Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. For some in America, pursuing money is everything. But money can turn our hearts away from God and toward pursuing even more money and the things it buys. God has some words to say to the rich, words you'll hear on today's Running to Win.
Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, giving seems like a good investment when it's turned into something of eternal value rather than just inflating away.
Dave, you're absolutely right. I'm sure that many people have heard me tell that story about the woman who brought a bundle of money to a Bible school during the time when there was upheaval in Germany. She gave the money only to be told it was entirely worthless.
The previous day, the mark had been devalued to zero. So it's very important that we invest our money for the cause of the kingdom. We invest it while it still has value. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?
That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course, you need more info. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let us invest our money in the cause of the kingdom because there it has the highest rate of return. Beware of pride.
Beware of instability. Beware of thanklessness. Notice it says we should fix our hope on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. In other words, money is a gift of God. It's a gift of God.
It has come from him. That's why the Bible warns the rich. It says in the book of Deuteronomy, it says beware lest when you enter into the land that you say that it is the strength of my arm that has begotten this for it is the Lord that enables you to beget wealth.
Beware. You say, well, what are the rich supposed to do? Once again, it's found in the Bible. And you know, the Bible is a book with so much wisdom. The Bible doesn't come along and say, well, you know, give everything away so that you're as poor as everybody else. It does not condemn the riches.
You see, and that's very, very important. Since I've been here at the Moody Church on a few occasions, we have had some very large gifts. And there are some things that we have been able to do as a church that we would not be able to do were it not for the fact that there have been at least a few wealthy people who have given us sizable sums.
In fact, just a couple of summers ago, we received unexpectedly a rather large gift and that became a down payment for the property that we are purchasing next door. So the Bible does not condemn the rich. We need to affirm them.
We need to warn them. And then we need to instruct them as to what to do, as the text of Scripture says. But we do not condemn the rich because God uses them to enable ministries to do things that those ministries could never do were it not for some wealthy people who give money. Notice it says, verse 18, instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, which incidentally is interesting. That means that any one of us could be rich because we can all be rich in good works no matter how poor we may be. And to be generous, there's the word now and the title of this message is the discipline of generosity, and to be ready to share.
Why? Storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. That's the way you use money when God brings it your way.
Now what does the Bible teach us about this? In ancient times, there were three ways in which wealth was often kept. One was clothes, the other was grain, and the third was gold.
That was about it. And Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount refers to all three when he says, don't lay up for yourselves treasures on earth were moth, the moths would eat the clothes, and rust that would be blight, that would ruin the grain, and were thieves break through and steal, that is the gold. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth here because it's not that there's anything wrong with treasure. It's the fact that you have chosen a treasure that isn't going to last.
That's the difficulty. The desire for riches and treasures is ingrained within us and God says go for it. Go for the larger treasure. Don't be satisfied with the clothes and the wealth of gold and of grain because that is going to pass away.
Take those things and transform them into the heavenly Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market where you have stability, you have security, and you have a high rate of interest. How does that work? The scripture says that when we give to those who have need, when we give to help missionaries spread the gospel throughout the world, we are actually enabling others to work in such a way that when we get to heaven there are going to be people who will meet us who had an impact in their lives because we gave on earth. Jesus told a whole parable to illustrate that. In fact he says you should use the mammon of unrighteousness.
That's what he's calling money. He says you should use the mammon of unrighteousness that you may have others welcome you into the eternal kingdom. And we do that through our giving.
That's why every Sunday we give you an opportunity to give. We have missionaries that have to be support. Some of us support missionaries over and above those that attend Moody Church.
Many of you I'm sure do that. And I would like to think that my wife and I would find people in heaven not just because somebody found Christ as savior through my preaching or perhaps through my writing or whatever, but because we gave money to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and we laid hold of that which is life indeed. That's one way to have people who will meet you in heaven. The other is to be given responsibility in heaven. Jesus told a parable one day and he says that if God cannot entrust to you this mammon of unrighteousness, this stuff that we call money, if God can't entrust that to you and you're not faithful with it, how then is he going to make you faithful over the cities of the kingdom?
And the answer is that your extent of rule in the coming kingdom is going to be dependent upon your faithfulness here. You know people say well you know they aren't going to miss my dime or quarter at Moody Church. It's a big church and you know the budget is so high and maybe you don't have any work and about all that you could give is $10 or even less than that.
Nobody's going to miss that. Well first of all let me say that here at the Moody Church our budget is made up by the faithfulness of many, many people. It is a working together.
We do not have large gifts often occasionally but not often and it is dependent on every one of us. But secondly you are reasoning beside the point. The issue is not whether Moody Church can make it. We might be able to make it with God's grace. But the question is how will you do when you enter into the kingdom of heaven into everlasting habitations?
