“More Money: The Test of More”

At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series designed to help us have a healthy relationship with money.

God wants us to have more rather than take more from us. There are very “rich” people who are worth far less than those with a high net worth without contentment, freedom, generosity but stuck needing more. What if we began to see ourselves as God’s Investment Managers that He could trust with more and more because we will be faithful? How do you get there where God can trust you with more and more?  God actually asks us to test Him in the area of finances. Money reveals how we view ourselves and God.

Discussion Questions:

Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

More Money: Can I Handle More?- Next Steps

Gateway South Austin Inspire Service:

Message Notes from John Burke:

Jesus told us life is like a game: Here’s the lesson:

Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. Luke 16:9

In the real Game of LIFE, money comes and money goes, there are times of great prosperity and times of great challenge.  And all along the way, there are decisions you must make about earning, spending, saving, giving.  But when it all goes back in the box, and you go back to God, who did you become—how faithful were you?

Those are the questions that God cares about. And I want you to hear me. What you do financially won’t ever change God’s love for you. You are completely and wholly loved. Nothing you do or don’t do will ever change that. But as much as God unconditonally loves you, God’s also invested in who you become. What kind of legacy did you leave?

It doesn’t matter how much or how little—you can choose to be faithful with whatever amount. Because there are actually 2 Economies at work.

We already know the World’s Economy.

Jesus talked clearly about a New Economy–God’s Economy: 

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.   So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts.”  Luke 16:10-11.

How we handle money is a heart issue first.

Jesus is saying in the real Game of LIFE, all this worldly wealth goes back in the box. 

But there is a REAL LIFE beyond this 70-yr game, and there are TRUE RICHES and Lasting Property that are of far greater worth than all this. And when it all goes back in the box:

  • How we Honored God with our money to do His work
  • How we used it to provide and enjoy it with gratitude to God
  • How we helped people, that’s what God looks at—the heart.

Because God measures the Heart–Who We’ve Become in God’s Economy.

Scarcity vs. Abundance

There are two ways to look at money. One way is with Fear-based Economics—that’s how most play. Another way is God’s economics.

Scarcity mentality says: “There’s not enough, I need more, it’s all up to me, what matters most is how much I can keep.”

A scarcity mentality causes extreme fear, worry, anxiety, discontentment.

An abundance mentality requires faith and it’s counter-intuitive to the World’s fear-based Economy.

Jesus taught this abundance economics:

“If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving–large or small–it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38  (NLT)

It’s believing that God has an abundance, and there is enough, and I don’t need to fear financially. Even Downturns become an opportunity to increase our True Net Worth in God’s Economy when we respond in faith instead of fear.

There is an excitement and beauty of partnering with God to grow our hearts to live more in His Economy where we are able to do more and more good and feel more and more blessed. This requires another Economic Model that includes the God Factor. This requires trusting God more and more.

There are different heart motivations people have to give.
My challenge to you is to locate where you are and then where you want to be, and take steps to trust God more, let God grow your heart spiritually.

Level 1Quid Pro Quo

This is the most base motivation to give anything – to get back something in return.  Quid Pro Quo is not giving from the heart at all.

We once had a guy ask us: “Why does the church depend on willing contributions of good-hearted people? Why don’t you just create a business model—have people pay for services? People pay a steep cover charge to hear music this good. People pay $500 for a one weekend training in the kinds of practical life-skills, relational skills you all teach or offer on Sunday mornings and in classes. People pay $150 an hour for a counselor to listen with compassion, but they don’t pay anything at Gateway to meet with a pastor or participate in a recovery group or life group. People pay big bucks for their kids developmental opportunities, but they aren’t paying anything for what you offer for kids on Sundays or teens on Wednesdays. And just think about how many singles met a spouse here—dating services are gold mines—call it Dateway!” 

That would be a Quid Pro Quo basis.

The reason God directs his church otherwise is that God wants the church to model an Abundance Economy. “freely you receive, freely give” – Jesus said.

So if guilt or getting something back is the only motivation for giving, stretch your heart to a new level, or you’ll never feel truly wealthy.

Level 2 – Need-Based Giving

The next motivation for giving is need.

Some people hear of needs, and that motivates them to give, and that’s a good motivation. The heart that gives to meet needs has grown larger than those who only give to get a tax break or to get something back.

