Jesus teaches about money—and at the heart is God’s faithfulness.
October 21-22, 2017
Pastor Joe Wittwer
Jesus on Money
#2—Trust Your Father
Introduction and offering:
We’re talking about money; we should start with prayer. Here’s a good one: Dear Lord, my prayer for this year is for a fat bank account and a thin body. Please don’t mix these up like You did last year. Amen.
Anybody here ever worry about money? I do. If our offerings don’t meet budget for several weeks in a row, I can feel a little nervous in the service!
Anybody here ever afraid that you won’t have enough? You run out of money before you run out of month, and you feel your cheeks tighten when the bills come in.
Money stirs up all kinds of emotions in us, and worry and fear are two of the most common.
Speaking of emotions—does anybody here get nervous when you come to church and discover we’re talking about money? Why is that? Because when churches talk about money it’s usually because they want yours! Relax. I want something for you, not from you. I said last week that I’m far more concerned about getting Jesus in your heart than getting the church in your pocket! So relax—I’m not going to pound you for an offering.
But don’t get too relaxed! Because Jesus goes straight for the heart—He’s going to talk to us about our priorities, our values, our attachments and our treasure. He’s going to challenge our ideas of ownership, of what makes life rich and full. Jesus is going to mess with you!
Today is part two of our series, “Jesus on Money.” We are looking at what Jesus said about money in the gospel of Luke. Last week we read in Luke 12 where Jesus gave a warning about greed, and told a story about a rich fool who saved up for himself without thinking of anyone else, including God. He was rich financially, but was poor toward God, and died a rich fool. Today, we pick up where we left off in Luke 12.
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 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! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “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. 28 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! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
On your outline it says: “Here are three things Jesus teaches about money—and at the heart of all three is God’s faithfulness.” I hope when we’re done you’ll let go of your worry and fear and trust your Father.
- Don’t worry about money: trust your Father.
“Then Jesus said…” “Then” looks back to the previous story, where Jesus warned us about greed. He told us that life doesn’t consist in the abundance of our possessions. Life—real life, life to the full—is about far more than money and things. He told us a story about a rich man who was selfish and poor toward God.
But most of the people listening to Jesus would have been poor. Many of them weren’t living month to month or even week to week, but day to day. For them, money was more of a worry, a fear that they would have nothing for tomorrow.
And I’m guessing that lots of us are living paycheck to paycheck, just scraping by month to month. Money is tight; am I right? What does Jesus have to say to us?
First, and most important, don’t worry about money. Trust your Father.
Luke 12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
“Don’t worry,” Jesus says. Don’t worry about your life, about what you will eat or what you will wear. Don’t worry about food or clothes—the essentials. Don’t worry. That’s easy to say—but why shouldn’t I worry? Look down at verses 29-30.
29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
Why shouldn’t you worry? Because your Father knows that you need them. Your Father’s got this!
ILL: You might not know that Laina’s dad, Pastor Noel, was a pharmacist for many years. He owned a small drug store in Winston, Oregon. When Noel’s wife, Marty, was diagnosed with cancer, Noel sold that drug store, and moved his wife and six young kids to Eugene, to be closer to the hospital and Marty’s treatment. Noel bought another small drug store in Eugene. A couple years after moving, Marty passed away—she was 40—leaving Noel with six kids, ages 3-15. Not long after that, the drug store went under—it went the way of most neighborhood drug stores, driven out of business by the large chainstores—leaving Noel deeply in debt and without a job. Noel went to work for other pharmacies in the city, and chipped away at the debt. It was skinny living—powdered milk time (does anyone remember that?). I’ve asked Laina if the kids ever felt worried or afraid during that time. Nope. They knew that their dad was taking care of them. Dad’s got this.
Friends, is money tight? Are you not sure how you’re going to pay the next bill? Don’t worry. Your Father’s got this. You can trust Him.
To drive the point home, Jesus uses a couple examples from nature.
24 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!
Consider the ravens. Did you know that ravens were considered an unclean bird in the Old Testament? Jesus uses a bird that most people considered worthless, and says, “They don’t sow or reap; they have no barns, yet God feeds them.” God feeds these worthless birds!
ILL: Consider the Canadian geese. They are all over our local golf courses! And God obviously feeds them well, because there is goose poop everywhere!
God feeds the ravens, God feeds the geese—then here comes the punchline. “How much more valuable are you than birds!” How much more valuable are you? Way more valuable! Your Father loves you and is taking care of you—so don’t worry.
So first Jesus uses the example of worthless birds; then He uses the example of wildflowers.
27 “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. 28 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!
