do I focus my goals? Am I committed to materialism or spirituality? Do I operate according to God’s priorities, or my own?
4. The Master Test. Is Jesus my master or is something, or someone, else? Will I serve money on earth and allow it to be my god, or will I serve God in heaven with my treasures, which are really His in the first place?