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Perspectives on Money and Heaven

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

Billy Graham—one of the most famous men in the U.S., and a highly respected Christian man, is now 99 years old. He’ll be 100 next November. He’s a godly man who has been walking with Jesus for more than 70 years.
He said this: “If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.”
I appreciate that insight. And I agree. There is something about money—particularly our attitude towards it—that affects the rest of our lives.
Money in itself is not inherently good or evil. Money is neutral morally. I can do something good with it or something evil with it. But the dollar bill itself is neutral.
Money is necessary. We have to have money. Or at least something material in order to barter for other things we need or want.
Food, for example. If you don’t grow all your own food for survival, you need something else—cash or goods—to trade for the food.

But a crucial question becomes, “What should my attitude towards money and possessions be?” What is a godly, heavenly perspective on money? How does God himself want us to think about it.

Once every year or so, we have a short series on Money. It’s not because we’re worried about money as a church or as pastors.
It’s not because the church wants all your money. It’s because money and possessions are such a central part of our lives. And money and possessions have a connection to our hearts and our relationship with God.

In our passage today, and two other major passages on the next two Sundays, we will explore heavenly perspectives on money. Today, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has some lessons for us. We won’t hear these things in a college class on Economics. But Jesus is smarter and wiser than any PhD on money. And just as important, he is in charge. He’s the Boss. He is Lord. We need to know what he says. And we need to respond to him.

Owner and Steward

A verse that has been on my mind recently is from Colossian.

Colossians 1:16 ESV “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

Everything has been created by Jesus. And for Jesus. I have been made by him. I have been made for him. This verse has oriented my life. Many mornings this past month or so as I’ve been in prayer, this verse has been on my heart. My prayer has been something like this: “I have been made BY you, Jesus. I have been made FOR you. I belong to you. What would you have me do? What purposes do you have for me?”

If you have ever wondered what your purpose in life is, in the broadest sense, here it is. You have been made BY Jesus Christ. And FOR Jesus Christ. A life lived outside that purpose becomes meaningless. And grievous.

From this truth, it’s not difficult to see that everything about our lives, including our money, is under his lordship. My income is for his purposes. My savings account is for his purposes. My giving is for his purposes. My spending is for his purposes.

If my very being belongs to him, how can anything in my life NOT belong to him? So the word often used to describe this position is “Stewardship.” A Steward is a manager. He is not the Owner. But the Owner has entrusted some things to him, and he is responsible for it. He is to use it for the Owner’s purposes. This is the essence of the Christian life. He is our Lord. We are his servants.

Matthew 6:19-34

With all this in mind, let’s look at a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Vs. 19-21
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures…”
Jesus is not prohibiting having savings…. Being wise looking into the future and saving up reasonable amounts for expected needs. In Proverbs 6, Solomon gives us wisdom from an insect. AN ANT. The ant is diligent and stores up food for winter. There is wisdom in doing so.

So there’s not a problem necessarily with having savings. Jesus here is addressing coveting. Hoarding up treasure. Always wanting more. Never having enough. Being stingy with money to keep as much of it ourselves as we can for our purposes.

When I was young growing up in Sioux City, my grandparents had a neighbor, Fred, who had a reputation of being a cheap, stingy, miserly man. He wouldn’t let go of his treasure. He was an adult version of a two-year old clinging to his toy, saying, “MINE!”
Jesus is addressing us pursuing an earthly security from things that simply can wear out and be destroyed.
And Jesus is also addressing a perspective. Are we merely earthly minded? Or are we heavenly minded?

Do we believe that God will reward any of his children who live to honor the Lord, help people in need? Do we believe that living in such a way stores up treasures in heaven? I don’t expect it will be gold, but the Lord has some kind of reward for the person who thinks about the kingdom of God, not merely the things of this earth.

He is after our hearts. If our treasure is here, our hearts will not be given to God. If our treasure is in heaven, our hearts will be there. Jesus’ words here provide an orientation for our hearts. If our hearts are oriented in the right direction—i.e., towards God—then life gets oriented right. This is the essence of what Billy Graham was getting at.

