Matthew R. Perry

Are You Prepared For Your Future? Part II

In Finances, Preaching, Sermons on June 30, 2007 at 10:45 am

(Preached at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, on June 24, 2007. To listen to the sermon via mp3, just click on the link to the side.) 

(To read Part I, click here.) 

Be Faithful with the Master’s Treasure

Jesus asks another question to his listeners: “And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own” (Luke 16:12, ESV)? The manager wasted his master’s possessions — thus the reason of his release from the rich man’s employ. This posed a concern for his ability to take care of his own possessions. Since this manager was so inept in taking care of possessions entrusted to him by another, would he fare any better being responsible for his own?

Darrell Bock notes, “If someone is unfaithful as a steward, why should that person be entrusted with ownership? Handling wealth is a preparatory lesson for other responsibilities before God.” God entrusts to us a number of treasures for us to use for his glory and our good. The first treasure is entrusting man with dominion over the earth and continuing the species through procreation. Genesis 1:27-28 says plainly:

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28, ESV).

He entrusts us with the treasure of the Gospel. Second Corinthians 4:5-7 says:

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:5-7).

Paul describes the Gospel as “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” as the gospel, as “this treasure.” God places that treasure in us, the “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7) — he places that treasure in all who are followers of Jesus Christ.

He entrusts us with time. The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-17 says: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, ESV).

He entrusts us as believers with spiritual gifts. The Apostle Paul says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, ESV).

Pertaining especially to this particular parable, he entrusts us with the treasure of this world. Psalm 50:10-11 establishes to whom all things on earth belong:

For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine (Psalm 50:10-11, ESV)

In Malachi, God calls us to return a portion of that which he gives us back to him with the storehouse tithe (Malachi 3:10) along with all other offerings with a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Warren Wiersbe puts it well:

True stewardship means that we thank God for all that we have and use it as He directs. Giving God 10 percent of our income is a good way to begin our faithful stewardship, but we must remember that God should control what we do with the remaining 90 percent as well.

How do you view what God has entrusted to you? The questions Jesus asks do indeed probe our preconceptions. The first question implies that these resources belong to the perceived earthly owner. The second question crystallizes the fact that all we have ultimately belongs to God. Which way do you ultimately view your possessions: as yours or God’s?

Be Faithful to the Master Over All Other Treasure

Jesus brings his parable to a fine point when he states in Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

In this parable, we have seen how Jesus wants us to be shrewdly faithful in the possessions we have as well as those possessions entrusted to us by our Master. Yet, we risk becoming so focus on taking care of our possessions that we forget the one to whom all things belong. We need to remind ourselves of James 1:12 that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (ESV). Let us beware lest we focus on the ‘good and perfect gift’ rather than on the good and perfect giver of that gift.

Proverbs 30:8-9 says:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

In essence, this passage says, “God, just give me what I need.” This passage reminds us of what Jesus said during his model prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:10, ESV). In our materialistic culture, we often miss the connection between what we worship and how we live. We miss the connection in that how we view God directly proportionate to how we view money, and vice versa.

This verse is parallel to a passage from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:19-21, 24, ESV).

During one Star Trek episode when Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock discussed the possibilities of computers controlling everything we see, Kirk was shocked to hear the ever-logical Mr. Spock lament such a notion. When Kirk asked why, Spock made the comment, “Computers make wonderful servants, but terrible masters.”

When we turn our attention and base our contentedness based upon the amount of finances we have, we elevate our finances to a place where God must occupy. The Apostle Paul in 1 Tim. 6:6-10 has the right perspective:

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Timothy 6:6-10a, ESV).

  1. You quoted Darrel Bock, the Research Theologian at Dallss Theological Seminary yet he disagrees with you and th SBC about tithing, especially Malachi 3:10.
    ELIGION NEWS SERVICE, March 7, 2007

    Malachi 3:10 Has Been Misinterpreted

    The “whole” tithe never was supposed to go to the Temple! According to Dr. Russell Earl Kelly in his book, Should the Church Teach Tithing?, the usual interpretation of Malachi 3:10’s “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” is wrong for three reasons.

    First, the Levitical cities must be included. God never told ordinary Israelites to bring the whole tithe to the Temple in Jerusalem. According to Nehemiah 10:38 that duty belonged to the Levites and priests. The Levites lived on borrowed land surrounding 48 cities. After the exile they lived in the 13 priestly cities in Judah such as Jericho and Hebron. Nehemiah 10:37b makes it clear that the people were to bring the tithes to those cities. Numb 18:21-24; 35 all; Josh 20, 21; 1st Chron 6:48-80; 2nd Chron 11:13, 14; 31:15-19; Neh 12:27-29; 13:10 and Mal 1:14.

    Second, the correct interpretation of Malachi 3:10 must include the 24 courses of the Levites and priests. Only the older males ate tithes at the Temple and then normally only one week out of 24 weeks! Do the math! That is only 4% of the total work force! And with the wives and younger children staying at home it is only 2% of the total work force who needed to eat tithes in the Temple! 1 Chronicles, chapters 23-26; 28:13, 21; 2 Chron. 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5.

    Third, the word “you” of Malachi is referring to the dishonest priests and not the people: “Even this whole nation of you –priests.” In Nehemiah 13:5-10 the priests had clearly stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithe. Also, in Malachi 1:14 the priests had stolen that portion of the tithed animals which they had vowed to God from their herds. Read all of Malachi. God’s anger towards the priests and His curses on them are ignored by most interpreters (1:14; 2:2 and 3:2-4).

    When the Levitical cities, the 24 courses and God’s anger towards the priests for stealing are considered, then Malachi 3:10 only makes sense when it only refers to priests who had stolen from God. Proof-text hermeneutics cause error.

    It makes no sense to tell the people to bring 100% of the tithe to the Temple when 98% of those who needed it for food were still in the Levitical cities.

  2. Well, I found what Dr. Bock said about stewardship to be quite on track, even if he and I disagree as to the amount of the percentage on tithing. He said:

    “If someone is unfaithful as a steward, why should that person be entrusted with ownership? Handling wealth is a preparatory lesson for other responsibilities before God.”

    This quote had nothing to do with tithing percentage, but everything to do with stewardship. It still works for its intention.

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