Levi Lusko - Camels and Needles and Spoons
1. Moving The Needle
2. On Your Left
3. Camels and Needles and Spoons
4. Red In The Shed
Well, this is now Week 3 of our series, Compass Rose. And if you have a Bible with you, Deuteronomy chapter 28, and we're going to be in a message that I'm titling "Camels and Needles and Spoons". That's the title. And I was expecting a response to that, because it was a callback kind of a title, you know what I'm saying? Camels and needles and spoons, Oh, my! That's pretty good. I'm going to call it 6 out of 10. But I've been giving a word for the week every single week in the series, and this week the word for the week is "ends". So jot that down. Camels and needles and spoons, and the word for the week is "ends".
Now, of course, there are a lot of different ways you could use the word "ends". You could say, all's well that ends well. But I want to use it to speak about the top and the bottom of something. Now, all of those three things in my title have a top and a bottom. They each have an end, like the burnt ends you eat at a barbecue restaurant. Aren't those delicious? I've been seeing that show up on the menu, burnt ends. Seems like that would be something that generally would just not be purchased to be eaten. But the ends of, let's say, a needle. I got a needle here, the ends of a needle. You have, of course, the eye, and then you have the part that Rumpelstiltskin hoped his sleeping, whatever, would touch. And then you have the spoon. Spoon has ends: two ends. Two ends to a spoon.
There's the handle end, and then there's the scooping, you scoop with this end of the spoon. And then a camel, a camel has a business end that you watch out. They spit, right? But then there's also the other end, which is, again, we're back to the scooping. It has to get scooped. If you go on a camel, you'll scoop what comes out of that end. But magnets have two ends, and of course, a magnet has an end that's a north and an end that's a south. And the reason this is all coalescing together is because compasses have, at the center of them, at the heart of them, a magnet. But it only works because our planet has two ends as well. And I believe that it's within God's heart for us to care about getting the message of the gospel to the ends of the Earth. Anybody with me?
Let's not keep it to ourselves. Let's broadcast this from the highest mountain, to every village, every highway, we want to get it to the ends of the Earth, to the north and to the south. But in order for that to happen, we got to get the ends in our lives oriented together, all right? So that's where we're going to go. In Deuteronomy chapter 28, we find something that speaks about our lives being the ends in the right way, as opposed to the ends in the wrong way. And I like to boil my messages down in just to one sentence. You guys who hear me preach regularly, you hear me do this. This is my way of forcing myself to have a point, because I think it's possible to preach for 30 minutes and to have no one to have any blooming clue what was said, but man, that sounded deep. That sounded deep.
And I think sometimes people think maybe that what we're doing at Fresh Life is not that deep, because I'm clear. And we want to be confused, but really, the Bible's clear, and it's plain enough to where a child can understand it, and so my goal is always to preach not to where you walk away and think, that was deep, but to where you think I was clear, where there was a point to the message. And so here's my whole message in one sentence. Ready? Generosity puts a stake in the heart of idolatry: that's pleasant language, isn't it? Generosity puts a stake in the heart of idolatry and opens you up to true prosperity. That's this entire message. Come on, that's where we're beginning. That's where we're beginning this idea. And hopefully I'll have helped you to see that when you act in a generous way, it puts a stake, it pales the heart of the vampire of idolatry and opens you up, then, to true prosperity. That's where we're going to go, Deuteronomy chapter 28. Genesis, why did I say Genesis? It's the first book of the Bible.
Here's what we find. The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock, and the crops of your ground in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you. The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, send rain on your land in season, and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations, but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail: two ends. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today. Don't go to the right or the left, following other gods and serving them.
In Jesus, I pray that you would help us to avoid the idolatry that is described here at the end of this passage, the turning off of the path for any reason. Sometimes the compass you put into our hands doesn't seem right. It seems like something's off, because the way I feel I should go isn't the way the compass says I should go. Thank you that you've put us on a path in this life, and that a lot of times the things that would lure us off the heading you've told us to head in, that will lead us to idolatry to look into other things to give us what you alone can give us, and so I pray that we would not trust how we feel, but we would utilize faith to believe in your promise that you do, indeed, want to bless us, and that following the course that you've set us on is going to cause us to be that head, and not the tail. And I pray that if anyone with us today or on the internet somehow hearing this message doesn't know you, I pray that you would draw them to yourself into a saving relationship with your son, Jesus Christ. And we ask this in his name. And everyone who agreed, said together, Amen. Amen.
