Vice & Virtue
Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth, friends in Houston, El Paso, Tulsa, Cedar Springs, wherever you are tuning in. We are continuing this series Vice & Virtue. I'm going to start with a story that'll give us some direction for where we're going. A few years ago, at something we call staff prayer… Once a week on Tuesdays, our staff at Watermark, a couple hundred of us, get together. It's usually almost exclusively staff, and every once in a while someone who has a relationship with a member on staff will get invited to be part of it.
There was a guy who was a missionary in Russia who had been there for the last eight years who was formerly in Dallas. He had some connections and relationships with people on our staff, and he was back visiting, so he came and joined us for staff prayer. So we're sitting around in a circle, and he's sharing about what God is up to in Russia, and then there was a chance for a conversation that took place with him.
One person asked him, "Hey, you haven't been here in Dallas in eight years. What has changed?" I'll never forget his answer. He immediately had an answer. He said, "Oh, all the storage facilities." Our response was a lot like your response. "All the storage facilities? What are you talking about?" "Yeah, all the storage facilities. They're everywhere, these little facilities where you store your stuff. They're popping up. They're exploding."
Almost as a staff, everyone who was there that day… We'll laugh about it now, because we all had the same experience. "What are you talking about?" Then we left, and we would go drive around, and then it was like, "There are storage units everywhere around here." You drive up 75, 635… I'm certain it's the same in Fort Worth and Houston. They really are. As he said, Americans have so much stuff they are running out of places to even put it in their houses.
Most people are concerned about, "Will we even be able to have a house?" We are concerned about where we're going to have a house to put our stuff in. It's not just something where I'm inviting you to, hey, now you'll drive around and see it (though now you will). As I looked into that idea this week and was studying this week, it's crazy how many storage unit facilities we have in America. If there was a gold medal sport called hoarding, America is going to win first, second, and third every time.
Here's what I mean by that. There are 58,000 storage unit facilities in America. Not storage units, not like, oh, one little box counts as one…facilities or different locations for these places. That is more than the number of McDonald's, Starbucks, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and 7-Eleven combined. In other words, it's like, "There's a Starbucks on every corner." There are 10 times as many storage unit facilities as there are Starbucks.
If you combine all of those, Walmart, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, CVS, Starbucks, McDonald's… Those golden arches you see everywhere? They pale in comparison to the number… There are almost four times as many storage unit facilities. It's crazy. In all of Europe, if you were to guess how many storage unit facilities… You know, Europe is really big. It's bigger than America. How many do they have over there? America has 58,000. Europe has 2,400 total. It is an American phenomenon. We are the world-class "best in sport" at accumulating stuff, stuff, stuff.
The reason I start there is that we live in a culture where we're so inoculated to this idea it's almost hard for us to believe we are really pursuing more and more stuff. The Bible has a name for a group of people who pursue accumulating more money and more wealth: greedy. Tonight we're going to continue the series Vice & Virtue and look at what Jesus says about the topic of greed. Vice & Virtue is essentially where, each week, we've been taking a cultural vice (laziness, entitlement, pride) and covering it with a biblical virtue to replace it.
Here's how I think about greed. It's going to be almost impossible for me to convince any of us we struggle with greed, because you're like, "I'm not greedy. Greedy is like the top billionaires, the 1 percent out there, taking from everybody else. They have a basement full of coins they're just swimming in at night. Those are the greedy people. That's not me." What we're going to see is that Jesus says greed has nothing to do with how much you have and everything to do with your heart.
It's complicated by the fact that greed really is one of those things that is hard to see in the mirror because it hides behind other good things. Oftentimes, people who are greedy say things like, "I'm not greedy; I'm just cautious. I'm a saver." By greed I just mean the desire, the preoccupation with accumulating wealth or stuff. They'll say things like, "Dude, I'm not greedy. I was raised poor. I am never going back there. I'm going to make it in life. I'm going to get more money, and I'm going to set myself up and be successful."
Or it'll hide behind anxiety or it'll hide behind, "I'm not greedy; I just appreciate the finer things in life." It is almost impossible to see in the mirror, but the effects it has are much easier to see. People will sacrifice their family on the altar of greed. They'll sacrifice their marriage. It just looks like working a job and pursuing climbing the corporate ladder. They'll sacrifice relationships with their children. They sacrifice their health. People commit suicide over greed.
