John Bradshaw - True Riches
It's good to be with you today. Thanks for joining me for In the Word. We're together. We will open the Bible, and we will spend time in the Word, looking into the Word of God expecting God to speak to us. Let's pray together as we begin.
Our Father in heaven, we come to You in the name of Jesus. We are grateful that we can. Thank You that Your Spirit would guide us at this time. Thank You that You would speak to our hearts. Now bless us through Your Word we pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.
You might hear people say you can't live with it and you can't live without it. Well, you certainly would find it difficult to live without money. And you shouldn't find it difficult to live with it. But for some people it is a great difficulty. Some people just don't have enough, and, I mean, no matter how much they have, they can't have enough. No one ever said that money is a problem. It's a real problem if you don't have it. The challenge is, of course, according to the Bible, that "the love of money is the root of all evil". Or as some translations would say, the root to, "a root of all kinds of evil". The love of money. We like to think that more money would make our problems go away. The research shows, and you might be surprised by this, that money does buy happiness. This is the result of research. Money does buy happiness.
Now, the amount of money seems to increase, as time goes on, but I read a couple of years ago that the first $50,000 that you have does, in the words of the researchers, buy happiness. Your happiness is linked to the amount of money that you have up to the first $50,000. Beyond that, you could have 51,000 or 51 million and it won't make a bit of difference to your happiness, your overall happiness. Of course, the more money you have, it means the more stuff you can have, the more you can give away, the more you can do, but with that extra money comes extra responsibilities, extra headaches, extra hassles, extra problems, and more money doesn't always buy more happiness.
So I think we can understand how that works. If you don't have a roof over your head and now you're earning $50,000 a year, that's going to go a long way towards providing you with a place, a warm, safe, dry place to call home. If you've no money at all, clothing and food and life's basic necessities become a real challenge. That first $50,000, that's going to help. That's going to take care of most of anything that you could need. But beyond that, our needs and a few of our wants, it seems that you can flood your life with wealth or with abundance, doesn't necessarily make you happier. Now, I know that some of us would say, "I'd sure love to find out. I'd sure like to try it". But the old maxim is, be careful what you ask for because it might not quite be what you expect.
So, our relationship with money ought to be well established and well thought out, and it ought to be based on principle. The Bible speaks a lot about money, a lot. And if you stop to think about it, you'll say, "Ah, of course, I've seen many places in the Word of God, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, in the book of Proverbs, where money is spoken of". God would have us relate to money on a very mature way, on a very spiritual level. You understand, I'm sure, that if you put too much faith in money, then you may well be led to put a whole lot less faith in God, and if you believe money is going to supply all your needs, then perhaps you'll be less inclined to look to God to supply your needs.
In the Word of God, in Luke chapter 16, we are introduced to an individual who had a fraught relationship with money, a troubled relationship with money. It just didn't work out well for him. We're going to pick it up in Luke chapter 16; we'll start in verse 1. There are many lessons for us in this parable. Luke 16, verse 1. The Bible says, "And He said also unto His disciples, 'There was a certain rich man'", we'll hit the pause button right there. You will notice throughout this parable that the rich man isn't implicated. So, here's a man who is described as rich. He has plenty. There is no word of censure or criticism in this parable. Sometimes, and even in church, one can get the impression that to have money isn't a good thing. It is not a bad thing. Let's understand that. You look in the Bible and you find people such as David; he was wealthy. Solomon, he was fabulously wealthy. Abraham had plenty.
So in this passage, God does not say, "There was a rich man, and that was his problem". There are other parables, in fact, the same chapter, where there is another rich fellow, and he is implicated by God, but not because of his wealth. So, let's understand, God is not against wealth, not at all. But He wants us to be able to relate to wealth in a healthy, in a spiritual way. "And so Jesus says, 'There was a certain rich man, which had a steward,'" a manager, "'and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, "How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward".'"
