Craig Smith - Where's Your Treasure?
Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills, so glad to have you with us this weekend. We are starting a new series, really excited about this series, it’s called “Travel Light.” It’s all about getting free of some of the weight that we’re carrying through life that we probably shouldn’t be. As I was getting ready for this series, I saw a great quote. It’s an unknown author, but I thought it was such a powerful question.
Basically, he says, “I wonder how much of what weighs me down isn’t mine to carry.” Anybody feel like maybe you’re going through life with a little extra weight? That was pride. That came out bad. Let’s see. Anybody think they may be going through life and you could travel a little lighter? How about that? We’re gonna be taking a look for the next few weeks at some things that Jesus says about how to get free of some of the weight that honestly we don’t need to be carrying, some of the burdens that really aren’t ours to bear, or maybe the burden that comes because we’re carrying something in the wrong way. And we’re gonna kind of jump into the deep end today, and we’re gonna talk about the burden of money. And all God’s people went, “Oh, yeah, great.”
You know, here’s the thing. When I was a young preacher, actually, for most of my career as a preacher, I have avoided talking on money like the plague, and I think it’s probably because I grew up in the era of the TV evangelists. You guys remember those with the slicked-back hair. And it seems like every time that I came across someone, I was flipping through channels, it seemed like every time I heard anything out of their mouth, it was about money. And it was always, “Send me your money.” In fact, I vividly remember this. I don’t remember who it was, but he was a pretty famous TV preacher. And he basically…his pitch for money was, “Well, God told me that if you don’t send me this amount of money, He’s gonna take me home.” And I remember thinking, “Well, bon voyage,” right?
And I just hated that. I hated it, and I hated that association of the church and getting people’s money. And so for a long, long time, honestly, I avoided talking on money like the plague. But several years ago, God began to stir in my heart, and he brought me to this realization, which is that I actually can’t really love. I’m not loving the people that I’m called to lead unless I talk about the things that have the most potential to do you harm, the most potential to weigh you down and to keep you free from really following Jesus and experiencing everything that God has for you. And the reality is that money is at the top of that list.
If you just do a Google search, what you’re gonna find is that, you know, when people are surveyed on why their marriage ended in a terrible divorce or why they’re going through life with tremendous amount of anxiety, money is near the top or at the top of the list every single time they do the survey. Money has tremendous potential to weigh us down. And interestingly enough, that’s true, whether you have a little bit of it or a lot of it. It’s true whether you think you have an excess of money, and some of you do, or whether you have an absence of money, and some of you do. Money has that potential no matter how much.
In fact, here’s a truth that I’ve come to understand. The influence money has on us doesn’t depend on how much money we have. Do you hear me, Church? The influence money has on us doesn’t depend on the amount of money that we have. You can be in that side of the spectrum where you go, “I have an absence of money,” and money can weigh you down. Concerns about money can absolutely do damage to your life. Or you can be on the side of the spectrum, you’ve got an excess of it, and you recognize that, and yet it still finds its way into your worry place, right? It still finds itself one of those things that constantly you’re struggling with.
And so, I didn’t always realize that. I didn’t realize that at all. In fact, I’m just gonna be really honest with you. There was a time in my life that I was not living according to God’s principles when it came to money. And I had a reason for it, and the reason was I was too poor to follow his principles. I was in a place in my life I’ve shared with you, maybe you’ve heard me say that, you know, there was a time in my life, not all that long ago, where I was working three part-time jobs, and all those part-time incomes together didn’t add up to a full-time income. And I really felt like I didn’t have enough money to pay attention to God’s principles for money.
Here’s the way I rationalize like, “Well, I’m in full-time vocational ministry, so, you know, we could talk about time, talent, and treasure.” And I was like, “Well, my time is all God’s, 100% of my time. I’m being super, super generous with my time and I’m being super generous with all my talent. All my talents have been given to God. So, I don’t have any treasure. So surely, God won’t mind if I don’t give him any of it because I don’t have it to give.” And that made sense to me.
