In this message, we learn that financial freedom comes from submitting our hearts to the Lordship of Jesus.
Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I’m so glad that you’re here. We want to give a big welcome to our Denton Campus. Will you welcome them with me?
We are so glad you guys are here. Happy Memorial Day weekend, I’m glad you came to hang out, and it feels like it’s been raining forever, but I am glad that you’re here, and we’re in a series called Stewardosity. We’re talking about embracing stewardship and releasing generosity. I know some of you don’t think it’s a word. That’s okay. It’s not necessarily a word, it’s a concept where getting in our hearts. And I believe in this series, I don’t think I was thinking about it this way, but here’s what God’s doing. He’s bringing freedom in this series. And so if you’re looking for some freedom today, I think God has something great for you if you’ll open up your heart. And I want to start by telling you a story. A few years ago, I took my two kids, they’re probably five and three at that time, to an Easter egg hunt, okay? And, you know, just the kind of Easter egg hunt that you would think about. So my kids all week they’re so excited to go to the Easter egg hunt, they kept talking about it and they’re dreaming about how many eggs they’re going to get and what’s going to be inside the eggs. And they got their baskets, picked out and they’re all prepped up and they’re ready to go.
And so it’s the day of the Easter egg hunt and we get there. And my kids line up, you know, and there’s kids everywhere screaming and loud and chaotic. And it’s just an Easter egg hunt, like eggs are buried everywhere and there’s bunnies and, you know, animals and fun things and, you know, just all the Easter kind of stuff. And so they get out there and my son, he’s probably, I think he was like five at that time, he was all ready, like he has his plan, he had already told me about his plan and how he was going to do it and what going to happen. And so, the whistle goes and my son, he takes off. And I mean he is like a machine. The kid is finding every egg that’s out there. At one point I even felt bad, I’m thinking, “All these poor little kids aren’t getting anything,” because he’s just like a machine. I mean he’s finding every egg, egg after egg after egg in his basket, and then there’s my three year old. She just kind of walking around looking at the sky, looking at the bunnies, bumping into kids, talking to them – oh here’s an egg, pick one up and put it in her basket, having the time of her life, but she is about as aloof as can be of the whole thing. But not Trey, he is going for egg after egg after egg. I mean the kid is like a machine.
And so the thing finishes up, they blow the whistle, all the eggs are found and my kids come running over to me and Emma gets there first. And when she gets there, I’m shocked, her Easter basket is actually full of eggs. Like I don’t know how she got so many eggs walking around talking to other kids and looking at the bunnies. But somehow, her basket is full of eggs, and I kid you not, the first thing she said to me is, dad I can’t wait to show Trey and share some of these with him. Okay. True story. Trey, two seconds later, he comes running up to me and he’s sobbing, there’s tears running down his eyes. And he holds up his basket and he looks at me and there are only two eggs in his basket. Two eggs. I watched him. He picked up more eggs than anybody else in the entire thing. He had two eggs in his basket and when I looked inside of his basket, he said daddy, I don’t know what happened but there was a hole in his basket. So every egg he picked up came right out of the hole.
And I watched the entire thing happen, the whole time and what was amazing was this little gaggle of kids that just followed Trey around, like let him do the hard work and we’ll just – they were genius, these kids, I mean Trey would find the egg, he’d throw it in, he had no idea it would go right out. And then five or six kids right behind him would just pick it up and they just followed him all the way around. And he’s sobbing because he only has two eggs. And I’m telling you, he picked up more than anybody else. And I was thinking about that story this week and I was thinking did you ever feel like that with your finances. That no matter how hard you try, somehow it’s always falling out of the bottom. And that there’s this gaggle of people in the world that are just kind of trailing behind you, picking up everything that you’re scooping in and it just keeps running out. Anybody know what I’m talking about? Have you ever felt like that in your life? I think that’s a great analogy. It’s a great analogy of what our finances look like when we do them our way instead of Jesus’ way.