Consider how the wildflowers grow. (These pictures are from my recent backpack in Montana. I took dozens of pictures of these wildflowers and none do them justice. They were a riot of color!) How do they grow? They don’t labor or spin—they just show up! They are wild…like me! Wildflowers!
Jesus said that not even Solomon, who could afford the most expensive threads, all the latest styles—jeans with holes in them (my mother still won’t let me wear them)—not even Solomon was dressed like these wildflowers. And yet, they are here today, gone tomorrow. If that is how God clothes these flowers, how much more will he clothe you? Are you more valuable than the wildflowers? Way more valuable! Your Father loves you and is taking care of you—so don’t worry.
Trust your Father. Did you notice that last four words of verse 28? “You of little faith.” I don’t think Jesus is scolding them, but He’s pointing out the real issue. Do you trust your Father, or not? You see He’s feeding worthless birds and clothing here-today-gone-tomorrow flowers—can you trust Him to take care of you, His beloved son or daughter?
ILL: I’ve had a bird feeder on my deck, and I’ve fertilized my lawn. Feed the birds, feed the lawn. But I let my kids go hungry. That would be crazy! I’m not that kind of father. And neither is God. You are His deeply loved, fully forgiven, completely accepted child. Your Father has got this. Trust Him.
Jesus also explained the futility of worry.
25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Can you add an hour to your life by worrying? No—in fact, you’ll probably shorten your life by worrying. What does worry accomplish? Nothing. Actually, worse than nothing. Worry will make you sick. Worry is like a cancer that will eat away your physical and emotional health.
If you have your NIV Bible open, notice the footnote here: it reads, “Or single cubit to your height.” Some scholars think that may be the better translation. Instead of “add one hour to your life” it could be “add one cubit to your height.”
ILL: My dad was 6’4”. I was this size at the start of my freshman year in high school—well, I was this tall, and a little thinner. Everyone thought I would be 6’4’’ or 6’5’’—and I wanted to be. I ate extra protein thinking it might help me grow. I stretched thinking it might help. Nothing helped. Nothing I did added an inch to my height, let alone a cubit! A cubit is 18 inches! Can you imagine. If I could have added a cubit, I’d be 7’6” tall—and I’d probably still be in the NBA!
The point is whether it’s an hour to your life, or an inch to your height, worrying won’t get you there. Worry is wasted energy. Worrying about that bill won’t pay it. Worrying about money won’t get you any more. Don’t worry; trust your Father.
Look again at verses 29-30.
29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
Don’t set your heart on food and drink; don’t worry about them. Worry is a “set of the heart” that leads to frantic pursuit of what God has already promised us.
Your Father knows, and cares, and will provide. Trust Him.
Let’s take a moment to pray. What are you worried about? Can you give it to God. Tell Him, “Father, I know You’ve got this.”
First, don’t worry. Trust your Father. Second…
- Seek first His Kingdom: trust your Father.
Look at verse 31.
Luke 12:31 “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
The word “seek” is the same Greek word that in verse 29 is translated “set your heart on.” Rather than seeking or setting your heart on food and drink, money and stuff, set your heart on and seek God’s kingdom. In Matthew’s gospel, it says it this way:
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
That little word “first” is important. First is priority. I don’t think for a moment that Jesus wants us all to stop working and just sit around and do nothing and let God feed and clothe us. God wants you to work for your daily needs. Don’t quit your jobs! But God doesn’t want your pursuit of food and clothes, of money and things, to become your first priority. He wants that top stop. He wants to be first. If you put yourself first, you’re on your own. If you put God first, He’s got you. So please don’t quit your job and go on the dole with God. But don’t make the pursuit of food and clothes and money and things your top priority. Put God first.
Seek first His Kingdom. What is God’s Kingdom? That’s a big subject—whole books have been written on it. So here’s my best one sentence summary. The Kingdom of God is God’s reign in the world; it is where God’s will is done. Jesus taught us to pray:
Matthew 6:10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
God’s Kingdom is where His will is done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are to seek God’s Kingdom—or said another way, we are to pursue God’s will for ourselves, our community, our world. When we pray that prayer—may your kingdom come, may your will be done—we are making ourselves available to do what God wants. We are asking to be part of what God is doing in the world.
What a different way to live! Instead of focusing on what I’m going to eat or wear today, I’m asking what God wants to do! From a tiny self-centered focus to a huge God-centered focus. Imagine waking up tomorrow and asking, “God, what do you want to do in my world today? How can I be part of what You’re doing?” That’s the “may your kingdom come, your will be done” prayer. You wake up every day to the life-changing adventure of being part of what God is doing on earth! You are part of the biggest thing happening on the planet: the Kingdom of God. You are part of seeing His will done on earth as it is in heaven.
