Today on Summit Life, we're looking at our bank accounts. There are three things that, to me, comprise a biblical vision for money.
You want to put all of them together, it's this. Be smart, be wise, be generous. Smart means you track everything that you spend and you don't go into debt. You know where every penny's going. Be wise means that you save regularly.
To be generous means that you give extravagantly. Hey, thanks for joining us here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer of the Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. As I'm sure you know, during a typical year of holiday shopping, we see crazy news footage of crowds of people shoving and pushing, trying to get that best deal on a new flat-screen TV or the latest Black Friday gadget. And it makes me think of the age-old question, do you own your things or do your things own you?
An appropriate question to ask as we exit the holidays and enter into a new year with so much economic uncertainty. Today, Pastor J.D. continues our new teaching series called Staying Faith with the second part of a message he titled, Keeping Sight of the Beginning. Luke 19, verse one, Jesus entered Jericho and he was passing through.
And behold, there was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Chief tax collector.
Tax collector is probably not going to be on anybody's list today of favorite jobs. So it's unpopular today, but back then a tax collector was more than just an unpopular government official. A tax collector was considered to be a traitor and a thief. You see, whenever the Roman Empire took over a city, as they had most of Israel, they wanted to extract large amounts of money for the emperor from that city. But they knew if they put a Roman official there to be in charge of taxation, not only would he be resented, he also would not know where all the money was hidden in the city. So the Romans came up with a pretty ingenious system. They appointed a native of that city and they said, you're going to collect the tax from us because you know where the money is.
And they said, here's what we expect you to give to us. Here is a squad of soldiers that you can use to extract this tax and then anything that you get above what we require, you can just keep from yourself. So these guys, these tax collectors, in this case a native Jew, would extract huge sums of money from their own people for Rome, and in the process they would get filthy rich because they keep a lot of it for themselves.
And they were doing this for a foreign, oppressing empire against their friends, people they'd grown up with, usually their own relatives. Zacchaeus is not just a tax collector. Zacchaeus is the archaetilonus, the chief tax collector, and he's the chief tax collector in the richest city in all of Israel.
Let me ask you this. How much did money have to have a hold on Zacchaeus' heart to do this? Verse 3, and he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not because he was vertically challenged. So he ran on ahead and he climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him because Jesus was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and he said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today. Verse 6, so Zacchaeus hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw, they all grumbled and said, he's gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.
You see, there is a scandalous order to this story. In that day to eat with someone, to actually go into their house and share a meal, was a sign of very intimate fellowship. Jesus is extending this invitation to Zacchaeus before he cleans up his life. You see, every other religion in the world says, change, clean up, and God will accept you. But the Gospel reverses that. The Gospel is God has offered acceptance to you in light of that invitation, change.
God's acceptance is the power that liberates you from sin, not the reward for you having liberated yourself. You see, watch this, verse 8. And Zacchaeus stood and he said to the Lord, behold, Lord, the half of all my goods I give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anybody of anything, I restore it fourfold. And Jesus said to him, today salvation has come to this house. Religion, you see, points outward and says, Zacchaeus, out there, go do that and you will be saved.
But Jesus' Gospel is Zacchaeus, salvation has come to your house. It walked in freely as a gift, not because you deserved it. In fact, you did not deserve it. It came in on its own accord. It came to you. It saved you.
In response to that, you're going to change. We little Zacchaeus has found a greater treasure than money, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are a few lessons for us from Zacchaeus' life. Number one, money problems usually come from money idolatry. Idolatry is when something has become so important to you that you crave it. You feel like you couldn't be happy without it. Zacchaeus worshiped money as the greatest thing that life had to offer. Here are some of the things that we do for love of money.
Cheating, overspending, that's a money problem, right? You're eaten up with jealousy. You see what other people have. And it just drives you crazy that you don't have that. You got to get that.
You hate them. It's a money problem that comes from money idolatry, not being generous. You want to be generous, but you just can't because you worship money. I've told you this before, but there are two personality types that struggle with being generous. Unfortunately, all of you fit into one of these two personality types.
All right, me too. I've told you there are some people who, when they get money, they spend it, right? You get an extra thousand dollars, you know, unexpected, and what are you doing? You're headed out to buy the flat-screen TV, the new set of drapes, new set of golf clubs, take a vacation. You're a spender. There are others of you. You get an extra thousand dollars.
What do you do? You're a saver. You tuck it away for a rainy day, right?
Now, here's the irony. Both of you think that the other personality type has a problem with money. You savers are like, man, those spenders, they just got to have all the nice, they got to have the bling in their life, and that's just so stupid. And then you spenders look at the savers going, they are so scared. They're always worried. They're misers. They got to hold on to all their money.
And by the way, another irony. In God's wonderful sense of humor, these two personality types always get married to each other. Always. Some of your worst marriage problems have come from that extra one thousand dollars, haven't they?