When your finances aren’t submitted to the Lordship of Jesus, it’s like having a hole in the bottom of your basket and everything you put in no matter how hard you try, no matter how fast you go, no matter how many you pick up, you can never get ahead because they keep coming out the back and the world is trailing you behind to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus says there’s a better way. In fact in John 6:63, Jesus says, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” Everything he wants to tell you is meant to bring you life. John 8: 32, Jesus says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” When you know the truth, the truth changes what you think, what you believe and how you live. And so everything Jesus has to say to you and to me about any topic in life is designed to bring us life and it’s designed to bring us freedom. And I think Jesus wants to bring some life and some freedom into your finances. He wants to plug the hole in the bottom of your basket. It’s what I’m trying to tell you. And before we go any further, here’s what I want to do. I want to acknowledge that talking about money in church is often awkward.
And it’s now awkward for the reason that we think it is. I think a lot of us we think it’s awkward to talk about money because most people don’t want to give, like that’s the assumption. But I don’t think that’s why it’s awkward. I think talking about money in church is awkward because there’s a lot of emotion and brokenness attached to money. Money is really defined for honest in our hearts by fear, anxiety, stress and worry. Money is a charged topic because of how it makes us feel. In fact, 80% of all Americans worry about money all the time. 80% of the people in this room technically, according to the American survey, worry about money all the time. 70% of Americans are one surprise away from being in total financial collapse. The number one reason that’s listed every single year after year after year on divorce papers is financial issues. I mean money has a lot of emotion and a lot of brokenness tied to it. And we’ve been hurt. We’ve been hurt by our family and our friends and our boss and organizations in the realm of money.
We thought we were doing inheritance, we felt like we’ve been manipulated, we thought we’ve been taken advantage of so there’s pain. And if that’s not bad enough, a lot of us actually have been hurt by church and money. And maybe there are some of you here today and you’ve had a bad experience. You’ve heard a bad news story or you’ve seen mismanagement in the church or you felt manipulated or you’ve got this skeptical, jaded, broken view because of things you’ve seen or because of things you’ve heard. And so here’s what I want to do before we go any further, will you accept my apology on behalf of whoever has hurt you. As a church leader, can I ask for your forgiveness of any way, any church, or any church leader has created, hurt within you in the realm or the area of finances because that’s not Jesus’ heart. But the truth is, is that broken people do broken things. And so on behalf of whoever has hurt or whatever church has hurt you, will you forgive me on their behalf.
Don’t let their brokenness keep you in bondage. You see, what I think a lot of us end up doing is we use someone else’s failures as a reason to not follow Jesus. We use someone else’s sin as permission to not be obedient to Jesus like we’ve got this experience that’s happened in our life and we think everything is defined by it. So we allow what we have experienced to determine what we believe or how we live. But what we need to do is let what God says actually determine our experiences. And take the brokenness of humanity out of the equation and go back to just what God has said. You see, it’s actually really sad if you think about it, I think a lot of Christians actually resist talking about generosity. But to resist talking about generosity is to resist talking about God Himself because God is generous. It’s His very nature. Like if you don’t want to talk about generosity it’s like saying, I don’t really want to talk about God. But I believe that can all be redeemed and I believe there can be a lot of freedom in that area because money is a bondage that was never meant to enslave us and Jesus wants to set you free.
And so this whole concept of stewardosity, it has nothing to do with anyone else. It has everything to do with Jesus as Lord. And when you submit to Jesus as Lord in this area of your life, He plugs the bottom of your basket and all of the sudden He brings you life and freedom and you can be healthy and be whole. And so I told you last week, we don’t want anything from you, we want everything for you. And so I just want to lead you into the freedom that Jesus offers. In fact, if you weren’t here last weekend, I told you that our church is officially debt-free as of last month. If you didn’t hear that, we’re debt-free. And so even in that, what I’m trying to say is, I just want to share with you what Jesus has to say and let you find freedom. Is that okay?
You see, we all have different – a different motivation around money like why we want it. Every person in this room, you have a motivation. You may not even be aware of but it’s important to even figure out which motivation is yours and why you want money.
