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TEXT: I Corinthians 6:20
SUBJECT: Money Matters #2: We are the Lord's
Last week we began a short study called Money Matters. Its goal is to help you glorify the Lord with your money-with making it, spending it, saving it, and giving it away. Money matters to God because we matter, and few things have more effect on our lives-for better or worse.
Who owns your money? God does. Whether He rains it down from heaven (as He did with the manna) or enables you to earn it by the sweat of your face. In either case, your money belongs to the Lord and you're responsible to Him for what you do with it.
Today, we'll take a second look at us and our money, but this time from the other side. The Lord not only owns my money, but He also owns me--all of me, including what I do with my money.
WE BELONG TO GOD
Christians belong to God. This is one of the major themes of the Old Testament. The Israelites were not a random collection of individuals who happened to like the Lord more than other gods, but they were God's People-a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth ( Deuteronomy 14:2).
They became His People by God's choice-The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself (Deuteronomy 7:6).
His ownership was reaffirmed when He saved them from Egypt-But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, His inheritance as you are this day (Deuteronomy 4:20).
The people accepted the Covenant at the foot of Mount Sinai and this formalized their relationship to God-If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me, above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.Then all the people answered together and said, 'All that the Lord has spoken, we will do'. So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord (Exodus 19:5,6,8).
Many Scriptures teach the same thing and more than a few celebrate it.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord and the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance! (Psalm 33:12).
Because they belonged to God, Israel could be compared to a sheep (who belongs to his shepherd), a slave (who belongs to his master), a wife (who belongs to her husband), and a son (who belongs to his father).
Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by My name, you are mine! (Isaiah 43:1).
This theme-begun in the Old Testament-is carried over into the New Testament-with a significant change or two.
The People of God are no longer identified with a gene pool or shaped by the Call of Abraham or the Exodus from Egypt. God's People are now taken from every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue. We are bound together by other historical events, namely the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But even though some of the details have changed, the substance remains the same. We belong to God. He chose us before the world began, He redeemed us at the cross, we carry His trademark, the Holy Spirit, in our bodies and souls. We are God's children, the bride of Christ, and the servants of the Lord.
In knowledge, experience, labor, and success, no one was greater than Paul. Yet the words he most often applied to himself were, Paul a servant of Jesus Christ. The Greek New Testament has six or eight words that our English Bibles render "servant". One is rather high and mighty-a word for a Prime Minister, a Secretary of State, or an Ambassador. But Paul doesn't use that one; he chooses the bottom word. He's a slave of Jesus Christ and he's proud of his calling. Because being the Lord's slave means he belongs to God.
We belong to God.
The Whole Church belongs to God. Shepherd the flock of God which He purchased with His own blood.
Every Christian belongs to God.
You are bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:20).
You are not your own (I Corinthians 6:19).
Glorify God with your bodies and your spirits, which are God's (I Corinthians 6:20).
Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's (Romans 14:8).
IF WE BELONG TO GOD, THEN WHAT WE DO BELONGS TO GOD, INCLUDING WHAT WE DO FOR AND WITH OUR MONEY.
One of the most striking features of the Mosaic Law is how intrusive it is. It does not lay out general principles for godly living, but it touches on every part of life-including the most private. It rules everything, from worshiping God to cutting your hair, from plowing a field to going to the bathroom! A bald spot, a running sore, nothing is off limits to God and His Law.
Why? Because His people belong to Him, and He wants them to be holy in every part of life.
We have no problem with the Lord butting into the affairs of Israel. But when He starts meddling in our lives, we don't like it. We want Him to rule us in the areas we open up to Him, but we also demand our privacy. But the Lord does not respect our privacy. Every facet of life is open to Him and under His Lordship. Including the parts that involve money.
Note: Under His Lordship is not the same as under the scrutiny of the church, the pastor or the busybody! You are not required to open the books to other people or to earn, spend, save, and give what they tell you to! You are bought with a price, do not be servants of men!
But having said this, let me get back on topic. Making money is under God's Rule. Does the Lord tell you how much money to make? He doesn't give a dollar amount, of course, but, yes He does tell you how much you ought to make. And how much is that? Enough to take care of yourself and to help people who can't.
If any man does not provide for his own, especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (I Timothy 5:8).
Let him who stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need (Ephesians 4:29).
For some people, this means you need to work harder or longer or smarter than you do; for others, it means you need to change jobs or careers; for others, it means you have to lower your expenses to meet your low earning potential.
Because your work belongs to God, it is subject to His will.
Spending money is under God's rule. What is the rock-bottom rule for spending your money? Don't spend more than you make. No verse says this, but many verses teach it. A minute ago, I quoted I Corinthians 7:23: You are bought to a price, do not be servants of men. But what does debt make you? Proverbs 22:7, tells you (as if you didn't already know): The borrower is servant of the lender. Credit cards have more slaves than Pharaoh ever had! The name is ironic, isn't it: Mastercard.
Do you spend more than you make? Everyone does if there's an emergency, of course. But what about month-to-month? Are you in the habit of spending more than you make and not paying your bills? If you are, you need to repent, for your spending is under the Lordship of Christ. If you don't know how to get into good habits, you need to ask someone who does-and take his advice. Not only to breathe easier, but to honor the Lord.