Three myths about money. That's what I want to spend the rest of our time on three myths about money that maybe, just maybe you've bought into at some point. See what I did there? Bought into along the way. Myth number 1: it's unspiritual to be rich. I think there is this idea, especially within church folk, that somehow, being rich is wicked. Being rich is evil. And so we're supposed to be uncomfortable and pretend like blessing is bad, and doing well is bad, and you got to hide that and downplay it as much as possible. Have you ever felt this? Here's a perfect example. You know this is what happens in church. Someone comes up to you and says, that's a nice jacket. Sweet jacket. What do you do? You go, oh, it was on sale. OK, cool, still nice jacket? And what if it wasn't? Is it bad? Is it is it bad to buy a nice jacket? Why would it be that we need to shrug it off? I mean, it was a gift, It's super nice. It was a gift!
This whole thing, we feel like we need to, preachers do this all the time. All the preachers read a verse like I just read, where God says, hey, I want to prosper for you. And immediately, we go, oh, we're not talking about some horrible, out-of-control, prosperity gospel where you believe for a miracle, and you walk out, and your Ford turned into a Mercedes in the parking lot. And preachers like me immediately try and qualify, and came down and neutralize. Why? Because there have been excesses and people who have basically tried to turn the Bible into an ATM machine where, if you punch in the right combination of verses, it's going to spit out cash. But do we do this with any other area? God wants to feed you, they're not talking about a lot of bread, but with money, now, are there people who are obese?
Yeah, more Americans are obese than at any point in history. But for some reason, with money, we feel the need to almost downplay it. Do you do it with sex? God wants to bless your married life. Not too much sex. Now, how's the state of marriage in America? How many people have sex dysfunction and sex problems? And yet, in this one area, we almost have this discomfort with it, with the notion of a blessing from God. So what do we believe? The myth. The myth is, listen to me, it's somehow unspiritual to be rich, to be wealthy, or to prosper financially. That's the myth. Ready for the truth? I'm just going to say it. God wants to bless you. God wants to bless you. God wants to bless you. I thought you'd be more excited about that. You don't want to be blessed. You don't want a promotion. You don't want a bonus. You don't want your company to grow. You don't want to be recognized by the corporation who owns the company you work for to see the hard work you're doing and bless you with a bigger position and a bigger office and more opportunities and the chance to grow?
A dream that's in your heart as a schoolteacher, even some side hustle that could eventually become some huge sensation, you don't want to show up on Shark Tank with that idea you invented in your garage. And I'm telling you God wants you to be blessed. He wants you to prosper. I'm telling you God wants you to thrive. I'm telling you God wants you to find the work of your hands to be blessed. Now, does that look different in different situations? Yes. Does that look different in different fields or industries of work? Is success in one thing always going to be just more zeros added? No, of course I'm not saying that, nor am I saying that what prosperity looks like in one context, culture, or era of history is the same as in every other way. So we're reading about agricultural, so he's talking about full barns. Some of you don't have any barns. I'd love a full barn. So you show up at your job, and you work as a firefighter. And then the question is, is full barns good?
So often, there's grain just falling down into the firehouse. Is that helpful? So I'm not saying it's always going to look exactly like this or exactly like that, but what is a universal principle is your God has a good future for you and a good hope and a good inheritance, and he wants you to thrive and he wants you to prosper. He wants you to do well, and it's not unspiritual to want that too. God put that inside of you. God put that drive inside of you. God put that in you to show up at work, and he wants you to do a good job. He is blessed by excellence. And when you get the revelation that you're the head and not the tail, that you're meant to be above and not beneath, it changes how you walk into work. It changes how you walk into a job. It changes how you show up. It makes you a different version of you when you go, wait a minute, I'm not meant to be from beneath. I'm meant to be above, because God found me in the gutter. He found me bankrupt. He found me broken. He found me dead. He gave me life. He gave me his spirit. He gave me his power.
And what does God do when he makes something? Makes it really good. In the beginning, God, right? Boom, the world, majesty, creation, Grand Canyon. He gives you his spirit. He gives you his power and says, go to work like he goes to work. Are you going to think small? No. Are you going to do a bad job? No. Are you going to cut corners and be lazy? No. I'm just telling you something. There are managers, there are owners of businesses who are looking for people who are going to show up for work like you're meant to show up for work, with a spirit that's excellent like Daniel, that's going to distinguish you above anybody else. Of course promotion's going to show up. Of course blessing's going to come. Of course people are going to recognize the way you approach coding a website, the way you approach leading a team, the way you approach business, the way you approach soccer, the way you approach practice, the way you approach training, the way you approach exercise. It's just going to be different, because you're honoring God. You view it as an act of worship. You view it as something that's pleasing to God: the way you garden, the way you write, the way you sing, the way you sow.
