Keys to Stewardship Living #3
Well, we have been thinking for the last few weeks about Stewardship Living. We have talked about Contentment, that is being truly happy and satisfied with our lot in life. Then we considered what it is to be generous. Now if you are honest, you have to admit that you find it easier to want more and keep more than to be content and give away. Those are hard things. We struggle with generosity because we struggle with discontentment and we worry about the future more than we trust God. I am not jaded enough to think that just because I preached a couple of messages, we are all now living lives of contentment and have become perfectly generous with your finances, your time, your talents, your homes, jobs, etc.
However, what I pray is that as individuals and families you are asking the questions. Are we living in contentment? Are we being obedient in our stewardship? Are we learning to be generous? Then we need to ask, what adjustments do we need to make it come in line with what God is teaching us.
But please let me encourage you to keep at it. Galatians 6:9 says “do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”
Remember that harvest doesn’t come right away you reap LATER than you sow. You also reap WHAT you sow and you reap MORE than sow … so keep it up don’t be frustrated because you are being obedient this week and everything isn’t suddenly perfect. Press on, keep it up, and God will reward you as you are faithful and obedient.
So, we are turning a lock. We got our first tumbler, contentment, and then back to the left we turned to generosity, and now we are going to turn straight back to our last tumbler, TREASURES.
I asked Donna, to email this week and ask you to answer the question, “what is a treasure?” Here are some of your answers
I treasure family, friends and relationships. For me, nothing is more valuable.
My treasure: My Family
Treasure: Something valued, cherished, non-replaceable and resulting in great sadness when lost or damaged. As with our relationship with God in Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
What Do I treasure? Life and all that it includes(family,friends,vacations, work, good times and bad-not so much this one).
What is a treasure? God
What do I treasure...my husband, my children, my life, the roof over our head, the food in our stomach, the changing of seasons which allows the plants to grow...all of which are gifts given by God himself. I treasure the most that he took my life and completely changed it around so that I may enter in without pain and suffering one day!
Treasure means to me, something that I value, appreciate, and adore.
I treasure the love of, Jesus, My wife, My son
A treasure is something so valuable to you, you cannot put a price on it
A treasure is something you absolutley adore and there is no way ou could ever live without it! I treasure my relationship with Jesus Christ...... I also treasure my amazing husband Jim and my boys AJ and Bryan......
Treasure is something you admire, cherish, delight in, desire, prize, value, savor. Jesus Christ is the utmost Treasure
Let’s see what the Word of God says, go with me to the book of Matthew
Something we need to say first is this, Our text comes from Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse” or “The Sermon on the Mount”. IN Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus Christ reveals the expectations for those who are citizens of the Kingdom of God. The message of Jesus, when he began to preach in Matthew 4:17, was “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Then in chapter 5 he delivers this message. If we are going to repent, that means we turn from something to another thing. So, if we are to turn from a self-centered life to a God-centered life, what will that be like?
READ Matthew 6:19-34
To be true stewards of the things that belong to Jesus Christ, we have to determine what the valuable things are that are in our lives.
Whatever we treasure, we will protect and cherish.
In light then, of what we just read, let me ask you something
Do you want a HOUSE full of Treasures, or
Do you want a FUTURE full of Treasures?
That brings us to another question and my first point …
1. What Classifies as a Treasure?
A treasure is something that has value right?
Matthew 6:19 then says “store up for yourself treasures”
“Store up” and “treasures” are the verb and noun form of the same Greek Word.
The verb is thesaurizo = thay-sow-rid-zo= to gather, heap up, accumulate riches
The noun is thesaurus = thay-sow-ros= a treasure box in which precious things are collected and kept or the things stored in a treasure box
There is nothing wrong with treasuring things. But we need to be sure that we are treasuring treasures and not valueless things. <show my childhood treasure box and the things in it> We value you some silly things don't we?
A treasure has value, yes, but my question is this, what do you treasure, and is the value of your treasure safe?
- If the value isn’t safe, then is it really a treasure?
Jesus said, don’t treasure things are susceptible to moths, rust, and thieves.
