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Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Money


Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Money
TOPICS: 18 Minutes with Jesus, Money

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Can you remember the thrill of receiving your first paycheck? Remember the exciting realization that you could buy almost anything, that is, until the bills came due. Well, today, we're going to see what Jesus says about money. Yes, we need cash to make ends meet and everyone splurges occasionally, but if we don't heed his warning, Jesus said our base desires will eventually lead us down a dark path. My message is titled: "Straight Talk About Your Money" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

Chances are you probably have never heard about Elizabeth Johnson Williams. She was a very wealthy woman who accumulated her fortune in cattle and in real estate and, before she married her husband she had to bail him out of a $50.000 debt. Once she did that, she made him sign a prenuptial agreement which was a rarity in the 1880s when she lived. After her husband died, Lizzie became a recluse, living in a building she owned in downtown Austin. One day, a grand-nephew came to visit Lizzie. He was afraid she might not have enough to eat, and when he expressed the concern, she said she had plenty to eat and pointed to a plate with a cover on it. He went over, took the cover off, and there was a piece of cheese and some crackers.

The cover was to protect the cheese from the rats that had infested her building. She was so tightfisted that in the depth of the winter, she would only burn one piece of wood at a time to keep her warm. When she died in 1924, she left an estate of $280.000, which in today's dollars would be more than $3 million. Her problem was not that she didn't have enough money. Her problem was she could never enjoy her money because she never felt like she had quite enough of it. And that's the paradox about money. Worry and money go hand in hand with one another. Those who have a lot of wealth are worried that they're gonna lose that wealth. Those who don't have a lot of wealth are worried that they won't get the money that they need. And it's that relationship between anxiety and money that Jesus explores in the passage from the Sermon on the Mount we're going to look at today.

If you have your Bibles, turn to Matthew chapter 6 as we look at some straight talk about our money. Matthew chapter 6. Now, it's interesting to notice that money was not a peripheral issue with Jesus. In fact, did you know Jesus talked about money five times more than he did any other topic? Money was very important to Jesus. And there's a reason. Jesus understood that our attitude about money reflects our attitude about God. And interestingly, our attitude about money shapes our attitude about God as well. That's why there's such a relationship between money and anxiety that we're gonna see today.

Now, let's be clear. The Bible doesn't say: "Money is an evil". Money is neither good nor evil. It depends upon our attitude toward money. God uses money for some very important purposes and I've jotted down on your outline four basic teachings in the Bible about wealth. First of all, God's the one who gives us the ability and the opportunity to earn money. Deuteronomy 8:18 says: "It is God who gives you the strength to make wealth". Secondly, God expects us to use money to provide for ourselves and our families. 2 Thessalonians 3:10: "If a person doesn't work, he doesn't eat". 1 Timothy 5:8: "If you don't provide for your household, your family, you're worse than an unbeliever". Thirdly, the Bible says: "The wise person works hard to save and invest for lean years and to generously meet the needs of others".

We shouldn't spend everything we have. We ought to set aside some for the future, some to invest in others, some to invest in God's work. Proverbs 6 says: "Consider the ant who, having no ruler, still knows enough to take some of the food in the summer and store it away for the winter when there is no food". And finally, if we've earned our living honestly, we have every right to enjoy what God provides. Now, some of you are gonna guess wrongly that the bottom line of my sermon is: "Give all your money to the church". No, even the Bible doesn't teach that. The Bible says some of the money that we earn ought to be used to pay for the necessities of life for ourselves and our family. Some of it ought to be saved for the future. Some of it ought to be invested in God's work, and some of it ought to be just enjoyed. There is nothing wrong with enjoying what your money has earned.

In 1 Timothy 6:17, it tells us that God is the one who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Ecclesiastes 2 says there's nothing better than for a person to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This is a gift from God. What I'm saying to you is Jesus never says: "Money is evil". But what the Bible does condemn is the love of money. 1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from their faith and pierced themself with many pains". It's that obsession with accumulating money or the possessions money buys that Jesus is going to condemn. And I want you to notice the outline from this section in chapter 6. In verses 19 through 24, Jesus talks about avoiding the love of money, and then in verses 25 to 34 he talks about avoiding worry over money.

First of all, let's see what he says about avoiding the love of money. He gives us three stark contrasts to show us why we should avoid the love of money. First of all, the contrast between two different depositories, treasuries where we can store up our wealth: heaven or earth. Look at verse 19. He talks about, first of all, the dangers of accumulating things on earth. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth," verse 19 says. Why? It's "where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal". Jesus is talking about the dangers of making earthly possessions your focus, all kind of bad things can happen to the possessions or the money that you store up here on earth. Jesus said, "Don't put your treasure on earth. It can be eaten by moths, destroyed by rust and rats, it can be stolen".