But it was actually in that phase of my life that God began to speak to me, and he kind of told me, “You don’t understand. I don’t need your money. But you need to be careful about how you handle money because, otherwise, it’s gonna have an influence on you that you don’t want it to have.” And so it’s actually in that season of my life, where I didn’t have much money, I was definitely in that absence side of the spectrum, that God began to speak. And I began to make some small changes in my life. And I’m so, so glad that I did.
And I really wish somebody had taught me these principles when I was a whole lot younger because what I’ve discovered is this. What I’ve discovered is that you’re never too poor, you’re never too poor to experience the freedom that comes from following God’s financial principles. Some of you are here today, and you feel like you’ve got all kinds of extra money. I’m not gonna ask for a raise, a show of hands. Some of you are here today going, “I don’t have any,” and I’ve been there. But you’re never too poor to experience the freedom that comes from following God’s financial principles. And I would say you’re never too rich, you’re never too generous even, to experience more of that freedom.
And so I’m gonna speak today on the subject of money, and I want you to understand that I’m doing it for your good. This is not to benefit the church. This is for you. Now, maybe you got some baggage when it comes to the church and money, and I recognize that. And I’m not gonna spend a lot of time defending my desire to talk on this subject, but I will say with absolute sincerity, you have to choose whether you trust me or not. But I will say with absolute sincerity that what I’m gonna tell you today, what Jesus is gonna tell you today is for your good. It’s for your good.
I want you to go ahead and grab a Bible. We’re gonna be in the Gospel of Matthew for the next few weeks, the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6. We’re gonna be starting in verse 12. I’m sorry, verse 19. And Jesus is speaking. It’s interesting. This is what we call the Sermon on the Mount. And what happens at this time was that Jesus kind of pulled away from some of the crowds. He took his closest followers to him and he began to teach them some things. And what’s interesting to me is the people he’s talking to are not rich people. They’re not people that have a lot of financial resources. Actually, they’re on the poor side of the spectrum, and yet what Jesus says to them has a lot to do with money. And so, again, I say you’re never too poor to pay attention to God’s financial principles.
Jesus said this. He said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But instead store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart is also.” Let’s break this down. He says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Now, what he’s saying here’s really pretty simple, right? What he’s saying is, “Don’t store up treasure that can be taken,” right? It’s all he’s saying. Don’t store up treasure that can be taken because earthly stuff can be taken. It can be destroyed, or it can be stolen.
Now, in the ancient world, the ways they normally stored up wealth was in the form of either, you know, fine fabrics or precious metals. And he says the problem with fine fabrics is, you know, moths get a hold of them, and they lose their value when the moths eat them, or rats get hold of them, and rats chew them up and gnaw them up, and they lose their value. I lost a backpack recently. Some mice came in, and I don’t know what was in the bottom of that backpack that they wanted. But there is no bottom to that backpack anymore. Anything I try to put in there is just gonna fall right out. Okay. So that still happens, right? And that would happen in the ancient world, or precious metals, right?
You know, people could break in and steal those things. And so this point is just, you know, don’t store up treasure that can be taken. And that’s true in the modern world as well, isn’t it? How we store up treasure and the kind of treasure we store up may have changed, but the reality is they can still all be taken from us, right? Maybe we store up equity in a house, right? But that house can burn down or the neighborhood can kind of go south, and we can lose the value that’s in that house. Maybe we put money in stocks, and those stocks can go down, right? Or maybe you’re like, “Well, that’s why I don’t do any of that stuff. I go with cash.” That’s my father-in-law. He didn’t trust any of that stuff, and so it’s all about cash.
