Stewardship: Treasure Principle
God prospers me not to raise my standard of living but to raise my standard of giving. So why has God entrusted so much to us? Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." (Luke 6:38).
The more you give, the more comes back to you, because God is the greatest giver in the universe, and He won't let you out-give Him. Go ahead and try; see what happens. God is the greatest giver in the Universe, and He won't let you out-give Him!
the treasure principle
The Treasure Principle: You Can't Take It With You - but you can send it on ahead.
It's that simple. And if it doesn't take your breath away, you're not understanding it! Anything we try to hang on to here will be lost. But anything we put into God's hands will be ours for eternity. Scripture says, “When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” (Proverbs 23:5).
So, when Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, it's not just because wealth might be lost; it's because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. No exceptions. You'll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul. Why? Because you can't take it with you.
It's a revolutionary concept. If you embrace it, I guarantee it will change your life. As you store up heavenly treasures, you'll gain an everlasting version of what that man found in the treasure hidden in the field - Joy!
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." Matthew 6:19
it's all his
If God's the owner, Then I'm the Wealth Manager
Therefore, I needed to adopt a steward's mentality toward the assets. A steward manages assets for the owner's benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It's His job to find out what the Owner wants done with His assets, then carry out His will.
Whenever we think like owners, it's a red flag. We should be thinking like stewards, investment managers, always looking for the best place to invest the Owner's money. At the end of our term of service, we'll undergo a job performance evaluation: "For we will all stand before God's judgment seat... So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10, 12).
Giving interjects an eternal dimension into the most ordinary day. God owns everything, and I am God's money manager here on planet earth.
the heart follows
Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things!
Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). That's the 2nd key to the Treasure Principle. By telling us that our hearts follow our treasure, Jesus is saying, "Show me your checkbook, your VISA statement, and your receipts, and I'll show you where your heart is."
Suppose you buy shares of General Electric. What happens? You suddenly develop interest in GE. You check the financial pages. You see a magazine article about GE and read every word, even though a month ago you would have passed right over it. As Surely, as the compass needle follows north, your heart will follow your treasure. Money leads; hearts follow.
Remember, he who lays up treasures on earth spends his life backing away from his treasures. To him, death is loss. But, he who lays up treasures in heaven looks forward to eternity; he's moving daily toward his treasures. To him, death is gain.
Of course, giving isn't the only good thing we can do with money. We need to feed, clothe, house, and transport our families. But when the basics are taken care of, why shouldn't the rest go toward treasures in heaven?
The Lord Jesus wants people so filled with a vision for eternity that they wouldn't dream of not investing their money, time, and prayers where they will matter most. He who lays up treasures in heaven looks forward to eternity; he's moving daily toward his treasures. To him, death is gain.
Remember, where your treasure is there your heart will be also. Where is your heart?
This world's not my home
Heaven, Not Earth, Is My Home
There are many roadblocks to giving: unbelief, insecurity, pride, idolatry, desire for power and control. The raging current of our culture--and often our churches - makes it hard to swim upstream. It's considered "normal" to keep far more than we give.
But I'm convinced that the greatest deterrent to giving is this: the illusion that earth is our home. This leads us to the next key to the Treasure Principle: Heaven, Not Earth, Is My Home. Where we choose to store our treasures depends largely on where we think our home is.
When Christ returns, the world "will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare" (2 Peter 3:10). Does that sound depressing? It would be depressing if this world were our home. But it isn't! It would be depressing if we couldn't use our lives and resources to make a difference for eternity. But we can! We must give of our earthly resources to the Lord God Almighty.
"And He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'" Luke 12:15
Live for the dot, not the line
Have you ever seen that bumper sticker “He who dies with the most toys wins”? Millions of people act as if it were true. The more accurate saying is “He who dies with the most toys still dies—and never takes his toys with him.” We move into eternity, but our toys stay behind, filling junkyards. The bumper sticker couldn’t be more wrong.
I think of it in terms of a dot and a line. Our present life on earth is the dot. It begins. It ends. It’s brief. But from that dot extends a line that goes on forever. That line is eternity, which Christians will spend in heaven. Right now, we’re living in the dot. But what are we living for? The shortsighted person lives for the dot. The person with perspective lives for the line.
The person who lives for the dot lives for treasures on earth that end up in junkyards. The person who lives for the line lives for treasures in heaven that will never end.
Giving is for the line. Live for the line, not for the dot.
Giving Is The Only Antidote To Materialism
The act of giving is a vivid reminder that it’s all about God, not about us. It’s saying I am not the point. He is the point. He does not exist for me. I exist for Him. God’s money has a higher purpose than my affluence. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. Giving affirms Christ’s lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me.
Giving doesn’t strip me of vested interests; rather, it shifts my vested interests from earth to heaven—from self to God.
Of course, money isn’t all I can give. Time, wisdom, and expertise are wonderful gifts. Giving shifts me to a new center of gravity—heaven.
Give and you Shall Receive
God comes right out and tells us why He gives us more money than we need. It’s not so we can find more ways to spend it. It’s not so we can indulge ourselves and spoil our children. It’s not so we can insulate ourselves from needing God’s provision.
It’s so we can give—generously.
Now, the money manager (us) has legitimate needs, and He doesn’t resent our making reasonable expenditures on ourselves. But suppose the Owner (God) sees us living luxuriously. He knows that we can cross the line of reasonable expenses. Won’t the Owner (God) call us to account for squandering money that’s not ours?
We’re called God’s servants, and we’re told it’s required of us that we “prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). We’re God’s errand boys and delivery girls. We should keep that in mind when we set our salaries. Let’s not have an inflated view of our own value. We don’t own the store. We just work here!
Just because God puts his money in our hands doesn’t mean He intends for it to stay there! Our main job is to get God's blessings from us to the person He wants to give them to. Give generously to one another just like Jesus Christ.
21st century epidemic
A PBS television program called Affluenza addresses what it calls the “modern-day plague of materialism.” The program claims:
- The average American shops six hours a week while spending forty minutes playing with his children.
- By age twenty, we’ve seen more than one million commercials.
- Recently, more Americans declared bankruptcy than graduated from college.
- In 90% of divorce cases, arguments about money play a prominent role.
What strikes me about this program is that it doesn’t argue against materialism on a moral basis, but a pragmatic one: Material wealth doesn’t make us happy.
Listen to some of the wealthiest people of their day:
“The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.” W. H. Vanderbilt.
“I am the most miserable man on earth.” John Jacob Astor.
“I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.” John D. Rockefeller.
“Millionaires seldom smile.” Andrew Carnegie.
“I was happier when doing a mechanic’s job.” Henry Ford.
Nothing makes a journey more difficult than a heavy backpack filled with nice, but unnecessary things. Pilgrims travel light. And while traveling by the light of the Lord, He’ll guide your steps by His Word.