And really most people’s motivation can be locked down into four simple really things. Most of us are motivated by one of these four things, security, power, fun or freedom. So, most of us are motivated to have money. But some of us are motivated by security. Like we want to get a bunch of money because then it makes us feel secure, it makes us feel safe. If we have money in the bank, we can take care of ourselves, we can take care of our family no matter what happens, we’re going to be okay because we have security in our bank account. Some of us, our motivation is power. We want to have money because that makes us feel powerful. When I have money, then I’m in control. I control my environment, I control my situations, I control people, and when I have money, that makes me significant. So some of us, it’s power. Some of us, it’s fun. This is the spender in the family. Every family has one of this. This is the person that thinks money, the whole point of money is just to have fun. Like why else would you have money, you’re meant to spend it. Let’s go do fun things and experience the world. That’s their motivation.
And some people, the motivation is freedom. They want to have money so that they can kind of control their own time, be in charge of their own destiny. They don’t want to be attached to anyone or anything. They want to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want – different motivations for money. And so if you think about those, which one would probably be the most true for you? And what’s interesting is you can think about how these different motivations create massive relational carnage like think of the couple that one person’s motivation is security and the other person’s motivation is fun. One person’s whole motive for making money is to put it in the bank so they feel safe. The other couple, the other person of the couple, their whole motivation is fun. We’re getting money to spend it. You want to talk about collision course, there you go. Or how about the couple that one person’s motivation is power and the other person’s motivation is freedom? One person wants money so they can control everything around them including other people. The other person wants money so they can’t be controlled by anyone or anything. Boom! Collision, right?
It’s important to understand the motivation of why you want money. But here’s what I want you to know, money can never fulfill the promises that only God Himself can make. Money can’t fulfill the promises that only God Himself can make. What I mean by that is only Jesus can give you security. He’s the solid rock in which you stand. Only Jesus can give you power through the spirit of the living God that He gives to you. Only Jesus can give you fun through the joy of heaven that he has released into your life and only Jesus can give you freedom. Money can never fulfill the promises that only God can make. That’s why whoever even created money was smart enough to write “In God we Trust” in the money. It’s on there, look at it. Pull it out. Right? Because he knew we would be tempted to trust in this thing instead of in someone. Money can’t fulfill the promises only God can make. That’s why Psalm 21 verses 1 and 2 says, “I look to the hills, where does my help come from?”
“My help comes from my bank account, the maker of all things.”
So it says, right?
Or how about Proverbs 3:5 and 6? “Trust in your bank account with all your heart. In all your ways, acknowledge it, and it will make your path straight.” That’s what it says, right?
No. Because money cannot fulfill the promises that only God can make. And so I want to give you three really simple thoughts that I believe if you will embrace these in your life, it will plug the hole in the bottom of you basket and will set you free. And so this message is a little bit different, it’s more teaching than I normally do. I’ve got a lot of verses and then at the bottom of each point, I’m going to ask you a question. And I’m going to ask you to listen to God because I don’t really care what you think about what I’m saying, what I want you to do is I want you to hear His voice. And His voice isn’t condemning, His voice is freeing. Anything you hear, from this point on, if it’s shaming, fear-based, or guilt-oriented, it’s Satan trying to keep you in bondage.
Anything you hear that’s freeing, life-giving or hopeful is the Holy Spirit, okay? So are you with me?
Three really simple thoughts. First thing is this. And you don’t have to turn all the scriptures because I’m going to go fast, faithfully tithe. If you want financial freedom, faithfully tithe. Genesis 4:2. “Now, Abel kept the flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions and some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, and it desires to have you, but you must muster it.’” Here’s a story of two brothers, Cain and Abel. And it says, God rejects Cain’s offering but He accepts Abel’s offering.
And I don’t know about you but for years, I’ve heard that story, and it’s always bothered me. Story bothers me. Like, it feels very inequitable. Like, why is God okay with Abel’s offering but He’s not okay with Cain’s offering? And honestly, I’ve never had an answer to it until this week when I was studying and something jumped of the page at me. Look at verse 3 and 4. It says, “In the course of time,” in other words, when he got around to it, Cain brought some leftovers. He brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord, but Abel brought the fat portions of some of the firstborn of his flock. Here’s the difference. Cain was a farmer. And he waited until harvest season, he gathered everything in and he looked around and he had this bushels of all of his fruit and it says in the course of time, in other words, leftovers, after he had surveyed and decided he had plenty enough for himself, then he took some and give it to God. But Abel on the other hand, it says he offered some of the first born of his flock.
