How To Invest for Your Future | 06.04.23 | Master Your Money Pt.4
Matthew 6:19-21, 24
Pastor Drew Williams
Have you ever felt like you didn’t have enough money to take care of all the things you’re responsible for?
Earlier this week, I was speaking with a friend from CA, and the topic turned to some financial stress they were having. Both he and his wife had gotten new jobs recently, but they were no longer able to afford the private school their kids had been going to.
He had run the numbers, and even if both he and his wife worked their full hours, and even if there were no sick days for sick kids (ha), after taking care of all their bills, they would have $200 left at the end of the month. So that meant they only have a $50 margin each week. Definitely not enough room to come up with a tuition payment for a private school!
And even though we had been talking about life and faith and family, I could tell that this money stress was the biggest weight on his heart at that moment.
He wanted to plan for the future, he wanted to make sure his kids were in the right environment for their growth and development, he wanted to dream together with his wife about how their family could be a force for good by helping others and serving together…but right now, it all seemed too far away under the huge burden of worrying whether or not they would have enough money month to month.
And even though he trusted God, it was hard to think about things like getting back into a Bible reading habit when this worry was always on his mind. It was hard to think about making sure to go to church together as a family when he was thinking about whether or not he could pick up an extra shift on Sunday.
It was hard to think about joining a life group when he and his wife already felt like they were juggling back and forth all the time between working and taking care of their kids and just trying to keep up with life.
The “God stuff” seemed to be disconnected from that. Talking about spiritual things, and heaven, and doing good for others, it all seemed disconnected from his normal everyday life. Almost as if he needed to get his act together before he could start to focus on the God stuff. Almost as if God was separate from the things that were stressing him out.
And there are many people who share those feelings. Maybe you’re one of them.
We come to church, we open our Bible, and the stuff we talk about, the things we learn, we know they are good. But maybe they don’t seem to connect with our everyday lives. We know we should talk about our faith with others, but we don’t know what to talk about that connects with where people are, so we mutter something about sin and heaven, or we stay silent.
Does “God stuff” affect our lives here? Now? Jesus thought so.
When Jesus came with an eternal message, it wasn’t just for eternity AFTER our life, it was an eternal message for ALL of life so that we could experience New Life, a transformed life full of the all-encompassing hope that comes from trusting Jesus as our savior and following him every day as our king.
That’s why we talk about real-life topics here, because Jesus wants you to experience his abundant, full, eternal life in every area of your life…now AND forever.
So, for the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at money and finances, something Jesus taught about more than any other single topic, because we KNOW that the way we view and use money reveals whether we are MASTERED by money, or whether we are able to master our money and steward our resources according to Biblical principles.
We want to learn how to be apprentices of Jesus in all areas of our life, including in our finances. So, let’s recap the 5 Biblical principles that have been introduced to us over the last few weeks:
Spend less than you earn. Avoid the use of debt. Build margin (save). Set long-term goals. Give generously.
We’ve been following the guiding of Ron blue, a financial counselor and author, to help answer the question: “How do I get ahead in my finances?”
And if you’ve ever asked that question, these 5 Biblical principles is the answer! No matter where you find yourselves in your financial journey, we know that applying these 5 principles will help us move forward.
Whether you’re Struggling and trying to move to Stable, etc, etc.
And if you’ve missed any of the last few weeks, go online and catch up so you can begin to take ACTION in applying these principles.
Today, we’ll be talking about Setting Long-Term Goals and Giving Generously, because it’s hard to talk about one without talking about the other. Last week, Pastor Erik helped us see that God is such a good Provider that he is able to help us steward our resources to take care of us and our families AND he still provides for us enough to bless others with, whether through giving generously to church and other causes, or even through the sharing of hospitality and blessing others that way.
We GET to be a part of God’s transformative work when we follow these Biblical principles to have a better handle on our finances.
But this is hard to do if we’re only living moment to moment, which is why we need to set long-term goals. And today, we’re going to learn 2 truths to help us set long-term goals.
The first truth we’ll learn is an answer to the question: “What do I LOSE if I skip the ‘giving’ part?” Because pretty much everyone, whether you’re a follower of Jesus or not, can see the wisdom of these Biblical principles around money.
But some people might say, “I like all those principles you mentioned. I can see how all of those becoming a regular habit in my life will help build my financial strength. But I don’t really want to make it a HABIT to give generously. That’s one I’ll probably skip. I’ve got too many other things I’m working towards.”
So let’s see how Ron answers the question, “What do you LOSE when you skip the ‘giving’ part?”
>> PLAY VIDEO 16 <<
[SLIDE ] quote
Did you hear that? That’s the first of the two truths we’re looking at today, write it down: You can’t take it with you…but you can send it on ahead. (repeat after me)
Now, this idea comes straight from Jesus’ teaching, so open your black, seat-back Bibles to Matthew chapter 6, which can be found on p??? Of the NT.