Now you may be thinking right now, "Well, I'm not gonna make that mistake. I'm not gonna make my mistake. I'm gonna keep my money secure. I'm going to invest it in the stock market". Anybody lose any money this week in the stock market? You know, as I watched the Dow Jones tumble this week, I thought of Solomon's words in Proverbs 23, verses 5 and 6: "Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone. They will surely sprout wings and fly to the sky like an eagle". A lot of you know about that, what he's talking about.

Other people are saying, "Okay, I'm not gonna put my money in anything risky. I'm just going to deposit it in the bank. Surely it's safe there". Well, it may be safe, but it's still going to be taken from you. You know when it's taken from you? It's taken from every one of us: at our death. Death is when our material possessions are separated from us. That's what the word "death," thanatos in Greek, means. It means a separation. Death is the separation of your body from your spirit, it's the separation of you from all your material goods.

Solomon talked about that in Ecclesiastes 5:15. I found this in the New Living Translation. Solomon said, "We all come to the end of our lives as naked and as empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can't take our riches with us". The truth is we're going to leave it all behind. You can't take it with you. That's what the Word of God is saying. That's the limitation of an earthly treasure: it's gonna be separated from you at some point, either the money or the possessions money has purchased. But then notice in verses 20 and 21, Jesus talks about the advantage of a heavenly treasury. He says in verse 20: "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal".

Did you know not one dollar invested in God's work has ever been lost? Not one single dollar. It's impossible to lose it. And here's why. When you invest in God's work, you're ensuring rewards for yourself in heaven as more and more people come to know Christ as Savior because of your investment. Now, notice what else he says in verse 21. He adds this word: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Why invest in the treasury of heaven, rather than the treasury of the earth? "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Your heart follows your treasures.

In my previous church when we were building a new sanctuary, a affluent man in our church made a very generous gift toward our new sanctuary. And after a few months of making that commitment and making that gift, he said it me, he laughed, he said, "You know, it used to be every morning I'd get up, drink a cup of coffee, and look at the stock page in the newspaper, because that's where my money was. But after I made this gift, I get up every morning, drink a cup of coffee, drive down to the church, and watch the bulldozers working in that big hole because that's where my money is now". And he added, "And I love every minute of it".

You know, if you wanna be interested in eternal things, if you want your heart to be centered around the things of God, invest in the things of God. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So Jesus says: "Think about where you're gonna deposit your wealth. Is it earth? Or is it in heaven"? Then he gives us another contrast, verses 22 to 23. Two different perspectives, two different eyes: clear or cloudy? Verse 22: "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness". We don't have time to explore that. He's simply saying how you view things determines the direction of your life.

If you have a clear view of money, you see it for what it really is and understand its limitations, if you have a clear view of what money is, then your actions will follow. You'll live in a wise way. If you have a cloudy view of money, if you have a distorted fuzzy vision about money, it's going to distort the rest of your life as well. And then finally, he gives us a choice of two masters. Verse 24: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth". Interestingly, Jesus never said, "You can't serve God and sex". He never said, "You can't serve God and pleasure". He never said, "You can't serve God and work". Why? Can't those things become idols? You bet they can. But he did say, "You can't serve God and money". He is saying there is something uniquely seductive about money that draws our heart away from God. You can't serve both God and money; it's one or the other.

Now, in verses 19 and 24, he has just told us three reasons not to love money. And now when we get to verse 25, he's going to talk about why we shouldn't worry about money. What's the connection between money and worry? He begins verse 25: "For this reason I say to you, don't be worried about your life". Of all the things we worry about, usually money is at the top of the list. We're afraid we won't have enough to take care of our needs or the ones that we're responsible for, and so we develop this fear, this anxiety, when we think about money. I remember growing up, my parents, especially my dad, used to talk about the poorhouse. He would say things like, "If we don't start turning off the lights around here, we're gonna go to the poor house. If we keep wasting food and you don't eat everything that you have put in front of you, we're gonna go to the poor house". It was always "going to the poor house, going to the poor house".

Now, never once in my life did I ever see a poorhouse. I don't know where the poorhouse is. I don't know anybody that's been to the poorhouse, but I knew for sure I never wanted to go to the poorhouse because it was the worst place, apparently, in the world to end up. You didn't wanna go to the poorhouse. Now, in Jesus's day, there probably was a poorhouse, there were debtors' prisons, and there were certain things that if you ignored, you would end up in the poorhouse. For example, you may not go to the poorhouse today but you can suffer poverty. You can suffer a lack of the financial resources you need, if you disobey God's commands. For example, God's commands said we need to work hard if we wanna meet our needs. We need to work hard. We need to save a portion of our income. We need to avoid debt. We need to make sure we invest in God's work.