That's the question that you and I must face individually and personally before God. So that's what he says that the rich should do. What he's saying is take your wealth, bypass those snares and thank God that there are many, many rich people that do.
Could I also give a word of warning though? There are many, many rich people who don't. Why is it that God sometimes has blessed Christian people with an awful lot of money and yet they do not give, they are not generous? It is because the snares on the way to wealth are everywhere and it is so easy to be deceived and to be tripped up, very easy.
That's why this warning is here. Now I've spoken to the poor, now I've spoken to the rich and now a word for all of us. How do we bring this down to where you and I live?
First of all there must be in our hearts what I call a change of heart, a change of heart. Let me ask you something, have you ever met somebody who's really stingy? I mean really stingy. Some of you say oh yes Pastor Lutzer as a matter of fact I had breakfast with him you could say.
My wife can't say that because she and I did not have breakfast together, I had an earlier breakfast so no comment from over here. How do you get somebody who is really stingy to become generous? Can you reason them into it? Can you read the Bible to them and show them?
Probably not, probably not. The greed that is so deep within the human heart is not easily uprooted, only God ultimately usually can do that. And what people need to do is to recognize that because of God's generosity he's been so good to us, when they understand what Christ did and God's goodness to us that motivates them to begin to give. In fact that's exactly the motivation that the Apostle Paul used in 2 Corinthians.
It says Christ who though he was rich yet for your sakes became poor that we through his poverty might be made rich. Now Paul says that's your motivation for giving. You've been redeemed not with corruptible things such as silver and gold but with a precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
God has redeemed you at high cost and he has done so generously and joyfully and freely. Can't you see that being generous is just a response to his mercy? And that's why it's so important that those of you who have never accepted Christ as your savior by the way, that you not even give, don't give to this church, don't give to any church. For a number of reasons, number one so that you understand that salvation cannot be bought by money, but number two because you don't really have the right motivation anyway. It is only a response to God's love and a response to all that God has done for us in Christ. That's why we should really give.
It is our thank you for his mercy. So first of all there has to be a change of heart. Secondly, and this is very important now and very difficult to do, you say oh no it's not difficult to do.
You try it this afternoon, take out a half an hour and do this. There has to be a change of ownership, a change of ownership. You must take everything that you have, you rich people, you poor people, you people in between, and you must give all those consciously, deliberately, directly to God, absolutely everything because we must move from ownership to stewardship. It all belongs to God anyway. He has given it to us and so it is simply a recognition that God I have taken and I have absorbed into my hands, I have grasped from your hand what belongs to you and now I simply recognize my home and my car and my bank accounts and my whatever are all yours.
I give them to you one by one. All the struggle in the human heart to do that. But I want to tell you from personal experience you will not be content until you do. You won't be content until you do. People say well you know I know Christ is my savior. I've been walking with him for a number of years and I'm still not content. Apostle Paul says I have learned in whatever state I am therein to be content.
Some wag says well he never lived in Illinois. But the point is that the Apostle Paul says I have learned to be content. It is learned but secondly it will never happen as long as you own something. No owner can be content. It is when you transfer that ownership then suddenly things become different.
Then you don't use your credit card to buy an item that is going to depreciate. And the reason is because now you realize that since you are God's it is his responsibility to supply that to you without indebtedness if he wants you to have it. Because now the decisions are no longer yours.
You are a steward. You are not just somebody who does whatever you want to do just because you have the money to do it. This is God's money.
Not just the money that is given in the offering plate but the money that isn't given in the offering plate that goes for food and clothing and to pay the rent and utilities and whatever. So there has to be a change of heart. There has to be a change of ownership and then there has to be a change of perspective. A change of perspective. Now you begin to view needs through entirely different eyes. Because now you begin to give joyfully. You give because this is God's work. You begin to give proportionately as the scripture tells us. You begin to give regularly. And you begin to give imaginatively. It's not just giving into the offering plate though that should be done regularly and proportionately. It means now that you are looking for needs that you can meet and you are looking for those who have special needs and surprising them with gifts because suddenly it has taken on a brand new perspective.
You are now using your money so that people will greet you in heaven and that you will be found faithful with what God gave you. In a book by Willard Kamden, he tells a very interesting story, 1948 in Germany. Now the war ended in 1945. Three years after that, what you have is the German mark was totally canceled. But he tells the story of wanting to begin a Bible school in Frankfurt and word had gone out that this Bible institute was going to be begun and a dear German woman, bless her heart, loved Jesus with all that she was, came and gave him a 10,000 marks, 10,000 marks. She said I wanted to be your first gift in your Bible school and this represents years of savings. He didn't have the heart to tell her but he needed to remind her that apparently she had not read the newspaper the preceding day because the headline was mark canceled.