And when you really get that revelation, that whether you're making jeans or you're building a non-profit that's going to feed people in Ecuador, that it's an act of worship. It causes you to do things differently that by nature, by default going to cause you to end up as the head and not the tail. And young people, if you get this revelation, it's going to change the decisions you're going to make while you're young. If you get this revelation that God's got this huge, big plan for me, but I could screw it all up with a drug addiction, I could screw it all up, ending up in prison. I could mess this up quickly if I roll with the wrong crowd, if I make the wrong choices, if I end up pregnant at 13.
You see what I'm saying? It's going to cause you, as the head, and not the tail, to make some different choices, to carry yourself in a different way. You're going to approach school and, I got to get through this, no, I want to understand. I want to learn and get the tools that are going to change my tomorrow. It's going to change my future. It's going to change the decisions you make as far as figuring out your passion and identifying a way to get paid to do what you're passionate about, and then it's going to help you navigate through the decision of do I just need a default degree for degree's sake, or is it actually a skill that I need to learn? What do I need to do to move to the future that God's called me to move towards? I'm telling you, it changes everything when you realize no, the blessings of God is good, but it's not just about me. That's the kicker, because God wants to bless you so he can bless other people through you.
And that's the game changer. That's the paradigm shifter. Because what a lot of people are who are unspiritually rich, so I got this sweater on sale, don't worry, is they end up in a place, though, where they're the tail, and they're powerless to do anything of the good that they could do when need arises in their life, when need arises in the church that they attend or a nonprofit that they hear about. I'd love to do something for that, but I can't. I'd love to make a generous gift and open up a new church. I'd love to get the gospel into the prisons, but I can't, because I'm the tail. I just wag along. I can't do that. I can't do it, because I thought small. But when you realize: the more God blesses me, the more I can do. The more I can change. The more I can say yes to what he puts on my heart, now I show up at work seeking to compound wealth, seeking a greater return on investment. I'm seeking to grow this company.
Now we don't have to flinch thinking, OK, we're going to branch out, open up this in a couple different states. It's going to get bigger, because the bigger it gets, I realize the bigger the bottom line becomes. Therefore, the more I can do all that God's put in my heart to do. All of a sudden now, there's more that I can say yes to that God would put on my heart, and as the head not the tail, I'll be able to do those things that God's called me to do, because I realize the blessings of God, while he intends them for me, are not just for me. They're also for me to flow through me, and then there's no end to what can happen, because whatever he gives, you keep giving out. Whatever he allows you to have, you keep passing out. And it causes the world just to get bigger, and you be able to do more and more and more.
This is the principle of Ephesians 4:28, because in one translation it says if you used to steal, don't steal anymore. But I like the message translation, because it says did you use to make ends, whatever, you guys are the worst. Meet, you're so hard to impress, by stealing? Well, steal no more. Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work. So this is, in one instance, going, I used to do this, but now I'm going to get the job. But it's not just for me, it's also for me for others through me. This is why, in Leviticus chapter 19, the nation of Israel was instructed: don't plow to the edge of your field. You go harvest your crops. You leave the corners untouched. And don't do a second pass, because your first pass you're getting most of it, but then a ton of stuff falls on the ground.
Second pass would be a glean. Second gleans, we get everything that remains and leave that field with not a cherry on it, not an orange on it, not a grain of wheat on it, because you went through it thoroughly. God said, don't do that. When you go through, just do your first pass. Don't even do the corners. Leave the corners empty, he said, because he goes, that extra you could save for poor people. Then you could make an announcement: hey, anybody having a tough harvest season? Come on in my field. Grab what you want from the corners. And by the way, Boaz in the Bible, there's a whole book in the Bible dedicated to this principle of the gleanings, because you had a guy named Boaz, who was the head, not the tail, and he practiced this: leaving the corners of his field open.
So one day there was a super fly, newly widowed gal named Ruth, and she showed up in Boaz's field, and I'm telling you something: Boaz, as the head, not the tail, was able to say to his lieutenants who worked for him: hey, throw a little extra grain her way. If you're grabbing some, just sprinkle, that's farmer flirting. That is farmer. I tell you what, you throw a little grain her way, go hey, girl, hey, and farmer flirting. They ended up getting married, but he wouldn't have got the wife if he wasn't the head, if he had had the scarcity mentality, give me everything that's coming to me, or this head mentality. It's not good to be rich. I don't want to get the business too big, because people will be jealous. No, this mentality says the more that God grows this, the more I'll be able to say yes to all this God's heart. Let's grow it. Let's grow this business. Man, in Jesus' name, grow that business. In Jesus' name, prosper. In Jesus' name, launch that thing you've been thinking and don't be ashamed.
