Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - Even if I'm Greedy?

Mike Novotny - Even if I'm Greedy?

Mike Novotny - Even if I'm Greedy?
TOPICS: ME on Team Jesus?, Greed

I want to talk to you today about you and about God and about money. Yaay we're preaching about, yeah, so I know that when a pastor or church wants to talk about finances and not just faith when someone gets really personal with what seems like what should be very personal, it can get a bit awkward. I know lots of you have stories and histories and lots of churches unfortunately have stories and histories of this going totally wrong, and I know that we're filming this for TV, and televangelist and good intentions rarely are put in the same conversation, so, I get that this can be a weird and uncomfortable conversation. But I do want to talk to you today about you and God and about money.

And if you're taking notes, I'm going to tell you why right up front. So, grab a pen, take out your bulletin, if you're taking notes at home, write this down. I want to talk to you about this topic today because money matters. It does if you're a church person or not a church person, a passionate follower of Jesus, kind of sceptic about this whole thing. I think you would agree that the way you use money and the way you think about money and your beliefs about money, they matter. And they don't just matter for your credit score, they don't just matter for getting a loan for your home, doesn't just matter for the stress of debt. I would pose to you that money matters so, so much when it comes to relationships. Right, the way that you and the people in your life think about money or handle money or the things they believe about money, that affects, for better and for worse, your closest relationships, right.

You agree with that? Like, when you were a kid growing up what your mom or dad or both of them thought about money severely affected for better or worse, the atmosphere of your home. And if you're sitting at the dinner table and God has provided daily bread, he's been good to you, but dad is so stressed about not having enough or paying off the debt, like, that mattered. It's the difference between like stress and anxiety and fear and celebration and gratitude to God, it matters. And if you start dating someone, what they do with money matters, right. Have you ever dated someone who like money burns a hole in their pocket and they're spending and they're spending and then Amazon came out with the One Click, and it got a thousand times worse, you know, and they click, and they click and they click and the debt is growing and growing and growing and they're not thinking or thinking or thinking about tomorrow, they're just spending.

And what that does to a relationship, I mean how many arguments happen because of money, how many marriages separate, maybe even lead to divorce because of money differences. The way you view money, it matters. Someone might spend too much; someone might be too stingy, but money affects our relationships. And according to Jesus that same dynamic is true with you and God. The way you view money can be an amazing way to connect with God and strengthen that relationship, or the way you view money can be a thing that messes with the peace and joy and connection that God wants to have with you. And so I know there's a history there, I know some of you kind of get your guard up and your defenses up. But I want to talk to you today about you and God and money, because when your relationship with God, when it comes to money it matters.

And I want to talk to you about that because money, would you agree with this? Your view of money is something that's kind of hard to see. I think a person's beliefs about money are kind of like the hair on the back of their head. Is it gray back there? I don't picture it as very gray; it might feel like it's very, this is part of me, it's really close to me but it's really hard for me to... it's easy for you to see, it's difficult for me to see. So does a person love money too much? Are they trusting in money too much? Do they, they fear not having money too much? That is kind of hard to see in ourselves. Which is why today I want to open the word of God and just have an honest humble conversation about you and God and money.

And today it's pretty easy to do it because did you know that at least two of the twelve men that Jesus chose to be on his team had serious issues with money? One of them is kind of famous, he loved money so much that he actually sold out the son of God, he betrayed him, his name was Judas. Today I don't want to talk about that guy though, I want to talk about this other guy who actually wrote one of the four gospels in the Bible about a man named Matthew. Turns out Matthew had major issues with money. His relationship with money was so dysfunctional that he didn't have a functioning relationship with God, and yet Jesus saw this man, he chose this man, he loved this man and he changed this man especially when it came to his beliefs about money.