It is clear it is causing a wave of destruction, and if any people on the planet and maybe in history are in danger of what Jesus says is an epidemic of the heart that will turn you away from God, it has to be the richest people in the history of the world, which is you and me as Americans. So tonight we're going to explore what Jesus says about the source of greed and what greed is going to lead to, one of the side effects Jesus points to, and where the solution for greed is. We're going to be in Luke, chapter 12. We'll start in verse 13.
Let me say one last preface before we dive in. Money in church is weird. Can we all agree? It just is. If you're here and maybe you invited a friend for the first time, you're like, "Oh my gosh. Really? I chose the money night? My friend finally came with me, and you guys are going to talk about money?" Because people associate, like, "Oh, the church… For whatever reason, God always needs my money."
We don't ever pass a plate here. We never have. We don't want your money. What's challenging as a preacher, a pastor, is if I talked about money as much as Jesus talked about money, no one would come. Jesus talked about money (you may not know this) more than heaven and hell combined. Think about that. It was in his top list. He talked about money four times as much as he talked about prayer.
Prayer is a big deal. Prayer is important. Jesus was like, "Yeah, let's hit money again," because he knew there's something about it where, unlike anything else, it fights for your heart and my heart, and it can build this, like, "Man, I find security and identity in money." He hits it head on over and over again. So we're going to hear from him on one of the dangers of it, and we'll start in verse 13.
What's going on in Luke 12 is there's this big crowd that's gathered around Jesus. If you look in verse 1 of chapter 12, a few verses before it, it essentially says thousands of people are gathering around, and one of them asks a question of Jesus, and it leads to our teaching tonight. So here we go. Verse 13: "Someone in the crowd said to him [Jesus] , 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.'"
In this culture, brothers would split the inheritance. It exclusively went to the brothers because it was assumed a sister, a daughter, would marry into another family and receive the inheritance of that brother or son. So the sons were to divide the inheritance. Apparently, someone's dad had died, and the older brother was not dividing it fairly, according to his younger brother.
Jesus says, "'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?' Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed…'" He says emphatically, "Hey, you need to be on guard." It's almost like, "Be careful. Everyone be on alert and watch out for greed." Why would you have to have such alert? Because Jesus knew greed is one of those things that is so subtle. It's not like other sins. It's difficult to see.
It's not like adultery where you're not like, "Am I committing adultery? I'm not sure." It's difficult to see. I've never had this conversation, where somebody comes down front afterward… It happens every week. Someone will come down front and want to talk about something going on that they're walking through in their life or a struggle they're having. Often they'll be like, "Hey, can I just pull you aside? Can we talk for a second?"
Never once has anyone ever pulled me aside and been like, "Hey, is this okay to talk? I feel like I'm struggling with greed." It never happens. People will pull me aside and say, "Hey, I'm struggling with porn. I'm struggling with pot. I'm struggling with [insert whatever]." It's almost a sin we don't even know how to feel guilty about or how to identify. Jesus is about to tell us. The second thing he points to, if you notice… He says, "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed…" There's more than one type of greed, Jesus? He's going to tell us what that is.
"'…life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.' And he told them this parable: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, "What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops." Then he said, "This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'"'"
If the story ended right there, if we hit "pause," if you're sitting out in the audience… Basically, Jesus says, "Hey, let me tell you a story. We're going to talk about greed. There's a rich man. A rich man had a harvest, and it was incredible, this very plentiful harvest. So much so the guy was like, 'Dude, I can retire early. I just made it. I have more than enough to live for the rest of my life, so you know what I'll do? I need to find a place to put it, so I'm going to tear down my barns, build bigger ones, kick my feet up, and take it easy for the rest of my life. I have arrived. God just blessed me with this incredible crop and harvest.'"
If the story ended there, what do you think his audience is thinking at this point? What would you think if you were sitting in an audience and someone was like, "Hey, let me tell you about a rich man. He's a billionaire, and all of a sudden his stocks all explode and God blesses his life and he has millions and millions. He never has to work ever again." They're thinking what you're thinking. "Gotta be nice. I would love to be that guy. That's someone to look up to. Maybe he's a role model. Is this a parable on retirement?"
Jesus takes the story in a very different direction. Here's what he says next. "But God said to him…" He's making this story up. "'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." This is the only time in the Bible God calls someone a fool. Jesus says the person who has essentially lived the American dream has lived a nightmare according to God.