In other words, the very first lambs that dropped out, he didn’t wait until he had his entire flock figured out, he took the first lambs and he gave them to God. You see, Abel tithed. Cain gave leftovers. That’s the difference. Abel gave his first and his best. Cain gave what he had after he surveyed and figured out like he felt like he had enough. Cain gave out of obligation. Abel gave out of faith. And the reality is, is that God doesn’t want your leftovers. I mean think about it like this. If someone that was really special in your life, maybe you’d want to meet them for a long time, someone famous. If they came over your house, would you ever serve them a leftover meal? Come on. I mean, can you imagine like maybe it’s like the queen of England or I don’t know, whoever some celebrity, whoever you want, the Dallas Cowboy, whoever is it that you want to meet and they come, they sit at your kitchen table and you’re like, “Man, I just didn’t kind of not prepared so I open up the kitchen, here’s some turkey from two days ago and I got some beans, we didn’t like them then but maybe you’ll like them. And I think we got, you know, here’s some bread, a little bit of mold on the corner. I just cut it off, don’t – you just pretend like you didn’t see it. That would be okay.”
And you go and you give – you would never do that, would you? You would go out of your way to create a great meal to honor the guest that came to your house. You wouldn’t give leftovers. And God doesn’t want our leftovers. And whatever we give to God reveals what our heart really believes about Him. You see the word “tithe”? Again it’s a charged word because I think sometimes churches have mismanaged and have manipulated situations. So we want to run away from it but don’t let someone else’s failure keep you from the freedom Jesus has for you. The word “tithe”, it means first and best 10%. God says everything you have comes from Him and He wants us to give back to Him the first and best 10% no matter how big or how small that number is. And you don’t actually give your tithe to God, you return your tithe to him. Listen to this, Leviticus 27:30. It says, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether the grain from the soil or fruit from the trees. And any income stream you have is what God saying, the tithe, the first 10%, belongs to the Lord, it is holy to Him.”
You don’t give your tithe to God, you return it. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you and I are friends and you let me borrow your car. And you give me the keys to your car and you say, “Man, go ahead, you can take my car, you can borrow it for the whole month.” I’m like, “Man, thanks.” So I take your car and I zip around town. And because it’s raining, I skid into a couple poles, you know, just a little mark here or there on the fender. And at the end of the month, I drive to your house and I parked the car and I take the keys and I walk up to the car, I knock on it. You open up the door, you say, “Hey.” I say, “Hey. I was just sitting at home and I just feel really generous today. And so I just decided I’m going to go ahead and give you this car.” You look at me and say, “What?” “So, yeah, I’m just feeling really generous like I just thought, here’s the keys, I want to give you this new car, you can do whatever you want with it. I’m just feeling really generous.” You look at me, and be like, “You crazy man. You’re not giving me this car, you’re giving me back what’s already mine.”
“In fact, if you didn’t bring it back, I was going to call the police. That would be calling, right?” It’d be really easy to give the keys back, why? Because you know it’s not yours. Do you have a hard time returning your neighbor’s tools to your neighbor when you borrow them? And some of you are like, “Yes.”
Probably not, why? Because you don’t believe it’s yours. The only time you have a hard time returning something is when you start to actually believe it’s yours. The tithe is not yours, it’s His. And when we obey, there’s a blessing. Listen, Proverbs 3:9 and 10. It says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of your crop, put Him first, first and best tithe, then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” In other words, there is always a blessing when we’re willing to be obedient even if we don’t understand. You see, if you’re a follower of Jesus, then Jesus says you’re a new creation in Christ. The old you is dead and gone, you’ve been raised to a new life in Him.