In this passage, Jesus is about to unlock something about our relationship with money, something that WE might have heard before, but something that those first listeners would have never considered before, and it’s still shocking to many today…
[SLIDES] Matthew 6:19-21, 24
So, I don’t know how that was hitting you, but this would have been blowing people’s minds because Jesus is saying that the way we handle our relationship with money is intimately connected with our existence in eternity with God. The way you handle money will impact eternity.
And this would’ve shocked the first people hearing this back then because they were more familiar with the teaching of the Sadducees, who made a clear separation between the things of God and the things of the world. They didn’t believe in an afterlife, so the way you lived here and now really only affected your life HERE, and NOW.
The way you handled your money and resources was really just about your own experience, your own family, your own ability to plan and use what you have for your immediate surroundings.
But here’s Jesus saying that the way you handle money and resources here and now will actually affect eternity. Jesus is correcting their understanding of how their actions and their faith don’t only impact the circle around them, but have a much bigger impact, a much longer impact, and it impacts eternity.
Jesus is saying, there IS actually a heaven. There IS actually an existence we have after this life, either in the presence of God or separated from the presence of God, and the way we relate to our finances somehow has an impact on that experience.
We can’t expect our money and resources and the things we treasure to keep forever in this material world, and we can’t take them with us when we die, but we can invest in eternity when we send it on ahead.
Now, let me pause for a second to make sure there is no confusion here. This is NOT saying that there is a heavenly 401k that we can contribute to and then we’ll have money to live off in heaven. This is NOT saying that the more we give to the things of God in our life now, then we’ll have a bigger nicer mansion in heaven and we can spend eternity judging the people with smaller mansions since we know it’s because they didn’t tithe as much as we did or they didn’t participate in supporting causes as much as we did.
That is NOT what this is saying at all.
And this is ALSO not saying that the more we give to the things of God, we can buy our way into heaven. Salvation is a gift of Grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and there is nothing we can do now to try and earn that, because it is already offered freely through Jesus. We can’t buy it, we can’t earn it. We can only accept or reject it.
And once you DO accept that gift, once you DO put your faith in Jesus, its changes your whole perspective on life. It transforms how you see the world and how you understand that everything belongs to God, and we all have a part to play in the work of redemption and reconciliation and renewal that he is bringing about around us.
It completely changes how you live. And you start to live differently than other people.
What this passage is saying is that the way you manage your money gives EVIDENCE about whether you truly believe the things you SAY you believe.
If I say that everything I have is a gift from God, but then I get really frustrated and angry when my church talks about money because “how dare you tell ME what to do with MY money…” that is revealing something.
If I say I know God is a good father and a good provider, but then I spend every waking moment stressing and worrying about whether or not I can work harder to pick up extra shifts in order to keep up with my lifestyle… that is revealing something.
If I talk about how blessed I’ve been by God over my life, but then I focus on using my money and resources only on me, only on my family, because OTHER people should work hard if they want to get ahead…that is revealing something about our relationship with money.
And Jesus is saying that this material world isn’t eternal, this material world has decay, and thieves, and economic downturn. It’s not secure. It can’t guarantee your future. But investing our resources into the things that God calls us to somehow has a connection with eternity.
When we join Jesus on mission with our finances, learning how to steward well our own situation, making sure to spend within our means, avoid debt, build margin…when we get a longer view, when we follow the invitation of God to give to the work that he’s doing…it’s like making a deposit in eternity.
It’s entrusting material things into the hands of the eternal creator, who can multiply the impact to transform the hearts and lives of waaaay more people in our community than we could on our own. It’s seeing how we can actually be a part of a bigger mission, a God mission, that can transform us and those around us. It’s recognizing that we have an opportunity to learn how to trust God NOW, and that will affect our experience with him in eternity.
And we have to ask if we’re willing to follow Jesus’ teaching on this, are we motivated to invest in the eternal aspects of our hearts, or would we rather invest in a better life here on earth? Would we prefer to have a little more comfort, a little nicer vacation, a little more cushion in our bank account?
This passage today is pretty clear, and we can even see and understand it from our own experience, that the things of the world aren’t secure. They aren’t guaranteed. We can’t fully protect against moth and rust and thieves.
We can’t take it with us when we die…but we can send it on ahead to eternity through how we manage our money by setting long-term goals and giving generously to the things God invites us to.
That’s the first thing you need to know for long-term planning. The second thing you can take away from today is this: If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
Let’s hear how Ron talks about this:
>> PLAY VIDEO 18 <<
I think the most helpful part of that is when Ron gave us some very helpful questions to process our task of goal planning:
1.) What are you aiming at in your finances? 2.) Have you involved God in the process?
Asking God, “What would you have me do?” or “Where are you inviting me to join something you’re already working on?” is what goal setting is all about!
Because we’re not just trying to use Biblical principles to get ahead for our OWN sake and to become financial gurus. We’re trying to learn how to apprentice ourselves to Jesus and have every area of our lives be transformed to look more and more like his life.