Do you remember cash? Remember that. I was talking to somebody the other day, and I was wearing a pair of pants that I hadn’t worn in a while and had my hand in the pocket. And while I’m talking, I was like I found this piece of paper in my pocket, and I was trying to figure out like what could that be because it was weird. I was like, “I know it’s paper, but it’s like kind of soft. It’s a little bit fuzzy.” And when the conversation was over, I pulled it out. I was like, “Oh, it’s a dollar bill. I remember these vaguely.” Like, I don’t even carry a wallet anymore. I don’t do that. But my father-in-law, that’s where he’s like, “That’s the only thing you can really trust.” And I’m like, “You can’t trust that.” That can go away too, it can go actually in the exact same ways that it could go away in the ancient world. In fact, it can be eaten.
I got a picture for you. Can you throw that picture up here? Yeah. So this is the remains of about $18,000 worth of Indian rupees that was destroyed when a rat got into the ATM. It’s an expensive snack, right? But it can be eaten. It can also be devalued. Like we like to think that’s never gonna happen in America, but it’s happened in other countries, no reason why it couldn’t happen here. Your cash can suddenly become worthless. I was in Zimbabwe a few years ago, and they were telling me about a time that their economy just absolutely tanked. And they showed me, I kid you not, I got another picture. A $100 trillion bill, which at the time was worth about $40. You can actually buy it on Amazon for $28 right now. It just lost all of its value. So it can be devoured. It can be devalued. And people can steal it. And even if it’s not cash, they can steal it, right? They can hack your bank account. They can get your credit card numbers, and they can use your credit cards. They can get a hold of your social security number and open credit cards and route up bills in your name. I mean, all that stuff can be taken, right? And so Jesus says, “Hey, don’t store up treasure that can be taken.”
Now, I need to say this because this is important. Jesus is not saying it’s wrong to save. Jesus is not saying it’s wrong to save. In fact, the Bible throughout the Bible talks a lot about saving in very positive turns. We could look at dozens of places. I just give you one example. This is Proverbs 13:22. God says this. He says, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.” Pay attention to that. He didn’t say a wise person. He didn’t say a smart person. He didn’t say a financially shrewd person. No, He says a good person. That’s two thumbs up from God, right? A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children. That’s their grandchildren. The only way to do that is to save your treasure, right? So clearly, the Bible is okay with saving.
The key though is who you’re saving for. What does Proverbs say? Proverbs says, “A good person saves their treasure for their children’s children, for others.” And notice, if you go back to Matthew 6:19, Jesus said, “Do not store up treasure for yourselves.” That’s the key. Jesus is not opposed to saving, but he is concerned about saving only for ourselves. And why? Why is he worried about that? Well, he says it in verse 21. He says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” That’s Jesus’s primary concern.
He says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.” In other words, where you’re investing the most, what’s gonna happen is your heart follows after. In fact, he’s giving us a really important principle here. And this is the principle. It’s that our hearts follow our investments. Our hearts follow our investments. Wherever we’re investing the most, our hearts inevitably find themselves, and with our hearts comes our trust, right? And so what happens is wherever we’re investing, ultimately, we find ourselves loving those things the most and trusting them the most. And that’s Jesus’s concern.
His concern isn’t with so much with saving treasure. His concern is with the inevitable process by which we come to trust earthly treasure, which is a dangerous thing because earthly treasure can be taken. So he says, “I don’t want you trusting it.” The problem is our hearts follow our investments. Now, that’s not an instantaneous thing. It’s a process. It happens over time. In fact, notice what he says. He says, “Where your treasure is.” That’s at the present. Where you’re investing right now, your heart will be also. That’ll happen in the future. He says, “Where you’re investing now over time will become the place where your heart is.” But it’s a process. It takes place over a period of time. It’s not an instantaneous thing. Our hearts don’t jump to those places.