All of those things, the Bible says, will help keep you out of the poorhouse. But once you've obeyed those basic commands of Jesus, Jesus said, "Quit worrying about not having enough". And he gives us beginning in verse 25, three reasons why we shouldn't be infected with worry about our needs. First of all, he says, worry is unnecessary. Look at verse 25: "For this reason I say to you, don't be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not your life more than food, and the body more than clothing"? He said, "Look at the birds of the air, they don't sow, or reap, or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them".

It's not birds don't work but they're not involved in planting and harvesting food. They search for food and eat it, but they're not overly anxious. God takes care of them. Are you not worth much more than they? And then he says in verse 27 to show how unnecessary worry is about money, "Who of you being worried can add a single hour to his life"? Now, this verse is confusing to some because some translations say, "Who can add a cubit to his life"? A cubit was a measurement. It was 18 inches in Jesus's day. So it seemed to be what Jesus was saying, "You can't worry yourself from being 6'1" to being 6'4". Worry does not add a single inch to your stature".

And same way with worry about your life span. Worrying about dying is not going to add one minute to your lifespan. Now it may take one minute away from your lifespan. Worry can have destructive effects, but you can't add to your lifespan by worry, and what he's saying here is, "And you can't add to your wealth by your worry. Worry does not result in worth". In verse 28: "And why are you worried about your clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they don't toil, they don't spin, yet I say to you not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these". Worry is unnecessary. Secondly, he says, "Worry is ungodly". It's ungodly.

Look at verse 31: "Don't worry then, saying, 'What we will eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For the Gentiles," unbelievers, "they eagerly seek all these things; for their heavenly Father knows you have need of all these things". It's only unbelievers who go about worrying about their basic provisions. They don't believe in a God who can take care of their needs. But you should be different. You know, I was studying that this week and I was reminded of that poem, do you remember it? "Said the robin to the sparrow, Friend, I'd surely like to know, why those anxious human beings rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, Friend, I think it must be they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you and me".

We do have a heavenly Father, and that's why it's ungodly, it doesn't bring glory to God when his own children are rushing about, worrying about their basic provisions. And finally, worry is unfruitful. It's unfruitful. Somebody said, "Worry doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrows. Worry empties today of its strength". And that's why Jesus said in verse 34: "Don't worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". Do I hear an "Amen" on that?

There's enough to worry about today without worrying about tomorrow. What's the cure for worrying about wealth? "It's easy to say, 'You can't worry your way to wealth,' but, Pastor, how do I keep myself from doing that"? Well, notice the two commands from Jesus in verses 33 and 34. First he says, "Put first things first". If you wanna quit obsessing about your needs and your finances, put first things first. Verse 33: "Seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you". How do you do that? How do you put God's kingdom first? Well, he just told us in the model prayer we looked at last time in Matthew 6. First of all, to put God first means to seek to glorify God in all of your life. Isn't that what Jesus taught us to pray? Our Father who is in heaven, holy be your name. Dedicate your life to proving to the world that God is different than anyone or anything else.

Make your life purpose to reflect his glory. Secondly, seek God's governance over your life. When we pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth and in my life as it is in heaven". Let God have the final say about your life. And finally, seek God's protection for your life. Lord, keep us from difficult times, but if those times come, keep me from disbelieving, keep me from evil.

Put God's kingdom first. Secondly, live in the present. Put first things first, but secondly, if you wanna avoid worry, especially worry about money, live in the present. Don't live your life in the past. The past is unchangeable. Don't live your life in the future. The future is unknowable. Live your life in the present. That's why he says in verse 34: "Don't worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble for its own".

You know what the root cause of all worry is? It's calculating without God. It's playing out these scenarios, what if, what if, what if, what if this happens, what if, what if I lose my job, what if my child rebels against God, what if the economy doesn't recover before I retire, what if. Don't calculate without God. Remember to put God in the equation. What if I lose my job, but God gives me a more fulfilling job. What if my child does rebel against God, but God turns his or her heart back to himself. What if the economy doesn't recover, but God still provides for me as he has always done. Above all, don't forget that you have a God who loves you, who sent his Son to die for you. A God who loves you so much that he wants to spend eternity with you. That very same God promises to take care of your most basic needs far beyond anything you can possibly think of or imagine. That's why we don't need to worry about money.
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