And a new life always leads to a new lifestyle which means the way we live should be constantly changing even if we don’t understand it, we choose to obey. And if I’m you, here’s the question I’m asking. Okay like but why? Why does God asked us to tithe? Why doesn’t He just dock the 10% right as it’s coming out and just let us have 90%, like wouldn’t that make it so much easier. Wouldn’t make that easier? Three of us thinking it would be easier, the rest of us aren’t sure but here’s why. God asked you to tithe because tithe is tangible trust. When He asks you to tithe, He is inviting your heart to trust in him. In fact, it’s one of the moments in time you get to put that old saying, your money where your mouth is, because I would bet every person in this room would very easily say I trust in God with our words. But do our actions reveal the same thing? In fact I love this, Proverbs 14:23. It says, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your life.”
It couldn’t get anymore simpler than that. God says you want to know why, because the purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put me first in your life, to put him first and believe he is your provider, your security, your source, your strength. Listen to me, tithing is not a financial issue, it’s a lordship issue. It has nothing to do with how much money you make or don’t make. It has everything to do with whether or not Jesus is Lord. And to make a statement like I can’t afford to tithe is like saying I can’t afford to trust God. That’s literally what you’re saying. If you say I can’t afford to tithe, you’re saying I can’t afford to trust God. No matter how big or small that number is, God says trust me. And someone that say things like this, we say, well, man, I can’t afford to tithe so when I make more money then I’ll get around to it. No, you won’t. No, you won’t. Because you’ll never feel like you have enough and you’ll never be able to do it. The truth is you should say if I start tithing, then I’ll have more. Or how about the person that says, it’s like Cain, that has a lot at the end of the month surveys everything and says man, I’ve got a lot, I’m going to go ahead and give some leftovers to God.
Don’t be like that either. God doesn’t want your leftovers, he wants your first and your best. And you’ve probably heard me say this before but Matthew 6:21, Jesus says wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also. In other words, really simple truth, Jesus says wherever your treasure goes, your heart follows and attaches itself to that thing. So when we wonder why is my heart not interested in the things of God and we realize all our income is going to the world, we can’t be surprised because God says our treasure literally directs the course of our life and follows and attaches itself to that thing. That’s why God says tithe. Because when I put him first and put money over here, all of a sudden my heart runs after him and attaches itself to Jesus. And you know it’s true because before you bought that stock or that car or signed your kid up for that activity, you didn’t care nothing about none of it until your treasure went there and then all of the sudden your heart is now super-interested in what’s happening in that area. And so the question I would ask you is this, where is your treasure leading your heart?
Our hearts start to drift when we choose to stop to tithe. And I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it like this or not but Jesus is God’s tithe. He gave you his best. First portion, he gave you his best and because of that his heart follows and it attaches itself to you, never to be pulled apart again. God doesn’t need our money, he wants our hearts. And he knows it’s through our money that he gets into the center of our heart. Tithing isn’t an obligation, it’s the best financial investment you will ever make in your life because it’s investing your heart in God and releasing blessing over your life, okay? So here’s the question, will you have the courage to just say God, what do you want to say to me about this area of tithing in my life?
Don’t worry about what I have to say. Will you have the courage to say Holy Spirit, what do you want me to do in this area? What do you have to say to me? Okay. Can you do that? First thing, faithfully tithe. Second thing is this, eliminate debt. Eliminate debt. I realize you’re like this is not a very fun message. I understand.
You just have to listen. I have to preach it. But this is meant to give us freedom. You see, debt is self-imposed bondage. Jesus died to set you free from the debt of sin and we enslave ourselves with financial debt. And make no mistake about it, if you have debt you are in bondage. I mean, listen to these verses. Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Right there. If you have debt, you’re enslaved to someone or something. Deuteronomy 15:6, “For the Lord your God will bless you as he promised and you will lend to many nations but you will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.”
God doesn’t want you to be in debt because he created you to be a ruler, not to be someone that’s ruled over. And when we get ourselves into debt, we change positions and we enslave ourselves to the things of this world. Romans 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another.” You see, we enslave ourselves to things that we are called to rule over. We enslave ourselves to things that we are called to rule over. Debt is paying for yesterday. Saving is investing in tomorrow. If you’re paying on debt of something you bought one, two, five, 10, 30 years ago, you’re still paying for yesterday instead of investing into the future of tomorrow.