If you spend your entire life like this man, pursuing only what is in this life or pursuing being rich only toward yourself and not toward God… Jesus would elaborate later on there are essentially two ways to be rich toward God: give toward the furthering of God's mission, which is the ministry of Christ giving out to the world, or giving to the poor. He says if you're not rich in that way and you spend your whole life just accumulating stuff for yourself, you are a fool. He gives us the first indication or the first look at what greed is and the source of greed.
1._ The source of greed is the consumption assumption. Here's what the _consumption assumption is: the idea that assumes "Everything I earn is mine to consume." The consumption assumption idea assumes "Everything I earn is mine to consume." A person who's greedy, Jesus would say, is someone who looks at everything they made last week, everything they made last month, everything they have in general, and is like, "I work hard. I hate my job. I sit there all day and punch in numbers. I earned it, and I can spend this however I want to."
He says that man is a fool and is greedy. Greed, Jesus would say, has nothing to do with how much you have. There's a myth that only rich people are greedy. Jesus would say, no, there are rich people who are very not greedy and there are poor people who are greedy. You can make $25,000 and be greedy and make $1 million dollars and not be, and the inverse is true. Greed has nothing to do with how much you have; it has everything to do with what you do with what you have.
Jesus would say if you're in this room, if you're listening and you have bought the assumption consumption…you assume everything you have has been given to you for you to consume…he says you are greedy. You have bought the lie, and you have greed in your heart. The idea that assumes "Everything I have, everything I've earned, is mine. God has given it for me to consume…" He says you are a fool.
Jesus says if you live your life this way, where you only pursue things in this life, at the end of your life you will be like this man. "This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." What is the this? The this is that at the end of your life, if you live this way, you will experience what he experienced: total loss. You lose everything. If at the end of this life all you've ever spent your life devoting to is accumulating and accumulating stuff, you lose everything. It's kind of like, "Yeah, duh."
At the end of this life, if all you have to show is what you did in this life…you never are rich toward God, you never give toward others…you have experienced total loss. When Steve Jobs died, he left the exact same amount as everyone else who died anytime around him, everyone else who died that same day, everyone else who died around him, which is everything. Jesus says if you spend this life pursuing getting stuff in this life, you are a fool, if you do that exclusively.
Here's why I think this is so crucial. In America, there's this cultural message that goes out that can almost convince us the goal of life or what it looks like to win is like playing the game of Monopoly. There are multiple types of games, and certain games are all about, "How much can you acquire?" The game of Monopoly, the game of Risk… At the end of the game, the biggest winner is the one who has accumulated and acquired the most stuff.
Then there are other types of games, where the goal or objective of the game is not to acquire the most stuff and go around twice and pass "Go"; the objective of the game is to get rid of whatever cards or tokens you have, and whoever has given away the most at the end of the game is the one who wins and whoever is holding on to the most is the one who loses. We all know these games: UNO, Speed, BS, Go Fish.
If you're playing UNO, you want to get rid of your cards. You're not like, "Oh, I'm taking these and I'm taking these and I'm taking…" If you do that, you're losing. You don't understand the game. The objective is "Hey, I want to get rid of the cards I have." Jesus says the Christian life is a whole lot more like UNO than it is Monopoly, and if you and I spend our lives just chasing accumulating stuff… The goal is to get rid of it. If you are holding things at the end of this life, it's just wasted potential, he would say. He looked at this man and said, "You're a fool."
Then he goes from the source of greed, which has bought the lie that "Everything God has given me is mine…" In the last month, when you look at the way you've used everything God has given you, your income… Whatever your story is, whatever he has put in your hands, have you used it exclusively for yourself or have you been rich toward God? If you haven't, he would say there's a good chance you're greedy. It's hard to see, but that's what it looks like. Then he goes to what greediness leads to in the next passage.
"Then Jesus said to his disciples…" He turns from the crowd where he's telling this story and just looks at his 12 boys. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."
It almost seems like, "Man, did Jesus just change the subject on us?" It's clear that he doesn't if you read back through the text. He goes from greed and the idea of "Here's what greediness looks like. Here's the source. It's the consumption assumption, 'Whatever I have is mine to consume,'" and he says, "Therefore, do not worry about your life." He immediately draws a connection between the idea of greed and worry, which, honestly, makes sense when you think about it, because there is a connection between greed and worry.