So this wealthy man evidently placed a great amount of faith and trust in his steward. He did not discern that there was anything wrong with the man's stewardship. He heard this secondhand. "I've been hearing this about you". You know, trust is a wonderful thing, and trust can very easily be abused. Nobody who calls themself a believer in God should ever be able to heard it said of him or her, "My trust was misplaced". Christians in the labor market, in the workforce, ought to be the people of which employers say, "I want more of them". I was on a plane once on the continent of Africa. I was flying from Lusaka to Johannesburg, Zambia, to South Africa. I was sitting next to a man who was a coffee farmer. And I was asking him about his operation and it was just small talk and chitchat, and somehow he mentioned people who were of a certain religious denomination.
Now, I'm not going to name the denomination as much as you might wish that I would, but it's one of these denominations which gets a bit of criticism. And some of it is pretty well deserved. And the people are sort of marginalized, generally speaking, by the rest of society. Ah, marginalized might be a bit of strong way to put it, but this denomination comes in for a bit of criticism from time to time. The man sitting next to me, a coffee farmer from Zambia, said, "I only hire people who are members of this church". I said to him, "Why is that? Are you a member of that church"? He said, "Oh, no. I would never belong to that church". I said, "So why do you hire people from that church"? He said, "Because they are honest. They will never steal from me. They come to work. They don't take sick days when they are not sick. They don't have as many domestic problems. The husbands aren't running around on their wives. They aren't doing this and that. They would never steal from me". And I thought to myself, "What a fantastic thing for somebody to be able to say about a group of believers from a certain church".
"These people," he said, "I will only employ people from that church". Now I don't know how that goes, in terms of labor laws and so forth in his country, and maybe he doesn't advertise it. Maybe it just seems to work out that way. But if you aren't a member of this particular church, no need to apply, because he has figured out that those people are honest; they're diligent; they work hard; they don't steal; they don't bring problems to the workplace; they are valued employees. Isn't that something? Wouldn't it be wonderful if every employer could say, "The Christians I have working for me are the best people you could ever employ"? That would be a witness.
Maybe in some places that is said, and, if so, that's a good thing. But here we have a man, a man of means, of some means, as a matter of fact, and he employs a steward and learns that the man is not honest. He's not trustworthy. This man is a bad egg. And he says to him, "You can't be steward any longer". The steward reacted, of course, and he said to himself, "Ooh, what am I going to do? My lord is taking away from me the stewardship". He said, "I cannot dig". I don't know why he couldn't dig. Maybe he was physically unsound. Maybe he just didn't like hard work. I don't know. He went on to say, this is in Luke 16 in verse 3: "To beg I am ashamed". You can understand somebody saying that, even though there are times you get down. Maybe ya, maybe ya hafta do that.
I remember one day being in the city, when I was kid growing up, and, the bus fare home was something like 40 cents. And I had something like 22, and I don't know what had happened, but I had overspent. I couldn't call home. Well, maybe I could have if I'd found a payphone. But I wasn't about to call my mother and say, "Would you mind driving 25 minutes to pick me up and take me home"? I'm sure she wouldn't have minded, but I didn't want to do that. And I didn't know a soul on the street. I started approaching strangers. "Could you please give me a few cents? I need to take the bus home. I have 22 cents. The bus fare is 40. Can you spare me a few coins"? You know, knowing that I've had that experience, I look upon other people going through hardship just a little bit differently. We tend to say, "Oh, it's their fault. Oh, they're going to waste it anyway".
I don't know if that's the case, and you need to relate to people who ask you for money the way you relate. There's no way I would recommend anything. But there are times that people are just in a pinch, in a straight place, in hardship. And it's not a good place to be. There's something about putting your hand out and saying, "Could you, a perfect stranger, please give me money that you don't owe me and that I don't deserve and haven't earned"? There's something about that. And this man felt that way. "I cannot dig, and I'm too ashamed to beg. What do I do"? He said, "I am resolved what to do". Luke 16, verse 4: "That, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses". And so, verse 5: "He called every one of his lord's debtors unto him. He said to the first, 'How much do you owe my lord?' And he said, 'An hundred measures of oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and write fifty.'"