The most obvious question to ask now is this: How do we know where our treasure is? What are indicators? This is an important question. Let’s tackle that in a few minutes.

Vs. 22-23
Now Jesus gives a metaphor.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,
23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

I find vs. 22-23 somewhat difficult to understand. But here is what may be what Jesus is getting at. He uses a metaphor of the human eye to teach a lesson on spiritual sight as it relates to money and possessions.

His point seems to be this: “Just as your eyesight affects your whole body, so this area of money affects your life.” We all understand that if we go blind, our whole lives will change dramatically. So as the eye is central to your physical well-being, so your “eye” on money is central to your spiritual well-being. If we are “blind” and in darkness about money and eternity, our spiritual lives and our relationship with God will be in darkness. If the eyes of our hearts are flooded with the light of Jesus, then our spiritual lives will be flooded with his light.

This is profound. Our perspectives and handling of money is central to our spiritual well-being. Again, proper perspectives are not necessarily learned in a college class on Economics. They are built upon the Words of God.

Vs. 24
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.

This should make us all pause. We might not think about life this clearly. We might not often consider, “Who is my Master?” At least in our Western, American culture, we think about life in independent terms. We think of ourselves as our Master. We control our own destiny. We rule over our lives. Jesus has a very different perspective. He says we have two possible Masters: Either God or money.
This is remarkable. If we reject the lordship of Jesus, we gain a new, cruel master called Money. Money will become your Master, and you its servant. These are very, very strong words by Jesus. If you love money, you hate God. If you love God, you hate money.
I would compare this to marriage: God calls me to be a one-woman man. I cannot have two lovers. It simply doesn’t work. We know this. So it is here in Matthew 6, Jesus is calling us to be a one-god man, loving only the Lord, not attempting to love Him and money.
Martin Luther said it so simply:
“What a man loves, that is his God.”
What Jesus has said so far ought to startle us. He calls us to a perspective that is not normal. It is a heavenly perspective. An eternal perspective. It is God’s perspective. Anything short of this is, as Jesus indicated in vs. 21-22, spiritual blindness that is going to alter the course of our lives.

So we ought to ask an obvious question right now: How do I know whether I love God or money? How do I know if my treasure is in heaven or on earth? How do I recognize spiritual blindness?

Here are some of the questions I ask myself:
• Do I realize how fleeting earthly treasures are?
The things of this world are fleeting. They wear out. They disappear. Our trusted investments can crash unexpectedly.
Our security is not in this world.

• Am I like the foolish, covetous, rich man in Luke 12 who thought he could accumulate so much that he didn’t need God?
The man had no thought of God. He simply wanted to accumulate. To take life easy. To eat, drink, and be merry. He gave no thought to life beyond the grave. He was rich on earth but was not rich toward God.

• Am I looking to God every day for life and sustenance?
Over the years, when we’ve had less money than I was comfortable with, I noticed it made me more desperate for God. More dependent on him. A greater life of FAITH. When we’ve had more, I’ve been less dependent on him. That bothers me. For most of us, the more possessions and money we have, the more tempting it is to not hunger and thirst for God.

• Am I generous?
For me, generosity is one of the best ways I can keep my treasure in heaven and not on earth. Generosity pushes me to love others, not merely focus on myself.
Generosity is imitating God himself. For God was infinitely generous by giving his Son to rescue us from God’s wrath.
Now generosity must be given for the RIGHT reason. For love. And by faith.
Earlier in Matthew 6, Jesus warned the people not to give money to be noticed by others. To gain man’s praise. We are to give for God’s praise, not man’s.
Nor are we to give out of guilt and shame. Years ago I had a friend who was very generous. But later he confessed to me the reason he gave so much money away was because he had some secret sins, and he felt very guilty and shameful. So he gave to try to ease his guilty conscience. Instead, he should have repented of that sin, and rejoiced in the forgiveness that the Cross of Christ brings.

• Do I keep in mind that I am a steward and God is the owner?
I don’t write my name on many of my possessions. But one place I commonly do is in my books. And for years, I have often written not merely my name, but the phrase “IN CARE OF…Brad.” This book is in my care. I am the steward of it. And this is actually true of everything my wife and I own. Our vehicles. Our house. Our bank accounts. Our investments.

