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Apostles' Feet

Posted: June 05, 2014

Apostles’ Feet

 

Financial Flow in the New Testament

 

By: Teryl Hebert

 

Introduction

 

I have been asked by many these days to write about the flow of money in the New Testament Church and I believe that the time has come to do so. The more I hear from people who lead and attend house churches the more I feel that we should try our best to get over the abuses of money and power that we all witnessed in the traditional churches. The only way I know to get healed from past hurts is to let God’s Word renew us through repentance and restore us to faith. In this paper I will attempt to do three things. First, I will show what Jesus had to say about money. This must cure all of our issues of improper motives and also be the foundation to ALL doctrine. Second, I will show the New Testament insights of how the Apostles’ collected, moved, and dispersed finances in the early church. Third and finally, I will give my insights to modern challenges to moving money in our present day.

 

Part 1

 

 Jesus and Money

 

Merchandising

John 2:13-17, “13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

In Jesus’ first trip to Jerusalem, the first order of business was to correct the order of business. Money changers and those who sold animals for sacrifice were so out of hand that converting your currency and buying your animal to sacrifice were more important that who you were sacrificing to. Merchandising in the temple infuriated Jesus even though God required the sacrifices. In the synoptic gospels Jesus added, “My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” There is nothing like money to reveal your motives. How quickly our prayers and worship take a back seat to turning a profit. Our motives for handling money must be not only the first thing that we examine but also kept under review all during our Christian walk and ministry, both for the ministers and those who are giving. New Testament ministers AND worshippers should follow Jesus’ lead and violently cast the money changers and merchandisers out of our own hearts!!!

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5:19-34, “19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If  therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

I believe that on The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave His most thorough instructions concerning our dealings with money (I intentionally ignored His teaching on Alms, I’ll address it later). The first thing that I want you to see is that our hearts follow our treasure, “21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Therefore it is vital that we place significant treasure in the things of the kingdom or we will soon be misusing funds to feed moths. That’s why I believe that every believer should be heavily invested in the missions of the kingdom. Let’s look at an Old Testament principle that should be a good “school master” concerning this point.

Deuteronomy 8:11-18, “11 Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; 14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; 16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; 17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

God warns us repeatedly that we should not forget Him when we get passed the issues of salvation, deliverance, and warfare. But we must be sure to remember, “18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.” The reason that He gives us the ability to get wealth is to establish His covenant with you and with others. In other words, He allows those who are in covenant with Him to get wealth to help get others to come into covenant with Him. This is significant and it dovetails with Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount.

Since our hearts follow treasure and not vice versa, it is imperative that we keep our eye singularly focused on the things of God. Which leads us right into the second thing that we should see in The Sermon on the Mount, we cannot serve two masters,  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

The word “mammon” not only means treasure but that which is to be trusted. With that second definition I conclude that mammon is more than just money/treasure. I believe it is a principality, or a ruling demonic spirit that would attempt to rival God Himself, seeking to get you to trust mammon, breaking the First Commandment putting mammon before God.

Following the admonition concerning God and mammon, Jesus goes on to use the phrase “take no thought” five different times in verses 25-34. The word “thought” in these passages means to be anxious and troubled with care about self interests or things. In other words, the spirit of mammon wants you to live in the fear based behavior of stressing over self preservation concerning food, drink, clothing, cosmetic appearance, size, shape, stature, sowing, reaping, etc…

Matthew 19:16-30, And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. 27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”

The rich young ruler is perfect example of divided heart attempting to serve two masters. He wanted eternal life and temporal life and Jesus was forcing him to choose on or the other. When he asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life Jesus told him to keep the commandments and the young man quickly replied “which ones,” like you can cherry pick the commandments that you like (sarcasm). But Jesus seemed to entertain his folly by quoting the last six commandments of The Law. The young man confidently responded “I have always kept those.” Then Jesus got to the heart of the issue, sell your stuff, give it to the poor, and follow me, that was the deal breaker and he went away sad. You see the Ten Commandments have two parts, the first four commandments govern our relationship to God, while the last six govern our relationships to men. The young man was a humanist, he treated his fellow man well but his god was his possessions. We should be on constant guard that the things we possess do not become our gods or we too will forgo eternal life. We too must unladen our camels to pass through the eye of the needle.

The last lesson on the Sermon on the Mount is short and sweet, we find it in verse 33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I believe that this is a covenant that Jesus is making with all who will do His bidding on earth. Jesus is in fact telling us that if we will do His work, He will take care of ours.

Let’s take away these three thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount:

1. Our hearts follow our treasure (what we think is valuable).

2. We cannot serve two masters.

3. If we do the Lord’s work, He will take care of our base needs.

Jesus has a Treasury

The Widow’s Mites

Luke 21:1-6,And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Jesus watches over the offering. I know that many in the house church movement think that no man should know who gives what but Jesus sure did. He even judged the givers when He surmised that those who struggle to give are giving more than those who give out of their abundance. Even though the cash value may be less, the faith it takes to give out of your struggling economy goes further with God than easily writing a check from your overflow.

