Principles of Generous Investment
Text: Luke 12:13-34 | Listen to Message
You Can’t Take It With You
The American Dream is little more than the glorification and worship of profit, consumerism, and leisure. Pursuing this “dream” is about like saying, “My ultimate goal in life is to maximize my own personal comfort, satisfaction, and wealth – often at the expense of others.” So, of course, no one says that. We try to be a little subtler about our covetous, materialistic sense of entitlement. “I’m just being a good steward and putting aside a little nest egg for the uncertain times ahead.” Uh huh, right.
If this sounds like a rant against money and prosperity, it’s not. Nowhere in the Bible is wealth condemned; nor does the Bible consider poverty to be inherently virtuous. But what does matter – and what Jesus focuses on here in Luke 12 – is your attitude toward money and possessions. And nowhere is your attitude more clearly demonstrated than in how much and how effortlessly you give to Gospel ministry.
See, the issue is not how much money you have, but how you view money and what you do with it. To that end, where The American Dream tells you to hoard and to consume, Jesus tells you to seek the kingdom of God by giving openhandedly and investing generously in eternity.
We’ve all heard the axiom, “You can’t take it with you.” And that’s true: when you die, all your money and possessions will suddenly belong to someone else. But do you know that Jesus said even though you can’t take it with you, there’s a sense in which you can send it on ahead? Let me illustrate.
Imagine at some point in the next year, you’ll be whisked away to a remote island to live out the remainder of your days. It could happen today, next week, next month, or 12 months from now, but you’re going to be taken. And when you’re taken, you can’t bring anything with you except the clothes on your back. But there’s one caveat: You can send anything you want ahead of you and it will be there for your enjoyment for the rest of your days.
Question: Would you continue to cling to your money and possessions here or would you send them on ahead of you?
Most of you would immediately trim your life down to the most basic essentials and send everything else ahead of you. You would sacrifice the momentary enjoyment of those things in order to gain a far greater enjoyment later on.
So why do we do the exact opposite in real life? Why do American Evangelicals give, on average, less than 4% of their gross income to church and charity combined, while clinging to the other 96%? To put it in Jesus’ terms, why do we lay up treasure for ourselves rather than being rich toward God? Why do we treasure the temporal over the eternal? Why do we value consumption and hoarding over generous investment in the local church and global missions?
Jesus’ answer is Luke 12:34: What we treasure reveals where our heart is. We can claim to love God preeminently – and we can boast of our “sacrifice” – but if our finances and calendars tell a different story, then that is the real story. We’re selfish and tightfisted with our time and money because our hearts are selfish and tightfisted. We’re greedy and covetous because our hearts are greedy and covetous. We live for the temporal rather than the eternal because our comfort and leisure in this world is what we actually love more than anything.
And the only hope we have if we hope to change is Jesus. We must see him letting go of everything, including life itself, in order to be generous to us – his enemies. We must believe that our salvation depends entirely on his openhanded generosity toward us when we deserved nothing but judgment and death. We must accept that there’s a hell to escape and an eternity with God to be gained – and that we’d be fools not to lose everything for the sake of forever. Finally, we must treasure the Kingship of this selfless, generous Jesus more than we treasure momentary gain.
If this is what we really believed – and treasured – our time and money would fly out of our hands into the long-term, high-yield investment of living on mission for Christ and the Gospel.