And if we’re honest with ourselves, the truth is, is that it’s greed that drives us to this point. It’s this insatiable desire in all of our hearts, this constant lust for more, we’re not grateful or content for what we have so we get ourselves into debt. And here’s the problem with debt is debt causes us to sacrifice that which is important for that which is insignificant. Listen to these verses. This blew me away this week when I found this. Matthew 18:23, Jesus is telling a parable but listen to what he says. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 10,000 talents was brought to him.” Like make no mistake about it, every debt will be settled. “Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.” So catch this, a guy has a debt that’s so big he can’t repay it.
The person who he owes the debt to calls the debt in and because he can’t pay it, he is forced to sell himself, his wife, his kids and everything that’s important to him. He has to sell that which is important for that which is insignificant, whatever it was that he took the debt on for. And when I read those verses, if I’m just really honest to you, that’s what I see when I look at our city. I see a whole bunch of people on our city that have taken on debt. A car they can’t afford, a house that’s too big for them, credit cards they can’t keep up with, and in that moment, they sell that which is important for that which is insignificant. They enslave themselves. Like all of a sudden, now you can’t get rid of that job that’s making you travel five days a week and you never get to see your kids. All of a sudden, you got to live paycheck to paycheck and you got to compromise your integrity to keep this job because you got all these bills that have to be constantly paid for. All of a sudden, the kingdom opportunity comes floating by your life, something great that God has for you but you can’t take it because you can’t afford it because of the debt that you’ve got over here.
And if that’s not bad enough, our health starts to go. Because if you have debt, you know, you don’t sleep well at night. There’s this anxiety and the stress and this fear, this monster inside you that never shuts down. And if that’s not bad enough, our relationships start to go because when there’s debt in relationships, all of a sudden there’s this tension and this bitterness and this angst and things like this start being said, “Why are you gone all the time?” “I’m gone all the time because someone has to make the money to pay for all the things that you’re always spending money on.” And we start arguing about who’s wrong and who’s right but it’s a cycle that we’ve entrapped ourselves within. Can I tell you something? You are not what you have. You are what Jesus has done. This is the root of the problem. First Samuel 16, Jesus said or God says man does – God does not look at the things that man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart. You are what Jesus has done in your heart, not what you have in your hands. And we look at people in our city that have a lot of stuff in their hands and we want to be like them. We want to keep up with them. Can I just go ahead and let you in on a little secret? Most of the people that have all the things you think you want, go get in their heart for about five minutes and see the sea of debt with which in they’re swimming. Because their life is probably a whole lot more miserable than you think it is. You don’t want their life. And God didn’t care if we have things, he cares when things have us. Contentment is not found in getting more. Contentment is found in embracing the life that God has given to you. Listen to me, there’s a guy in our church. He had a great job. He was making a lot of money and as he started making a lot of money, all of a sudden him and his family, they started spending a lot of money. They started buying a lot of stuff.
And because they started buying all this stuff, he had to go and make more money because he had to keep up with the stuff that they were buying. And so, as he needed to make more money, he had to start taking promotions that he didn’t necessarily want but he needed more money. And so, then as he made more money, they would spend more. And then because they had more stuff, he needed to make more money. So then he would start having to work longer hours and travel more than he would like because he needed to make more money. And it was like the more money he spent, the more – or the more he made, the more they spend and the more they spent, the more they needed to keep up with that lifestyle that they were building and it locked them into this cycle that felt like it was taking away that which was important for that which was insignificant. And so, he actually got to a point where he said this is crazy and he quit his job and they sold all their stuff and for the first time in their life, they feel free. He gave up the American dream which is most people’s nightmare. But he’s free. Why do you want to live in that cycle?