And anybody who hates you, it's just because they ain't you. I'm telling you, they'll try and downplay what you're doing and make it seem as though it's not something good, because they've given up on their dream. So you walk in the blessing of God and do it with your head held high, because it is for you, but it's not just for you. Your families should be blessed. Buy something on, whatever. You see what I'm saying? This is a small mentality, but God's not a scarcity God. The Bible says he owns the cattle on 1,000 hills, and if that ran out, he would speak more into existence. So having this finite mentality that if I don't eat my dinner, that's bad for people in China, that is wrong. Do not say that messed up stuff like that to your kids. Them not eating their food doesn't help anybody in Africa. You're going to mail them that leftovers? That can't be the level of thinking.
All right, so myth number 1, what was it? It's unspiritually rich. Myth number 2, this one's a big one, right? Money's going to solve all your problems is a big money myth. Money will solve your problems. What's the truth? Being rich can wreck your soul. Being rich can wreck your soul. Now, let's address why the first myth probably exists in answering this one. The first myth: that it's unspiritually rich, is probably because we recognize that money is dangerous, that money can wreck your soul. And there's two passages in the Bible that really speak to this. Number one, we all know it. It's that money is the root of evil. Have you heard that? Someone ever parroted that line to you: money's the root of evil? The second is that didn't Jesus say a man can't serve two masters? Nobody is able to serve God and money at the same time.
Now, let's address both of these. One of those two is in the Bible, and one of those two is not. The first one that I gave you, money's the root of evil, is nowhere to be found in the Bible. That is never said by scripture. Matter of fact, notice how it's actually rendered. What I gave you is a common mistranslation of something Paul told Timothy as he was giving him advice on how best to minister to affluent people within the local church. He said this. He said, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. OK, that's different. That's a different thing. So is it the money that's the evil thing, or is it the love of the money that is a root to evil things? That's different, because that means, then, that money's not good nor bad. It's neutral. It's like a brick. Is a brick good or bad? Well, I don't know. What'd you do with it? Well, I threw it through a window, hit someone in the head. That's bad. What'd you do with your brick? I built a children's hospital. That's good.
So is the brick good or bad? No, it's you that did something good or bad. So it's not money's problem. Money's not the problem. Your love of money is the root of the evil thing, and what's the end of that thing? One more time, a little look at 1 Timothy, for which loving money many, or no, he says some, some, I'd say many. Some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and what's the result of that? They pierce themselves through with many sorrows. Or as I said it a moment ago, being rich wrecks your soul, it can, if you let it. That I came across while reading the Washington Post. And I was just perusing the internet, all of a sudden saw this title. And they had me, it was clickbait, because look at the headline. This is in convenientillust rationsforpastors.net. This is the Washington Post. The headline was being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that.
So I found myself reading this article talking about the effects of wealth on us. Now, here's our problem: before I even go any further. The problem with that is when you see that title and you think of wealthy, you think of someone else, not you. That's not you. Being rich doesn't wreck your soul. There's no potential it could happen, because you're not rich. Why? Because you know someone richer. You know someone wealthier. And all of us instantly put ourselves into a category other than affluence, because where we're at isn't as rich as somebody else. That's how we're trained to think about it. And even when it comes to the subject of generosity and giving, I talk about giving, many of us, the instinct will be, well, I'm barely paying my bills right now, bud. So if you want to give me some of that offering, I'm a charity cause. But that's for the wealthy people within the church. But here's what we're forgetting. All of us are, on global standards, doing pretty good.
Matter of fact, they say if you make $32,000 a year, you're in the top 1% of the global wealthy. So all of us are doing pretty good on a global perspective. But nonetheless, this article was talking about the effects of wealth on the soul, which is something that shows up in the Bible. And Jesus, by the way, did say no man can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and the false God mammon, which is what the idol form of money is. You cannot serve God and money at the same time, all right? So it's a love of money that's the problem, and it's serving money that's the problem. But here's what the Bible doesn't say. The Bible doesn't say you cannot serve God and make money. The Bible never says you cannot serve God and make a lot of money. It says you cannot serve God and money. You cannot worship God and money. You cannot, with your whole heart, love God and love money.