• Do I give God and people my best, or do I give them my leftovers?
Do I give to God and others first or last? King David of Israel wanted to buy a man’s property in order to offer sacrifices to God. The man offered it free to David, but David said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24)

• Am I content with what I have?
Or do I find myself regularly pining for more, grumbling about what I have and don’t have? After going to Central America and Africa about 8 or 9 times, I’ve learned better how little people all over the world have. I have vastly lowered my expectations for what I truly need and what I want. It’s not necessarily bad to purchase something we want, but we need to be honest with ourselves and God.

These are a few of the questions I ask myself.
Ultimately, the best way to know where our treasure is to let God’s Word shine upon our minds and hearts. His Word reveals our motives. And the Holy Spirit can encourage or strengthen or convict us, as we need it. Also, being with God’s people helps us. We see the hearts of generosity and love, and we’re inspired by that.

Now for the rest of the chapter, Jesus is going to address WORRY over money. Anxiety.

Vs. 25
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

What is the “therefore” there for? Jesus is referring back to what he just spoke on: That our treasure and our hearts are to be in heavenly things, not earthly. That we are to serve God as a one-god man (and one-god woman), not serving money as your lord. In light of this call to eternally-minded, God-loving, faith-filled living, Jesus says, “Do not be anxious.” Don’t be anxious about the most basic things in life: Food and clothing.

Concern is appropriate and unavoidable. But we need not fear. We need not be anxious. Freedom from fear and worry comes because our orientation is towards God, not self. Towards eternity, not earth.

Vs. 26-29
Here Jesus gives us lessons from creation in addressing our anxiety.

26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

The point is not that disciples need not work– birds do not simply wait for God to drop food into their beaks– but that they need not fret. Your heavenly Father…. This is significant. If you are a believer in Jesus, your God in heaven is your Father. This truth of God as our Father makes all the difference in the world.

Fathers…..earthly fathers….take care of their children. Most of them do. The give their children food and clothing. In a good, healthy home, most children never worry about such things. In fact, they’re usually oblivious to how Dad even provides. You have a Father in heaven. Perfect. Powerful. All-wise. Loving enough to give his own Son to meet your deepest needs.
The better I’ve understood God as my Father, the less anxiety and fear I’ve had in my life. These lessons began to go deeper in about 1995 and 1996. We were in the middle of a fundraiser to build this building. My wife and I were giving more money than we ever had. We had always tithed. But now we were giving much more than that. And our faith was being tested. Through it all, I began meditating more on God as my Father. And I remember studying the Gospel of John looking for this theme. Through those couple of years, my confidence in God grew because I saw him as a protecting, providing, caring Father.

God is not some powerful, distant, impersonal force somewhere in the cosmos. No, he is near to us. Attentive towards our needs. Providing. Caring. If my heavenly Father provides for silly little birds, how much more will he care for me? There is no need to be anxious.

27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Jesus offers an extremely sensible question: Does your worry over money and possessions add any value to your life? Does it give you more time? Think about that: How is our worry benefiting us at all? Ever?

28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Now we can learn from the flowers in the fields. God puts clothes on the fields. They are beautiful. The richest man in the world doesn’t look as good as this.

Now in vs. 30, Jesus points us to the antidote to worry: Faith.

Vs. 30
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

This is profound. Jesus again is making his point by looking at creation. Consider. If God carefully clothes the meadow with such beauty, surely you—made in his image—will be tenderly and lovingly cared for. Do you believe this? Or are you “of little faith”? It comes down to faith (vs. 30): will we believe or will we doubt God is a powerful Creator who cares as a Father over what he has made? Faith is the antidote to worry. We don’t merely muster up faith, like exerting ourselves lifting weight. Faith is trust, and trust is built upon character and deeds. Jesus is telling us to consider the Father’s character and deeds.