Things can be consumed by uninvited parasites so, that will affect the value so I have to watch where I store them
Things can be worn out or disintegrate so we have to be careful where we store it. The word for rust means “that which consumes”
Things can be stolen or taken away from you by someone that wants what you have. The word for thieves literally means “wall digger” because in that day the walls were made of hardened mud so you dug through the wall to steal from a house.
If your treasure is boxed in places where they can be consumed by moth or rust, or if your treasures are boxed where they can be taken by “wall-diggers” then the value isn’t safe and so is it REALLY a treasure?
Jesus said the only things that are safe are things that are boxed up or treasured in Heaven.
V21 says your treasure is where your heart is … so determining the purpose of a treasure will determine its value
- Anything that can be consumed HERE or stolen FROM you has nothing more than temporary purpose. My house, is good and nice but it has temporary purpose. My house is subject to decay so it is temporary
So, make a list … if it can be stolen, eaten, consumed or can decay … it is temporary and has to go in the temporary file
- If it has eternal purpose, if it can be rewarded by God, if it will outlast my earthly life, it is of heavenly value and kingdom purpose that has value that is SAFE.
Most of what we hoard is temporary and ultimately without value.
It’s like hoarding monopoly money, what’s the point?
Now, while you are contemplating your list, we know that we all value and treasure things that perhaps aren’t worth it. So, while you think about that lets see something else about treasures.
Treasures are powerful because
2. Treasures Drive the Heart vv21-23
Have you noticed that our attention is drawn to the things that are important to us?
It’s amazing, we can be driving down a highway and things will be whizzing by but if I see a break in the trees and I see rolling, closely mown grass, my head turns and then I see a circle of sand, and a little flag on a stick and I say “golf course.”
My eyes are drawn to the thing that is close to my heart.
I can be in a crowd of strangers but if I see someone with an Ohio State hat on, I will walk passed them and simply say “O-H” … and their ear catches it and they say “I-O” … why? It is because their ears are attuned to where their heart is.
“The EYE”, Jesus said, “is the lamp for our body. If you have GOOD eyes your body has light, but if you have bad eyes, you are full of darkness.”
Let’s see it this way,
Where your heart is your eyes will look
Where your eyes look, your hands will act
Do you see the pattern? If our heart is on temporal things, that is all we will see and do.
If on eternal things, and then that’s where our eyes will go and what we will do.
If our heart and eyes are on dark things … well you see the point
See the progression again
Treasure > Heart (thoughts)
Heart > Eyes (passions or purpose)
Eyes > Hands (actions)
And then we find that
3. Treasures are Dictatorial
Jesus said, “you can’t serve two masters”
Now, Jesus is using monetary treasures to teach us something. How we spend is an indicator of our heart.
You can’t serve TWO MASTERS … because eventually you will make a choice and you will be DEVOTED to one or the other … that’s the word, antecho or antechomai = to cling to, to withstand, to help, to cling to in belief
We will eventually be devoted to one and DESPISE the other, the word is kataphroneo – despise, disdain, think little of
Treasures demand our single hearted devotion, they make the rules, they make the decisions. They want our singular commitment
In Isaiah 2:5-9 we get a picture of what happens when our heart wanders to unworthy passions and then our eyes follow, and our deeds eventually do what our passions demand
Isaiah 2:5-8 - Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
6 You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans.
7 Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots. 8 Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.
See what happens when our hearts go to worldly things? Solomon knew this 1st hand.
He wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:8-11 - I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well— the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Notice Solomon says “If I wanted it, I went for it … but ultimately I realized it was all meaningless and as useful as chasing after wind … nothing is gained”
i.e. he had stored up his treasures in a treasure box that didn’t hold anything valuable
What do you have to show for your valuables, your passions?
When AJ was about 4 or 5 we heard that D.C. comics was going to kill Superman and this storyline continued through a series from winter 92 to September 93.
Well, AJ and I went to the comic store, every Wednesday and bought the next comic in the series. We would read it together and then put it in a poly bog to save it so later we could pay for his college on that valuable asset. We still have them. They are in Mint Condition after 18 years. I looked on ebay for the value of my treasure. There were more than 30 comics that we paid probably $1.25 to $1.50 for each one. I looked this week on ebay, someone else had the whole set and was selling it for $118.00.
But I would say that the real treasure was sharing together in the process. We still have the memories and those are worth greater value.