What was he doing? Well, there's a couple of things we identify here. Let's come to point number two after point number one. What he's doing is he's ripping off his boss. He's stealing from his boss. For a certain reason. You see, point number one was, this man wasn't wise with his income while he was working for his lord, for his owner, for the manager, that is the owner of the estate. He wasn't wise. If he had been, he would have been able to say, "I'm going to lose my job, but it's okay. I've got three months' salary sitting in the bank. It's okay because I've been paying into it a, a retirement fund". Or, "I've got a 401K of some kind". Or, "I have some investments on the side".
I'm not trying to tell you that things back then were the same as they are now, but what we know is this man hadn't been careful with his money. And he came to an emergency, he was going to lose his job, and he had nothing. How do I know that? Because the man doesn't say, "It's okay, I've got some savings in the bank. It's okay, I'll just sell the shares that I have in the stock market. It's all right because I've got a certificate of deposit at the bank, and I'll just go and cash that out, and I'm going to be good". The man has nothing. Might that be a reminder to us that we ought to make prudent financial decisions? I think it is. If we don't have a little money in the bank, if we don't have something socked away for hardship and difficult times, we are not doing ourselves a favor, and we're setting ourselves up for difficulty, for hardship.
If you're raising a family, and I know how hard this can be, but you want to put something away, squirrel away some kind of nest egg, some kind of reserve, so that if things don't work out, if you lose your job, if there's an illness, if there's something unexpected, that you've got a little something sitting by. You know, the challenge we have is that we tend to live above our means. And you know that what I'm telling you is true. If you look at how deep in debt the average American is, or the average American family, oh, my goodness, it makes for grisly reading. The reason for that is because we tend to buy what we want and not simply what we need. You see, if you can afford to buy a brand new car, and it's a prudent purchase, and it's going to serve you well, good for you. If you cannot, why are you buying a new car? If you can't afford the payments, why are you buying a new car?
In that case, you go to the used-car dealership, or you look online, or you go to wherever it is you go, and you buy something you can afford. "Oh, but my neighbor's got something fancy". Well, that's your neighbor. And your neighbor has probably spent money that your neighbor doesn't have to buy a car that your neighbor doesn't need. If we learn to live within our means, what would that mean? That would mean I get paid, the first 10 percent, that goes straight to God. That's biblical, that's the tithe. That's not even mine. In fact, none of it's mine. God just allows me to manage it all and He says, "You can have 90 percent, but give me the 10 percent, that's first". And then out of the 90 percent, I'm going to carve off a percentage for offering, because the tithe, I give it to God, through the church. That's for the support of the gospel ministry. That's what my wife and I do every time. There, I mean, it's not even up for discussion. It's just what we do. And then there's a set amount, a percentage, that we have set aside for offering.
Look, you don't have money to give to God if you don't decide that you have money to give to God. And then that leaves us with whatever percentage of our original paycheck it leaves us with. And, of course, we've got to pay the tax man, that's a debt that we owe to the government, or a bill that the government levies us with. So the tithe is first, before tax, before anything. Offering, that comes next, before tax, before anything. And then you've got the other things. You've got to pay your taxes. You've got to pay your rent. There's electricity bills. There's, water bills or whatever there might be. You've got to pay to have the trash collected. You've got to eat. And then how much do I have left? Well, then I can decide, do I take a vacation to a state park, or do I go to South America? That's dictated by how much I have. Oh, I know what we want to do. We want to go to, you name it. We want to see the Eiffel Tower. We want to go to New Zealand. We want to go to Britain. We want to go to the Riviera. We want to go to a Pacific island. Sure we want that.
You might be saying, "I don't want that," but you're the exception of the rule. Sure we want that. But what do our means allow us to do? We can't always have all of the things that we want to have. Eh, "We want to go and eat out tonight". Sure we want to, sure. But the money's not there. "We'll put it on the credit card". Wait a minute. Now you're going to pay tomorrow what you can't afford today. If you cannot afford it today, how are you going to afford it tomorrow? Wouldn't it be a good thing if we learned to put God first? The 10 percent is God's, and no one said you have to stop at 10 percent. Then the offering. What are you going to do with that? That goes to God through various means as well. And then we live within our means. Our friend in the Bible story very clearly hadn't, because when he was faced with losing his job, he was stone-cold broke. "What am I going to do now? I'll not survive if I don't have an income".