So, I want to share just a few verses with you from Luke 5, we're going to meet Matthew who's originally called Levi and here's how the text begins in verse 27, "After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth". I think of it this way, you ever been through one of those highway toll booths like before there was the IPASS and you just zip through it, 70-ish miles an hour? You know, our toll booths have like a flat rate, you know, this much if you're a car, this much of you're a truck. Imagine in the first century if you drive through a toll booth and that person is waiting inside, except it's not a flat rate, they get to look inside your car and name their price. "Ooh, how many kids you got back there? Hmm. Is that a cooler I see? Ou, there's a charge for coolers".

And you're thinking, "What? Is this how this works"? But you couldn't pass go unless you pay the tax collector. And so unfortunately tax collectors being human, sinners being sinners, they often took advantage of their position. They overcharged people, they started to live larger and larger while their neighbors lived smaller and smaller. And so, they became hated because of their love of money. Money matters and tax collectors would ruin their relationship with their neighbors and with God just to get more. But one day our text says, "Jesus went out and saw a tax collector". He's sitting at his tax booth, he's on the job and do you know what Jesus says to this man?

Look at the end of verse 27. "'Follow me,' Jesus said to him..." Jesus invited Matthew to follow him not when he was like five years into him recovery from greed, he sees him, he loves him, and he invites him literally when he is doing the thing that God hates. Isn't that good news? Like if you right now are sinning in a sinful position, If you have not had a good year or a good week or a good day, If you with your family got into an argument literally in the parking lot of church and you try to put it together and act nice in front of the pastor, like that's what this moment is like. If you are still kind of hung over because of last night, if some of you looked at things on your phones before church that you shouldn't have this morning, that's like this moment.

And Jesus isn't saying, "Woah, woah. Like you're a liability to me". He sees you and me in the midst of our sin and before we're better and before we're sober and before we're generous and before we're obedient and before we've fixed it Jesus is so compassionate and he's so loving he sees us sitting at our tax booth and he says, "Follow me". And guess what he does? Verse 28, "And Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and other were eating with them". So, we know old Levi must be living large, right. A large crowd, so Matthew's there, Matthew's friends are all there, Jesus is there, Jesus's friends are all there, a bunch of "others" are there, even the Pharisees are crashing the party and where do they all fit? At his house.

So, he must be living in this huge house. And not only that, it says that Levi held a great banquet. It wasn't bring your own fish and bread, it wasn't like light appetizers or snacks. A great, any of you dads paid for a great wedding banquet recently? Alright. It's costing him serious money and yet he's doing it, he's loving it because there is something about Jesus. But it turns out, not everyone at this party wanted to party. Look at verse 30, "But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to Jesus's disciples. 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'"

Can you imagine if Jesus takes a selfie with a guy with the ankle bracelet? The guy who can't be anywhere near a school, a registered sex offender, and not just anyone but the one who hurt the innocent victim that you love? What would say to Jesus? What emoji would you pick to react to that picture? What would you type in the comment section? I mean, I think the Pharisees are logical and not judgmental because their question is, why? "Jesus, don't you know about this guy what we know? Don't you know the people he has robbed and stolen from? He's broken commandments, he's burned every bridge just to get stuff for himself and now you roll up and eat at his house. Wow. Don't you care"?

Jesus's response is brilliant. I mean, you think about it, he's kind of stuck, right. If he says to the Pharisees, "You know what you guys are right, this dude is a scumbag, he has hurt people. That's wrong, I'm not coming anywhere close to you". Well, how can he help real sinners? And if he stays with Matthew and he blows off, "Oh yeah, let you who is without sin cast the first stone". Like what is he saying to all the victims of Matthew's sin? How is Jesus going to get out of this rock and this hard place. Well, here's his answer, I love this, verse 31, "Jesus answered them, the Pharisees. 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not cone to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'" That's so brilliant.