There has to be a mentality that says money is a tool that I will use to worship God, not an idol that I will worship instead of God. And that ability will cause you to be able to have treasure and not let it have you. I thought, as an example, of a magnet. So this is a putty that's responsive to magnets, because you can make it at home. Maybe it's fun to do with the kids. You got Borax, you have Elmer's glue, you have food coloring, because it makes it look like venom from Spider-Man. And we took this, and we also mixed in iron shavings. So it's little filings like they would have in one of those little Etch-a-Sketches basically. It's just basically little metallic slivers that are responsive to magnets. Now, check this out. This now, can we call him, is it OK to give a name to a glob? We'll call him Mr. Globby. Mr. Globby is complete with a set of eyeballs. Can we get a close-up of Mr Globby? Everybody meet Mr. Globby. There he is. OK, so this is Mr. Globby, here.
Now, check this out. This is a magnet, and it's a neodymium magnet, really, really strong. Can you see that? There it is. Sucker's strong, like, OK, that was a mistake. Oh, you got to be kidding me. OK, now check this out. The text said that loving money is what causes you to be pierced through or swallowed up with many sorrows. Watch this. Oh, no. Mr. Globby, what have you done? Oh, you're going to get acid reflux, buddy. That's a mistake. OK, so now back to the Washington Post. What this story tells us, we'll check back in on him later, is that basically, those who are wealthy are more likely to commit adultery, more likely to shoplift, more likely to cheat on their taxes, more likely to run red lights and disobey traffic laws, that the wealthy are more likely to take candy that is meant for children. That along with mass amounts of wealth, there is an upward swing of entitlement that causes people to feel like the rules don't apply to them and that they're somehow immune to whatever the little people and other people need to follow and listen to.
So there's an effect, on the soul, of the wealth. And the article concluded with this big idea. Check it out on the screen. This is from the Washington Post story I mentioned. Wealth should serve, then, only as a stepping stone to some further good and is always fraught with moral danger. That's exactly what the Bible says. Wealth isn't an end. It's a stepping stone to do something that's a greater good. So our mentality's that I want to grow this company for me. I want to grow this company for my life. I want to grow this company for my family. It's a mentality that says, no, there's a calling on my life. That's why God saved me. He wants to use me. I'm meant to be a part of something bigger, and I'm going to grow this company for kingdom good. I'm going to grow this company to do something bigger. Otherwise we end up, look at this. Can't even see it anymore, completely swallowed up by the soul-distorting power of riches. Because listen, when you let riches into your heart, it makes it harder to hear God. You should allow them in your hand, but not into your heart, because it makes it harder to hear God.
And I think at the end of the day, we actually end up losing sight of the true joy that God wants us to experience. The story that I mentioned, Washington Post article, actually went on to describe that those who are wealthy have a higher rate of loneliness, and even it's been linked to higher rates of suicide. Now, how crazy is that? To think I'm not happy now, but if I had this, I'd be happy. If I had that I'd be happy. I'd be more generous if I was wealthy. Actually, the proportional rates of giving drop the more money you make. So you're likely to give a lower percentage the more money you have. Why? Because oftentimes, we think the money will change us and I'll be generous if I get this. I'll start being generous then. But when you've already let money into your heart like that, no matter how much more you have, it doesn't change you. It just makes you more of the same.
So what you start with, you'll stay with. So if you start with generosity on a small budget, that can stay with you over time. You can stay generous over time. You can stay generous over time. But since wealth is so distorting and so messes you up, it'll just cause you to become more and more in refocus, not less and less the more that you have, swallowed up with many sorrows. How telling is it that we live in a day where obesity is skyrocketing. We have more to eat. Entertainment choices are skyrocketing. There's more to watch. How many hours have you wasted on Netflix trying to pick what to watch of the 1,000 things that are there? Amazon Prime Video, Hulu: there's so much to listen to, so much to watch, and we don't even know what to do with it. Anxiety and medication is skyrocketing. Depression is skyrocketing. And here we have the ability to travel the world. We have the ability to watch whatever we want to watch, to eat, in many cases, whatever we want to eat, and yet there's a despair.
Theologian Ravi Zacharias commented on this when he said the following. "I am absolutely convinced that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure. And that is why we find ourselves emptied of meaning with our pantries still full". What's the answer? The answer is we have to fight to hear God, fight to follow God in the midst of what we're facing. This is why Jesus said once that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Now, as a visual, think about this camel here, and think about this needle here. Trying to get, no, I'm not sticking the needle in the camel's eye. I'm trying to stick the camel through the needle's eye. Think about how impossible that is, and this is just a tiny, little toy, not a full-grown camel. And some have tried to say, oh, Jesus meant, there's this gate in Jerusalem called the camel's eye gate. That was its nickname, because it's not on any map. It was nicknamed camels eye gate, and a camel goes through it, he just had to stoop down. So if you don't stoop down, that's not what Jesus meant. That is not real.