The temple had a treasury, a place where money was given for the operational expenses of the things pertaining to Old Testament worship. So does the New Testament.

John 12:1-6, Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”

 Jesus had a treasury on earth and Judas was the treasurer. So does this mean that the treasury is evil and that only the Judas’ of this world will handle God’s money? No, not at all, as a matter of fact we will see some very godly men handling money throughout the book of the Acts. What I do want us to see is how volatile the handling of money is. Judas was one of Jesus’ chosen men but he became demon possessed, betrayed Jesus, committed suicide, and went to hell, all because of money!

Jesus’ treasury was used for two main things, buying food and supplies for Himself and His entourage and giving to the poor. I will maintain throughout all of this writing and in all of my teachings and practice that there are two basic divisions in church finance. Number One, Mission, and Number Two, Maintenance. All finance must be used for moving the mission and maintaining the church. *And by the word “church” I do not mean buildings.

John 4:8, (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)” There’s a verse that’s probably never been displayed on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. But, it gives us insight to the workings of Jesus’ day to day life. He sent His disciples to BUY meat. Where did the money come from? Why did they use money?

And here’s another insight into the daily operational affairs of Jesus’ ministry proving that it was commonplace for them to go buy things that they needed and that they should give money or provisions to the poor:

John 13:27-29, 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”

The word “alms” means to have compassion on the poor. More than just a feeling but “moved with compassion” in other words, our feelings about the poor stir us to actions toward them.

Matthew 6:1-4,Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

In Matthew 6, Jesus deals with alms, then prayer, then fasting. I believe that these all go together in keeping with the “Chosen Fast” of Isaiah 58. All of this seems to keep us rationing to our own flesh in order to bless others.

These and many other supporting verses reinforce my statement that the church has two major divisions of finance 1) Mission, 2) maintenance. We will get more specific about these in Parts 2 and 3 of this paper.

Render to Caesar

Matthew 22:16-22, “And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

The word “tribute” is where we get the word census and was used in conjunction with paying taxes. Please remember that the Lord Himself was born as His family was on their way to be taxed. The question at hand is, was it lawful to pay taxes or not? Jesus, operating in a word of wisdom famously replied, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” Let’s get something straight, Caesar owns the money but God owns you! Whatever you possess belongs to God. You are not under The Law but you are under grace. You were dead under The Law and God saved you by His Grace and now you are HIS!!!

I Corinthians 6:19-20,19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”

Most of our problems about money in the church stem from misunderstanding the workings of a monarchy. The Kingdom of God is not a constitutional republic or a democracy, it is a monarchy. Jesus our Lord and King is absolutely sovereign and we have absolutely no rights! The moment we take up our own wills over His will we immediately withdraw from His Kingdom and the Holy Spirit (His Kingdom Come) will withdraw from you. So just remember the U.S. government may own the money but God owns you, and whatever you possess is for Him. This applies not only to money but to EVERYTHING including money, house, children, stuff, etc… I mean EVERYTHING!!!

I have heard much in the house church movement concerning government compliance or should I say non-compliance. I am speaking right now as an American minister and I fully realize that this particular teaching must be adapted to different governments around the world, some are less friendly than the U.S. Government. Jesus and the apostles taught that we should comply with the government concerning taxation. When the Apostle Paul penned the words of Romans 13, Nero, a brutal, murderous, tyrant was Emperor of Rome.

I personally, have no problem with most issues concerning the church and government compliance in America. Our network of house churches operates under one registered non-profit tax structure. We have never experienced any government interference with our message, or method of operation. We will continue to enjoy the tax benefits for being a duly registered non-profit with the state until the government would pressure us to change message or methods. We must obey God and not man.

Ask yourself, do you pay taxes, do you have a social security number, did you get a marriage license, driver’s license, building permit, etc…? Why would you comply with these things personally and then require the church to operate differently? Don’t you know that every man is a part of the Body of Christ which is His Church? You are the church, so why operate independently in cooperation with the state and then apply another standard on the church collectively? We cannot legally handle money as a church unless we are registered. Some suggest that we should only use cash. To those I would say, if you think the abuses in the traditional churches was bad wait until you have to work only on cash basis with little or no accounting records. I have heard some say that they think people will only give because it is tax deductible. I have been in ministry over 30 years and I have never known not even one person who gave just to get tax credit.

I also want you to keep this in mind. We are currently under a very oppressive taxation from the government. The people in our churches are taxed more than 50% if you consider all federal, state, and local taxes. Please be considerate to the people when you receive offerings because they are cash strapped and the church must not pile on with undo taxation through high pressured demands on giving.