"Oh yeah, you Pharisees, you're talking about my friend Matthew? Yeah, you're right, he's sick. Sorry Matthew. Yeah, and all his friends sitting over here that I've been talking with, teaching, eating with, drinking with, they're sick, too. No offense guys. The way the love money the things they believed about money is sick in the sight of God. It is so bad, it's a disease and it's going to kill them. But Pharisees, where do you expect to find a doctor? Are you scandalized when you see the doctor walking into a hospital? When you're walking pass the hallway and there's this really sick dude and the doctor is by his bed, 'What are you doing here doctor?' Do you expect the doctor to make house calls on the healthy? No. You expect to see a doctor and the sick together. So wouldn't you expect to see sinners and a savior together? Why do you think I'm here? Like these dudes are sick, they're missing out on the kingdom of God, on a relationship with God the way they love money. So, what do you Pharisees want me to do? You want me to keep my distance, so they die in their sins and go to Hell, because I tell you what, that's sick. I have not come to call righteous people. I'm not here for the good people, I am here for people who need to change their minds, repent and be saved".

Jesus packed so much tough and so much tender into a single verse. This is so brilliant. Write this down, I think this is the big idea of this story, "The greed is a sickness". Jesus himself said it's a sickness. The love of money is a sickness, but Jesus can cure it. Greed is a sickness that Jesus can cure. Alright, so what does that mean for all of us today? Where are my tax collectors at here today? Yeah. So, the Roman Empire, if you're good at history, is kind of over. Tax collecting has mostly gone digital, but we still need to talk about you and about God and about money because whether you use money to love God or kind of use God to love money is a huge deal in your heart. So, can I ask you some honest questions? Can we do a little checkup? Are there any symptoms that might reveal a sickness in your heart?

Alright let me ask a few questions. Do you ever cross a moral line just to get a little more money? Like have you ever gotten paid in cash, just because if you report it to the government, you'll have a little less money. Have you ever gotten pulled over by an officer and she ask you "Do you know how fast you were going"? Do you ever give false testimony just to save a little money? And as long as it's awkward right now let me keep going. Do you give generously because you are so grateful for God? Like, when God gives you money, whether it's just a couple bucks for babysitting or a part time job or a full-time salary, I mean, do you just sit down and "Thank you God for giving me this job, this ability, this opportunity, this money, this gift, this inheritance, this bonus, this tax return. How can I say thank you in return"?

Do you think about money that way? So, you give to the poor, like Jesus love the poor, that you spread the gospel through a church a or a ministry like Jesus wants us to spread it. Or are you one of the many people, are you one of the majority of members at our church... who does nothing? Nothing. "Not me, not yet, not until I get the phone, not until I get the car, not until I pay for college, not until I pay these bills, not until the down payment, not until I'm making 20k or 40k or 60k or whatever k". Has God literally put you in one of the most prosperous cultures in human history and you're thinking, "Not me, not yet"? And some of you right now are thinking, "Oh yeah, the pastor's just trying to get my money".

If that's what is holding you back, can I ask, do you have any evidence of thinking that about me? Like if you watch me from a distance, looked at my clothes, the brands, my car, my house, my life and said, "That's a greedy man". If so, please talk to me about that, and if not, why would you slander me, us, just to love your money more? And as long as it's awkward, here's the most awkward part. Do you know who Jesus said in the Bible loved money the most? The people who tithed all the time. The Pharisees would pick herbs from their garden and take 10% and give it to God, and yet Jesus says their hearts were filled with the love of money. So, you might give, you might donate to non-profits, you might donate to the church, but Jesus says, "Be careful". Are you loving money so much that you worry about money too much? Is God answering the Lord's prayer and providing daily bread, but you don't want daily bread, you want a ten-year retirement plan?

Jesus says, be careful. Like, God is so good to you. He provides for you in so many ways, but if you love money too much, you will mess with your relationship with God. A few years ago, before Covid happened, I was on a flight from Detroit back to Appleton, and I'm sitting next to this guy, he's really friendly, he's talking about life, and I find out that this guy has a lot of money. I find out he has this big house, rented a lakeshore, his daughter's a doctor, he has a big kind of heaving hitting job. And I didn't say anything about it or have any judgement towards him, but in the middle of the conversation, he kind of stops, you know, this list of impressive things about his life, and he shows me his phone. He had his airline app open, and the background color was all gold, apparently reserved for only gold level members.

