The title of the message today is “I Am All In.” I Am All In. It is no secret that gambling is a big business in the nation we live in today. According to casino city.com, 46 of 50 states have legalized gambling. Of the four that have not legalized gambling, Tennessee is one of the four. In the state of Mississippi, the place where I frequented to play in Blackjack and Texas Hold’em tournaments in my hay day of gambling, they said that more money is spent on gambling than all of the retail sales in the state combined.
One man reported, Eugene Christensen, management consultant, determined that Americans spend more on gambling than they did last year on health insurance, dentists, shoes, foreign travel or household appliances.
Now here is a staggering statistic: the gaming industry, after paying out the winnings, after paying out the winnings, took in 94 billion dollars in America. Let me say that again. After paying out all the winnings, the gaming industry took in 92 B Billion dollars. By the time a person turns into a young adult, 82% of those individuals have participated in gambling of some form or fashion.
What I want to do today is simply this, I want to identify to you what gambling is because I think there is a lot of ambiguity, particularly in Christian circles. What is gambling? I am going to tell you what gambling is and I am going to tell you what gambling is not.
Secondly, I want to make a Biblical case for you as a Christian to not get engaged in any form of gambling. And then, finally, I want to show you the root cause or the hidden secret that lays below the surface that is connected to gambling that many people miss and overlook. And so we will wait until the end for that.
Let’s pray as we begin this morning. Father, once again we come to Your Word to guide us and direct us. We pray that You would be the teacher. We want to hear from You as the student. Help us to navigate these cultural issues from a Biblical perspective. We ask it in Jesus’ name. And everyone said, Amen.
Let me talk about gambling. What is gambling? Now gambling hasn’t always been legalized in our country. In fact, John MacArthur, who has an amazing sermon, it is an exhaustive sermon on the history of gambling. I don’t have time to pull a lot of the historical evidence there, but I will give you a little bit of how gambling came to this country.
Gambling probably came to America on the ship with Columbus as the sailors gambled away their time with dice and cards. And when they came here, the Indians apparently and those early sailors that came, picked up gambling right away. In 1612, the British government started a lottery in order to fund the building of that early town, Jamestown, in Virginia.
Now George Washington went on record shortly after, the founding father of our country, and he said this, I quote, “Gambling is the child of avarice or greed. It is the brother of iniquity and the father of mischief.” Although Washington was right about that, he got sucked into gambling himself. In fact, we read in his own diary how he kept a ledger of his winnings and his losses.
In 1776, the first Congress of the United States of America sold lottery tickets to fund the American Revolution and the shortly thereafter, Washington himself bought the first ticket to help build what was known back then as Federal City. We know it today as Washington, D.C.
John MacArthur writes, “Our nation was founded on a lottery. The Revolution was financed through a lottery and our nation’s capitol was built because of the lottery. From the year 1790 to 1860, 24 of 36 states sponsored government run lotteries.”
Well, at the end of the 19th Century, the people of God got agitated, they had had enough of the government run gambling system and so what they decided to do is come together, take a stand and they made a change. Do you know there was a time when the church actually had a voice in this country? That is another sermon. But anyway, there was a time when the church stood up for something, the world listened. And so the Baptist partnered with the Quakers and Protestants, or the Puritans partnered with the Methodists and they all came together and in 1894, gambling as we know it in this country, ceased to exist. There was no more government-run gambling. In fact, that lasted until 1964. 1894 to 1964, our country was free of government sponsored gambling.
Then in 1964, you may asked what happened. Well, the state of New Hampshire decided to start a lottery in order to fund some things they wanted to do in that state and now, since 1964, 46 of 50 states allow gambling.
Let me put it in perspective for you - 500+ casinos exist in America. Let me say that again. 500+ casinos in America.
So, as we begin, you are asking, what is gambling, Robby? I am glad you asked. Let me give you a definition for gambling. Here is the definition that we will use for the rest of our time. Gambling is a wager or a bet made by an individual who agrees to risk losing something, whether it is possessions or money, to another person in exchange for the chance to win the possession of another person without compensation for their loss.
So basically you are saying, I am going to wage something or risk something to gain something from you with no compensation for my loss. In fact, in gambling, winners and loses are always determined by the outcome of the game.
Now as we begin with gambling, let me tell you what gambling is not. So write that down. What gambling is not. Some people say, Pastor, investing in the stock market is gambling. Have you heard that before? Buying life insurance could be gambling, right? I have heard this before. Pastor, there are a lot of things in this world that are gambling. Playing poker with friends at night in the dorm room for chips, is that gambling? Well, it depends.