Because you can't figure out what to do with it. And both of you are pointing a finger at each other, saying you got a problem with money. Jesus, when he was diagnosing this, I love this, and it's probably his most clear passage on generosity, Matthew 6. He said this, he said, to the spender, you should consider the lilies of the field. The beautiful flowers, they don't spend a dime on their beauty, but God makes them beautiful. Right? And what he means is not that it's not okay to have some nice stuff, it just means that your main source of beauty and your main source of significance shouldn't come from what you own or what you wear, it should come from the God who has called you and has a plan for your life. Right? Then he turns around to the saver, because when he's saying that, all the savers are like, oh, stick it to them.
Yep. And then he turns to them and he says, and you savers ought to consider the ravens. Man, they don't save a dime, they don't have a bank account, but God takes care of them. And what he's saying is not that it's wrong to save money, he's just saying, watch, your primary security in the future ought not be your bank account, it ought to be God. So then he says, seek, to both groups, seek first the kingdom of God, his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. What are all these things? The beauty and the security of your life.
That's what he means. So that you list, you have money and God blesses you with it and you buy some nice stuff, you use the money and you save it, because that's what a wise person does, but your money is neither your primary source of beauty or your security. God is the source of those things. And if God tells you to reduce your standard of living so that you can give to his work, you do it freely, because God makes you beautiful, not your clothes. And if God says, I want you to give away part of what you save so that my work can prosper on earth, you do it freely because you say, God controls my future, not my bank account. You seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, you obey him in all things and money is no longer holding you captive. There are three things that to me comprise a biblical vision for money. You want to put all of them together, it's this, be smart, be wise, be generous. Smart means you track everything that you spend and you don't go into debt, you know where every penny is going.
Be wise means that you save regularly. To be generous means that you give extravagantly. And I know you'll never be able to do any of those three things until the money idolatry has been broken and you quit worshiping money. Number two, only an experience with the gospel changes our heart's attitudes toward money. Only an experience with the gospel changes our heart's attitudes toward money. Zacchaeus did not become generous, as I pointed out, because Jesus commanded him to. He became generous, too. He became generous because he wanted to.
Do you see how many times the word joyfully was repeated in there? This was not about law, it was about love. One afternoon with Jesus did more than 10,000 sermons on the law of generosity could ever do, because the gospel does what sermons cannot. The gospel changes your heart.
The gospel transforms you not into a person who just does generous things, but it transforms you into a truly generous person. We, even more than Zacchaeus, have experienced the grace of the gospel. In fact, Jesus's last statement in this story explains the relevance of the story for us.
I skipped it, let me read it to you now. Verse 10, for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. We see in Zacchaeus's story our story.
We get a picture in this story of what Jesus did for each of us. Watch, Zacchaeus was up in a tree because he was despised, and rightfully so. Jesus called him down out of that tree into the warmth of fellowship, and he ate a meal with him. The irony is that at the end of Jesus's life, he would climb up into a tree. Deuteronomy 21, 23, cursed is the man who hangs on a tree. The Jews consider him to be the Jews considered every person who died on a tree to be despised and cursed. Jesus climbed up in the tree and was despised so that he could give Zacchaeus the warmth of fellowship.
Do you see what happened? He traded places with Zacchaeus. He got the scorn of derision so that Zacchaeus could get the warmth of fellowship.
He took the shame so that Zacchaeus could get the reward. You're listening to a message titled Keeping Sight of the Beginning on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit us at jdgreer.com. You know, this time of year is really critical for ministries like Summit Life, and that might be a bit surprising to you if you don't know what it takes to fund a ministry like this. You see, when you give to Summit Life, you are making sure that cost doesn't get in the way for anyone who wants to learn and grow in their faith through these messages. Your generous gift helps people dive into the message of the gospel through this radio program that you're listening to through our podcast and also through the immense free library of resources on our website. So would you consider joining us today in this mission? Don't forget that we'll send you our 2023 Daily Planner as our gift to you.
You can take a look at it right now at jdgreer.com. Thanks for being a part of the Summit Life family. Now let's get back to our teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. Isaiah 51, 17 says, He drank the cup of wrath. Our wrath, God's wrath, His judgment poured out in a cup. Jesus took it and drank it to the full on the cross and had all the wrath for my and your sin put into His body so that at our Lord's table He could offer us the cup of salvation. He could offer us the cup of fellowship. He drank the cup of wrath so I get the cup of intimacy. This is not just about Zacchaeus.
I hope you see that. This is about you because all we like sheep have gone astray. We turn every one to our own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Jesus, Jesus, what a friend of sinners. Jesus, lover of my soul.
