The Greatest Investment – Matthew 6
The 4th message in The Generous Life sermon series.
The Greatest Investment
During Jesus ministry there were many times that huge crowds gathered to hear him preach and teach.
-On one occasion the crowds were so big that Jesus launched out into a boat and people stood around on the shore.
-On another occasion people followed Jesus into the wilderness and they stayed so long listening to him that Jesus was worried they wouldn’t be able to get home because they had gone so long without something to eat.
-On another occasion Jesus went up the hillside of a mountain so that everyone would be able to see and hear him.
This message, often referred to as the sermon on the mount is Jesus most epic recorded message.
This message was so powerful that chapter 7 tells us that at the end the people all marveled at the authority and power of the message, unlike anything they had ever heard before from their scribes and teachers.
This message was not only incredibly powerful, it was extremely radical, so radical that in chapter 5 Jesus said, I haven’t come to overthrow the laws and customs of the land.
Jesus had to say that because the way of life that he was laying out was so counter cultural that people thought, Jesus wants to change everything!
Jesus said, I’ve not come to do away with the law but rather restore it’s original and true purpose.
What was so radical? It was a declaration that following Jesus and belonging to the kingdom of God meant living completely different- not that you get into the kingdom by being different but that being a part of the kingdom will make you different.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
those who mourn,
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
the pure in heart,
and those who are persecuted….
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus was teaching that happiness, joy, and blessing are not in money, power, and ease-
Jesus taught that the greatest reward was not here in this life, but in the next. Jesus taught that we should love people and not money and stuff and that the kingdom and reward we are looking for is one that is eternal.
In contrast to the scribes and Pharisees who disagreed on whether or not there was an afterlife, who were focused on the tradition of the Temple and the glory of the temple, and the actions of this life-
Jesus was proclaiming a message that was quite different.
When Jesus arrived the Temple and the priests had become corrupt and it was all about money, power, and position.
If you love money and stuff you’ll use people to get more.
Because the love of money and power can be so corrupt even our lost culture is turned off by it.
If you love people you’ll use money and stuff to help others.
You actually see this reality highlighted in Christmas stories and movies.
From A Charlie Brown Christmas to A Christmas Carol to The Grinch there are tales and movies that promote the idea valuing people over things.
Celebrating Christmas together with Charlie Brown was more important than a big beautiful tree.
Generosity and Family were more important than another day to earn more money for Scrooge.
Celebrating Christmas together was more important than all the Christmas stuff that the Grinch stole.
As endearing and noble as all those stories are, I want us to take it a step further- I want us to be passionate about helping people long term- like really, really long term.
As in forever.
Jesus pointed to this in the sermon on the mount.
He started with the internal and pointed to the eternal.
The emphasis of religion is external and temporal.
The focus of Jesus’ message is internal and eternal.
Jesus didn’t bring temporary outward change,
He offered forever inward change.
Now Jesus wasn’t unconcerned with our behavior and actions, in fact he makes it clear that when we are changed within and become a part of His kingdom it will change our behavior.
So after those opening principles, He then covers anger, lust, marriage & divorce, revenge and forgiveness, all in chapter 5, so by the time we get to chapter 6 Jesus is on a roll and he covers money.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to talk about money. Two-Thirds of his parables dealt with money….
When Jesus gets to the subject of money in chapter 6, He first speaks of hypocrisy- when people give to be seen of others. When they give not because they are generous but because they are proud…
Then He speaks of prayer and it fits with this passage that we have the Lords prayer here because in it we ask the Lord for our daily bread. Jesus is emphasizing that It’s all God’s so we do not worry.
Verses 25-34 cover that the lilies and birds don’t worry and God cares for them. Jesus is saying if the Lord cares enough to care for the wildflowers and birds, He’ll look out for you.
In between all of that Jesus gives us some investment advice. He tells us the best place to put our money. It’s an investment that can’t be lost and brings great reward and does good work as well.
Let’s read what Jesus had to say about money in 6:19-24.
This morning I want to give you some investment advice.