That’s first. That’s most important. That’s how Jesus calls us to live.
And His promise is that when you put God first, God puts you first. When you seek first His kingdom, “all these things will be added to you as well.” God will take care of you. You can trust your Father.
ILL: Imagine a father with a large business. His daughter goes to work for her dad in the family business. She gives everything she has to see the business prosper, and see her father’s wishes come true. Her highest priority is doing what he wants. That father will do everything in his power to make sure she is well cared for. He ensures that she has everything she needs. Because she is looking out for his interests, he looks out for hers.
And who would you rather have looking out for your interests more than God?
First, don’t worry, trust your Father.
Second, seek first His Kingdom, trust your Father.
- Don’t be afraid, be generous: trust your Father.
Here are the last 3 verses.
Luke 12:32-34 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“Don’t be afraid.” Notice that Jesus calls them “little flock.” Jesus loved the metaphor of sheep and shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd who loves and leads His sheep. They are His little flock. They weren’t big or impressive—but they were His and He loved them. We are His little flock. You may be a big deal—or not. Jesus loves you either way. You may be the bomb—or not. Jesus loves you either way. So don’t afraid—you are deeply loved—trust your Father.
Jesus not only promises to give them everything they need—“all these things will be added to you as well”—but He promises something much bigger: the Kingdom. “Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Try to imagine how that sounded to them. They lived in a time of kingdoms. When kings died, they passed their kingdoms on to their sons, or else a greater power (such as Rome) gave the kingdom to someone of its choosing. Jesus even told a story in Luke 19 about a man who was appointed king. To be given a kingdom was to be given incredible power, authority and wealth. You couldn’t give someone a bigger gift. “Here’s the kingdom.”
That’s what they heard. And no doubt some of them were thinking of palaces and thrones, of money and power.
But Jesus was giving them something bigger than that. Better than that. He was giving them the kingdom of God—and the adventure of a lifetime. They would get to live into God’s reign, do God’s will, and see God’s purposes accomplished. “Here’s the Kingdom.”
It’s the biggest gift of all. And if you understand that, then you don’t have to be afraid when it comes to money and things. Small potatoes for our big God. He’s giving us the kingdom—I have nothing to fear. And instead of fear, I live generously.
33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Don’t be afraid, be generous! Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Notice that it doesn’t say, “all”. If you sell all your possessions, you won’t be helping the poor; you will be the poor! Someone else will be helping you. Jesus is not advocating poverty or asceticism—the extreme denial of self. Many of Jesus’ followers had things. Mary and Martha had a home where they could host Jesus and His disciples. As far as we know, Jesus didn’t tell them to sell it. Joseph had a tomb where he could bury Jesus. A number of women who followed Jesus had means and regularly supported Jesus. This is not a universal command to sell everything and live in abject poverty. This is a command to be generous, to share what you have with those who have less. And you can do that because you have a Father who loves you and cares for you, and has given you the kingdom!
One other reason Jesus may say, “sell your possessions”: it’s possible to have too much. Too many things can become a burden. Stuffocation! It’s possible to own too much. Think about this: a man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure. Most of us would be happier with less, not more.
As a kingdom first person, I realize that everything I have belongs to God, and can be used for His purposes. So I may “own” something for awhile and use it for God’s purposes, and then He may direct me to sell it and give the money to be used for His purposes, or He may direct me to give it to someone who needs it more than me. This is what was happening in Acts 4-5.
Acts 4:32–35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
This is kingdom generosity. My Father has given me the kingdom. I have no reason to worry or fear—if He has given me the kingdom, won’t He give me everything I need. So I can afford to be generous and share.
ILL: One time many years ago, we were out of money—nothing left in the bank account. And a bill was due—it was about $100. I prayed and asked the Lord to meet that need. The next day, we received a letter in the mail and a check for $100. Praise the Lord! I was excited to pay that bill when the Lord nudged me. “I gave you the money—do you want to know why?” I assumed it was to pay the bill, but the Lord brought someone else to mind, someone whose need was greater than mine. I talked with Laina and we agreed to pass the $100 on to them. Then we prayed again, “Lord, remember that bill?” A couple days later, friends came to visit and said, “Oh, my dad gave me this for you.” It was a check for $300. This time I asked, “What do You want me to with Your $300, Lord.” Happily, He told me to pay the bill!
I have lots of stories like that—but I tell that one because like the disciples, we didn’t have much, but we were willing to share what little we had for one reason: we trusted our Father.
Don’t worry—trust your Father.
Don’t be afraid—trust your Father.
Be generous—He’s given you the kingdom! Trust your Father.
Put Him first and He will take care of you!
Where have you been afraid financially? Give it to God.
Say yes to Jesus.