I was amazed to hear about a woman who stood up at one of our campuses during a building fundraiser and said:
“I’m not a Christian, though I now think I believe in God. But I’ve been giving toward this building because I see all the good this church is doing for people, and it feels good to be a part of something like this.”

That was amazing to me, but people can see this is a needy world, and the people at this church are meeting real needs. I’ve never been a part of a church doing so much good for people all over. She realized a need and met it.

Peter Drucker was a business consultant who has written about 40 books on business, and I had some time with him because he devoted the last years of his life to helping church leaders. Here’s why. He said:

Nothing much is working in this world anymore. There are very few things that truly transform people’s lives. Really just a couple things: local churches, twelve-step programs, and a few non-for-profit agencies. So I’m gonna devote the last years of my life toward getting behind the kinds of churches and non-profits that transform lives. To do anything other than that would be sheer folly.”

Peter Drucker

So giving to meet needs is good, and if that’s where your faith is, ask God to show you more needs and trust more. 

But there’s a higher motivation for giving that gets more at the heart.

Level 3 – Trust and Faithfulness to God

Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 25—go read it—I’m going to put it as it might be told today.

Imagine if I’m a wealthy entrepreneur, who had to go on a long business trip, so I picked 3 people to run my businesses and provide for my wife while I’m gone. 

I give them each a business to run based on their abilities.

The first business produces 50,000/month. I ask Suzie to run the business and send $5000/month to my wife. I let her keep the $45,000/mo to do whatever she wants. She can reinvest it in the business, spend it, she’s free. Pretty generous of me, huh? Do what you want with 90%.

I give Pete my 20,000/mo business to run and ask him to send $2000/mo to my wife.

Joe got the $10,000/mo business and I ask him to send 1000/mo to my bride.

So I’m gone, but I check in with my wife and kids. 

I love my wife and kids, and I want them to be provided for. I want them to flourish. 

I call and my wife tells me that Suzie sends $5000 every month. 

Pete started with $2000/mo and kept growing it, and he now sends $4000/mo (Wow! I only asked him to send $2000. He’s somehow doubled it–that’s wonderful).

 Joe sent 1000 first month, then 500, now nothing. 

What do you think I’m going to do?

 I gave Joe the ability to run my business, profit off it $9000/mo, all I asked him to do first was provide for the wife I love, but he didn’t do it.  I’m going to take what I couldn’t trust Joe with and give it to Pete or even Suzie who were most faithful.

Don’t miss how true to life this is. The bride of Christ is his church.

“I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 2 Cor 11:2.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus and his bride, the church, are joined as one.

Jesus said: “I’m going away and I’m coming back. While I’m gone, I want you to take care of my bride.” 

This is personal to him. 

The parable of the talents reminds us.

The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’17 “‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’ 18 “The next servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.’19 “‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’

This Life is a test of faithfulness, and the rewards are great.

We talked about this week 1. For people who claim to love God, God says, demonstrate it by honoring me first. Take the first tithe (tenth, 10%) of all I’ve given you and redirect it toward my house (the storehouse was in the local temple). In our case the local church that functions as His Body/His Bride serving the spiritual and physical needs of the world.

As we’ve seen, God tells us to Test Him. Test Him and see if He doesn’t resupply and bless you more as he promised. 

It’s not God Lotto, it’s not Give to Get.
It’s Give to love and faithfully trust God first.

God blesses in all kinds of ways when we’re faithful – not only monetarily but spiritually with things like contentment, security, value, worth, and purpose. But you don’t tithe to get, or to earn His love—you do it to demonstrate your love and trust in God. Jesus told religious people tithing but not out of hearts of love and trust toward God:

You are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Luke 11:42.

Don’t miss this—Jesus says: “You should Tithe – yes – but out of a love and Trust in God to help bring justice and hope to the world.”

I’ve seen this in my own life, God is faithful when we are faithful. Sometimes God provides for us when we willingly make sacrifices.

I realize it may be odd for me to share about giving to God through the local church when my salary comes from what we give together. You should know that I won’t make one cent more or less whether you give to this church or not. Our volunteer Board sets my fixed salary and oversees our finances.

I want to help you see that God is faithful to His promises. I want you to see the amazing work God is doing through our church bring life and freedom to people from different backgrounds.

That motivates me to challenge you.