Tithing

Matthew 23:23.23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

In Jesus’ scathing rebuke of scribes and Pharisees, He brought up the issue of the tithe. Most that I talk to in house church circles think that tithing is of the devil. Look carefully at what our Lord says in this passage. He rebuked the fact that they were very precise on tithing but had omitted the “weightier matters of the Law.” Then He said they should get back to judgment, mercy, and faith, AND, “NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.’  What is “the other” that we are not to leave undone? It is tithing!!! Jesus supported the tithe in the New Testament providing that the heart was right in the matters of judgment, mercy, and faith. Are we under the law of the tithe? No, not at all, we are under a much higher law of the Spirit. Remember, ALL that we have is His, not just ten percent, one hundred percent!!!

I hope all you tithe haters will not turn me off at this point. Now, if you joined house church because you’re stingy or greedy please leave, we don’t need the sin of Achan or Ananias and Sapphira hindering the work. In the next two parts of this paper we will get down to the nuts and bolts of the practical issues of receiving, moving, and distributing funds.

The Money Parables

The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:22, 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”

Jesus said that the Parable of the Sower was the key to understanding ALL parables. With that in mind let’s look at just one of the four types of soil that the seed landed in. When “the seed” fell among “thorns” the thorns choked the Word and it became unfruitful. The thorns represent the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. We have already learned from the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus warns us about “taking thought” or living with anxiety and stress for our worldly lives. This can easily “choke out the Word” and all fruit that it was bearing because money will lie to you. The heart of money’s lie is that it tells you that God can’t do what He said He would do. Money attached to fear will always result in unbelief! And no matter how much Bible (Word) you read, if it is not mixed with faith it will steal all of your rest and peace (read Hebrews 4).

John Wesley used to say, “Whenever I have money I give it away as quickly as I can, lest it find its way into my heart.” We would do well to learn that lesson from Mr. Wesley.

The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30, 14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

In this story, Jesus shows that as He returns to heaven, He deposits His “goods” (wealth) in the form of “talents” which is money, with His servants. A talent was about 200 pounds of gold, at 1000 per ounce it is valued at about $3,200,000 in today’s standards. Now I have heard many preachers deal with this passage. Some say that the talents mean our spiritual gifts, while others say that it means money, either way the story is about stewardship.

We can talk about Jesus ‘til the cows come home but at the end of the day, most church folks are just trying to live their lives and keep their noses above water. We sell our time to get money, our time represents our lives, and therefore money is spiritual because it represents what we have traded our lives for. So what are you doing with the things that God has placed in your possession? Are you laying up treasure on earth or in heaven? Are you seeking the kingdom and His righteousness or are you “asking amiss” to consume things on your on lusts? What will Jesus get from you when He returns? Are you doing His business or yours? Are you actively trading or are you hiding it in a napkin? Will you be rewarded at the return of Jesus or will you go to hell for poor stewardship?

If you will carefully read Matthew 25 you will find that the Parable of the Talents is immediately followed by the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. The sheep were rewarded for serving Jesus by generously giving to the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and incarcerated, while the goats went to hell for neglecting them.

Consider another parable that I believe goes along with these, it’s the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10: 30-37. 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”

We are the man who was attacked by thieves represents all of us prior to salvation and Jesus is The Good Samaritan. But I want to focus on another person in this story, the “host” or innkeeper that Jesus brought the poor fellow to. Before He left He gave the innkeeper two pence (about two days wages) and said take care of this man. But the real lesson comes in what Jesus tells the innkeeper next, “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” We as the church must play the role of the innkeeper. Do you believe that Jesus will repay us when He comes again? Do you have faith to take care of folks at your own expense until His return? Consider Proverbs 19:17, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” God considers it a personal loan to Him when we give to the poor and He will pay us again! God pays His debts and will settle all accounts at His coming! Do we have faith to believe in delayed gratification? Or can we declare with the Apostle Paul, that I reckon that the sufferings of this present time cannot be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in the future?

Stewardship

Luke 16:1-13, And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. 10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

In this parable, Jesus uses an unsaved man to teach us a lesson concerning stewardship. He actually commended the lost man’s shrewdness in his attempt to weasel his way out of being fired for poor stewardship. The real lesson comes at the end, Jesus makes a distinction between “unrighteous mammon” and “true riches,” obviously then there are true riches and false riches. If we are not faithful with what someone else gave us how can we handle our own riches? Once again Jesus brings in the lesson that you cannot serve God and mammon in the context of stewardship. We should learn that we have much to do with “unrighteous mammon” during our lives and this will be a great proving ground of our love for Jesus. We should never let mammon cool our love for Christ.

Conclusion

I haven’t come close to exhausting all of Jesus’ teachings concerning money but one thing becomes obvious in everything that He had to say about the subject, money will be one of the greatest tests of our discipleship.  If we have money, we could easily become prideful in false security. If we lack money, we could easily become fearful believing the deceitfulness of riches. We must learn to be good stewards of those things that God places in our hands. In part two of this teaching, I will trace the steps of the Apostles in the early church as they taught us good stewardship by the way that they handled money in their day.

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