And that’s why setting long-term goals for our finances isn’t just about how much we earn and how much we save or how much we spend. When we take a long-term view of our life of following Jesus, we can also invite God into the process of helping us make long-term GIVING goals.
[SLIDE ] categories
Because maybe you’re up towards the right end of the scale of Surplus, and you wondering, like that guy on the video, how to have your life and your resources make an impact in the kingdom of God. Asking God to help you process long-term giving goals can give you clarity and direction for the things he’s inviting you to join him in.
Or maybe you’re more in the middle of the scale, Stable, so you’re not worrying about the month to month fluctuations anymore, you’re not worrying about making ends meet, but you haven’t yet asked God to give you a bigger vision for how he’s inviting you to join his mission through giving. Maybe what Pastor Erik mentioned last week has stuck in your mind, and you’re considering making it a goal to give 10% of your income every month, splitting it 5% to the church and giving another 5% to a different cause that God puts on your heart.
Perhaps you’re in the left end of the scale, Struggling or Surviving, and trust me, I know what life in this end looks like, because I spent quite a while there in my life. And you might be listening to all this and thinking to yourself, “Pastor Drew, even if I DID give, it wouldn’t be very much at all, so it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Besides the fact that we have stories ALL OVER the Bible of God being able to take the little we have and multiply it to become a much bigger impact, let me just use some math on this one.
Did you know that the average household in this area is actually able to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mission of God AND still live their own life?
The median household income in this area is right around $50-$55k. So if they trusted God with 10% of that and invested it in the things God is invited them to join in, that’s $5000 a year. Even if that number never changed, but it was invested into God things, invested into your local church, invested into Jesus opportunities over the course of a 40 year working career…that would add up to $200k!
Even if your income is HALF of that, it still means that you’re able to invest $100k into the mission of God and see how HE is able to multiply the impact of that to transform the hearts and lives of the people who are served by the family of God.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an incredible impact from one person when they commit to trusting God with their finances and learning how to join him in setting giving goals.
But even more than one person, what about our whole church? Because this life of following Jesus is NOT one that we do alone. We are in it TOGETHER, called together to learn how to become apprentices of Jesus together, and God works through our whole church working together and serving together and giving together to accomplish so much!
And on the average Sunday, between in-person attendance and our online church family, whether you come to 8:30 or 10:30 or flip back and forth between the two, we have about 300 people here every week. That’s probably close to 120 households.
What if we just took that average income number and applied it across those households? We’d get $600k a year of money invested into the kingdom. Over the course of the next 10 years, that’s $6m used for God’s mission of transforming the hearts and lives of every man, woman, and child in the Sauk Valley through Jesus Christ!
Talk about a big impact!
And I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of THAT! Not because I’m in love with money but because I love JESUS and I get excited about how our church gets to invest in the work Jesus is doing in our area!
And if you want to catch a vision like that, Jesus actually gave us a process for that in our passage today, let’s look at it again.
[SLIDES] Matt 6:21
Notice how Jesus doesn’t say where your HEART is, there your treasure follows. Jesus knew how powerful money can be over our hearts, so he lays it out plainly that when we put our treasure somewhere, when we direct our spending somewhere, when we intentionally set long-term goals that aim at something…our hearts follow that.
Start spending more on clothes, you’ll probably start noticing the clothes other people have. Once you’re in the market for a new car, don’t you realize how you start seeing that car everywhere and it makes your heart pull?
If you’re still not sure about this principle, take your family, who you love dearly, out for a really nice meal at an expensive restaurant. And when your kids don’t eat the food or they complain, you tell me whether you get mad because “don’t they KNOW how expensive this is?!”
You tell me where your heart focuses in that moment.
So if you want to catch a vision for the work that God is doing here in our church, or if you want to get passionate about the local partners that we get to work with to bless the Sauk Valley, or if you want to get excited for how God is at work around the world through the ministry of our global missions partners…then start to invest here.
If you want to get excited for what God is doing in the Sauk Valley, ask him where he’s inviting you to give generously. Maybe it’s here in the church or maybe it’s not! Maybe he’s inviting you to support a different cause!
Remember, giving generously is one of the spiritual habits that we practice as a follower of Jesus so that we can let him transform our HEARTS, to actually move our heart to care about the things that Jesus cares about.
And it’s not so much about the percentage or the amount, it’s about the process of inviting God into the conversation about what we’re aiming our finances at. Each person can give whatever God prompts them to give, and it’s a joyful thing that we GET to do because we know that everything we have is a gift from God.
He’s the excellent provider who has blessed us abundantly, and who holds us safely in stressful seasons, and who invites us into the body of Christ, into his family, so that we are not alone.
He’s the one who has given us what we need to provide for our needs and to be able to join him in the work of blessing others. We GET to be a part of what Jesus is doing in our community through the time we commit as well as through the resources he’s inviting us to invest.
And this is all possible because of the love and grace that is offered to us in Jesus Christ, who humbly gave everything for us so that we could have life…life to the full. So praise be to our God and father, maker of all things, giver of all gifts, and praise be to the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore. Amen!