In fact, we might even say…at this point, we might say that where we’re investing, our hearts are drifting. And the reality is we’re all investing in a lot of different things. Our time and our talent and our treasure, we’re investing all of our stuff in different kinds of things. But if you look at all the different things that we invest in, what you’re gonna find is that all of them fit into one of two categories, earthly treasure or heavenly treasure. And Jesus says we have to pay attention to that because where we’re investing, our hearts are drifting. Now, it’s both good news and bad news that it happens over time. But the good news is this. Maybe you’re here and you’re thinking, “Hey, if I’m honest, the reality is I’m investing pretty heavily in earthly stuff. I am.” Does that mean that my heart’s locked up there, that my trust has come to be in that? No, not necessarily.
And the better news is like you can do something about it because it’s not an instantaneous thing. You can always course correct. In fact, here’s the good news. It’s never too late to start transferring your trust. It’s never too late to make the steps necessary to make sure that your trust doesn’t end up in something that can be taken. It’s never too late to start transferring your trust. That’s the good news.
It’s also bad news though. It’s also bad news that it happens over time. And the reason I say it’s bad news is because it sometimes happens so gradually with it that we don’t even know that it’s happening. And that’s the bad news. We can transfer our trust without being aware of it. And so maybe you’re here today and you’re going, “Yeah. I’ll be honest. I’m investing pretty heavily in earthly things. But I don’t think that I have my heart in those things. I don’t think that I love those things. I don’t think that my trust is in those things.” And you’re probably right. That’s probably not what’s happened, but it might be happening without you understanding that it’s happening. It might be happening without you being aware that it’s happening.
In fact, for some of you, I promise you, you are on that path. Your heart is drifting in that direction. And I think you’re probably listening to this message because God wants to wake you up to that reality. But it’s a gradual thing. It happens over time. So sometimes it happens, and we’re not even aware of it. And the drift can be very dangerous.
There was a time in Jesus’s ministry where a man came to Jesus to ask the burning question on everybody’s heart, which was, “How do I earn a spot in heaven? How do I earn eternal life?” And the thing is Jesus was really clear throughout his ministry. He always gave the same answer to that, and the answer was, “You follow me.” Jesus is the only one who died to pay a sacrifice for our sins so that we could be forgiven, and it’s by faith in Jesus that we find our place in heaven. It’s the only way that it happens, right? For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that’s Jesus, so that whoever believes in him, trust in him, follows him will not perish but have eternal life. That was the only answer he ever gave.
But this man came and he says, “So what do I have to do?” And we kind of already know, well, the answer is you gotta follow Jesus. But Jesus looked at this man and he knew that he had tremendous wealth, and he knew that that wealth had become the place that his trust, his heart had drifted. And so Jesus said, “You’re gonna have to get free from that.” What Jesus said to him was this. He said, “Here’s what you need to do, you need to sell everything, give it to the poor, and then,” and this is the real answer, “come follow me.” He told this man he had to sell everything because he knew that his heart had gotten locked up in his stuff, in his treasure. So he said, “You gotta get free from that so that you can follow me because that’s the only way to secure a place in heaven, by following Jesus.”
And as Mark tells the story, he says this, “At this, the man’s face fell, and he went away sad because he had great wealth.” And understand that the problem wasn’t that he had great wealth. The problem was that his great wealth had him. His heart had drifted there and had gotten locked up in his stuff, and so he wasn’t free to follow. And so Jesus looked around and said to his disciples how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. Not because money is bad, but because it has a tremendous ability to draw our trust to itself. He says how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
It’s not about money per se. It’s about the freedom to follow. It’s about the freedom to follow the only one who can give you eternal life. It’s about the freedom to follow the only one who can give you life even here and now that is worth living as God dreamed it up. And some people never follow Jesus because they’re too invested in earthly treasure. But it’s not just people who haven’t followed Jesus yet, who haven’t put their faith in Jesus. Even followers of Jesus can get off track because of money. This is something the Apostle Paul said to a young pastor that he was mentoring, a man named Timothy. He said, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, eager for money, they have wandered from the faith.” They stopped following Jesus, and they pierced themselves with many griefs.” That’s not just non-believers, people who haven’t yet said yes to following Jesus. Even followers of Jesus can find themselves drifting away from following Jesus.