Let me share with you a couple of things about gambling. First of all, the stock market is not gambling. You see, the problem with gambling is, we misunderstand the difference between gambling and risk. Let me say it this way, all gambling involves risk, but all risks are not gambling. Okay, write that down. That is a good way to think of it. All gambling involves risk, but all risk is not gambling.
Everything in life is a risk, right? James says, you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. You can’t say that I am going to go to this city and go to that city and conduct business because we don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. Our life is but a vapor, it is but a mist.
And so all things are risky in life. There are a lot of things risky, but it is not necessarily gambling. The stock market is not gambling. Here is why. When you purchase a stock, you are purchasing the right to be a part-owner or the organization. It is no different than if you would start a business. Is starting a business risky? Absolutely it is risky, but it is not a gamble.
What happens is, when you purchase stock of a corporation, you have agreed upon what is called a fair market value for the stock. You are purchasing a portion of the company. If you want to sell your portion of the company down the road, then you agree with the potential buyer for another fair market price. And if you don’t like the price, you don’t sell the stock. And so there is always good and services exchanged in the agreement.
Buying life insurance is not a gamble, for those who sell life insurance in here. It is not a gamble. Why? Because you are actually buying a service. You are in essence buying peace of mind, that if something happens to you catastrophic, whether it is an automobile accident, hospitalization or whether you lose, God forbid, the life of a loved one, you are purchasing peace of mind. And if you lose something, watch this, that service will be rendered for the money that you put into it.
Thirdly, what is not gambling? Playing poker without…or anything, black jack or Texas Hold’em or Rummy or Pedro, without stakes or bets, is not gambling. If you want to go on a vacation and play Rummy or Black jack or Spades or Pedro, you can play that as long as there is no changing of hands of money. Now you can get a bunch of poker chips, as long as there is no monetary value associated with the poker chips. The moment you say this, Hey, lets just put up $5 for the hundred chips. It doesn’t matter insignificant the monetary value is, it becomes gambling at that point. Why? Because you are risking losing something.
Driving your car, crossing the street or going on a mission trip is risky, but it is not gambling, right? Even as simplistic as those things are, there are a lot of things in life that are risky, but there is not wager involved. There is no bet involved. You are not going to risk losing one’s possession. Is going on a mission trip risky? It depends on where you go, right? There is always a risk involved. But if God tells you to go there, it is better for you to go there than to stay here, Amen? The safest place to be is in the will of God.
So that is what gambling is not. Let me tell you what gambling is. Now I thought about listing for you a laundry list of things that we consider to be gambling or I would consider based on what the Bible says to be gambling. But then the problem is, it gets so gray and blurred, you would have more questions than I have answers.
So what I want to do is, in the discipleship principle, I want to give you the tools to equip you in order to figure this out yourself, right? So you can kind of navigate and discern if it is gambling or if it is not gambling.
There are four elements that will be present when you gamble. Okay. Here they are. Write them down. Four elements that are present when you gamble. The first one is, it is a game of chance…watch this…or skill, because some people will say, it is not gambling because I work at it, I am skillful at it, or skill where there is a bet involved. Any game that is played with a bet involved on the outcome of something, it is gambling, whether it is a sporting event or a golf tournament or bingo or an election or football pool.
Secondly, there are always stakes involved. What happens with gambling is, you put what is called an “ante up.” You ante up something based on your money or your possessions. You risk losing something.
The third element is an agreement is made. So there is a wager or bet that is agreed upon with two parties, the risk of losing something in exchange for winning something that is not yours.
And then finally, the fourth element is this, there is always lack of fair compensation. There is always a loser and there is always a winner and the loser never gets to be compensated for their loss. Somebody is always going to win and somebody is always going to lose and the winner gains it by not paying the loser.
So you can apply those elements to everything in the world, whether it is playing cards at the casino, whether it is playing at a poker tournament, scratch offs, lotteries, dog races…you can figure it out.
The amount of money, folks, don’t miss this, is insignificant. It doesn’t matter if you bet a quarter or you bet $10 or you bet $10,000. The moment you risk something, it becomes gambling. And the problem with gambling is not the practice of gambling, the problem is that it undercuts, if you will, the Biblical principles in the Bible.