However, let me tell you, at the same time we also were investing time teaching AJ to memorize scripture and telling him nightly stories from scripture and taking him to church and to places where I was preaching so he heard the gospel. And on October 31st 1994, AJ was with me at a concert where I presented the gospel and he gave his heart to Jesus Christ.
THAT is an investment in eternity. And we continued to invest money, time, talent, in our boys lives and they both are following the Lord and telling others about Christ.
Over the years we have spent money on mission trips where the gospel is spread for eternal purposes. And we give our tithes and offerings to this church and we invest offerings in other Kingdom Things because that’s where our heart is so our eyes follow and our hands then do.
We are just making an investment in Heaven, because Treasures drive the heart and Treasures demand devotion
so the only solution for us is to
4. Treasure the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness vv33-34
Where is your heart? That is what you will pursue.
To live stewardship lives, we have to treasure the ways of God and advancing his Kingdom
If we treasure it we will find a way to invest our money there
If we value it we will find a way to fund it
If we treasure it we will find the time to do it since we value it
If we value it, we will learn to do it because we treasure it
If you want wisdom from God, Solomon said something else in
Proverbs 2:4-5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding
If you treasure something, you will want it badly and you will pursue what you desire
I’ll be honest folks … our parking lot on Sunday and Wednesday says that more folks treasure other stuff. Our offerings say that we value other things more.
Wednesday night I was driving home from Bible Study and I was thinking about our Wednesday night Bible study / Prayer Attendance. And I was thinking, “well it is a week night and people are just too tired after work so they go home. People don’t go out on week nights.” Then as I drove down New Halls Ferry, I drove passed the “Old Tymer Bar” on New Halls Ferry. The Building isn’t ½ the size of ours but their parking lot was PACKED.
Well some folks are treasuring something. I would like to think that the people who have found the greatest treasure, Eternal Life in Christ, would value that MORE than people trying to fill their emptiness by emptying a glass of alcohol.
But some things seem to say “no we don’t”
I’m not taking a shot here, I’m asking us to look deep within and ask the hard question, “What do I value, where am I investing my resources?”
- Take an honest look at our lives, our spending, support and investment in eternal things
- Ask the Lord, “Where is my heart?”
- Ask the Lord – “God am I investing all that I have in a way that is pleasing to you?”
- Ask, “Are my time, talents, treasures being invested in the things that are closest to my heart?”
- Ask, “Do I need to Repent and Return to the things that Jesus considers the expectation for the citizens of the Kingdom, so that I am storing up my treasures in Heaven”
There is a legendary story about St. Thomas … it is told this way …
St. Thomas was at Caesarea and the Lord appeared to him saying “the King of the Indies, Gondoforus is looking for workmen who will build for him a palace finer than the Emperor in Rome, now I will send you to him.”
So Thomas went to Gondoforus who commanded him to build him a magnificent palace for him. The King gave him much gold and silver strictly for the purpose of building him that eincomparable palace. The King then left for a journey far away. He was gone for two yars. But instead of building a palace, Thomas took the king’s wealth and distributed the treasures among the poor and the sick. When the king returned and the money was gone and no palace was built, he was FURIOUS. He commanded Thomas to be seized and thrown into prison as he planned a TERRIBLE TORTUROUS DEATH for him.
While this was going on the king’s own brother died. The king was going to build a luxurious tomb for his brother’s honor. Yet, after four days, the dead man suddenly sat up, resurrected to life, with a message for his brother, the king.
He said, “the man, Thomas, you are planning to torture is a servant of God. I have been to Paradise, and the angels showed me a WONDROUS PALACE of gold and silver, as well as precious stones. They said ‘this is the palace that Thomas, the architect, has built for your brother, King Gondoforus.’”
When Gondoforus heard these words from his brother, he ran to the prison and released the apostle.
Thomas explained to him “Don’t you understand that those who want to possess heavenly things have little care for the things of this earth?
There are in heaven innumerable magnificent palaces. They are prepared for those who would purchase their possession through faith.” He then said “O King, your riches may prepare the way for you to have such a palace but your riches can’t follow you there.”
Folks, you can’t take your riches WITH you to Heaven, but you CAN SEND THEM ON AHEAD!
What is God Saying?
What will you do?