I was with a good friend a couple of weeks ago, and he was just telling me a heartbreaking story. I could tell he was sad. And as he began to unpack it for us…he’s the leader of a very large and influential church, and he’s been there for decades. And he said a group of guys kind of with him from the very beginning, and he said, “My number three guy, he’s been with me over 20 years. I found out last night that he’s been embezzling from the church.” He said, “I would never believe that could happen for that guy.” Like, this guy’s rock-solid. He’s a rockstar when it comes to following Jesus. He’s helped all kinds of churches and he’s advanced the kingdom in so many ways. But what happened was he wanted something, he wanted a thing, and he didn’t have the money to buy it. And so he’s like, “Well, I’ll just put on the church credit card, and then I’ll pay it off after I get the money.” And so he did that, and then he did it again. And then he began to realize because he was kind of running the financial systems, “Nobody has to even find out about this, and so I don’t really actually have to pay it back.” And little by little over the next several years, he ended up embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the church.
And if you’d looked at that guy at the beginning of that and said, “Hey, do you think you’ll ever be the guy who’s stolen money from the church?” He would have gone, “You’re insane. I’d never do that. I love Jesus way too much.” But that’s the power of earthly treasure. Our hearts follow our investments, and little by little, even followers of Jesus can stop following because their hearts have drifted towards treasure. So what’s the remedy? What’s the alternative? Well, Jesus gives it to us, right? He says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but instead store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” He says, “This is the remedy. This is the safeguard. It’s a trust transfer.” You transfer your trust from earthly treasure into heavenly treasure. Okay. How do we do that? Well, from the beginning to the ending, there’s one consistent teaching in the Bible. There’s one very clear and consistent principle that God gives us for avoiding this drift. And this is the principle. We use our earthly treasure for heaven’s purposes. That’s it. We use our earthly treasure for heaven’s purposes. That’s how we keep our hearts from drifting. That’s how we keep from putting our trust, our heart in earthly treasure. We use it for heaven’s purposes.
Paul, again, writing to this pastor he was mentoring said this. He said, “Command those who are rich in the present world not to be arrogant, or to put their hope in wealth.” Sound familiar? “Which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Okay. But how do we do that? He says, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share. And 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.” I love that. He says, “This is how you live life to the fullest. This is how you live the life that God intended.” He says, “Here’s how you do it. Here’s how you lay up treasure for heaven. Here’s how you lay up life, not only for all of eternity, but even now in the way that God intended you experience it.” We use our earthly treasure for heaven’s purposes. We do good with it. We help others with it. We are a blessing to those that we have the opportunity to be a blessing with. We alleviate poverty. We set people free from bondage. We do all those kinds of things that we’re able to do because of the earthly treasure that God has entrusted to us.
And honestly, you know, we have one word in English that summarizes that whole idea, one word, and that word is generosity. Generosity. Listen to me. Generosity keeps our trust in God and our hope in heaven. That’s it, generosity. We practice generosity. That’s how we avoid the drift. That’s how we stay free to follow. We practice generosity. Well, let me just say a couple quick things about generosity. The first one is this. Generosity cannot save us. I wanna be very clear on this. Generosity doesn’t get you a place in heaven. There’s only one thing that gets you a place in heaven. That’s faith in Jesus Christ. He’s the one perfect sacrifice for our sins. He voluntarily went to the cross to pay for our sins. Three days later, he rose from the dead. And he offers us forgiveness and salvation and eternal life by trusting in him. There are a lot of very generous people out there who don’t have a place in heaven because they haven’t trusted in Jesus to forgive their sins. That might be you.