Friends may fail me, foes assail me. He my Savior makes me whole. And when you see that you will need to be commanded to give like Zacchaeus. You will give freely without a command because you're going to see that though he was rich yet for your sake he became poor so that you through his poverty would become rich. You're going to see that though he was God he had the loftiest position. He left it and he became a servant so that he could release you from your servanthood and your captivity to money into the things of the world.
You're going to see that though he knew no sin God made him to become sin so that you could become the righteousness of God in him. And when you see that, when you experience that, when you grasp that, you're not going to need me to stand up here and yell at you about giving. You're not going to need me to stand up here and yell at you about sacrificing or mission or anything. You're just going to become a generous person by the way and not just generous in one area. I've told you this if you're only generous in one area not all areas then that means you just feel guilty about something. If you have been touched by the gospel you become generous with your time. You become generous with your resources. You become generous with forgiveness. And you're not just generous in response to a sermon series. You're generous for a lifetime because of what Jesus has done in you and for you.
Here's how we say it. Those people who truly experience the gospel become like the gospel. Those people who truly experience the gospel become like the gospel. If you have not become the gospel, like the gospel, I would suggest you probably have never really experienced it.
There's just no way. The thing that most characterizes the gospel is that God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that those of us who believed in him would never perish but have everlasting life. If we have been given too then those who re-experience that begin to give. Number three.
This leads me logically I think to number three. People who ask how much do I have to give don't get it. Many of us ask how much is enough? Well what do I have to give to get God off my back? How much to fulfill my duty? When is God?
When do I get the gold star? Here's why people who ask that don't ever get it. Gospel giving is about love, not law. It's not about percentages.
It's about a person. Zacchaeus is not meeting a standard. Zacchaeus is pouring out his soul to God. That's one reason. Here's the second reason people who ask how much do I have to give don't get it. God doesn't need your money, right? God's not up in heaven going, oh I got so much I want to do on earth but I'm flat broke. Man, that summit church has got the money. Man, if they give me some of their money I could get my kingdom built. I can assure you there are a lot of conversations happening in heaven.
That is not one of them. People who ask how much do I have to give have what I think is really helpful. Have what a guy named Chip Ingram calls small pie syndrome. They think of resources like a pie. And so you know I got a limited pie, I only got so many pieces in the pie and if I cut a piece for you then that's one less piece for me. And so I want to give God a little sliver but not enough that it's going to cut into my pie, right? He said the flaw in that thinking is that the kingdom of God is about multiplying pies. So what God does he takes a pie of five loaves and two fish and he multiplies it so that there's millions of pies to feed 15,000 people that are starving on a hillside. Because giving to God is not about meeting the needs of a God who speaks worlds into existence. Giving to God is about the worship and love of your heart. God doesn't need your pie. God can make a new pie and giving away part of your pie doesn't reduce God's ability to take care of you because God just multiplies the pie that's left, right?
So we don't have small pie syndrome. Gospel giving is not about meeting God's needs. He's all sufficient.
He never needed us. Gospel giving is about worship and joy. That's why 2 Corinthians 9-7 told you two weeks ago, God only loves a cheerful giver.
Cheerful comes from the Greek word that we use to translate the word hilarious. God loves hilarious. God loves giggling givers. When's the last time that happened to you in the offering? Offering passes by and you're like, hahaha, you're putting money in. That's the kind of giving God loves.
Think about that. Why does God only love cheerful givers? Why does he only love cheerful givers?
None of us are like that. If you're a landlord and you've got tenants, you don't care if they give you their rent cheerfully. You just care that they give it. They've got money and you deserve it.
You need it. I've never gotten a note back from the IRS, not once, that ever said, hey, you paid your taxes, but we're concerned that you did not give this cheerfully. We only love cheerful givers. They don't care what kind of giver I am as long as I pay my taxes. Why does God only love cheerful givers? Because God doesn't need our money.
The money is not about meeting one of his needs. The money is about expressing the heart of devotion and worship to him. It's about pouring out a sacrifice of our heart to him to say, I love you. That's why sacrifice is a necessary part of a gospel offering. Because it's not about meeting a need of God.
It's about expressing the love of your heart and that's what sacrifice does. King David, end of his life, God tells him where he wants to build the temple. It's on this piece of property and so David is going to buy the piece of property. So he goes to the guy who owns it. Guy's name is Arnon. He goes to Arnon and he says, hey, I'd like to buy this field because God wants to build a temple here. The guy says, hey, you've been a great king.
Man, you've really helped me. I just want to give this to you. And David says, 2 Samuel 24, 24, no, I will buy it for a very heavy price because I will not give unto the Lord that which cost me nothing. See, by this point in David's life, he finally understood that giving was not about meeting a need that God had because if it was about meeting a need, then the field, however it got there, would be fine. But David said, no, my offerings have to cost me because if it didn't cost me anything, it doesn't say anything about my heart to God. Sacrifice is a necessary part of any gospel offering.
