Where Your Treasure Is

Where Your Treasure Is

2ndCorinthians 9:6-15 6”Remember this:Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generouslywill also reap generously.7Eachman should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly orunder compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.8AndGod is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times;having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.9Asit is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; hisrighteousness endures forever.” 10”Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for foodwill also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvestof your righteousness.11Youwill be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion,and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”{{more}} 12”This service that you perform is not only supplying theneeds of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks toGod.13Becauseof the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for theobedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and foryour generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.14Andin their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of thesurpassing grace God has given you.15Thanksbe to God for his indescribable gift!” Burt Reynolds starred in an old filmentitled The End. In the film he decides to commit suicide by swimming out asfar as he can until he is exhausted and then just go under. But after goingunder he is looking at the surface from the underside and decides not to gothrough with it. As he breaks the surface of the water he screams: “I want tolive! I want to live!” He then begins to try to swim to shore, but it is a verylong way off. As he begins to swim he talks to God. He promises to obey all ofthe Ten Commandments, and then realizes he doesn’t know what all of them are sohe promises to learn them. Then, in his panic, he says, “Lord, if you get meout of this, I will give you 80% of everything I have.” But time passes and heis still going strong, and besides he can just begin to see the shoreline. Butas he continues to swim he feels his strength holding out and says, “Lord, ifyou help me to get to shore alive I will give you 10% of all my earnings.” And,finally, he struggles to the place where he sees that he is just going to beable to make it to land and says, “Well, Lord, let’s just forget about what Isaid before. I think I can make it from here on my own.” Reynold’s attitude is reflective of the attitude of many people today. Givingto God or living for God are sometimes thought of as “paying our dues,” orfulfilling an obligation. What should our attitude toward giving be? What isthe proper way to give and think about giving? The first point we need tounderstand is: Giving is an act of worship. It is an expression of gratitude toa faithful God for all his goodness to me. Giving is not just a response to aneed in the church; it is a response of gratitude. It is giving as though wewere placing it in God’s hands. Worship is a word that comes from the word”worthy.” We give to God because he is Lord of the universe and he is worthy ofour praise. We worship him with our lips, with our gifts and with our lives.The question often arises: How much should I give? To answer that question wehave to look to the Scripture. First of all let’s examine the Old Testament. Leviticus 27:30 says, “A tithe ofeverything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees,belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” The Old Testament standard ofgiving was the tithe, and this principle is found many places throughout theOld Testament. It was among the earliest laws of the Israelites. The idea wasthat 10% of what they owned belonged to God, therefore it was holy. It was tobe set aside for him and not used for common purposes. It was sacred. God wasclaiming ownership of 10% of everything the Israelites owned. They had workedfor their food and money, but it was God who blessed them with crops and herds,and the ability to work. Out of gratefulness to him they were to return a tenthof everything to him. And when they acknowledged God’s ownership of 10% oftheir belongings God made a promise. Malachi 3:10 says, “‘Bring the whole titheinto the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ saysthe LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven andpour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” You may say, “Yes, that is all very well and good, but that is the OldTestament. What about the New Testament? Tithing is not evenmentioned in the New Testament.” You are correct. The New Testament standardfor giving is not the tithe. The New Testament has a totally different patternfor stewardship than the Old Testament. To understand the New Testament conceptof giving we have to look at the story of the Rich Young Ruler. This young mancame to Jesus in search of heaven, and asked Jesus what he had to do to inheriteternal life. Jesus’ response was to explain that he must first follow thebasic laws of God the Ten Commandments. The young man replied that he had keptall of the commandments from his youth. And then Jesus completely astounded himby saying in Matthew 19:21, “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor,and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The Bible sadlyreports, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had greatwealth.” What was Jesus saying to this young man? He was giving the New Testamentprinciple of stewardship, and that principle is this: Whereas the Old Testamenttaught us that 10% of everything we own belongs to God, the New Testament, andin particular Jesus, is teaching us that all we have belongs to God. The OldTestament was a partial picture of a greater truth. The Old Testament showed usthat God had certain claims on our lives, but the New Testament shows us thefull extent of those claims. God does not just own a part of me; he owns all ofme. To acknowledge this and live this way is an act of worship. Let’s look at another New Testament example of this principle. The Bible tellsthe story of the widow’s mite in this way, “Jesus sat down opposite the placewhere the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into thetemple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow cameand put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said in Mark 12:41-44, ‘I tell you thetruth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. Theyall gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything allshe had to live on.” When we read this story we usually emphasize the smallnessof her gift that it was only a fraction of a penny. But the point is not howsmall her gift was, but how big it was. The gift of the wealthy was small bycomparison, because they did not give all they had, as she did. That is the NewTestament principle of giving. When we come into contact with God we dare notbe stingy for we serve a great and awesome God. As an act of worship weacknowledge that he owns all that we have. Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Amen. Thepoint is not whether you will literally give away all you have, but whether ornot you recognize God’s complete and unconditional ownership of all youpossess. We are talking about an entirely new attitude toward life. This istrue worship. The second point is this: Giving tells me where my heart is. Jesus alwaysdemanded everything from his followers, and there were many who were notwilling to pay the price. Do you remember those who said they were willing tofollow Jesus wherever he would go? He turned them back knowing that they werenot willing to pay the cost. He said things like, “Foxes have holes and birdsof the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Whenthey heard this they no longer followed him, but what about the true disciples,the twelve? Peter said to Jesus, “We have left all we had to follow you!” AndJesus said to him in Luke 18:28-30, “I tell you the truth, no one who has lefthome or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom ofGod will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age tocome, eternal life.” Amen! Unreserved commitment results in unrestrained blessing. When you hold nothingback from God he holds nothing back from you. If you do not withhold from God yourmaterial blessings, he will not withhold from you his spiritual blessings. Thedanger for you who live in a materialistic society is that you will valuematerial things more than spiritual things. Amen! I have been thinking a lot lately about why the people of the United Stateshave so little time for spiritual things. Generally speaking, there is not muchevidence of a widespread passion for God and the things of his kingdom. Peoplein Korea and other places in the world spend hours in prayer on a daily basis.The churches of China, Africa and South America are growing exponentiallybecause of the enormous spiritual hunger of the people. Their worship isenthusiastic and even electric. Why is that not more the case here in theUnited States where we have experienced so much of God’s blessing? We who havebeen so blessed by God should be fuller of worship than anyone else. The answerto this question, I believe, lies in the fact that the sin of materialism hasblunted our spiritual desires. When we do feel a spiritual longing, we have somuch with which we can artificially soothe the deep needs of our lives. We buysomething new, or indulge in some pleasure or interest. We keep ourselves sobusy that we could not possibly get in touch with the deep spiritual longingsof our lives. Isn’t it interesting that the more we have the more we want, andthe less grateful we are? The more we have the more likely we are to keep it toourselves. We all believe that we can handle the temptations that accompany materialwealth, but the truth is that for every ten people who can handle poverty onlyone can handle prosperity. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve twomasters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devotedto the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” Amen! Jesustold the story of the rich fool who stored up his material goods and said tohimself in Luke 12:19-21, “You have plenty of good things laid up for manyyears. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But then God said to him, “Youfool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will getwhat you have prepared for yourself?” God forbid that those words be spoken tous, for Jesus closed the story with these words: “This is how it will be withanyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” What isyour attitude toward money and possessions? Amen! The Bible says in James 1:17,”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of theheavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Giving pries ourfingers from our money and possessions and begins to free us from the slaveryof greed and materialism. Amen! The third point we need to understand is: Giving is an indicator of how much Itrust God. If I think I have to do it all myself, and that God is not arewarder of those who trust him, then I am not living as God wants me to live.The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to pleaseGod, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that herewards those who earnestly seek him.” Amen! As Christians we are assured thatGod is aware of our needs and will take care of us. Jesus said in Matthew 6:30,”If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today andtomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you oflittle faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall wedrink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, andyour heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom andhis righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” If I do notbelieve that down deep in my heart I will never be able to give at anymeaningful level. The Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sowssparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reapgenerously.” You can be generous in your giving because you have a God whocares for us and provides for us. The more you seek the things of the Spirit,the less material things mean to us. You still use them and enjoy them, but yourecognize who has given them to us. You understand that you do not own them. Youare merely a steward of these things, and you keep a loose grip on them. Almost all the Bible has to say about money is negative, unless it is talkingabout giving it away. The Bible is positive when it says in Acts 20:35, “It ismore blessed to give than to receive.”And it is also positive when it says in 2ndCorinthians 9:7, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart togive, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Butthe Bible constantly warns about the spiritual danger that is caused by havingmoney. It says, in 1st Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of allkinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith andpierced themselves with many griefs.” Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives freefrom the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” No one ever ruined theircharacter by being too generous, but many people have ruined their characterbecause of the love of money. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, said, “Get all you can, saveall you can, give all you can.” We say “Get all you can, can all you get, andsit on the lid.” We do not trust God to provide our needs. Do you remember thepeople of Israel in the Sinai desert? They needed food and God gave them manna.Each day they were to go out and collect as much manna as they needed for oneday, no more, no less. Those who collected little found it to be enough, butthere were those who collected more than they needed and tried to store it injars. But when they went to the jars the next day to eat the manna they foundit to be rotten and full of maggots. What was the lesson the Israelites were tolearn through all of this? It was that the Lord was their supply. They were toput their trust in God for their provision on a daily basis, and not allowtheir provisions to be their security and their god. They were to look to himfor their security and not their stored supplies. There are many people todaywho are trusting their bank accounts rather than God. They have placed theirsecurity and trust in something other than the Lord. We even call them”securities” and “trusts.” Jesus said Matthew 6:17, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store upfor yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, andwhere thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there yourheart will be also.” Amen! Where is your treasure? Is it invested in yourself, in possessions orpleasures? Is it hidden away in banks and securities, or is it invested in thekingdom of God where it will be used for his work? When we give to God, itreminds us from where the things we have come. Where you spend your money is anaccurate gauge of what you value in life and where the things of realimportance are to you. Have you invested in the material or spiritual? How wegive demonstrates whether we are trusting God, or whether our security lieselsewhere. The things on which you spend your money and where your treasure isinvested is very important, because Jesus said, “where your treasure is, thereyour heart will be also.” 2nd Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: Whoeversows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reapgenerously.” Now do you know where your treasure is?