Read Matthew 6:19-34.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. If the poor have the kingdom of heaven, then what do the not-so-poor have? Well, those who certainly arent poor have treasure on earth. A trust fund. Something to keep us secure. Savings for the future.
Jesus has warned his disciples of a couple of pitfalls to living out the kingdom righteousness. One is legalism: When we equate righteousness with keeping the rules, we fail to live out the spirit of the law. Legalism is not the sort of salt and light, kingdom righteousness that surpasses the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.
The second pitfall is approval from others: When we equate righteousness with the judgment of others, custom, tradition, or the way weve always done it, then we fail to be content with Gods approval. We give up Gods reward for the reward of being approved by others. Instead of an excellent righteousness, we settle with a mediocre righteousness.
And now Jesus warns us of a third pitfall: distraction. Those who originally heard this teaching were distracted by the lack of material things. They were anxious about having enough to eat, having fresh water to drink, having basic goods. Thats not most of us. For most of us we are distracted by having too many material things ... or we are distracted by our desire for more material things. Whether the problem is not enough, too much, or desire the source of the distraction in every case is treasure on earth. The problem is the false God of money.
We cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve God and Money at the same time. Trying to pledge allegiance to two masters is distracting. A master, by definition, requires complete loyalty. The disciples of Jesus cannot be distracted, especially not if they are anticipating the kingdom of heaven.
Simple message, but lets be honest; theres so much about our life together and our life in this world that has to do with money. It seems that church has a lot to do with money. We collect an offering every Sunday. We have a business management team. We hire staff. We pay bills. Who are we serving? God or Money? How can we know the difference? Are we distracted or are we disciples?
Giving at West-Ark has increased. But our church budget is just a small part of the significance here. As a church, do we make our decisions based on trust in money or based on trust in God? Thats important because the answer reveals our true master.
When we truly say in God we trust and when we are not just reading it off of our money, we begin to see money differently. Instead of naively assuming that money is a neutral substance, we begin to understand how money and material things become a power and force not only in our own lives, but in our life together in our society. Rather than a neutral substance it can actually determine what decisions we make and it can burden us with anxieties and drive us into serving it.
When we truly say that it is in God that we trust, we begin to realize that money and things can distract us, but we also learn that there is a difference between Using Money and Serving Money Money, like all forces and powers, must be redeemed to serve God. The key to knowing if we are distracted by another master is for us to answer this question: Do we use money or do we serve money?
When we trust in CASH, we tend to think that God only cares about his cut his 10 %. As long as he gets his due hes fine with us. But God actually has an opinion about the other 90% as well. Why? Because he knows what this stuff and money can do to us ...
Today when you look around you are going to see the world that God runs. We are a bit past the blooming of flowers, but you will see the masters artistry in the fall colors colors that inspire the great fashion houses. You will have to pay thousands of dollars for designer clothing. The trees pay nothing for Gods care. You will see birds building their houses and collecting food. You and I may ring up a hefty bill for lunch and get anxious if the meal isnt ready in fifteen minutes. But the birds pay nothing for Gods care.
Who is your master? Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If we are to establish a life of simplicity this week among pagans who run after all these things, we should also do a bit of self-evaluation today about how much of our energy we devote to worrying in general. Ours is a society that nurtures worry as though it were a virtue. When we worry, we hold back those areas of our lives from God. WorryI prefer Robert Guelichs definition to any I have heardis an anxious endeavor to secure ones needs.
I would take that a step farther and say that worry is an anxious endeavor to secure ones needs and wants and how we think the world should be.
Here is your opportunity this morning to come bring your worrying to the foot of the cross and leave it here. Sometimes in our prayers in worship we ask God to help us leave the cares of the world outside. I am saying this morning that it should be just the opposite. This morning, bring all of your worries into this room, and leave them here. Thats not to say that you will not think about them any more. It is to say, however, that you are bringing these things to God that you worry about too much, and that you acknowledge on this day that you need to hand those over to God.
If it is money, you cannot serve money if you want to serve God. The acquisition of stuff is not is not a part of the world imagined in the Sermon on the Mount. But it is just as foreign to the life God wants for us when we try to walk alongside Christ without handing everything over to him.
Lay your burdens down, every care you carry. Bring them all today into the presence of God. Be a follower of God today. Do that, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
Our worries are not rooted in having too little, our worries are in having too much. And having an abundance forms us into people that trust in ourselves. And the more we trust in ourselves for these daily needs the more we trust in ourselves for the deeper needs of security and value. One characteristic of the incarnation that has always intrigued me is the fact that God made himself vulnerable. Look at all our new babies. They need constant care. They depend entirely on the people around them. God came and made himself as vulnerable as a new born baby. Jesus actually lives his life relying on the Father and others. He is not consumed with security.
When we make our economic decisions because we trust in God, or when we use money for God rather than serve it ...
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