The Gospel and Your Wealth: Redeemer Pres. NYC Vision Series 2005
by Tim Keller on Malachi 3:8-10, 4:1-2 notes by Paul Vander Klay
When first got to NYC everyone wanted to hear sermons on sex. No one ever asked for sermons on money. 10 to 20 times more in the Bible about money than sex.
1. Why money exercises power over us
2. How money exercises power over us
3. How we can break that power
1. Why money exercises power over us
a. Vs. 8 and 9 has a question: “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me!”
i. The word translated “rob” here is rare (one other place) it means to oppress, pillage or plunder. A wealthy, powerful country advantaging itself over a weaker party. It seems incongruous that God would use this word.
ii. God says “your lack of generosity with your money…” He’s talking about stinginess which is cosmic and evil and we’re oblivious to it.
(1) 1 Chronicles 28, 29. Everything comes from you. We only give you what already own. Everything we have is a gift from God. Even what we use to make money has also been received from God.
(2) God doesn’t give up ownership of it when he gives it to you. You relate to your money the way a money manager relates to his clients. You are a broker, a steward. If you are a money manager and you see your funds grow you get excited but you are not confused about whose money it is, and if you are, you’ll be liable, it’s called “fraud”
(3) We know what God’s money values are. God created the world to be an inter-related, inter-dependent place of shalom. He wants you to plow your wealth into human community.
(4) We are blind to this. Money blinds us to the power it has. Money is different from other things. Materialism and greed is a sin of the eye. It blinds you to its presence. Materialism and greed is an excess concern for, worry about, love of, need for money and possession. This one is very difficult to see in yourself.
(5) People never come to confess their sins of greed. Doing a series of seven deadly sins nobody comes to “greed”. Not because they don’t think it’s a problem, but because they don’t see it as THEIR problem.
(6) If God sees it as rampant, and everyone doing it is unaware of their participation in it, then it’s a marauding evil. If you to take the Bible seriously, you should make it your working hypothesis that it is also true of you. Don’t trust yourself with it.
(7) The Bible gives you one guideline to test yourself, the tithe. Is it in the New Testament? Luke 11:42. “You should have practiced the latter, without leaving the former undone.” Jesus condemns them for refusing to go beyond the tithe. In the rest of the NT tithing is never mentioned. We shouldn’t see it as a legalist limit to our giving but a baseline, a guideline, a rule of thumb.
2. How money exercises power over us
a. Bring the whole tithe into the temple
i. How does that translate for us? “Temple”
(1) A lot of ministers just swap “temple” for your local church. Tim Keller doesn’t subscribe to this. The temple was not the local church. The temple was the institutional seat for the service of God for the entire society. There is no one church, organization or charity in your life parallel to that.
(2) The problem is not that they don’t give to their local church, it’s that they don’t give in Biblical proportions.
(3) A woman asked why she should give to the vision campaign rather than to AIDS in Africa. Keller said he wouldn’t tell her to do this. He can’t decide for her which is more important. She has to weigh that herself what she wants to do.
ii. The storehouse in the temple: the treasury of the temple,
(1) Every temple had a treasury and out of the treasury was supported the worship and salvation system of that particular deity.
(2) “put your treasure in my temple, my treasury, into the worship of my salvation, into me.” If you’re not doing that the implication is that your tithe is in some other temple and some other treasury.
(3) Your treasury is where you find it easiest to place (spend or save) your money. It’s effortless to put your money towards that which is your real god no matter what you say you believe.
(a) If you find it very easy to spend money on clothes, your wardrobe might be your real treasury. You’re looking to your personal appearance to get that sense of desirability and acceptability rather than looking to the love of God.
(b) If you find it difficult to give your money away but easy to put it into a new house, that’s your real temple. You look to that to make you feel important.
(c) Others of us look at others spending money in these ways and we sneer. We save everything and live very frugally amassing our wealth. Then our bank is our treasury and our security. Your looking to your money to give you control in a very chaotic world.
(4) Money will always show you what you do worship.
(a) For some money serves a security idol
(b) For others money serves an approval idol
(c) for some money serves a control idol
(5) Money can’t give you what your heart is hoping it will
(a) Dr. Leech. Two women in college decide to be missionaries and the parents are upset. One of the parents calls Dr. Leech. “We wanted our daughter to get a master’s degree to get something in the bank to get some security!” He responded “We’re all on a little ball of rock called earth and we’re spinning along through space at zillions of miles an hour. Even if we don’t run into anything eventually we’re all going to die, every single one of us. A trap door’s going to open up beneath us and we’ll fall either into the everlasting arms of God or absolutely nothing. And maybe we can get a master’s degree to get some security.”
(b) The biggest savings account in the world cannot stop __________.
3. How can we break that power
a. On Palm Sunday the first thing Jesus does when he goes to the temple is throwing things around, tearing it down symbolically.
b. Jesus says “kill me, and in three days, not only this temple, but all other temples of the world will be out of business.”
c. Every other religious leaders brought temples because they all know there is an infinite chasm between deity and humanity that has to be bridged. Every single religious founder brings codes of conduct and says if you do all these things you can bridge that gap.
d. Jesus says, “No. I lived the life you should have lived and died the death you should have died. My destroyed and resurrected body is the bridge over the infinite chasm between deity and humanity because I fell into that chasm. I paid the penalty. I’m the ultimate priest that ends all priests I’m the ultimate sacrifice that ends all sacrifices. I’ve come to replace the temple I’ve come to tear it to pieces.”
e. What does that have to do with your money? Jesus said “where your treasure is there is your heart.”
f. You have set your heart on something and you’ve said “if I have that I have significance and security.” It could be your children, status, career, a certain amount of money in the bank, physical beauty, etc. You will do anything for it. You will die for it. You will pay any cost for it. Anything to maintain it, sustain it, reclaim it.
g. Jesus Christ came and died for you. Why would he go to hell for you? Because you and I are his heart’s treasure.
h. Every other treasure in the world will insist that you die for it but Jesus died to purchase you.
i. Paul in 2 Corinthians 8.
i. He puts no pressure on your will or on your emotions
ii. If you do not have the freedom to give your money away its because something besides Jesus Christ is your functional Lord and Savior. Think about the radical generosity of Jesus Christ and you’ll get freedom. When you see him dying because you were the treasure of his heart then he’ll be the treasure of yours.
iii. Don’t sit down with a calculator to give your money away sit down with a cross.
4. Then Keller lays out the vision campaign.