Wouldn't it be good to learn to live within your means? You like it? Can't have it, 'cause I can't afford it. Can afford it? Still might not be the best thing, but might be, you're saying. So many people live on credit, live on borrowed money, they're going to have to pay it back one day, and too many people are in financial strife. And I wonder what this means? Remember before, remember before, I mentioned the coffee farmer who only hired people from a certain religion because he knew they were trustworthy. What does it say when the bank manager sees me, a professed Christian, unable to pay my debts because of irresponsibility? I'm not talking about what we might call bad luck. I'm not talking about that. Things happen. But what does it say about my Christian experience if I am defaulting on my bills?
If I've got to explain to the man I bought the bicycle from, "Sorry, we don't have enough money to pay that back". If I have to explain to the man I purchased my car from, "I'm sorry, I don't have enough money to pay you for this vehicle". First question he's going to ask is, "Then why did you buy the vehicle"? Second question he might ask himself is, "What kind of Christian is he? Surely a Christian ought to pay his or her debts". It's important to live within our means. It's absolutely vital. It's biblical. You don't want to be stealing from somebody else. This man didn't do it. Couldn't do it. And so, therefore, he found himself in a real jam. Let's read. "Then he said to another," we are in Luke 16, verse 7, "'How much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take thy bill, and write fourscore.'" Write 80.
It was easy for him to be generous; he was playing with the house money. These weren't his goods he was discounting the price of. He was simply saying, "I am losing my job. I have nowhere to go. So, I am going to treat these people favorably, not according to my boss, but according to myself. I'm going to do them a deal, so that when I am out on the street, they will feel a sense of obligation to look after me. They will have to take me in, because, after all, I did them an enormous favor. I want them to be beholden to me". This fellow was as dishonest as the day was long. That was a scurrilous thing to do, and yet he did it because he felt like he had no other option. I think we're getting a pretty clear picture of the kind of character that this man was. What else do we read? We're in Luke chapter 16 and we'll get to verse 8, and this is a verse that many people misunderstand. You'll see what I mean. "And the lord commended the unjust steward".
Now notice, we're not saying "the lord" as in God. We're talking about the landowner, the lord of the manor. The lord of the manor "commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely". Some versions say wide, "wisely," others would say "shrewdly," or maybe "craftily". The lord commended the unjust steward, because he was sneaky. Now, have you ever looked at this and wondered why the landowner is commending the man? No, no, he's not saying, "What you did was good". He's not saying, "What you did was right". He is saying, "What you did was shrewd. What you did was tricky. What you did was worldly wise". It was dishonest. We can't think he's commending the fellow. He's described as the unjust steward. The unjust steward. "And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light".
What do you think He meant by that? Well, the rest of the story kind of unpacks that for us. Pretty well reveals that to us. Here is a man who was as cunning as a fox, and as dishonest as the day is long, but he had an opportunity to use money in order to buy favor. See that? The way he used his master's goods curried favor with his master's creditors, people who owed a debt to the master.
Now again, no one is saying that what he did was good in the sight of God. It wasn't biblically sound. It was just shrewd. The man was cunning, and he used his opportunity to get ahead. He used his opportunity to ingratiate himself, frankly with other dishonest characters because who would do such a thing, and steal from the merchant? And by the way, just because Walmart is big doesn't mean that we should not be honest when perhaps the person in the, at the counter hands us too much money. Just because you're at a, a mall, and the store is one of these high-end things and you look at your receipt and they've under-charged you, doesn't mean you can walk out and say, "I've got 'em. They're big. I never hurt anyone". Yes, you did, you hurt yourself. You hurt the cause of Christ.
You know, I'm always, where were we? Just recently? Uh, I think I can just about remember. And as we walked out, my friend Robert Costa, from It Is Written's Escrito Está Spanish language ministry, we were walking out of a hospital after doing a visitation, and he found, I think it was 10 dollars, or was it five, five dollars? So not a king's ransom. And it was on the floor in front of the little bench in the foyer of the hospital, where clearly someone had, it looked like, someone had been sitting and maybe pulled something out of their pocket, money fell on the ground. There was no one around. And so he went there and he said, "Hey, look what I got". And as he was saying that to me, he was turning and walking to the reception area. And he handed the money over to the lady and he said, "Somebody dropped this five dollars over there. Why don't you hang on to it, in case they come looking for it"?