So people say you drive a nice car or have a nice house? Does it really make you happy? It is for freedom that Christ set you free. And I realize, man, not all debt that we’re in, in our life came from bad choices. Some of us, it was medical expenses or something that happened with one of our kids or something that we weren’t expecting that surprised us or something maybe we even inherited. I know and here’s what I would say is if you have debt in your life, James 1:5, God says ask for wisdom and he’ll give it to us. Matthew 11:28, come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and he will give you rest. He wants you to be freer than you want to be. So if you will just bring it to him, watch what he’ll do. To give some of you a little bit of hope, I knew a guy in our church years ago. He had $300,000 of credit card debt. Credit card debt. Not a house, not a car, not a boat, not a plane, credit card debt. And when one day he woke up and realized how enslaved he really was, he hit his knees and he cried out to the Lord.
And he plugged the hole in the bottom of his basket and he started faithfully tithing, putting God first and he started working on getting out of the bondage that he was in through the wisdom of the Lord and over a couple years, through the miraculous provision of God because he trusted God, God set him free from that. If God can do that in his life and in your life, well, sure, he was making millions of dollars. No, he wasn’t. No, he wasn’t. He can do that for you. Psalm 1:21 really says “I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” And if he can make heaven and he can make earth, he can take care of the debt in your life if you will submit it to him and do it his way instead of your way. So the question again is – who cares what I have to say? It’s the Holy Spirit want to say to you right now. So God, what do you want to say to me in this area of debt?
Am I sacrificing that which is important for that which is insignificant? Will you just ask him and let him speak to you? And the last thing is this. Be generous. If we want to live in freedom, we got to be generous because God is generous. Generosity is not determined on the condition of your bank accounts. It’s determined by the condition of your heart. We say, oh sure, that person can be generous because they have a lot of stuff. Do you understand generous people were generous before they had a lot of stuff? If you’re not generous with a little, I promise you, you won’t be generous with much because that’s what the Bible says and God won’t give that much because he’s looking to see you be faithful with a little so he can entrust you with much. In fact, here’s a great analogy I’d like to think about. If you think about it like this, all of the needs in all of the universe are over here. All poverty, all brokenness, all pain, all issues, all health problems, everything, all of the needs in all of the universe are over here and over here is all of the resources in all of the universe.
Everything that’s needed for all those needs over there are over here. Do you know what’s right in the middle? You are. Because all the needs are in this world and all the resources are in God’s hand. And God is looking for conduits, funnels, vessels who stand in the middle and do it his way and he’s looking to pour those resources through them to meet the needs of the broken and lost world but he’s looking for people who will put him first and people who aren’t going to use that what he pours into their lives to take care of debt but people that are going to receive what he’s given to go ahead and take care of the needs of this world. He’s looking for people that will release his faith, hope and love. In fact, silly example, let’s say I’m at a restaurant with my kids and we order a meal and both the kids, their meal shows up and my son has french fries and my daughter does not. And the moment that the meals show up, she wants french fries. Do you ever go out with somebody just like this?
Like you order something and they look at you and they’re like “Oh, that looks great. Can I have a bite?” If you wanted it, why didn’t you order it?
They try to make you feel better by saying something like this, “Well, I give you a bite of mine.” If I wanted what you have, I would have ordered that. Never happens in my marriage, ever. Okay. So – and somebody just oh’ed like it was so bad, like – it just – that just happens. I always want to eat off Colleen’s plate. She just doesn’t know. You got it, Josh? Oh, there’s Colleen, I’m in the trouble.
Okay. I should have just left that joke on that table but since I’m into it, here we go. One has fries, one does not. Emma wants the fries and I look at Trey and say “Trey, I want you to go ahead and share some of your with your sister.” And he says, “No, dad, they’re my fries. I ordered them. I don’t want to share any fries.” And I look at him and say, “I know, but I need you to share fries.”
And in that moment, it doesn’t matter what he has. It doesn’t matter if he has one fry or a thousand fries. It doesn’t matter what he has, it matters who he has. He has me and I can order him an unlimited supply of french fries. When God asks you to give, it doesn’t matter what you have, it matters who you have. Because he can give you an unlimited supply of whatever it is he’s asking you to give. And so when we complain about what God asks us to give, it’s because we forgot we have the giver. In fact, catch this, if you’re offended when you’re invited to give it’s because you are focused on what you don’t have instead of on whom you have. That’s why you’re offended. And so you can get your heart all knotted up and grumpy and scrunched face and all that stuff. Look to the giver.
