Our Stewardship from God
By Matthew Black, Pastor
Text: Matthew 6:33
Date: Sunday, July 5, 2009
Tabernacle Baptist Church
7020 Barrington Road
Hanover Park, Illinois 60133
Introduction: Open your Bible to the book of Matthew 6:33. Tonight we come to one of my favorite verses in the Bible, and it is all about Biblical Priorities. Matthew 6:33 says, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
[Prayer for Guidance]
We need to see tonight the importance of Having the Right Priorities. We are often tempted to put prosperity above God. Like our Lord, we are all going to be tempted by riches. Matthew 4:8-9, “the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”
A. We need to Seek God’s Kingdom First. We are commanded in Matthew 6, that we should make it our first priority to lay up treasures in heaven, and not priparily on earth. Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. This is not a call to poverty to all Christians, but a call to have the right priorities.
B. We need to See that the Covetous is a trap that will make all people in it unhappy. We live in a society that constantly tempts us to break the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet”. Everything is bigger, better, and brighter than before. It’a all on sale, and if you can’t afford it, we’d be glad to get you thousands of dollars into debt!
Why does this current commercial culture have such a potent effect? It is because so often we are tempted to look to money as a panacea for all our problems. Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” It is the love of money that gives us all our problems.
C. We need to Search for a biblical understanding of wealth. It is not money itself that is wrong, but turning to money to solve our problems. Money ought not to be our God but instead it is like everything else: it is loaned to us by God, and it is good and to be used for His glory and purposes. Ecclesiastes 5:19, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God”.
The love of money can quickly become our idol. So how can we be sure to seek first the Lord and His kingdom? We need to seek wisdom from His Word.
II. The Bible says, first of all, a lot about the Limitations of wealth. The love of wealth is probably the most prominent religion of the Western world. Our dollars say “in God we trust”, but the irony is, most people trust in their finances more than their Creator. The gaining of wealth is the singular focus of the vast majority of people in our country. It is why most mothers do not stay home with their children to be “workers in the home”. There is a need for two incomes now, not just one.
What we find from the book of Proverbs is that money is a poor source of happiness, but a rich source of temptation, and in the end it is completely worthless.
A. Wealth is a poor source of happiness. Proverbs 3:13-14, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. 14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” Most people see wealth as a way through which they can obtain desirable things. It is not money that can give you all you’re your needs, including true satisfaction, but God alone. Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Can you fill your bank account with wisdom? No, but if you put God first, He promises that all the needful material things would be given to us.
B. Wealth is a rich source of temptation. Proverbs 28:6, “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.”
1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
How does this love for money show up in our lives? For Christians, we start limiting church activities because of work. Has not God promised to provide all of our needs in His riches in glory? Has he not told us to seek first His kingdom and righteousness and he will take of the rest of our needs?
There are sometimes legitimate emergencies that we have to miss our gathering together. There are times when the ox is in the ditch and you have to get the ox out. There are times when we travel out of town. It has always been my practice, unless providentially hindered, that even if I’m on vacation, I never take a vacation from worshipping with God’s people. Wednesday night or the Lord’s Day, I’m always with God’s people where ever I’m at.
When we see Christ, he’s not going to say, “Well done, my good and well off servant”. He’s going to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
C. Wealth is ultimately worthless. Proverbs 11:4, “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.” Or as the New Testament says in Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Material wealth is of this world and cannot and will not last beyond this world. Job said Job 1:21, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither”. There is nothing you can take with you beyond the grave.
Illustration: The ancient Egyptians actually believed whatever you were buried with you brought with you, so they buried their kings in elaborate pyramids with all kinds of gold and riches and furniture. Thousands of years later the material wealth and possessions were still there, along with the mummified bodies!
Consider Luke 17:15-21, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Riches will do you no good in eternity.
Whatever riches I possess on the day that Christ returns will prove utterly worthless. Listen to the words of Ezekiel 7:19, “They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels [STOMACHS]: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity”.
D. Wealth ought to be acquired slowly and diligently. You may have heard of the Protestant work ethic. Well, it is taught in the Bible. Some people have “Get Rich Quick” Schemes. You know, make $5000 from home while playing Solitaire from your computer! Make millions in real estate with no money down! Play instant lotto and take a chance at winning $50 million. Those are all appeals to laziness! There is almost no godly way to get rich quick outside of honest hard work.
Actually, I want to tell you about God’s “Get Rich Slow” Scheme. Look at Proverbs 21:5, “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness [PROFIT]; but of every one that is hasty only to want [POVERTY]”. God’s plan for you to get rich is very simple: HARD WORK!! Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack [LAZY] hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
Pyramid schemes and false promises about easy riches abound. Proverbs 28:20 says we should avoid all of that. God says it is a sin. Listen to Proverbs 28:20, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”
Proverbs 6:6-11 tells us the very same thing, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” The way to get rich is very slowly, through HARD WORK.
Proverbs 22:4, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.”
The truth of the matter is that those who gain wealth without hard work almost always just as quickly squander it. Just do a study of the lives of big lotto winners and you will find a majority of them end up right back in deep poverty and more miserable than before.
Wealth has it’s limitations. So we ought to pray as Agur the son of Jakeh did in Proverbs 30:8-9, “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”
In the end, we must understand that wealth is not good or bad, but it can be used for good or bad as anything can.
III. So my final point is this: wealth is a Blessing if it is used as a stewardship from God.
A. We should Give as a matter of priority. It should be the first thing that comes our of our check. Proverbs 3:9, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase”.
B. We should Give as a matter of Sacrifice. Luke 21:1-4, “And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”
C. We should recognize God’s ownership over our wealth. God owns everything. Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD‘S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Psalm 50:10, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.”
Conclusion: We have an opportunity to give. We are down in our offerings, and we are in a building program. Let us recommit to giving to God in our finances. Truly this is not a financial issue, but one of our heart. And let me encourage you. Some of you have taken a cut in pay. Some of you are unemployed. Let’s give. Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”