She was astonished. You could just see it, the look on her face, as if to say, "What in the world"? It looked like, okay, I'm projecting here, it looked like she was saying, "It's only five dollars". It looked like she was saying, "Why didn't you just keep it"? Frankly, it looked a little bit like she was saying, "I would have kept that". But again, I don't know that for sure. I'm not judging her character. It just kind of looked like that's what she was thinking. But Pastor Costa, "It's only five dollars, but it's not mine. Somebody might want this. I'll take it to the counter there where somebody, if they're looking at all, will say, 'You wouldn't have happened to have seen five dollars laying around?'"
And I wonder how that played out. I wonder if that person was reunited with their money. Yeah, here were these people writing their bill. "I owe a hundred. I'll give eighty". Maybe they were prompted by, "Well, at least he's getting something, and he's got all kinds of money anyway". No. We ought to be as honest as the day is long. If Bill Gates drops five dollars on the sidewalk in front of you, you give it back to Bill Gates. If you owe Jeff Bezos... 25 dollars, you make sure you pay it. Would he miss it? No. Would Amazon miss it? No. But you'd miss the blessing, and unfaithfulness would be marked down next to you. You would be molding your character, molding your life in the direction of unfaithfulness. You'd be leaving an example of unfaithfulness, of deception, and you would be modeling for the people in your life a bad course. And so what do they do? "Oh, yeah, you owe a, I owe you a hundred? I'm going to write eighty. That'll work out well".
And the lord commended, he kind of praised the man. He didn't go anywhere near justifying what the man had done. Notice what he said here. "The lord commended the unjust steward," I'm reading verse 8 again, "because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light". Verse 9 explains what Jesus is saying. This is what He says: "And I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations". Now in a parable you've got to be really clear that you don't stretch things too far. Not every detail has a counterpoint. Not everything ought to be taken literally. This is a parable. But you want to notice what Jesus said. He said, "Make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness," the unrighteous mammon. He's talking about money. Use your money to make friends. The right kind of friends.
So that when you fail, when you die, you will be received into everlasting habitations. What He's saying is, "Don't let your relationship with money hinder your relationship with God. Be faithful with the goods God entrusts to you. Be faithful with the means that God blesses you". Did you know that the reason God gives us anything at all, it's twofold; number one, to be faithful to God; number two, to take care of our needs. That's it. If you have a little left over to take care of your wants, that's fine. Some people have got a lot left over. And so they, in many cases, give a lot to the Lord. Amen. And then it might be that they are able to... I use this politely, indulge themselves in ways that the rest of us, we can't indulge ourself. That's all right. I'm prepared, and you ought to be prepared to leave that with God.
Some of these things are relative, it's not our place to judge. It's just not. We are blessed with means, primarily to advance the gospel of Christ. Primarily. God gives me a dollar. The first 10 percent is His straight on. Then there's another percentage, that's His as well. But that doesn't mean that the other 80 percent is just live for self-indulgence. It's all about living a lifestyle where what God blesses me with is used, is turned in the direction of advancing the kingdom of God. That can be done in numerous ways, of course. This is why God blesses us. And so, if you have a lot that you can contribute to God, praise the Lord, you go right ahead. One of the most inspiring things ever. I remember speaking to one gentleman who had, uh, you know, I'm guessing, a pretty decent bank account. And he said to me, "Nothing gives me greater joy than writing those checks to support the work of God". I said, "Praise the Lord". I want to have that attitude. "Nothing gives me more joy..."
And frankly, it's the highlight of my year, to be able to settle my accounts and say, "Oh, there's certain money that belongs to God that we haven't yet handed over, can't wait". And because we have a percentage of, of offering, it's just a, a flat percentage, then we have a pool of money that accumulates through the year. We send some here and some there and some somewhere else. Often by the end of the year, we've got a reserve. It's not ours, it's money that we had designated to give to God. And as a family, at times, we'll say, "Uh, what do you think we should do? Where should we direct this? What have we not thought about? What have we not supported? What fund at the church or at a ministry have we not invested in"? It's fun for the kids to be part of that process. And when they were little, it was educational and instructional for them. They gleaned when they were little, "This is what we do".