Someone else said, oh, no, no. There's a special way of making thread with camel's hair. It's really coarse. You can get it through the needle, you just got to really suck on it, and then you can really get it, that's not what he meant either, because in the Greek, when he says camel, he means camel. And when it says eye of the needle, it means eye of the needle. So again, if you look at that verse, Jesus said, I tell you the truth. It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Now, context is everything, because he had just been speaking to a young man who was wealthy and religious, and he thought that both of these things gave him a leg up on anybody on getting into heaven. And Jesus knew that this guy didn't just have money, that money had him. And for him, his greed was the big problem. And greed is the most subtle sin. That's why it's the only sin Jesus actually said watch out for it. Why? Because it's the only thing you can be doing but not have a clue you're doing it while you're doing it. Not so with adultery.
Oh, wait a minute, you're not my wife. No, you know while you're stealing. You know while you're lying. But when you're committing a sin of greed, it can blind you to even see it, not to even be aware of its presence. And so it distorts things. It changes things. I was thinking about how you can take a needle, and I got a bigger one here. You can take a needle, you know this, right? And all you wildlife survival-type people, you can rub it on a magnet 50 times, and you can actually magnetize a needle to where it becomes a magnet. And then you can put it on a leaf, or as I have here, on a little piece of cork, anything that floats. And you take it, and you put it into water. And if you carefully put the magnetized needle on the cork, it'll eventually find its way to pointing north. And I got another compass here, and you'll see, if you do it right, eventually, both needles will be pointing in the exact same way.
So you have, basically, here, a compass. Now, here's the rub, if I can get Mr. Globby out. Look at this magnet. Oh, gosh, it looks terrible. Buddy. If I take this now, look what happens. It's not tracking with the earth anymore. Look at my little compass. You see that? It's like Jack Sparrow now. Where are we going? Where are we going? Because here's the thing: they can't track with the Earth, because it's paying attention to a closer compass. It's paying attention to a closer magnet. It's just messing with it, because that's what it's reading now. And that's what Jesus is saying. He's saying it's impossible to love God while you're busy loving that money. So he called that man out and said: because the guy goes, what one thing do I need? Because he was still lonely, still empty. He goes, I've done all this, but what do I do? Jesus goes, oh, easy. You just take all your money, all your money. Oh, gosh, these magnets are going to kill me. They're just everywhere. If you just take all your money and make a huge offering to feed the poor, use it to do some powerful good, and then you'll be able to follow me.
Now, what did he not say? He did not say I can never make money again. Didn't say he couldn't work again. He was calling him to a ridiculous, crazy sacrifice in the moment. Why? Here we go: because he knew that the prosperity that God intended for us all to walk in had become this man's identity. And when prosperity becomes your identity, it's turned into idolatry, and that's why he calls for generosity, which is the one thing that can then open you up to true prosperity, which is doing good with God and walking in his plan for your life. I'll say it again. When your prosperity becomes your identity, it's turned into idolatry, and what's called for is ridiculous generosity that will then open you up to true prosperity. Because if I work hard, I can extricate the wealth from around the heart that it's not easy, and you got to fight it.
And I think that's why God calls us to tithe every single time we get paid. I think it tears away a little bit of that money in our heart. You got that paycheck. Don't let it in your heart. First 10% back to the kingdom. It's not mine. It's been given to me. I was bought with a price: the blood of Jesus. I have my heart set on heaven. I'm headed for home. This is good. This blessing's good, but it's not for me. I don't want to let it in my heart. Every time you get paid, it's a little bit of a stick into you. OK, first 10% back to God. I think that's why God calls us to be regularly practicing generosity, so the wealth doesn't become our identity. We're putting a stake in the heart of idolatry. I'm telling you, it's every single, little time. You don't start when you have a million dollars. You'll never be able to get that $100,000 check. You start when it's $10. That first dollar will be hard. It's one little grain of sand at a time. And pretty soon, God can trust you with more, because our hearts are clean, and our hands are pure.
We're not lifting them up to an idle. We're walking with Jesus. We're fighting off that idolatry that is so easy, that's so deceitful, that's so subtle, that sneaks up when we're least expecting it. And as we fight to keep that magnet free from the riches that God wants us to be able to have in our hand, but not have in our heart, we can avoid the outcome of the rich young ruler. It's harder for a camel to get into a needle than a rich man, if that's his identity, of rich man. Because the moment you make an offering to God, what you're saying is this isn't me, and this isn't mine. Everything I have's a gift. I know some of you have pushed back on that. I worked for what I have, with hands that God gave you, with breath that God gave you, with skills that God gave you, with the country you were born in that God gave you. We could've been born in Siberia, None of us grew kidneys in our garage. All of us are God-made men and women.