You might be here going, “I’m a really generous person. Isn’t that enough?” And the answer is no. Because what separates us from God is our sin, and we’ve all sinned. And there’s a penalty to that, “And the wages of sin is death.” But Jesus died that death for us, and so he offers that to us. But we get our place in heaven by faith in him and his sacrifice. We get our place in heaven by following Jesus. Generosity doesn’t do it. Nobody’s gonna get to heaven and God go, “Hey, why should I let you in?” And you’re like, “Well, have you seen my bankbook? Because I gave away a lot of money.” And He’s gonna go, “Yeah, that’s great. That’s awesome. I’m so glad. What about your sin?” Generosity doesn’t balance the scales. So generosity doesn’t save us. It’s really important that we understand that. What generosity does is it keeps us free to follow. It keeps us free to stay on Jesus’s heels, to stick with him.
Secondly, I want to understand about generosity is that generosity has to come from the heart. Okay. It has to come from the heart. You can’t command generosity, and it counts. In fact, this is what God said. He said, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.” Generosity has to come from the heart to work. I had a friend who visited a church, and when they took the offering, everybody was encouraged to do what they called a wave offering, which was they’re supposed to take their check or whatever money they were gonna put in the offering plate and they were supposed to wave it around, and then they put it in the plate. And my friend said, “I watched a guy in front of me wave a couple $100 bills and then slip those in and pulled out of 20.” That’s compulsion, right? That’s people being made to feel guilty. Okay. That doesn’t work. Okay.
In terms of generosity having the power to keep us free to follow, it’s got to come from the heart, or it just doesn’t do that good work in our lives. We’re not taking another offering today by the way. Because I don’t want you giving out of guilt, I don’t want you giving out of some sense of compulsion because I’m teaching you this not for the sake of the church. Honestly, I’m teaching this for your good. Generosity keeps your trust in God and your hope in heaven, but it’s gotta come from the heart.
And having said that, one other thing I want to tell you is this. The best way to grow a heart of generosity is actually to practice taking the next step of generosity. The only way to really grow a heart of generosity is to practice generosity by taking our next step. And this is something I didn’t really understand early in my life. It’s something I so wish somebody had taught me when I was a really young person. Honestly, I wish somebody had told me this when I was a kid because I didn’t realize that the way that you become more generous is you take a small step of generosity, and you keep taking another small step of generosity. And what that does is it makes you a generous person in which you’re able to act in such a way that money no longer has the ability to trap you. It no longer has the ability to keep you from being free to follow. It’s about taking the next step.
I wanna walk you through what I mean by that. Okay. I wanna walk you through what it might look like to take the next step. Before I do that, let me say this. I’m gonna use giving to Mission Hills as an example, and the reason I’m gonna use giving to Mission Hills as an example is because I believe that Mission Hills is a good place, a safe place, a trustworthy place to practice steps of generosity. That’s why I give to Mission Hills. It’s why my wife gives to Mission Hills. It’s why both of my daughters independently have decided that they give to Mission Hills. We didn’t command that, we didn’t even encourage it, but that’s what they’ve chosen to do. So I’m gonna give you that as an example.
But I wanna say this because it’s so important. This is not for our sake. This is for your good. And if you are not a regular attender at Mission Hills, then I’m gonna say, don’t give here. If you have another church home, you should be giving in that church home. And if you maybe you come to Mission Hills but for some reason, you don’t trust Mission Hills, then don’t give here. Don’t give here. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, don’t give here but give somewhere. Give somewhere because what I’m saying is for your good. The practice of generosity is for your good. And if for whatever reason you don’t feel comfortable giving here, then don’t give here but give somewhere. But I’m gonna use Mission Hills as an example.
So here’s what it looks like to take the next step. If you’re not giving anything, this is really complicated. If you’re not giving anything, start giving something the next time the offering goes around, which, again, not gonna be today. But the next time we take an offering, put something in. If you’ve never put something in, put something in. The next time you have an opportunity to give, give some small amount. And what I believe is gonna happen, because I’ve experienced it in my own life, is that even that small amount does a big thing in your heart. It begins to loosen the boundaries or the bindings that money can have on us. And let’s say if you’ve never given anything, just give something and see what God begins to do in you.