They never heard any conversations about, "Eh, the tithe is so much, we can't afford the tithe". If you can't afford the tithe, you won't afford the tithe. But if you put that first, what you then do is you say to God, "I've put You first and now You, God, have to take responsibility for me. And I'm looking to You to supply all my needs". And it says in the Bible, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus". God blesses us with whatever we've got so that we can turn around and be faithful to Him. And I know someone right now is saying, "Well, I'll never have a million dollars to give to God". Will you have a dollar? If you don't have a million, give one. Would you have a hundred? Do you have a thousand? Do you have ten thousand? Do you have $27.32? You can't give what you don't have, but if you're careful with what you have, you'll find that you have more to give to God. And it's important.
As you find out. Jesus resolves this and shows us how deeply spiritual the act of giving to God is. How deeply important stewardship is in our relationship with God. Look at this with me. Jesus said in verse 10: "He that is", wait a minute. Let, let me back up here and address a point. Because Jesus said in verse 9, "Make yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness". In other words, Jesus was saying, "Invest your money wisely. Use your money wisely. Be faithful to God". You're going to die one day. What happens then? Uh, it just occurred to me that you might be thinking I'm suggesting you can buy your way into heaven. No, you cannot. But I'll tell you this. You can buy your way out. No, you can't curry favor with God by giving. "All right, if I just write a bigger check, God will love me more". Nope. But if you are close-fisted to God, what that means is you are close-hearted to God. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also".
What you and I do with our money demonstrates what we have done with our heart. Have we surrendered our heart to God? I hope I leave the, the right balance in your mind there. No, no, we can't, Jesus is not saying, "Buy the price of admission to heaven". He's simply saying that what you do with the funds that God has given you, demonstrates where your heart is. So let your funds, let your wealth, let your money, let your blessings be channeled in the direction of God, the giver of all blessings. And so go back and we pick up verse 10: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much". And He says in verse 11: "If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches"?
That's the point I made just a moment ago. We are wanting to receive everlasting life. "God, give me the greatest gift of all, but I've been too stingy to give You anything. I've even been too stingy to give You that which is Your own". I don't want to editorialize too much, but I cannot understand why any single person would not tithe. I don't understand. I just don't understand. There is story after story after story after story of how the people, how people who felt like they couldn't afford to tithe, tithe, and then their circumstances changed. You open up a channel of blessing. You don't buy God's favor. God is wanting to bless you, but how can God fill your hand if your fist is tightly shut? Your hand is open, God can place something in that hand. When, when the Bible says to us in the book of Malachi that when we tithe, God will open up for us the windows of heaven, and pour out such a blessing that we won't be able to receive it, what is there to think about?
Now you're going to accuse me of saying, "Ah, I get ya. You tithe for selfish reasons". Oh, no, I don't. Oh, ho! Oh no, I, well, I hope I don't. My hope and prayer is that I tithe and give offerings out of love for God. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son". "We love God because He first loved us". This is a love response. No question about it. So I'm not suggesting that we would give so we can get, but knowing that God is going to bless is liberating. I don't have to worry, "Oh, how am I going to get by on 90 percent or whatever percentage it might be", how, I can be assured, God has promised. I'm asking you to take a step of faith. I'm asking, it's like the little children. "Leap into my arms, I'm asking you to trust me. I will catch you".
This is a no-brainer. This is one of those things where there's no risk. No risk. Think it, every time you put money in the bank, there is a risk the bank would, will close and you don't get your money back. It's a small risk. You put money in the stock market, there is a very real risk that the bottom's going to fall out of the market or out of that company, and your dollar turns into pennies. That's a real risk. But you take those risks. You bought a house as an investment, that's a risk. You bought a collectible believing the price is, the value is going to rise. That's a risk. Investments are risky. There's no risk when you invest in the bank of God.