Greed is the idea that "I may not have enough." Worry, especially financial worry, is the idea that "I'm worried I will not have enough." Jesus says, "I just want to invite you to a place where you could experience, in seeking my kingdom first, freedom from financial worry. I want you to know there is a relationship between the greed you have and worry, and I want to invite you to a place where you can experience freedom from financial worry."
Here's what I know about you, because I know it about me and because study after study shows it. One of the top things people in general are worried about is money. Money and future spouse would probably be the two things all of us inside of this room are worried about, or those of us who aren't married are worried about. Jesus says, "I just want you to know, when it comes to the topic of greed, there's a freedom from greed and a freedom from worry you can experience if you will learn to prioritize my kingdom first, my kingdom above your kingdom."
He looked out into an audience that, unlike the worries we have, was not worried about their wants, which really, as Americans, that's kind of what we worry about. "Will I get to upgrade my phone? Can I get a better car? Where am I going to live someday?" We don't worry about, "I don't know if I'm going to get a meal later today. I don't know if there's going to be water for me. I don't know where I'm going to sleep tonight."
That may be the case for very few of us inside of the room, but by and large, most of us aren't like, "Gosh! I'm just storing up those Arca bottles because I'm worried I'm never going to have a drink again." Most of us worry about the wants we have. He looks into an audience that's worried about "Jesus, our clothes are wearing out," and he says, "There is a place God wants to bring you to, where in seeking his kingdom first you will experience freedom from worry."
2._ The side effect of greed is anxiety_. The second point Jesus leads us to in his teaching is that there's a side effect that comes from greed, and it is anxiety. Here's how, generally speaking, anxiety plays out for most of us inside of our lives. For those of us who are financially anxious, because it is related to our wants… I think there are legitimately people who are financially anxious inside of the room.
Here's the road we experience anxiety on. You make a certain amount of money. You make $40,000, you make $50,000, you make $80,000, or whatever it is, and regardless of how much you make, the line you draw for your spending is right up to and sometimes even right above whatever salary you make. It goes without saying. The average American does this. If I make $50,000, I end up spending almost exactly up to $50,000. So of course I have anxiety, because it's an anxiety-filled place to live at the limit of my money.
Jesus says if you allow greed or excessive consumption… Again, I think there's resistance, being like, "Dude, I'm not greedy." If you are someone who is spending every single dollar that's coming into your hands, you are someone who, Jesus would say, is being driven by excessive consumption, and of course you're going to experience anxiety. "If you will learn to seek my kingdom first, you will have less anxiety."
Let's just talk real. Inside of the room right now, the emotional response to this is "Dude, are you kidding me? We're talking about money right now, and you're telling me I need to put God first and be rich toward God and give toward his kingdom and seek his kingdom first, and I am barely making it. That sounds great for you up there, preacher boy, but pretty much all this is going in this ear and out this ear.
Really? God wants my money again? This place feels pretty nice, and I'm barely making it. I have a car lease. I have an apartment I have to pay for. I have bills I have to pay. I'm drowning over here, and you're telling me that in the midst of everything I have on my expenditures, I'm supposed to somehow be prioritizing God first and making sure when it comes to my money I'm spending toward his kingdom above and beyond.
That sounds amazing, but there's only one problem: I can't afford it. So if you will just talk to God… Maybe, God, you can just hear me now. If you'll give me more money, I would love to be generous toward you and your kingdom. I would love to give you money and seek your kingdom first and prioritize above mine, but right now I just can't do it, because I don't have enough money."
Jesus would say the problem (you're not going to believe me) is not a lack of money. It's not that you need more money; it's that you have to put his kingdom first. The truth and reality is study after study shows if you were to get more money… You're like, "Hey, I make 50 grand. If I made 70 grand, I would love to be generous toward God and put his kingdom first." Study after study shows that whenever someone goes from 50 to 70, their lifestyle just moves up with it.
It's almost like this. Here would be the illustration that may help bring some clarity to it. Let's say this is our income. Whatever your income is, if it's $20,000, $50,000… Let's say it's $30,000. Generally speaking, when it comes to what we're using our income toward… Over here it's things for ourselves. This would be your rent. This would be your cell phone.