Now, if you’re already giving something occasionally, I wanna encourage you that your next step is to start giving something regularly. So if you’re giving something occasionally, kind of randomly, then start giving something on a regular basis. And you gotta figure out what that is. Maybe it’s every week. Maybe it’s every other week. Maybe it’s once a month. I know some people give once a year. And that’s okay. But I’m gonna suggest that if you’re giving once a year, you might think seriously about breaking that up into smaller pieces. And here’s why.
If you wanna get in physical shape, going to the gym one time a year ain’t gonna do it. And I don’t care how hard you work out. I don’t care if you can’t move for a month. You’re not gonna get in physical shape by working out one time a year. And the same thing happens in this sort of spiritual realm that giving on a regular basis actually does something in us. It begins to set us free from the negative power of money. And so I wanna encourage maybe even if you give once a year that maybe you think about breaking that up. It’s not gonna make any difference to the church. This is for your good. Okay.
You can always give a little extra at the end of the year if you have extra that you wanna give and you’re saying, “I give once here because I don’t know what it’s gonna be.” That’s fine. I give extra at the end of the year often, but that regular practice has been really good for me to keep me free to follow, keep my trust in God and my hope in heaven. So if you’re giving something occasionally, start giving something regularly. Now, if you’re giving something regularly, start giving systematically. That’s your next step. If you’re giving something regularly, start giving systematically. What I mean is have a system so that basically, when money comes in, a percentage of that money is given to good causes. A percentage of that money is given to do good things, to do heaven’s purposes.
Now, it might be 1%. It might be 2, it might be 4 or 5. I don’t know. I’m gonna say something a little controversial here. Some of you are gonna disagree with me. That’s okay. You can send me an email and tell me why I’m wrong. I’ll send you an email back telling you why I’m not. But if you’ve been around the church world any length of time, you’ve probably heard that the ideal systematic giving is 10%. Maybe you’ve even heard that it’s not just ideal. It’s the bare minimum. And I wanna tell you because I’ve been there, there are people who cannot afford to give 10%. That was where I was. I literally could not afford to give 10%. And if that’s where you are, that’s okay.
But even when I was in that place, God began to speak to me and told me, “It’s better that you start giving something regular and then ultimately something systematically because it’s gonna be good for you.” And so I began to give. And honestly, at first, it was about like one and a half percent, but God began to use that in my life. And over time, it’s grown as my income has grown. It’s grown but I started taking that step when I didn’t really have the ability to give 10%. And so if that’s you, and you can’t give 10%, that’s totally fine. For your good, it might be your next step is to start giving some percentage, whatever that is, one or two or three or four, whatever. It’s for your good.
Now, if you’re giving something systematically, if you’re already doing that, your next step is to start giving a tithe. Remember that 10% we just talked about? That’s literally what a tithe is. A tithe means a tenth. If you’re already giving something systematic, maybe your next step is to start giving a tithe, 10%. By the way, that’s the easiest way to do systematic giving because the math is so much simpler. Like 2% is hard. 10% is really simple. It’s not even math. You don’t have to do math. You have to do geography. Anybody? You just gotta take a decimal point and move it a place. That’s geography. That’s not math, right? That’s how I do it. I know what my paycheck is gonna be every two weeks, and so, you know, I know what it’s gonna be. At the beginning of the year, I know what’s it’s gonna be. And I take the decimal point, I move it one place, and I go, “That’s 10%,” and then I have recurring giving set up through Mission Hills through our website so every time the check comes in, that immediately goes back out. It’s easy. Maybe that’s your next step.