God says, "I will open up the windows of heaven and pour out such blessing that you will not be able to receive it," and then Jesus said in verse 12, remember verse 11? If you're unfaithful in the mammon of unrighteousness, if, if you can't handle earthly riches, and you can't be faithful in earthly riches, then how might you expect God to give you true riches? Verse 12: "And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own"? Good question. And this will be the verse we finish with. Verse 13: "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and," the old English word here is "mammon". "You cannot serve God and wealth".
Wealth is wonderful. I mean, we're for it. But you don't want to serve it. If it serves you, that's one thing. If it serves God, that's the best thing. But we can't serve both God and money. I know a lot of people have settled this, it's all good. They've said, "Oh, anything I get, God is first". But the fact is, there's an enormous amount of people who have not settled it, and I don't know why. God can take what you've got left after you factor Him in and stretch it and make it go further than you can make it go, your money go, without giving to God. Let me put that nice and easy. God can stretch 90 percent further than you can stretch 100 percent. You see, what this is about is not about money, it's not about wealth, it's not about being rich, it's about your heart. Does God have your heart? Do you love God? Do you trust God? Are you willing to live in a way that honors God?
There's something about money that just brings out in people a certain side. Covetousness is a devil, I tell you. Uh, envy over what your neighbor drives. That's just destructive. This idea that you have to live in a house that you can't afford. Oh, my goodness. You'll lose that when the bank manager comes to foreclose on you. How is it with your heart? There are certain barometers God gives us whereby He says, "How are you in relation to me"? And one of those is how we relate to our stuff. How we relate to our money. Have we surrendered that to God? You could be a billionaire and still not have true riches. You could be a billionaire and have true riches. That's great. I mean, that's, that's a good way to go. You've got a lot of money that you can do with whatever you want, and you can free it up, and you can put in God's work, and you can grow the church. You can have some fun. Sure.
So if you can do that and be faithful to God, you're great. But for many of us, we see a dollar and we just want another one. We get another one and we want another one. And then another one, and it's for us, for us, for us. Imagine Jesus leaving heaven. What do you think it's like where Jesus was before He came to the earth? I don't know exactly, but I imagine it's exquisite. I don't imagine it's indulgent, I don't mean it like that, but exquisite. And Jesus said, "I'll leave that". He left it. You know why? He put you first. He put you first. Have you made the decision to put Jesus first? Look, let's think a little more broadly. Is it your, your finance, your lifestyle, your spare time, how you speak, how you relate to others? Have you given Him your heart? Have you? If you have, amen, if you haven't, let's do that now. Let's do that now and not wait a moment longer.
Some of these habits are deeply ingrained. Someone's angry right now, because I dared talk about what, what they carry around inside their wallet. "It's not your business". Oh, yes it is. As a minister of the gospel, it's my business to encourage you to be faithful to God. That's absolute, that is my business. And God wants you to be faithful in every area of your life. Can we pray for that faithfulness now? Can we? Come on, let's pray together. Father in heaven, these can be challenging subjects, they can. It can be difficult to look at ourselves and say, "I'm selfish". It can be difficult to say, "I'm wasteful". It can be difficult to say, "I'm stealing from God". We justify it somehow. "Can't afford it". Angry with the church, as though that changes anything. "Don't like the way they spend it," forgetting that, of course, we don't always understand how that's done, and truly that's between the church and God. Friend, if you don't like the way certain things are being done or spent, make a phone call, write a letter, be kind, voice that.
Lord, wherever we struggle, would You give us grace to be faithful, to be surrendered, and to receive Jesus, the true riches, everlasting life, the true riches? Give us grace to be honest, hardworking, practical, sensible, not covetous. Seems like a tall order, but, Father, today as You give us Jesus, we know that He will work that out in our lives if we want Him to do so.
Friend, do you want to do so? Do you? Do you want Jesus to work out His will in your life? I'm raising my hand. You can raise yours. Raise your hand if you want Jesus to work His will out in your life.
Father, take our hands and never let us go. And lead us in the path of Jesus, everlasting life, the true riches, we pray in Jesus' name. Let's say, amen.