This would be a combination of needs and, let's just be honest, wants. This is like, "I have a car. I have insurance to pay for. I got in a wreck last week, and I just have all of these different things that are mounting up and I'm trying to pay for. This is my Netflix subscription. This is [insert any of those things that don't fill in giving toward God and his kingdom]."
When it comes to our income, the reality is most of us feel like, "Dude, I'm doing everything I can, and it's overflowing right now. I'm not just drowning in trying to make ends meet with the income I have; I have $3,000 in credit card debt. I don't have enough, and you're coming over here…" If this represents God. "…and you're like, 'Dude, you should really try to jam those in there a little bit more.' It's just not going to happen."
What Jesus is saying is "If you will learn to prioritize my kingdom first…" What do I mean by that? Do I just mean if you will tithe and have an automatic withdrawal, all of your money problems are going to go away? No. "If you will learn how to prioritize my kingdom first, it's going to shape every other part of the income you use." Whenever your life posture is "Hey, God, at the end of the day, my life is here to seek your kingdom first, not my kingdom. My life, my money, everything is for your kingdom…"
Jesus says when you begin to live that way, begin to think that way, begin to use your money that way, something begins to change, and it will then become a filter that the posture of your life and your heart… Again, I'm not saying tithe, and I'm not saying, "If you give, all of your money problems are going to go away." What I'm saying is Jesus is saying, "If you begin to seek my kingdom first you will have less anxiety, because you will not spend all the way up to the limit."
Again, I'm not saying if you tithe you won't spend all the way to the limit. There are plenty of people who tithe who are terrible with money and max out their credit cards every single month. People who begin to say, "God, everything I have is yours, so I'm seeing through the filter of your kingdom come. I'm seeking your kingdom with my life, so every decision as it relates to what purse I'm going to buy, what car I'm going to drive, where I'm going to live… Everything is going to be touched and impacted by the fact that above everything else I'm here to seek your kingdom."
That may look like you giving $1 or $1 million dollars. I don't know what that's going to look like, but if you can come to a place where you truly do that, you'll have less anxiety, you'll have less worry, you'll have more money and more margin, and you will experience freedom from greed. Or you can live like everyone else does, and you will max yourself out. You live in a culture that is trying to get you to max out.
Think about the credit card industry, where they're like, "Hey, let's reach into June and get it on loan, and you can use the money you're good for, and you'll be in golden handcuffs until you pay it off." Jesus is saying, "I want you to be at a place where you put my kingdom first." You put the rocks of being rich toward God in, and everything else will be impacted in your life and in mine. If not, you will experience the side effect of greed, that excessive desire for more, which is anxiety.
Then he goes into the clearest solution as it relates to greed in verse 32. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." He says, "Seek first my kingdom, and as you do so, don't be afraid." Here's what that looks like. "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses [money] for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Jesus says greed ultimately can be resolved and is resolved. There is a solution for it. Whenever you begin to generously give toward God's kingdom, something happens in your heart. Your heart begins to shift. He said, "Wherever your treasure is, your heart is going to be there also." We live in a culture that says, "Put your money where your mouth is." Jesus says you will put your money where your heart is, and your heart will shift. Greed begins to be remedied and a solution is given for greed whenever you begin to give and be rich toward God.
3._ The solution to greed is storing in eternity_. Jesus said, "I'm telling you, the God who is there in heaven wants to give to anyone who will trust him, anyone who's willing to invest in his kingdom. He wants to generously give it to you, little flock, so invest, sell your stuff, give it to the poor, give toward God's kingdom, and store up for yourselves treasure that will never fade, that will never wear out. It's the safest place you can use and invest any money you have," he says to his crowd and he would say to you and me.
Essentially, Jesus is giving insider trader information. In this life, you go to jail for it. Jesus is saying in the next, it's A-OK. "I'm telling you, you want to go all in with your money." Here's why I think most of us don't radically give or have a posture of "Dude, whatever I have, even if I don't have very much right now… I made $1,000 this month, but I want to make sure I'm investing something in eternity."
At the end of the day, the reason we don't is not because we don't have enough money. That's kind of like the felt need or the smoke screen we hide behind. The reason we don't is faith. That's the reason I don't. If I really believed, "Jesus, any dollar I give, anything I sacrifice for your kingdom, there's going to be an eternal reward that awaits me forever and ever…" If that really gripped me and I was without any doubt convinced of it, how would that change the way I spend? I'm a pastor.