If this is your church home, stretch your faith and stretch your heart.

  • Test God by giving 10% for 3 months
  • (If not to this church, find one you’ll trust and give it there and get involved there).
  • See if God isn’t faithful and you aren’t glad you did.
  • Jesus loves the church, in all her imperfections and wants us to provide for her to be a force for good in this world.
  • And when you see how faithful God is, keep going.
  • Make a giving plan.

Level 4 – Investment Giving (Make a Giving Plan)

This is where giving gets really fun. You become like God’s investment banker! The more you invest in His Kingdom Enterprise, the more He funnels your way to be even more faithful.  Think about it—Jesus said some really crazy stuff!

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  – Matthew 6:20

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:10-11

What is Jesus saying?

God doesn’t want to take from you, but help you gain more than you’ve imagined. 
But you can save in this World’s Economy (and you should like we discussed last week), but you can also save in God’s New Economy. 
One is temporary Savings, the other is Eternal Savings.

Jesus is giving you sound investment advice.
There’s lots of advice in where to invest money shrewdly—in property, stocks or bonds, bitcoin—some are riskier than others. 
But none are eternal, lasting investments.

Jesus is very clear–A New Economy is coming and it is Shrewd, Smart to invest there—Jesus is talking about savings for you that will Last.

I lived long enough to see empires come and go. In the Soviet Union the Old Communist Economy collapsed. The Russian billionaires of today were all putting Rubels into Dollars back then. It’s happened in Venezuela. The Government was lying to people in 2017, saying 10 Bolivars can buy 1 dollar of goods. In reality it took 3000 Bolivars to buy 1 dollar of goods, and smart people saw what was coming and invested all their Bolivars in dollars. Today the Bolivar is worthless. It takes 2.8 million to buy $1 of goods. The shrewd, smart investor saw the old economy crumbling, and kept just enough Bolivars to live on and invested as much as they could into lasting currency.

Jesus is saying the same thing—it’s wise for you. This is the best investment advice you’ll ever get.

Do you trust Him?

Jesus said:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:37-38

It’s in the context of becoming a person living in Abundance—not comparing or judging others, freely forgiving as I’m forgiven by God. 

But giving with whatever measure I want given back to me?

Have you heard Hugh Maclellan’s story?
Hugh Maclellan started Provident Life Insurance and realized early in his career that no matter how much he made, he couldn’t get enough. 
And so he started to tithe as a heart check, then realized God kept blessing him with more, so he decided to make a giving plan.
He first decided: “How much is enough? What’s Enough?”
Then he said: “I’m going to give a greater and greater percentage to God’s work, as he blesses me more, I’ll keep increasing the percentage.” 
Hugh Maclellan now gives away 70% of his earnings. 
And he says, “I still don’t feel like it’s a sacrifice at all.” 
But his generosity has started 1000’s of Christian ministries to the poor and churches around the world—including ours. 

Consider this:

if God’s Economy is real and Jesus is telling the truth, this is just being really smart.
The more we invest % wise, the more we’ll have to invest, the more we’re saving for eternity, the more we’re building into people, and there will be more in 2 Economies = more in this world and Jesus promises real treasure and property in eternity that make E-Trade commercials of bling, exotic vacations, luxury lifestyles seem stupid and mundane and plastic in comparison.

We hear Jesus’ words:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  Luke 12:32-33

We hear this and we are afraid—right!?
God wants to take more, but what if it’s just the opposite.
This World’s Economy will end.
The Coming Economy of God is the future currency. 
We make plans for important things, right?
Google “Retirement Planning” and you will find 250 million sites.
Google “Vacation Planning” and you will find 400 million websites to help you plan a great vacation.

What about a giving plan? 

Have you made a giving plan to keep stretching your heart, your trust?

But Jesus said it: Give, and it will be given to you…with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

God is real—and God is a Giver. You can’t outgive God.

For my family, most of what we give financially and with our time and talents is with this church because I see how much good we are doing together in Austin and all across the globe.

So let’s start living in God’s New Economy of Abundance. 

If you only have the faith to give to needs, ask God to show you needs and stretch.

If you have the faith to tithe—faithfully do so and watch God make a way.

If you have the faith to make a giving plan—see if it doesn’t surprise you how fun it is to be God’s Investment Banker doing more and more good as you Invest in an Economy that Lasts

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