So this young man: that was too much for him. He couldn't do it. He couldn't let go of my precious. And the Bible says he went away sorrowfully. And it uses the same Greek word, sorrowfully, that's used of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus contemplated being cut off from God on the cross. The Bible says Jesus grew sorrowful. Why? Because what God the Father was to Jesus money was to this young man. And the only thing that could cause him to have his heart linked up to God would have been that generosity in the moment that would have broken the power of greed by putting a stake in the heart of idol worship and allowed him to be positioned to actually be what he was born to be the head, and not the tail. And that's why, all across the New Testament, two examples of righteous rich people who use their good for kingdom good, like Phoebe, who funded Paul's ministry, like Lydia in Philippi, who was the Ralph Lauren of the New Testament. She funded Paul's ministry with her garment business, using the passion in her heart to fund the Kingdom of God.
You see Theophilus, who used his wealth to pay for Luke to write the book of Luke and the book of Acts. We see Lazarus, Mary, Martha who had a huge house. Were they embarrassed of it? You never see one moment of cringiness. Why? Because they allowed Jesus and the Twelve Apostles to sleep at their house. If they had a studio apartment because that was more spiritual, they wouldn't have been able to stay there. You have so many in the Bible who, unlike the rich, young ruler, didn't use their wealth to do the kingdom of God. It was in their hands, but not in their heart. All right, so that's the second myth about money, that money will solve your problems. Biggie was right after all.
All right, so a third myth about money, and this one, I think a lot of us tend to believe. And it's if I don't look out for myself, no one will. This myth says if you don't look out for yourself, no one will. It reminds me of the card game spoons: when you have these playing cards that you pass out. Everyone's got four of them, I think, is how you play it. And you get passed a card, and you have to put one down, and you're trying to get all these four cards to be the same. And if you can successfully do that, then what do you do? How's it in your family? In my family, it's you, slyly as possible, grab a spoon. And you're the only one to know that you've got it. Why? Because there's one less spoon than people playing, and the next person's going to go like this. And eventually, it's going to be this crazy melee, but you want to avoid that as well and keep them playing like idiots as long as possible, even though a spoon's been taken.
Is this Christmas at your house? And we've been playing with our girls, and I highly recommend it. Turn the TV off and play some card games. It's just really good interaction. It's really fun. And I think everybody, at a certain point, grabs it because they all know there's not enough to go around, and so I got to grab what's mine. I think sometimes we're that way with finances, and that's why we make the mistake of being the tail, not the head when it comes to money. What do I mean? I mean many of us, we approach money this way: live, save, give. And this is the financial planning of the tail, of someone who's beneath, not above. First thing they do when they get resource is live. This is pay the mortgage. This is pay off the student loan. This is pay a little bit towards Mastercard. This is AT&T, because priorities. This is Netflix because, see before, priorities. This is food. This is going out to eat. This is going on a trip. This is buying clothes. We live. We get money, we live. We get money, we live, which is spoon thinking. Give me my spoon. Give me my spoon. Give me my spoon.
And then we know, deep down, we should save. We're probably not doing as well as we should, but we were saving something, maybe corporate helping out. We set something up with accounting for it. It already happens without us seeing. Because if we did see it, it would go to the first category, a little bit, maybe, towards the 401(k), but we're not going to save up for a long time. So we're not doing what Proverbs says, which is saving and thinking about the future. And like the ant, knowing that there could be lean times coming. You could get injured at work. What if this happened? So having that three to six month emergency fund, or whatever it would look like. We're not doing that. But if we, it's a little bit. So that's a priority, at least. We all think about it, even if we don't do it: live, save. What's the third category?
Well, if there's anything left, well, sure. Look, we're going to give something. You say, oh, my gosh, there's an extra $10 in my wallet. You know what, God? Here you go. Here you go. This is a little bit left what's needed to get to the tax thing I need. So it's an afterthought. It's an end of the year thought. It's OK, here you go. It's after I've done my living and after I've done my saving, now I'll approach and actually ask the question of, well, what should I do with the financial giving? And this is tail thinking that puts us first grabbing the spoon. But what does this lead to? Well, in the Bible, there were some people who were approaching it this way: living first and putting God last, and God spoke to them through a prophet named Haggai.
