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The Value of Money, God, and You

The Value of Money, God, and You

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t care that much about money…except for the months when my credit card bill goes up and my bank account goes down. Money just isn’t something I think about too often…until I remember that we have 4 children and 3 of them will be in college at the same time…and if it takes the other one just an extra quarter of classes, then all 4 of them will be in college at the same time. I promise I don’t obsess over money… unless I start thinking about the dream Shauna and I have of retiring in Northern California. And when it comes to leading Epic Church, I’m not consumed with money… until I start wondering how we’re going to afford the construction at 414 Brannan or hire our next staff member or fund our local and global partners. See I told you that money just isn’t a big deal to me.

How can we possibly give money the value it deserves in our lives, no more and no less?

This is a challenge, but I think it’s one worth pursuing. It’s a unique challenge because of where we live. Can I remind us that what has become normal for us in San Francisco isn’t really normal? When you think, “Getting a studio apartment for $3,300 a month is a great deal,” that’s not normal. One of our kids applied to a private high school and he was awarded a scholarship for $39,000 a year and it still left $14,000 of tuition. I’m like, “you’ll go to public school and I’ll get you all the ice cream you want.” When I first moved to San Francisco, I couldn’t believe I had to pay to park. Now I’m like, “Take all my money; just give me a spot.” You do know it's not normal for a church to reimburse everyone $10 to park on a Sunday, right?

It's so expensive to live here and do anything here. AND it’s the city you should come to if you want to become filthy rich. It’s something for all of us, whether you live in the “I don’t know how I can survive much longer here” zone or if you’re in the “I can be wealthier here than I ever imagined” zone.

While living in San Francisco has major implications for what we’re talking about today, it’s important for us to remember that we have a grand vision for our lives and our church. So here’s the question we’re asking today:

When it comes to money, what does it look like to orient our entire lives around Jesus while living here in San Francisco?

Does Jesus have anything to say about how much we should value money?

Does Jesus have a challenge to give to those of us who daydream about having a lot more than we have now?

Does Jesus have anything to offer to those of us who are so worried we aren’t going to have enough?

The answer to each of these questions is “yes”. Jesus has so much to share with us. And as we hear his words, I want to remind you that He came to this earth full of grace and truth. So he’s going to tell us the truth about how valuable God is, how valuable we are, and how valuable money is. And he’s going to do it in such a gracious way. I’m calling this message, “The Value of Money, God, and You”.

Matthew 6:19-34 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Now there’s a chance you’ve heard these words from Jesus before or at least some of these words. I want us to see everything Jesus says here through the lens of value. Remember the name of the series we’re in – You Care Too Much: How to Right-Size the Value of Everything. In this teaching Jesus is helping us understand the value of different things. He is telling us what happens when we make money more valuable than it is, when we make God less valuable than He is, and when we don’t have a clue how valuable we are to God.

What would change in our lives if we valued God, ourselves, and money for what each of these is actually worth?

I know our text today is somewhat lengthy so let me pull out some key words from Jesus that all go together: Treasure, Master, Worry, Valuable, and Faith.

Your treasure is whatever occupies first place in your heart, mind, and life.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The reason we have to talk about money is because of the place it holds in our world and in our own hearts. For many of us, it is the thing that could most get in our way of following Jesus. The reason for this is that money seems to make the promises of a god: If you have me, you have everything. If you want joy, get all you can of me. If you trust me most, I’ll take you all the places you want to go in life. Wealth might be the strongest false god that exists in our world.

Mark 4:18-19 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

The worries of this life, the promises wealth makes but can’t keep, and our desires for other things make the word and way of God unfruitful for our lives.

1 Timothy 6:10 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.

The love of money has caused family members to hate each other and never speak again. The love of money has ruined marriages. The love of money has made people sacrifice their integrity at the altar of more. The love of money has caused countless people to walk away from Jesus. Remember the rich young man who would rather give up Jesus than give up his wealth? And isn’t this the very thing that caused Judas to sellout Jesus?

Your treasure determines who or what is your master.

If you want to know who or what is your master, just ask this question: When push comes to shove, who or what do you follow most? I call this The Master Principle. The Master Principle states that in the end, one thing always wins over everything else. It means that when your desires compete with each other, there’s one that is ultimate for your life.

“Money, for Jesus, was not a neutral tool but something that could master a person every bit as completely as the true God.” Andy Crouch, The Life We’re Looking For

Since you have to have whatever you treasure, fear of not having it or not having enough of it leads to worry.

“Worry” shows up six times in the text. One commentator said this, “Christians must plan for the future, but they need not be anxious.”

When you obsess over money, is it because you want so much of it or is it because you’re afraid of not having enough of it?

For me, I tend to obsess over the “not having enough of it” part. If Jesus is encouraging us not to worry, here’s a question we should ask:

What does Jesus know that I don’t know?

Jesus knows the actual value of money.

Jesus knows just how worthy God is.

And Jesus knows precisely how valuable we are to God. He tells us to look at the birds and the flowers. They don’t plan or strategize or scheme or obsess over making sure they have enough. If they don’t have to worry neither do you…because you’re way more valuable to God than they are.

Knowing all of this, Jesus encourages us to treasure God over money and everything else. He tells us that the remedy for our worry is to know that God really values us and will take care of us. He also gives us a place to put our focus, time, and energy. “Don’t run after all of the things that the pagans (those without God) run after. Your heavenly Father knows what you need and He knows how to give it to you. Instead, seek his kingdom first and all of these other things will be given to you as well.”

“You of little faith” – why does Jesus say this to them and to us? I don’t think it’s to shame us. He just happens to know that humans naturally put too much faith in money and not enough faith in God.

Proverbs 18:10-11 The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.

Faith is present when we believe and trust that Jesus is telling us the truth about money, God, and ourselves.

Jesus isn’t saying that the things we need should have no value. And he’s not telling us that we shouldn’t care about the things we want. But He is telling us that if we get first things first…if we rightly order the value of things in our lives, it all kind of falls into place.

Practical Application:

• Daily - Fill your heart and mind with truths about who God is and who you are to Him. The earth is the Lord’s. Contemplate Jesus. If God did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also, along with Jesus, give us all things? The Lord is my Shepherd; I lack nothing.

• When you feel anxious about money, bring that to God. “I am so anxious about not having enough. Help me to trust You.” Remind yourself of God’s past provision and ask the Spirit for this to fuel your faith in His future provision.

• Build whatever structure is necessary for your finances. Make or remake a budget. Make a plan for getting out of debt. Discipline your spending. Remember that godliness with contentment is great gain.

• Make a giving plan and stick to it. One of the best ways to do this is to decide to give a % of your income. You can do this by setting up recurring giving through Epic’s website and join the more than 300 people who already do this. When Shauna and I first got married, we were poor…but it’s also when we decided to start tithing – giving 10% of our income to our local church. 10 years later, we went above and beyond the tithe. We have zero regrets about this and have a plan to increase that even more in the future.

• Bound the time you give to thinking about money. I’m trying to do weekly things during a specific time of the week and kind of a monthly report at the end of the month.

Invitation: Make Jesus your treasure. Put your faith in what He has done for you and what He has said to you. You are valuable and here’s how you can know it:

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

For the rest of us: As you hear Jesus tell us what money is worth, what God is worth, and what we are worth to God, what would your everyday life look like if you were to trust that Jesus is telling us the truth about what all of these are worth?

Imagine the words that could mark your life in this area: TRUST, GENEROSITY, PEACE, TREASURE

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