How Greed Works

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19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For 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, 23but 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.
Matthew 6:19-24

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus lays out a vision for how His Kingdom can transform the lives of His disciples. He keeps our relationship with the stuff of earth connected to knowing the Heavenly Father. Jesus knows greed for more and anxiety because of scarcity hinder our experience of His love and our involvement in His mission.

Greed can take over our lives. He shows us three kinds of power at work in greed. I’m going to call them principles.

The treasure principle: “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” If you treasure money, then the affections of your heart and your best energy for life will go there.

The eye-health principle: “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” The perspectives through which your see the world will affect your whole life. So, if you are seeing the world through the faulty lens of greed, you are going to damage your life and those around you.

The master principle: “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.” We thought we could be the master of our money or our wealth. But here’s what Jesus knows: money / wealth / the stuff of earth competes for the allegiance we only to the Giver of all good things. (Rich Mullins wrote this truth into a song) Jesus’ conclusion: You cannot serve both God and money. And money makes a terrible master.

So what are we to do?

We must establish God as master of our lives and our stuff. That will lead us to explore with Him, what the purpose of such stuff and our work is in His Kingdom. And we will begin to ask daily, “Jesus, what would you have me do with the stuff of earth entrusted me?

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Generosity Ripples

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11You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!  2 Corinthians 9:11-15 

Throw a pebble on a pond and watch the ripples spread. Grasped between the fingers and flung to the middle, that single stone reached its target and sank, but the affect went to the edges. Like a pebble on a pond, money given may meet a temporary need but the generosity makes lasting  waves. Generosity ripples.

Paul inspires the church in Corinth by showing them the multifaceted impact of their financial gifts. When we take the stuff of earth and leverage it for the work of the Gospel and the life of the church we make waves.

  • God makes our generosity possible… over and over.
  • Our generosity produces worship and thanksgiving toward God from the immediate beneficiaries and from the people who benefit from the life of the church and her servants in Great Commission labour.
  • Our generosity is a ministry serving God and the church.
  • Our generosity flows from and drives us deeper into the Gospel of Jesus.
  • Our generosity produces affection, prayer, and appreciation of God’s grace.
  • Financial giving is only a small ripple of the awe produced by God’s most awesome gift for us — Jesus Christ.

What a privilege! Generosity ripples into eternity! Let’s make waves.

money sex and power

“God gave us sex, money, and power to steward.  Yes, these are dangerous things to steward and we see the whole world obsessed with them.  But as we fear them, we abdicate our stewardship of them.  And what happens when we who are called to steward abdicate our role?  Hollywood took on the task to steward how the world should view sex;  Wall Street took on the task of how we should steward money; and Washington took over the task of how we should steward power.  These are unconnected governors and they haven’t done the job very well, but how could they if they are disconnected from the Creator of these things?”  p. 103  City Signals, Brad Smith.

The Challenge of Generosity

Here are the notes from Sunday’s message at Cityview in our series, The New Testament Challenge.  The audio will be available later this week.

“Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38

The Big Idea:  Generosity relies on the abundance of God.

1.  Jesus believes you can afford to be generous.
2.  Jesus confronts us with an alternative economy.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, 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. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 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!

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.   Matthew 6:19-24  NIV

See Luke 18:18-33

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”    23   When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a   man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

Common Challenges to Generosity

A.  “I’m not sure I have enough.”

“Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his posses- sions.”  Luke 12:15

Generosity challenges our vision of success.

B.  “I’m in too much debt.”

“The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the
lender.”  Proverbs 22:7

Generosity challenges our addiction to stuff and lack of restraint.

C.  “I’m not sure the other person deserves it.”

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!   James 2:12-13

Generosity challenges our judgmental nature.

D.  “I’m overwhelmed; there are just too many people with needs.”

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but   has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   James 2:14-17

Generosity challenges us to act now.

E.  “I don’t want to be part of the problem.”

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”  Galatians 6:1

Generosity challenges us to seek wisdom.

F.  “I didn’t know.”

“They will answer, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you.”  Matthew 25:44

Generosity challenges us to see Jesus.

G.  “I just need a little bit more.”

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with every thing for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.  1 Timothy 6:17-19
Generosity challenges our greed.

4. Beware the temptation to make godliness and generosity a formula for this world’s vision of success.  Beware the temptation to make generosity another system of divine credit.

3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.   1 Timothy 6:3-10

5.  Next Steps

A.  __________  Enter the Kingdom of Jesus and His new economy of the Abundant Life.

B.  __________  Memorize the verse.  “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”   Luke 6:38
C.  __________  Determine to give from what you have.

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”  Matthew 5:42

D.  ___________________________________________

God’s Economy by Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove

godseconomy1Author Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove challenges people to enjoy the abundant life promised by Jesus Christ.  Jonathon’s book , God’s Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel, is not your typical Health and Wealth Gospel being flogged by many in the Church today.  Rather, it is an attempt to express what Jonathon and others who are living in new monastic communities are experiencing as they take Jesus at His Word.  Jonathon understands Jesus’ call into relationship with Him as a salvation that secures not only forgiveness of sin and eternal life but also a salvation that secures participation in an alternative economy so that the abundant life is lived now.

Each of the “tactics” of the alternative economy presented by Jonathon enliven me and make me nervous.  Fortunately they are not Jonathon’s tactics, but Jesus’ commands to those who follow him.  The alternative economy moves according to these commands:

Tactic 1:  Subversive Service: How God’s Economy Slips In.  “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  Mark 9:35

Tactic 2:  Eternal Investments: How God’s Children Plan Ahead.  “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven.”  Matthew 6:20

Tactic 3:  Economic Friendships: How Real Security Happens.  “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.”  Luke 16:9

Tactic 4:  Relational Generosity: How We Share Good News.  “Give to the one who asks you.”  Mathew 5:42

Tactic 5: Gracious Politics: How to Live Under Occupation.  “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”  Mark 12:17
I only completed my first reading of Jonathon’s book today.  But, I heartedly recommend God’s Economy to anyone who has handled money, to anyone who has been troubled by their own selfishness and greed, to anyone who wonders if Jesus really means for us to live better on less, and to anyone who is committed to being a Acts 2 community with a group of Christians.  God’s Economy is not really a how-to manual.  It is a confessional work, full of stories and testimonies of others who have entered into a generous and abundant life with Jesus and sought out, sometimes painfully–, how to live by faith in the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.