And notice what God said. He said, you have planted much, but man, you guys are harvesting little. You eat, but you never seem to have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. You put on clothes, but they're not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why? Because of my house, God says, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you, the heavens have withheld their due, and the earth its crops God said, I want to bless you, but the way you're living, at the tail, doesn't allow me to. They say that your chance of thinking about suicide goes up if you make 10% less than people in your neighborhood do. They've actually tracked this. And so if you put yourself first, you're always going to look around and see other people who have more, and it's going to lead to that meaninglessness and despair, and you'll not be the head. You'll not be from above.
But here's the cool thing. I got this little toy, and it's called a Magswitch. And it allows a magnet, now, check this out. This is, just be really careful, off. OK, so check this out, as long as I have it in the right orientation, if we're on our own trying to lift up what God's called us to do, we'll never be able to do it. We end up like those in Haggai's day. We're putting ourselves first, and God's withholding the actual prosperity he wants on our lives. But when we flip it, because a magnet's pull is different when it's upside down. Look at that orientation it's meant to be. Instead of live, save, give, it's, look at it. Flip it. It's give, save, live. This is where God wants us to live: where we're putting him first, whatever that looks like. Every single time we're paid, we're putting God first in faith. We're putting God's kingdom first to fight off that idolatry and that identity rooted in prosperity. And then secondly, we're saving. We're aggressively saving, because we're going to make better decisions once we've given. We're going to think about the future. We're saving. We have a plan for it. And then lastly, we're living.
So after we've done our giving and after we've done our saving, then we approach living. And it's, a lot of times, going to mean we're not going to do some things right now we'd like to do. We're not going to keep up with the Instagram, or all the neighbors went on a trip. Oh, this is what you got to do. Is it any mistake that the Safari icon on your iPhone is a compass? Because I think a lot of times, we're kept from following the direction God wants us to go by the compass of what we see on the internet and keeping up with our friends, and all of that. But we'll never be able to be positioned to do all that God calls us to do with it as live, save, give. We've got to flip it around. It's a different end, like that compass. And check this out, with this switched on, it's pretty powerful, because then you'll be able to do all that God's called you to do when you get it flipped around.
Come on, somebody, we've got to do things God's way. It'll be harder in the short term, but in the long term, we'll be able to say yes to all that God has been dreaming of for our lives, the great weights he's called our church to carry, the gospel. We'll get to the ends of the earth, I'm telling you something, if we have it going in the right direction, which gives the polarity and the pull that God wants us to. And then instead of grabbing for the spoons, I think God will allow us to become the spoon. Now, Neo said, there is no spoon. I got one right here, and here's what's cool about this spoon. Let me show you a little close up. It is made out of 500 little magnetic balls.
Now, check this out. That by itself is not super significant. But when it's attached to, see that? When it's a part of something bigger, it becomes something special. So this spoon, to me, I feel like is all of us approaching it give, save, live: all of us. Now, any one of us on our own next weekend in this offering are not going to be able to do all the things that God's called us to do. But if every one of us will realize if I build God's kingdom, he'll build my life. I don't need to grab the spoon. I can be the spoon. I could be a part of the spoon. Some of you, that's going to mean an enormous gift next weekend, what some of us could never give. But others of us is going to say, of what I have, I will not miss out on the opportunity to be a part of this. I will not miss out on the chance to say that what God's done in my life, in my family, and what God will do in our future, and we will be able to be fashioned into a spoon.
Now, why would I pick a spoon, of all the things? I get the camel. There's one of those in the Bible. I get the needle. You have to have a needle inside any compass. And the camel had to go through the eye of the needle, so well done there, Levi, I'm sure some of you are thinking, because of all the hard work it takes to come up with crap like this every single week. But somebody out there is saying to me, why a spoon? Well, aside from the fact that we play the card game spoons and it's a "gimme," it's a grab for me mentality, I did a little research and found out that the first compass ever recorded in history was in China 2,000 years ago. Want to see a picture of it? It's a spoon, a magnetized, south-seeking spoon. It's the first compass ever used.
And I love that, because it's the opposite of how our compasses work today. They say north. This one said south. And I just wonder what could happen if every one of us would be one of these little magnets coming together with our gift, with our sacrifice, with our telling God what it means to us that he's worked in our life salvation, that he wants to use us in the future, that he wants to bless our homes, bless our lives, and send the rain on our fields. To say, I want to be a spoon. Pointing a different way than our culture approaches it so that more people who are far from God would be filled with life in Christ. May, in Jesus' name, we all become the spoon, amen?