Now, if you’re already giving a tithe, if you’re already giving 10%, good news, you’re done, right? You can’t possibly be any more generous. You can’t possibly do anything to be more free to follow Jesus. This is not possible. You seem skeptical for a good reason because I’m kidding. If you’re already giving a tithe, maybe your next step is to start practicing what I call spirit-led sacrificial giving, spirit-led sacrificial giving. What that means is 10% to your local church, wherever that is, and then above and beyond that, you ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to other ways to use the resources he’s given you for heaven’s purposes because remember that’s what we’re looking to do. We use our earthly treasure for heaven’s purposes to do good.
So what my family does, we give 10% to Mission Hills, but above and beyond that, we go, “God, how would you like us to use what we have?” And there are other things that we do. We support several missionaries directly. We have three Compassion children, probably gonna take a fourth one on. I mentioned earlier this year…actually, it’s last year actually, that because of your generosity, we were able to fund the launch of a church through Compassion International in Peru, and we didn’t have to take an offering for it. We already had it, and so they’re building that right now. And we’ll come back in a couple weeks. As part of this series, I’m gonna show some pictures, and it’s gonna be really cool. But they’re gonna open that church probably late this summer, and we’re gonna have the opportunity to sponsor the 200 kids they’re gonna be taken care of. That’s not true. You’re gonna have the opportunity to sponsor 199 of them because I’m taking one of them like pastor privilege. I don’t play that card very often, but I’m gonna use it. That’s how we’re gonna use some of our additional resources for that.
And honestly, what we do throughout the year is we pray over opportunities that come, and sometimes we give to special projects of the church, and sometimes it’s other things outside the church. Most years, it’s between 4 and 7 additional percent beyond the 10% that we give to our church. Now, I didn’t use to be able to do that. And I’m not saying that you’re in the place to be able to do that, but that might be your next step. If you’re already giving a tithe, you might need to start practicing spirit-led sacrificial giving. Why? For your good. Because generosity keeps our trust in God and our hope in heaven. It’s the power of it. Generosity breaks the negative power of money to trap our trust. Generosity gets our trust in God and our hope in heaven. So I just have one question for you today. What’s my next step of generosity? I encourage you to wrestle with it. What’s your next step of generosity? Would you pray with me?
God, on behalf of all of your people, we wanna thank you for the money you’ve entrusted to us. Some of us feel like we could use a lot more of it and some of us know that we have more than we really need. But, Lord, we thank you for this teaching from your Word today that whether we have an absence or an excess, money can be a dangerous blessing. And so we ask for insight from your Holy Spirit about the next step of generosity, which will keep us free to follow, the next step of generosity that will keep our trust in you and our hope in heaven and not on any earthly thing.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something for me? Would you just take a moment right now to begin praying for people around you, for all the people watching online because I believe there are people watching this that the issue today really isn’t about you taking a step of generosity? The issue is about you receiving generosity.
If you’re not a follower of Jesus, a lot of this message isn’t really for you, although the principles are true. And if money is what’s keeping you from coming to Jesus, then, by all means, you need to deal with that. But maybe you’re listening to this, and you’re just not a follower of Jesus because you’ve never understood how much God loves you. You’ve never understood how generous God is with his love. He loves you so much he sent his own Son who willingly died on a cross to pay for every wrong you’ve ever done.
And then God because of his love for you, he raised Jesus from the dead, and because of his love for you, because of his generosity to you, he offers you salvation, he offers you a place in heaven, forgiveness of sins. And all you have to do is say yes to following Jesus. All you have to do is say yes to putting your faith and your trust in Jesus. That’s how generous God is. And if you’ve never said yes to a relationship with Jesus, you can do that right now. What’s stopping you? Wherever you are, here’s what you do. You’re just gonna have a conversation with God in your heart. And here’s what you’re gonna say. I encourage you to say it after me.
God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned, and I’m so sorry. Thank you for loving me in spite of my sin. Jesus, thank you for coming and dying for me. I believe that you rose from the dead. I understand that in your generosity, you’re offering me salvation simply by faith. So I’m giving you my faith. I’m putting my trust in you. Jesus, I’m saying yes to a relationship with you. Come into my life. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.