Jesus says the more you begin to believe that, the more it's going to change and shape, because if you will come to really grasp that, you will understand it is the safest place you can put your money. Here's why I know it's a moment of faith. Let me use a dumb illustration. Anyone know what Bitcoin is? Apparently, I'm the only one, so let me educate everybody. Bitcoin apparently is this cryptocurrency that sounds like it's out of Star Wars.
I don't even fully grasp it, and I won't attempt to, because somebody is going to come up after and be like, "Actually, sir, there's actually a statistical analysis…" Bitcoin is somehow this cryptocurrency. People think this could be a currency of the future. It's a one-world currency. (I don't personally own any Bitcoin. This is not a sponsorship ploy.) It is this money or sense of currency that some people think, "Oh man, this is the future. You should invest in this. It's going to explode. It's the future of money."
If you or I really believed… If someone came from the future and was like, "Hey, I'm from the future. I'm the future you. I need to talk to you about Bitcoin. In a very short amount of time, all American money will be worthless. Literally, it will just be what it is: little green pieces of paper with dead presidents on them. No one will use it for anything. Bitcoin is the future. You want to go all in right now on Bitcoin. I'm telling you, I'm promising you…"
If you really were like, "Man, this guy is wearing a shiny suit. He's from the future, I guess. I really think this is going to happen. Bitcoin is going to be the future…" If you were convinced of it, what would you do? You would go on with Bitcoin. If you were convinced that, "All of the money in my bank account is going to be like Monopoly money. I should trade that stuff that is losing its value and not going to be worth anything and go all in on what I know, because I have future information, is going to be worth exponentially more," of course you would. You'd be crazy if not.
Jesus is saying if that is what's going to happen… Right now you need to eat. You need to live indoors. You need to have all of those different needs met, but there's going to come a day, much sooner than you and I think, where everything that is passed through your hands will either be something you stewarded for an eternal reward or something you're just left holding in the end and lose. And me too.
This is not, "We're going to pass a plate at the end because we need your money." God doesn't need your money. We don't need your money, and not because we're like, "Dude, we have a vault back there. It's huge. It's unbelievable."
Not because of that but because I want to make sure, inside of this room, nobody hides behind the smoke screen of thinking, "Oh my gosh, the church just wants my money again," and uses that to talk themselves out of the best financial advice you could receive, which is from Jesus, saying, "Invest in my kingdom. Every other kingdom you invest in is fading away. It will not last." The solution for greed is investing, storing up, in eternity.
Here's what I'm going to press. If you are a member of a church… Not this church…any church. If you are a member, if you're all in… I'm not talking to non-believers. I'm not talking to people who are still trying to figure out the faith thing or just starting to take steps in that direction. If you are a member of a church, you should be giving regularly somewhere to Christ's kingdom. Whatever home church you're at… I'm not telling you to give it here. If you go to another church, you should give to that church.
If you're a follower of Christ and are all in with Jesus, you should be connected to a local body and you should be contributing there or contributing to Christ's mission in some sense. If you're like, "Can I give to a missionary?" Sure. Give to a missionary. Give to anything that's going to spread the mission of Christ or, Jesus says, you can give directly to the poor.
You and I should be regularly contributing and giving toward God's kingdom. What do I mean by regularly giving toward God's kingdom? With regularity you should be giving toward God's kingdom. That means every two weeks, every week, whatever that looks like. Maybe it's annually. Maybe it's quarterly. I don't know how that would work for you, but I know that…
As I was preparing this week, I felt a check, because I don't think I've waved this banner hard enough for young adults here. I felt like I was not putting in front of them the best investment advice they could ever have because I was like, "Man, they just don't have much money. I don't want to create insecurity and create people being like, 'Oh, this church wants my money.'"
I needed to repent, because it's not loving to anyone who claims the name of Jesus not to say, "Look, there's an eternal reward. Anything you give in this life, anything you sacrifice will be something that forever and ever and ever, Christ is saying, you'll be repaid a hundredfold." That's crazy. For me to hide behind, "Gosh, I don't want to give people the wrong impression" is stupid and wrong on my part. You do with that whatever you want to.
Jesus says, "Invest in my kingdom. It's the only place that's safe. Bitcoin is not. The American dollar is not. Apple's stock, Bezos' stock… None of it is going to last. The only kingdom that will last is mine." So if you are a believer, I want to not challenge or encourage or guilt you. I want to give you the best advice you're going to get. You should be investing in the only kingdom that lasts, regularly. If you have a home church, I would incredibly encourage you…you should be investing in your home church. Jesus says you will never regret it.