Some investment advisors encourage people to invest in a diversity of short term investments and long term investments…
I want to encourage you to invest in the longest form of investing. Eternal Investing. The way you do that is invest in heaven. That is what Jesus speaking of here.
Jesus loved people and He wanted His followers to use money and stuff to help others, but not just help them right now, to help them forever. He says your investment in heaven can’t be corrupted by rust or eaten by moths.
In those days 2 major forms of wealth were metals and clothes.
Both of which could be corrupted. They could waste away. They could fall apart.
Nowadays you don’t lose your wealth to rust and moths, but you cant lose them to downturns in the stock market or corruption of bankers…
Eternal investments can’t be stolen and they don’t waste away. So how do you make investments in heaven?
There’s only one way to make an eternal investment. Invest in changing lives.
Investing in Changed Lives is Eternal Investment.
There are only 2 things present in this world that will be in heaven.
Your soul and the souls of others. The only things from this life that you can take with you to the next are the people you love.
So the only way to lay up treasure in Heaven is through changed lives. The only investment that is a heavenly investment is an investment in changed lives.
That means change in your life- your heart, mind, and soul – and the lives of others. That’s what Jesus has been talking about through His whole message, a different way of living – a life that is completely different. Now he says to invest in heaven, to build a fortune in heaven, a treasure chest full in heaven…
He’s saying instead of giving all you have to become happy in this life and to accrue wealth in this life, do all you can to lay up joys and wealth in heaven.
That’s what we’ve been talking about this month- the investment of changed lives. That’s what it means to be a part of the new core group- to invest your life in changing lives, your own life and the lives of others.
We are not building buildings or funding budgets.
We are in the business of changing lives forever!
Now stay with me here- every other gift we can give someone tarnishes. It fades. It goes away. Except for the gospel…
We collected yams for the Rescue Mission.
They’re going to need Yams again next year.
But when people got the Yams they also got the gospel and if they accepted the gospel with that box of food, that will never run out…
The key to life change is the gospel, so the greatest investment we can make is in the distribution of the gospel.
There have been some major advancements in charity over the past few decades- organizations have focused on giving people gifts that are sustainable and that will help them take responsibility of their own lives.
For example, instead of coming into a village and building a school and leaving, come to a village and hire workers from the village to build a school, training them how to build.
They take great pride in the school because they built it with their own hands and now they’ve acquired skill.
It’s that idea of give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.
The gospel doesn’t feed someone for a day, it gives them access to the Father who will feed them and change them for a lifetime.
The generous life is the good life because it put’s our priorities in order.
The generous life is the good life because it acknowledges it’s all Gods.
The Generous life is the good life because it places us in the greatest cause in the world.
I want you to be generous because it places you right in the mission of God to change lives- to find the lost, mend the broken, restore the fallen, heal the hurting, renew relationships, fix marriages, develop families, help the needy, care for the orphan, and as Jesus prayed a few verses before make things on earth as they are in heaven.
If you think that is something your heart longs for now, just wait until you start giving and investing in changed lives because this passage says that where you give your heart follows.
Investing in Changed Lives is Personal Development.
Jesus said, “where your treasure is there will your heart be also…” in verse 21. That’s a powerful statement.
Investing in Changed Lives is personal development because it not only changes someone else’s life, it changes your life too.
Wherever your money goes, your heart will follow.
You know why I want you to give? Because I want your heart and passion here. More than we need your dollars, we need your passion, ideas, talents, and service and when you give here, when you invest here, you’ll be all in. We’ll get your best.
Want your heart to be focused on the things that truly matter? Give to what truly matters. Invest in what truly matters.
Some of you, if you’re honest, were more excited about Friday than you were about Thursday because your heart is at the mall. Your heart is at the department stores.
Look at and think on verse 22 with me….
Your eye is the lamp of the body and if the eye be dark than your whole body is dark…
You know what Jesus is talking about? He’s talking about the way you see things. He’s talking about the way you look at everything.
If you are looking at everything with a broken eye, you’ll see everything as broken.