And you know what this guy says to me? It wasn't worth it. He started thinking about his kids, about his relationships, about his faith and even though he had so much money, even though he was a gold level status member, even though I was going home to a medium size house and he was going home to a mansion, He said, "Young man, it wasn't worth it". And I think that's what Jesus is saying to us today. Like, you might think that happiness and joy and like the good life is down this path, don't worry about what the Bible says about money, just get more and more and save more and spend more and invest more. Jesus says, "No, it's not worth it. I'll tell you what's worth it. Following me. Follow me and I will show you a life that is truly life".

If today's message has punched you right in the soul, let me reread to you something Jesus said today. "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". Do you feel the symptoms of the sickness that greed is? Then Jesus is coming for you. 2000 years ago, he did not come to this Earth to make healthy people healthier, he did not come to help silver medalist finally get the gold. He came find people who are stuck behind the bars of their own tax booth and set them free. And Jesus is saying to you and to me today, "Follow me. Matthew, follow me, I'm going there. I'm going to a cross where I died for all the times that you loved money too much, all the paychecks that hoarded instead of gave away in gratitude to God. I'm coming to show you a better way. Watch as I pay the ultimate price to give you the riches of Heaven. Watch as I shed my blood to buy you a seat at the table of the greatest feast in all of human history. Follow me Matthew and I will show you a better way".

And Matthew did. And for the rest of his life do you know the story? He went, I think, all the way to India spreading the good news of the true riches of Heaven that we don't earn, we don't work for, it's just a gift that God gives to us. So, Jesus is saying to you today, "If you want to just sit at home and upgrade your phone for the next 50 years, you do you. But if you want something better, if you want riches that this world can't touch, if you don't want to worry about money anymore, if you want a relationship with God, follow me. I've come to change your mind. I've come not to call the righteous but sinner to repentance". In other words, I hope some of you today end up like Zacchaeus.

"When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and saw him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.' So, he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter". Just like they did the first time. "Jesus has gone to be the guest of a sinner". But do you know what Zacchaeus did? Zacchaeus stood up and he said to the Lord Jesus, "Look, here now Lord I give half of my possessions to the poor". Jesus didn't tell him to, he just wanted to. He says, "And I'm not done, and if I've cheated anybody out of anything I will pay back four times the amount". "And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, for Jesus the son of man came to seek and to save the lost.'" Now, when you see how sick your sin is and then you see Jesus coming in compassion to cure you, there is only one logical response. Here and now Lord, I give because I know how much you first gave to me. May it happen again among us. Let's pray:

Ahh, God thank you so much for letting us be here in this time, but we can put these words into practice like few people on our planet. We could have been born in another century, in another culture and in another country, but we're right here. God in your providence and wisdom you let me be born in 1980 America and you've given me opportunities that 99% of people in human history haven't had. So, God stir my heart to give, not just out of responsibility, but out of gratitude for all the things that you first gave to me in Jesus. Not for all of us, God. You know the sermon cuts deep for lots of us, our culture just, it doesn't tell us these things, and so we get caught up in earning and making and spending and doing it all over again that we forget. So, thank you for speaking tough words to us. More than that Jesus thank you for your love for Matthew and Zacchaeus and for us. You're not the kind of God who waits until we're better, you just forgive us up front. So even though there is a big challenge ahead of us God, we walk out today without guilt and without shame and without condemnation because you love us, you sought us, you saved us, and you forgave us. Lord now I pray for big things, I've seen that, I've been the recipient of that. When people have given in such big ways, I still remember them years later, let's do that. God we don't need stuff to be happy, we need you. And through the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus we have you. And so, I pray today that you would plant the seed deep in our hearts, what Jesus once said, "It is more blessed to give, And to get stuff feels blessed but it is more blessed to give". To have a present with our name on it makes us feel blessed, but it's more blessed to give. Well, help us to believe that God, and to behave accordingly. We pray all these things in the mighty, generous, beautiful name of Jesus. And all God's people say, "Amen".

Are you Human?:*