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Sunday, January 31, 2016

How are we Christians to spend our Money and Time?



How are we Christians to spend our Money and Time?

God has given us our lives and our intelligence, our abilities, talents, health, and our ability to make money. Every good gift that we have, has been given to us by Him.   Scripture says: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father…” (James 1:17a) God encourages us to pray and ask for what we need and He promises to provide for us.

 God has given us the power to live our lives.  But that God given power is on loan.  And the greatest power we have is the power of compassion and of love.  We can keep our focus narrow and just on our self.  We can put all of our power and our life into things that impress others and build up our reputation and help make ourselves richer.  Or we can invest or give our lives to God and to what is eternal by broadening our life’s’ concerns and giving to others and caring about others as well.  The choice is ours as to how we invest this one life of ours.  We have been given the freedom to do what we want. This is our life and our time.  But let’s not miss this time or waste our life.

Christ calls us to invest our lives in what is eternal.  We see Jesus in His sermon on the mount calling the crowds to invest their treasures in heaven.  “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.”  (Matthew 6:19-21)   What we do with our life and our money is important to Christ.  He cares deeply about whether we give our life to Him or we keep it just for ourselves. Sixteen out of the thirty-two parables Jesus told had to do with money and how we should handle it!

Jesus was asking his followers, and He is asking us, not to selfishly invest our time and money on useless things. Things that won’t last.  Or greedily keeping everything for ourselves.  But Jesus is calling us to invest in the kingdom of heaven.  To invest in what is durable and in what lasts.  Have a purpose for living. Scripture tells us that our generosity to the poor is a lasting investment!  Giving to the needy is a way of investing in the kingdom of heaven.  Our love and concern for the welfare of others pays dividends.  Jesus calls us to be His hands and feet and feed the hungry and visit the sick.  To take care of orphans and to spread the gospel.  He says that giving to the needy is the same as giving to Him. He calls us to a generous joyful way of being together.  To a loving life of sharing and giving and looking out for others as well as ourselves.  (Matthew 25:35-40)

We are caretakers of all that God has given us.  But how does God want us to live our lives in caring for ourselves and others?   How do we handle the time and money we have? Keep it selfishly for ourselves or keep what we need and give generously to a favorite cause?  And there are so many needs and causes.  Where is that place in our lives between “enough” and “excess”?   Each of us has to, with prayer and searching, find where that place is in our lives.  What is right for one Christian may not work for another. 

What does giving mean in our lives?  Are we givers or are we takers?   Do we keep everything for ourselves or do we reach out to make our world a better place?  Do we volunteer our time and talents?   Or do we work just for ourselves and our own benefit? Grasp for as much as we can get and turn our backs on those who have problems?  How do we handle money and how do we handle the stuff in life? 

 And how do we cast our vote as to how our society will live together and share resources?  Should our vote be in favor of our country raising taxes to provide opportunities, health care and a safety net for all?  Or should we keep taxes lower to help individuals and struggling business owners?  Should our taxes be given to people who don’t try to help themselves and live in ways we don’t approve of?  God calls us to struggle with many issues that are sometimes confusing.  We don’t always know which way we should go!  I believe that there are Christians on both sides of these issues. As Christians I believe that God calls us to love and cooperate with one another and work together as we try to follow Him.     

  Jesus warns that money is a terrible task master.  He says: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.”  (Matthew 6:24)   This statement of Jesus’ makes us ask ourselves, Is the accumulation of wealth in the driver’s seat in our life or is God in the driver’s seat?  

 And Jesus also warned: “Whoever finds his life will lose it and whosoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  (Matthew 10:39)   I picture one Christian we knew who was a big show off and spent his time and money on himself.  His vision for his life was that of having as much pleasure as possible and making a name for himself.  He bought the priciest seats at sporting events, wore the most expensive name brand clothes, watches and jewelry, and drove only the fastest and snazziest cars. And he sued anyone who got in his way. He bragged about being a  spiritual Christian professor but rejected an offer to teach at a Christian university because he felt he was worth much more than this institution could offer him in a paycheck.  When this man died he left millions of dollars in his bank account but few showed up for his funeral! Do you think he was the loser or the finder of the life that Jesus talked about?

 The other person Jesus speaks of, the one that loses his life for Christ’s sake but finds it, this person sounds like another dear friend we knew who died a few years ago.  This friend was a dear Christian minister who loved people and served as a pastor to a large influential church for twenty-five years. As time went by he became concerned that his denomination was changing and slipping away from the gospel of Christ and was not serving God the way it once had.  He prayed and believed that God would have him move to another denomination.  But moving to another denomination would be costly for him and for his family.  He was not allowed to keep the money he had saved for retirement and he had to take a much smaller pay check.  He went ahead and moved to the other denomination and was again able to serve God the way he felt he should as pastor.  He lost money by changing denominations but he gained a better witness in his ministry. He died a poor man with little earthly goods, but many hundreds attended his funeral since he had loved and changed so many lives over the years.  Do you think he was one of the ones Jesus spoke of who would find his life?  I think so.

Jesus knew a secret that many of us may not have grasped.  When we give Him our lives, He never lets us lose.  We are always winners with Him. Always victors in Christ. We may lose money or friends or reputation.  It may seem that we are losing so much according to worldly standards.  But we are victors and winners according to heavenly standards.  If Jesus fed the five thousand people with that one small lunch the little boy gave Him, what will Jesus do with what you give Him?  I believe God will take what you give Him and multiply it beyond your wildest expectations!  He will expand your work in ways you can’t possibly imagine now!  Not until you reach the other side will you understand how glorious your life has been in Christ!  



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