Vs. 31-32
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Jesus sums it all up: In light of God’s provision and care over the rest of his creation—birds and flowers and more—don’t be anxious about the necessities of life. Consider what God the Creator has done, believe that he is a caring, providing Father, and just stop being anxious. TRUST HIM. Your heavenly Father KNOWS. He knows. He knows your needs. He knows our hearts, needs, desires and dreams. If you are a follower of Jesus, your life ought to be qualitatively different than others who have no trust in God’s fatherly care and who have no goals higher than this world.

He is our Father, a tender, loving, gracious, all-powerful Father. So we can pray with confidence without feeling compelled to wear him out with many meaningless words. And we don’t need to anxiously run about, stressing over money and stuff. He knows. He cares.

Now Jesus tells us our first priority:
Vs. 33
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This verse is jarring. Jesus is after much more than simply NOT being anxious. He is after much more than simply managing money well. He is after much more than being generous. He is after much more than having a budget.

He is after our hearts.
Like he said in vs. 24: “Where our treasure is, there will be our hearts.”

Here in vs. 33, Jesus is calling us to:
• To seek the kingdom of God first, even over our pursuit of food and clothing.
• To make God KING of our lives, where we are his loyal subjects who submit to his glorious will.
• To be a vibrant part of bringing more people into his kingdom.
• To obey the King wholeheartedly.
• To store up treasures in heaven, awaiting the fullness of the King returning to earth soon.

And we are to seek his righteousness. What does that mean? He does not mean we gain righteous standing before God by our works. What he does mean that we should pursue the righteous life that the King calls us to. To obey him. To do his will.
We believe, and then we ACT on what we believe. We trust and obey. Seek the kingdom of God and the good of the King FIRST…..then there is absolutely no need to worry or fear. For your heavenly Father—who loves you so tenderly—will give you what you need.

Vs. 34
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Two things here:
1. Worry over tomorrow or next year is nonsensical. Today has enough trouble. Plus, our worries over tomorrow’s misfortunes may never happen.
2. God’s grace is given to us when we need it. Not too early, never too late.

We can’t store up a supply of grace for the future. Just like you cannot store up enough air to breathe for tomorrow. You need air every day. Not too much. Not too little. Just enough. Tomorrow you will need a fresh batch of air.

Jesus’ words here have saved my sanity in the past 5 or so years. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times, I have been tempted to worry about the future. Even this past week. Money. Health. Other challenges. Without following Jesus’ command here, I’m fairly sure I would have collapsed from anxiety and fear. One day at a time. Walking by faith. Depending on Jesus. And sometimes, on the most difficult days, it can be one HOUR at a time.


Here are three application points to consider:

Know our Father
If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have been adopted by God as his children. And he is now your heavenly Father.
Learn about him. Understand him better. Ask him to help your confidence in him to grow and grow and grow. Ask him to trust you more….that worry and fear would keep distant from your heart.

Examine our hearts.
Ask ourselves questions like I mentioned.
• Do I realize how fleeting earthly treasure are?
• Am I looking to God every day for life and sustenance?
• Am I generous? (and generous for the right reasons?)
• Do I keep in mind that I am a steward and God is the owner?

And here it’s crucial we examine our hearts in light of God’s Word. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Our hearts can be deceived, but his Word brings truth.
It’s also crucial we examine our hearts in prayer. Talk to your heavenly Father. Let God guide you out of the darkness and into the light.

Take action
As his Word shines on our hearts, we must respond. As a steward, you want to manage your money better. So what steps can you take? Perhaps you simply need to earn more. Perhaps you need a budget to give yourself a PLAN for God’s resources.

Perhaps there are needs you can meet in generosity. The needs of the poor and the hurting. The needs of lost souls who need Jesus. Participate with us in our Renew Campaign. Next Sunday you’ll hear more about it. We’re starting a new church in Rochester, Minnesota. We’re fixing up this building as a Training Center for disciples to send us into the next 10 and 20 years. Pray about this. What part in it would the Lord have for you?
Whatever the Lord has for you in this area of Stewardship, take action according to the Word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit.


To conclude, I go back to Billy Graham said, “If we get our attitude to money right, it will straighten out much of the rest of our lives.”
Jesus: “Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.”