Saving money is under the Lordship of Christ. Does God want you to plan for the future or to trust Him for the future? Yes He does. Does He want you to be generous now or to sock away as much as you can for your retirement? Yes He does. Saving is a tricky issue and subject to mistakes on both sides. Thus, we ought to study the Bible carefully on the topic, remember the guidelines of wisdom and love, and pray to know the right thing to do and the will to do it. In any event, saving is not a matter of indifference; it, too, is under the Rule of Heaven.
Giving money away is subject to God's will. The Bible often and plainly teaches that some of our money should be given away: to the church, to missions, to the poor, in hospitality, and so on. This is not wasting your money, and when done wisely, will not be lost. There is he who scatters and yet increases and there is he who holds back more than is good, but it only leads to poverty (Proverbs 11:24).
Thinking about money is also under His Lordship. A human ruler can command outward obedience and nothing more. But a Divine Lord can rule the outside and the inside. And that's what God does. He commands us to think certain ways about money. For example, He orders us to be content with what we have and to give cheerfully. He forbids the love of money, covetousness, envy, pride, contempt, and many other sins that are connected to having money or not.
IF ALL WE DO BELONGS TO GOD, THEN EVERYTHING WE DO WITH OUR MONEY IS A SERVICE TO GOD-OR A DISSERVICE.
Do you remember the parable of the talents? We have a prince who is going abroad to inherit a kingdom. While he's away he wants three of his servants to take care of his money. To one, he gives five talents, to another, he gives two, and to the third he gives one talent, with the understanding that they'll take invest his money wisely, so he'll have more when he comes home.
At the end of the parable, he finds his servants are not all alike. Two of them are good and faithful servants, and the other is wicked and lazy. The good men he rewards and the bad one he punishes.
But observe: there is no doubt that all three men are His servants. All three served him, but only two of them served him well, while the other served him badly.
In the same way, everything you do for your money or with it is a service to God. But is it a good service? I know it's not perfect, but is it good? Are you making an honest effort to please the Lord with your earning, spending, saving, and giving? Or, are you like the bad servant in the parable-the man who doesn't care what his master wants?
THERE IS HOPE
I believe you want to be a good servant of the Lord. But maybe you've gotten into bad habits. Bad work habits, bad spending habits. If the habit were two weeks old, it would be fairly easy to break, but it isn't two weeks old! It's far older than that, maybe even lifelong.
If you've been a bad servant, either wasting the Lord's money or burying it in the ground, there is hope for you! Real hope! Hope from God! What is the hope?
First of all, misusing God's money is not the unpardonable sin! That's good news, isn't it? Matthew 12:31-32 keeps many dear souls up at night and worried sick all day. But if they read it better, it would relieve their fears and make them sleep like a baby.
Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
The Lord means what He says. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven-not now, not ever. But He also means the other part of the passage: every other sin and blasphemy will be forgiven.in this age and the age to come. Including the sins of wasting God's money, not giving to the church, neglecting the poor, spending more than you make, coveting, hoarding, and not listening to people who try to help you! These sins are forgivable!
The Lord will pardon them on the same terms He forgives any other sin: confession and repentance.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will receive mercy.
If you have served God badly with your money-even if you've done it for fifty years-confess your sins, turn from them with an eye to the Lord's mercy, and you will be forgiven. If seven dips into the Jordan make the leper's skin like a baby's, then one dip in the laver of Christ's blood will make you a new man!
How foolish we are in promising pardon to sinners, but not to saints! As if the Lord loves His people less than His enemies! As if He's harder on us than on people who have never even tried to serve Him!
Come every soul by sinned oppressed,
There's mercy with the Lord.
Secondly, God's grace is stronger than your bad habits. Under the power of common grace, unsaved people break bad habits. As a young man, a relative of mine was one the laziest guys in the world. But four years in the Marine Corps made turned him around. And now, he has not missed a day of work or come in late for more than twenty years! Every day, unsaved people quit drinking, give up drugs, stop sleeping around, and so on. This is God's grace at work-His common grace or mercy that reaches everyone, including the unsaved.
Now, if common grace can break the stubborn habits of the lost, why can't special grace change the bad habits of the saved? But of course it can-and does. Believers are not perfect, but we are being renewed day by day and being transformed into the Image of God's Dear Son.
I don't care how many times you've failed, keep on praying for God's grace to change your bad habits-and do your part too. It is not God's grace or human effort, but God's grace in human effort or human effort as the result of God's grace.
If you have long disserved God with your money, do what Paul did in another connection,
Labor more abundantly than them all, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
If you can't remember that, just think of the hymn,
Trust and obey.
Thirdly, take practical steps to serve God well with your money. Start off by identifying the root problem. If you're a miser, don't worry about overspending. Come up with a plan to save less, to give more away, and to be happy about it. If, on the other hand, you're a relentless shopper, stay away from the stores, throw away the catalogues, and don't surf the net. If all you do is worry about money, memorize verses like Phillipians 4:6,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.
Finally, love God more. The more you love the Lord the better you will serve Him with your money.
If your money belongs to God and you belong to God, you need to serve Him with your money and serve Him well. So get to it. And the love of God be with you. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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