If you have a broken perspective, you’ll see everything in that perspective. If you are not investing in heaven, if you’re not investing in the kingdom, your perspective will be all wrong!
you’ll approach life and ministry and family and relationships all wrong….
Get a hold of this!
Jesus isn’t saying that your life is messed up because you’re not being generous- He’s saying that if you’re messed up inside, if something within is broken, it will affect your giving, but that’s just a symptom!
I don’t want you to start giving because that’s what’s expected. I want you to be changed! I want there to be internal and eternal change, not just external and temporary change.
If you refuse to be generous, that’s not the problem it’s just a symptom of the problem. Your lack of giving is just one of many outward symptoms of the inward issue. It’s just a visible sign of the invisible sickness.
Jesus get’s right to it in the next verses…
24″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.
Investing in Changed Lives is Godly Worship.
When asked what is the greatest commandment of all the law Jesus answered, To love the Lord your God will all of your heart, mind, and strength and the 2nd is like unto it To Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.
You see if you’ve got the first one right – love God will all your heart, mind, and strength, the 2nd comes naturally. You’ll love your neighbor as yourself – that means you’ll be willing to be generous.
If there is some hesitancy to be generous, that’s a sign of an issue with the first command. If you struggle to part with money here in this life even when you know it will make an investment in the next, you’re not really trusting God.
When you trust God with your money you’re finally trusting God.” – Carey Nieuwhoff
When we invest in changed lives we are worshipping God. When we refuse to invest in changing lives we are worshipping something else. That’s the reason I often say before we collect the offering that this is part of the worship service. More than attending or singing or listening, giving demonstrates our trust.
It’s funny that our money has “In God we Trust” written on it when money is the biggest religion in our nation.
Years ago I heard an economist talk about that they can watch the economy in countries by watching engagement at churches.
When church attendance starts to go up that’s a sign that the economy is struggling… What he was saying is that people typically turn to God when their money is running out…
You can’t serve God and money. You won’t.
Last week I said that God’s not going to give some of you any more than He has because He knows you wouldn’t be generous with it.
This week I’ll say God’s not going to give some of you any more than He has because if He did you’d trust in money even more than you do now.
God doesn’t want your money,
He wants your heart,
but apparently the two are tangled up.
Eugene Peterson wrote of watching two sparrows care for their little chicks one spring. They warmed the eggs, fed them once they hatched, and then one day they pulled them out of the next onto the tree branch and pushed them off.
Now, the chicks could walk. They have small talons that work great for holding onto a branches. They were doing just fine in the nest and did just fine on the branch, so why did the mother sparrow push them off to their almost certain death? Because they were made to fly. It wasn’t until they flew that they fulfilled their unique purpose, and man what it must have been like to be plummeting to the earth one moment and soaring the next.
I believe you were made for this.
You were made to soar. You were made to make a difference.
I believe you were made to change the lives of this community.
I believe you were made to impact the dozens of little kids running around here.
I believe you were made not to be a part of this,
but to be all in on this.
Giving is major part of that.
AJ Jacobs is a self-professed agnostic, meaning he’s not sure there is a God and if there is one he’s not convinced theres a way to know.
He wrote the book A Year of Living Biblically. He lived by the Old Testament laws for a solid year. Part of that was tithing or giving 10% of his income. He said that it was a difficult decision that he and his wife struggled with, but finally they pulled the trigger and set up some recurring gifts.
He said, I got a little nervous before I hit the send button, but after I did I felt good and it I’m agnostic but I think I felt God’s pleasure. I felt something like a higher sense of purpose. It felt like something I should have been doing all of my life.
In the room right now, all around you, are people whose lives have been changed by God’s grace through the ministry of this church.
Down the hall in the nursery and the toddler class there a host of lives that God wants make all the difference in and He’s given us the honor of being a part of that…
Through the foyer and up the stairs in the gym there are 20 lives that God is already working in and setting out plans and opportunities for…
This month I’ve been talking to you about giving, but what I’ve really been doing is inviting you to be a part of what God is doing.