Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Fool for Christ and His Money

A disciple of Jesus is someone who is learning to follow the sayings of Jesus through the power of His life. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. But this yoke is not ease like the world sees ease. His peace is not like the peace and ease the world can give a man. But His yoke is the only true path to peace and service that abides in a love from the heart. His yoke is the cross.

Jesus’ sayings about Money
Do not Store up Treasures on Earth
Jesus’ first and foremost saying about money is very simple. Do not store up treasures on earth. This is a very simple command. It means do not store up treasures on earth. For where your treasure is so too is your heart. Those Hebrew rabbis were a very practical bunch. Some think Jesus is saying, if you treasure something then there is your heart. But that is a nonsense or no value statement. Jesus is not saying “where your heart is there your heart is” of “if your heart is in earthly things, then your heart is in earthly things”. No Jesus is saying that you know a tree by its fruit and if you have treasures on earth then that shows objectively that your heart is carnal and worldly. If we have lots of stuff, then it means we are valuing things by the world’s definitions of values. Our kingdom values and principles are the exact opposite of the worlds values. Simply, we as Christians value people over things.

A treasure is defined as a luxury item. If you have a choice to spend 1000 on something you do not need like a nicer car or a room addition on your home and you spend your money on this thing that can rust and corrode, then you are storing up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy. It is that simple.

1 John says that “if we have material possessions, and behold our brother in need and do not meet that need then we do not possess the love of God” This saying too is quite easy to understand. If you are aware of a human need and you have material possessions then we share them. Well, there is a great deal of need out there, so the job of the good steward is not to withhold from one but to give to the most likely to receive in a worthy manner. Our job in the service of God is to be generous – wisely.

So many close there hands because they deem the one’s that we gave too in the past are not worthy. This I think is only acceptable if your funds are already earmarked for a worthy candidate.

Jesus said use your money in such a way that when you enter heavenly dwellings many will greet you with open arms. To give in such a way, extravagantly so that people will rejoice when they see you in heaven requires that the both extravagance and wisdom. All our money is dedicated to the kingdom and all our money is dedicated to meeting the needs of others. My only need for money is to provide for my personal food and shelter but other than that we ought to provide the necessities of those around us. We provide for our families food and shelter and for the poor Christians around the world and for the poor who are in desperate need as a result of the injustices of the world.

So what does this look like?
Well, it seems very simple to me.
First, we need to be very compassion focused in our money. The command is to be understood as denying self as an end in itself but taking up our cross and denying ourselves for the sake of the world. Jesus didn’t die on the cross as an act of religious piety but was driven by love for a lost and dying world in need of communion with the Father and power from the Holy Spirit. We are not driven by guilt and obligation but love and compassion.
So we start with doing ministry and opening our eyes to the world. If we see as Jesus sees and we see the heart of God and the reward in heaven for those who give away a cup of cold water, we will live a life of simplicity in order to be as extravagant and as wisely generous as possible.
Disciple the Kids
We will not feel compelled to give our children treasures as in luxury items like cell phones and iPods but we will lead them to become disciples by our example. If my child see the no which I say to them as a yes I am saying the poor all around us then they too will find the mission of the Kingdom with us.
Play the Field
We sow lots of seed. If we feel that our giving is not always so wise then find some other people group to empower and develop economically. Get involved in a “worthy” cause.
Live By Different Values
There are millions of way to decrease your monthly budget. Live in community. If our goal is to be more generous every year and not to grow in wealth, we will never think of upgrading. Simplicity for the sake of the suffering of the world.

The End of All This Compassionate Lifestyle
The end of all of these sayings of Jesus is a life without fear. The world’s security comes from money. The world creates safety with a monetary safety net but we trust in the Lord. Jesus speaking of the life of generosity said, “Yeah of little faith. Look at the lilies of the field. They do not store in barns and their heavenly father clothes them.” God can do for you in terms of providing peace far better than the world. He can do for you what you could not do for yourself and the end of this faith is a life of communion with God and the peace and joy of the Kingdom.
God Bless,

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