In fact, here's how I'd say it. God measures our generosity not by the size of the gift. God measures our generosity by the size of our sacrifice because sacrifice expresses affections. The most famous giving story in the Bible is the story of a woman, a very poor woman, in fact, who comes in to Jesus a few days before he dies. And she has a little alabaster flask full of perfume.
Extraordinarily expensive in those days. In fact, they would say it took a woman usually an entire year of saving money to be able to purchase just one flask of perfume. She comes in, she breaks it open, the bottle, which means she's going to dump all of it out on Jesus's feet. She weeps and she washes his feet with her hair. Jesus looks at her and is so moved that he says, wherever the gospel is preached, this woman's story of giving and sacrifice is going to be told as the standard for what it means to give to me. Now, why was he so moved? Is it because she met a need?
No. I mean, nobody's really that concerned about how their feet smell as long as they're people can't smell them, right? And if you want perfume to last forever, you don't put it on your feet. The offering only lasted for 20 minutes, but the statement that that offering made about her heart to God, God at the heart of what God wants for his people, and that is offerings that say, God, I love you. It wasn't the value of the offering, it was the statement of the soul. Every gospel offering, in fact, my vision, God's vision, is that I'm going to give you a vision. God's vision, I think, for this is a church not full of rich people who are meeting God's needs in Raleigh, Durham.
Don't be an idiot. I mean, God has no needs. The vision is a group of people in this church with alabaster flask, all of whom are offering them up like Zacchaeus saying, I love you. And it means that every single one of us gives in a way that's sacrificial, that states something about our heart and about Jesus's value to us. That woman, her very valuable possession didn't matter anything at all to her compared to the value of Jesus.
And until she had broken it, her heart was not where it wanted to be with God. That's why when somebody that's wealthy strokes a $200,000 check, I mean, that's awesome. Praise God. It may impress us, but if it does not represent the sacrifice of your soul, then it doesn't mean anything to God because God's not needy or $200,000.
He's got two bazillion dollars. It means that every single gift that is offered to God ought to be done in a way that is a sacrifice of the heart. I was so moved last year as different members of our church gave in ways. I knew some who delayed the purchase of a car. I knew one, at least, who did some additions they wanted to put on their house and they permanently, or at least for the meantime, postponed putting those additions on there.
Some that sold recreational tools like golf clubs or mountain bike. One that gave up a piece of jewelry to help with an adoption. I know several that canceled cable services and other luxuries that they were entitled to, but this is a way they could sacrifice and give.
I knew one who took, actually several who took less vacation that year. I know at least one who gave away a vacation home. Everybody in our church ought to have something they sacrifice. I can't tell you what it is. I'm not the Holy Spirit, but I can tell you you're supposed to live a generous lifestyle in response to the gospel. I can tell you that, and then I can tell you to ask the Holy Spirit because He's your God, not me. I can just say, hey, live a generous lifestyle and ask the Holy Spirit what He wants and put it all in front of Him and say, my security, my significance, my beauty is not found in these things. It's found in you.
And I'm going to seek you first. And if that means you tell me to get rid of one of these things so that I can offer it out and pour it on your feet, not because of the value it has, but because of the statement it makes about my heart, then God, you can have it because you're worth more than any of those things to me. Pouring out everything we have at the feet of Jesus. That's the challenge today from Pastor J.D.
Greer on Summit Life. We are in a short one-week series called Staying Faith, and if you'd like to hear the previous messages, you can find them online at jdgreer.com. J.D., we've heard so many great stories of God transforming lives through this ministry this year, haven't we? Yeah, Molly, it really is incredible to see and read stories about how God is using our listeners. I love hearing stories of where God is working in their lives, but maybe just as much as when they're telling me a story about how God has not just worked in them, but through them to impact somebody else. That's part of our goal is to not just multiply the word, but to multiply disciple-making disciples, and we love stories about that. For instance, recently I heard from Mary, who lives in the United States, but she is German, and she's been inspired through Summit Life to bring the good message of God's grace to take it back to Germany. Or Theo, who told us that he passes the link of this broadcast on to everybody that he knows, from Christian friends to, he says, some atheist co-workers of his.
Or Matthew, who forwards our daily email devotions to people that he's praying for that he knows are hurting. And so thank you, and if this moves you and you want to be a part of it, just go to jdgreer.com and it'll show you how you can get involved. And as our way of saying thanks for your support, we'd like to send you our 2023 Summit Life Day Planner.
It's a great tool for busy students, parents, businessmen, and women, anyone, really. Throughout the year, you'll find Bible verses to remind you of God's promises. We're even including a year-long Bible reading plan to help you grow deeper in your knowledge of the gospel throughout the year. Ask for a copy of the always popular 2023 Summit Life Day Planner when you donate today at the suggested amount of $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgreer.com.
I'm Molly Vitovich. Be sure to tune in again next time as we wrap up our series called Staying Faith. That's Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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