"How much should I be investing?" I think the answer, based on what I read… You tell me what you read. How much do you want to have in heaven? At the end of the day, is it dollar for dollar? I don't think so, because Jesus says with the widow's mite, "Hey, this woman who gave her one coin…" She only had one. "…gave more than everybody else." You're in here like, "I only have one coin." Jesus is like, "Dude, you should go all in," because you get 80 times more than any of the rest of us.
"Should I give if I'm in debt, if I have student loans?" I don't know. You should have a Community Group around you that helps walk you through that. "Where should I give?" Toward Christ's kingdom, either a ministry or a church or directly toward the poor. Jesus said it's ultimately an issue, if you're unwilling to give, if your hands are gripped around it…
I know a lot of you guys are going to leave here tonight and you're not going to do anything with what I'm saying, and you're going to miss out. You're going to continue investing and building your own kingdom, and Jesus says the problem, ultimately, is a matter of the heart. The good news is the more you give, the more greed's grip gets released. It's just something that happens, because where your treasure is, your heart will follow.
The source of greed is the idea of assuming that "Everything I have is mine to consume." What greed is going to lead to in your life (and the reason many of you are experiencing it right now) is anxiety, and the solution for greed, the freedom from the grip of greed comes from giving, from storing up in eternity, Jesus would say.
When I was younger, I had cousins who had a condo in Seaside in Destin, Florida. I remember staying at the condo when I was like 7 years old. You wake up, and there are all kinds of different fun things about the condo I won't go into, but one thing you do… I had three siblings. Of course, if you are on a beach and you're not ever really at the beach, you run down, if you're a little kid, and you begin to build sandcastles.
You take whatever kinds of tools and resources…this cup and this bucket and knives and this plate, anything that was at the house…and begin to build whatever sort of ultimate sandcastle you can. You're building a moat around it, and your imagination is going wild. There are fireproof alligators in the moat. You're putting water in, and you're looking at your siblings and kicking over their tower. You're just building it. You spend the entire day building this incredible, elaborate sandcastle, this incredible thing, this home.
Then what happens is you go to sleep, and because to make a sandcastle it has to be somewhat close to the water in order to get the right consistency and keep things compact, you go outside and it's gone, because the tide comes in and sweeps it away. You do it again, and it doesn't last. What Jesus says is if all you're spending your life on is this life, you are building a sandcastle, and it's going to be here today and gone tomorrow.
Just as crazy as it would be for someone to go out and be like, "This is where I'm going to sleep; I'm making this sandcastle and putting all of this energy into it…" Jesus would say, "You're a fool. You're a sandcastle king or queen, but you are wasting your life. But if you will seek the only kingdom…" It's not your kingdom. It's not my kingdom. At the end of the day, that's a fact.
As dumb as that illustration may be, you'll be a sandcastle king or you'll live for his kingdom. That's the truth. Jesus says, "Will you invest in my kingdom? It's the only one that will last. With your money, with your time, will you put me first and prioritize me or are you going to be a sandcastle king or queen?" Let me pray.
Father, I need your help as much as anyone in this room. I live in one of the most materialistic cities in our world, and every single day I feel the tension and the lie and just the message fighting for my heart that I don't have enough, I need more, I need more stuff, I need more money, like that would fix my problems.
Would you help me, God, to not waste my life building sandcastles, building my own kingdom, consumed about where my kids are going to go to school, what house I'm going to live in, what kind of car I'm going to drive, how much I'm going to have in my 401(k), how much I'm making? I sit before a room of young adults, many of whom, honestly, are wasting their lives and running after any kingdom but yours or they're running after their own, let's be honest.
The same thing is fighting for my heart, Lord. Would you help that to not be the case today? But even if it isn't today, I'll run after my kingdom tomorrow. So, God, we need your help. Would you please help us to see with an eternal perspective and store treasures in heaven and be radically generous, Lord, and trust that, as you say, anything given for your kingdom will have eternal reward and anything held on to will be eternal regret.
Father, I thank you for dying in our place, for giving your life, for being the God who is rich, who for our sake became poor. You are worthy of every dollar we make, everything we do, every breath we breathe, every song we sing, and we worship you now in song, amen.