She didn't know it. All of that energy and all of that work and all of that effort, unusable, wasted, though her motive was good but wasted because the mark had been canceled. Well someday we're going to wake up and we're going to find out you young, good looking men who want to be millionaires by the age of 30, dollar canceled, dollar canceled.
It's all gone. What's going to last? What's going to last whether we go down in a plane ride or a car crash or die of cancer?
What is going to last? It is that which we did for God. The text says, and by the way, when I asked you to categorize yourself as rich or poor, you know that 95% of us should have said that we are rich.
If you've ever seen the other side of the world, you'd agree with that. And notice it says instruct them to do good and to be rich in good works, to be generous. Why? Storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
That's what we should be doing before the dollar is canceled. One day in Christ's ministry there was a young man who came to him who was rich, probably another one of these good looking guys. Wow. And he said, what may I do that I should inherit eternal life?
Typical rich, good looking guy. Inherit eternal life. What do I need to do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said, well, keep the commandments. There are two ways of salvation. One way is to believe in Jesus Christ and the other way is to live an absolutely totally spotless sinless life. So if you don't want to do this over here, do this. Keep the commandments.
You'll live. He says, I've kept them from my youth. And talk about denial. But anyway, Jesus said, well, if you've kept them from your youth, you should have no problem with the last one, which says, thou shalt not covet. Sell everything that you have and follow me. And the Bible says that he walked away very sorrowful for he had great possessions. Jesus said on another occasion how hard it is for those who are rich to enter into the kingdom of God.
Why? Riches means independence, self-sufficiency. It means that I'm fixing myself on something that I think is going to see me through any eventuality, not knowing that someday it's all going to be canceled. What was Jesus trying to teach? Was he trying to say that the way to get saved is by selling everything that you have and following me?
No. People have done that and have been lost forever. But what Jesus was trying to do is to help this guy with a reality check. Jesus was trying to say, you think that you don't need a savior and that you can inherit eternal life because of all your good deeds. I'm going to prove to you that you can't do good deeds because you're too selfish to do good deeds.
And that's true of you and me, if we're honest with ourselves. And so my last appeal to you is that those of you who do not know Christ as savior, I do not want you to get the impression it is done by suddenly becoming generous. Everybody flows from the gift of Christ.
And that's the sequence that we must keep in mind. Because when it comes to the gift of salvation, it says, oh, everyone that thirsts, come ye to the waters. Come and buy wine and milk and meat without money and without price. And he who is a thirst, let him come and drink of the water of life freely.
It's not earned. salvation is free. But once it is yours, and you understand the magnitude of it, you want to say, Lord, I give you my heart.
I give you my heart. Root out all of the covetousness, which the Bible says is idolatry. Root out all of the covetousness, all the desire to be rich. May I be rich in faith. Godliness with contentment is of great, great gain. And if God should bless me with riches, I will do exactly what the text says, laying myself up rewards for future habitation, to lay hold of that which is life indeed, the discipline of generosity.
It can only happen when we give our selfishness away. Let us pray. Father, we do thank you today for this great warning. And we thank you that the warning is given for our good, because riches are so deceitful. And Father, if the truth were really known, we'd have to admit that we enjoy being deceived.
In fact, we want to be deceived really. And we pray today that here at the Moody Church, there might be a breaking in our hearts that is brought about by the Holy Spirit. We think of those who struggle with this issue. We pray that this afternoon they will go home and yield themselves to you piece by piece and finally reach contentment, because they are no longer owners, but stewards. Father, don't do a shallow work in our hearts, but do something deep and lasting.
Make us a generous people that we might be looking for opportunities to invest your wealth in that which will last. And for those who do not know Christ as Savior, who still think that maybe even because of their wealth, they can get some good benefits from you, bring them to the end of that foolishness. And may they trust the only one who can give them as a gift eternal life. In Christ's name, amen. Here at the Ministry of Running to Win, we always have a God-ward focus. We are interested in helping all of us do well at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, faithful with what He has given us. I'm holding in my hands a letter from a woman. She says she has the Moody Media app on her phone. Every night before she goes to bed, she listens to the sermons and the prayer. And she says, as a 40-year-old single mother of a special needs son, our lives are challenging to say the least. I lean on the Lord for everything, and your sermons have really encouraged me onward.
I need them. You know, we receive reports like that because of people just like you who have made this ministry possible. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
By the way, I failed to mention that you also can connect with us. You can go to the Moody Church Media app, and you can listen to the Ministry of Running to Win. Meanwhile, thanks for those of you who are supporting this ministry, and if you're interested in becoming an endurance partner, go to RTWOffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Many of us don't think twice about grabbing a hamburger at lunchtime, but there are times to bypass food altogether. Have you ever fasted for several days to deepen your prayer life? Next time, the benefits of giving up food as we learn about the discipline of prayer and fasting. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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