God, the infinite God is not limited by finite resources. He’s looking for conduits, vessels with which he can pour everything through to meet the needs in this world. And so again, I would say, what does God wants you to do in this area? Well, you just ask him. God, what do you want me to do in the area of generosity? Let him speak to you. See the only way to defeat greed is to be generous because I can’t be enslaved to that which I’m willing to give away. And so here’s the deal to close this, let me say this to you. If you’re sitting here and you say man – if you’re not willing to give, you have to ask yourself the question just why, right? It’s a fair question. If you’re not willing to give, that’s fine but just ask yourself the question then why and we’re all going to have different reasons. Some of us are going to say, well, I just don’t believe in any of this stuff.
Okay. That’s a fair answer. Some of us are going to say, well, I’m not inspired by it like I just – I don’t care what happens to the needs of the world. Okay, that’s a fair answer. Some of us are going to say things like I don’t have enough or I have too much debt or I’m saving up for something for me or it’s really about what I want. Okay, all of those are great and fair answers. The only problem is they’re all secondary issues. If we’re not willing to give, the root reason is because we don’t believe that he will give to us. If you’re not willing to give, it’s because you’re afraid that he won’t give to you. And so if you give it away, you will never get it back. You have a poverty mindset like there’s a finite pie and it’s disappearing. And what you have forgotten is that Romans 8:32 says that “He who did not spare his own son, will he then in him not give us all things?”
In other words, if God has already given you Jesus, the best treasure in the universe, will he not then give you everything else beneath it? It’s a trust issue. The finite – the infinite God is not limited by finite resources. And so it’s okay to not want to give but at least ask yourself the question why and acknowledge and say to him. “God it’s because honestly I don’t think you’re going to give back to me.” Great. He’s not offended by that. He’s not afraid of that. He welcomes the revelation of that so he can work on the area of trust with you. Jesus doesn’t want you running around like a five-year-old little boy with a hole in the bottom of his basket. Spending your life scraping, scooping, trying, striving, achieving, throwing everything you can and it just keeps coming out and Satan just smiles, walking behind you stealing, killing and destroying everything you’re spending your life to get. He wants to patch that hole in the bottom of your basket and he wants you to be like a three-year-old little girl that had the time of her life walking around smiling, with no stress of how many eggs she was going to get.
Somehow, ended up with a full basket of eggs and whose first thought was I want to share because I have so many. That’s the heart that lives free. And that’s what Jesus offers you. So will you close your eyes with me? And let me just acknowledge I, oh, I acknowledge this is tough stuff. The reason it’s tough is because we’ve been enslaved so long. The longer you’ve been enslaved in something, the harder it is to even believe that freedom exists. And so Satan has convinced you that this is the only way. But what Jesus wants to do is show up with a set of keys that can unlock any chain in your life.
You don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed. You don’t have to be afraid or be controlling. All you have to do is surrender. What does God want to say to you? Maybe just say God, what do you want me to do in the area of tithing? He knows your situation. Ask him. God, what do you want us to do in the area of debt? He knows the situation. Ask him. What do you want me to do in the area of generosity? He knows. Ask him. Everything he says brings life and freedom.
So Jesus, we are believing in this moment that you can set us free from the trap of this world. Lord, I pray for courage and strength. I pray that people would trust and surrender to you. Holy Spirit, I pray that you would bring unity in marriages and in families, that you would bring hope and freedom, that we would no longer sacrifice that which is important for that which is insignificant. I celebrate that you are the God who sets us free. Would you do that, Jesus? Don’t be angry. Don’t be offended. Don’t be sad. Don’t be overwhelmed.
Jesus just showed up and invited you to freedom. Just choose to follow. So Lord, we love you and we celebrate what you’re doing in this place. In your name we pray, amen.