So that is what I want to talk about now. What does the Bible say about gambling. Because you really don’t care…I mean, I understand practically what gambling does to people and I understand the significance of why we shouldn’t gamble, but what does the Bible have to say?
Now the Bible has nothing to say about the word “gambling.” The Bible does not say thou shalt not gamble or you shouldn’t gamble. But the Bible has a lot to say about a Biblical work ethic. The Bible has a lot to say about integrity. Just because the Bible doesn’t mention the word “gambling” doesn’t mean it is not a theological concept we need to adopt.
For example, the Bible doesn’t talk about the word “Trinity.” It doesn’t even mention the word “Trinity.” Does that mean we should reject the word trinity? Not at all. In fact, if you look at the totality of Scripture, you realize that the entire Bible talks about the Trinity, the fact that God is one God in three persons. So we know that is in Scripture.
The Bible doesn’t talk about the word “Rapture,” but if you are like me, you are hoping it is Pre-Trib rapture, right? But there is a good case for mid-trib rapture and a post-trib rapture. There is a good case for pre-millennialism, a-millennialism and post-millennialism. And people ask me, Pastor, what are you? And I call myself a pan-millennialist. It is all going to pan out in the end. I don’t know what is going to happen, but…
The Bible doesn’t talk about those specific terms, but they are in there. You seek, you have to understand, the Bible is not an answer book to answer all your questions about life. The Bible, folks, get this, is a love story written by God to His creation. It is a guide book for life, right? And so while the Bible doesn’t talk about every answer, we can make a Biblical case from the totality of Scripture against gambling. ] Let me give you four reasons why Christians shouldn’t gamble. Well, let me explain this first and I think you need to hear this first. What is gambling? What does the Bible say about gambling?
Gambling, in the Old Testament was called “casting lots.” In fact, that term “casting lots” was used 70 times in the Old Testament. That was really surprising to me when I started studying this. 7 times in the New, 70 times in the Old. They always did it in a number of ways. They either took a bunch of different sized sticks, they put them in the hand and they drew them. They took round stones and they casted them. They took die and they rolled them. They took coins and they flipped them. It would be the equivalent of us flipping a coin today.
There is one place in the Bible where when you talk about casting lots in the New Testament everybody’s mind goes to. Do you know where it is? That is right, Matthew 27 with the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothes, right? You remember the story. Jesus is hanging on the cross, the soldiers are beneath Him. They are casting lots.
Let me show you that text quickly. Verse 35. Let me show you what this text says so we get kind of a framework of casting lots. This is one of the only times I will submit where they are actually gambling, if you will, for something. The majority of the times, if not all the times, I didn’t look all 70 of them up, but I would say the majority, if not all, have to do with something different.
So Matthew 27:35. When you are there, say “word.” This is what it says. I am reading in the ESV because I think it captures it well. “And when they had crucified Him (Jesus), they divided His garments among them by casting lots.” So the soldiers are at the foot of the cross. They are casting lots to take Jesus’ garments. Every other time that you find this phrase “casting lots,” watch this, it has to do…and this is going to be surprising to some…to discern the will of God for one’s life. They used to roll the die in order to determine God’s will for their life and their future. And they did this all throughout the Bible.
Let me give you a couple of instances. When the Jewish people made it into the Promised Land, how did they divide the land between the twelve tribes? This is going to blow you away. They drew lots. They casted lots. Okay, Simeon, go ahead and pick one. Wow, that is a bad deal, right? Or man, we got the Promised Land. I mean, that is what they did, according to Joshua and the book of Numbers.
When the High Priest would determine which goat to separate on the Day of Atonement, guess how they figured out which goat went where? Now you have to understand, both goats lose. It is a lose-lose battle for both. One goat is going to be slain and offered as a sacrifice. The other goat, which is the Aziel goat or the scapegoat, is going to have the hands of the High Priest placed upon his head and 2-3 million sins of the people of Israel that have been stored up for an entire year transferred on to him as the scapegoat, if you will, and then pushed out into the desert. It is a lose-lose for both.
How did they figure out which goat? Go to Leviticus 16 Verse 8 and watch this. Leviticus 16, God gives the people a plan for selecting which goat goes where. When you are there, say “Word.” “And Aaron, the High Priest, shall cast lots over the two goats. One lot for the Lord and the other lot for the Aziel or the scapegoat.
Achan, when he had sinned against God by taking a portion of the spoil that he wasn’t supposed to in Joshua Chapter 7, how did the people of Israel determine he did that? They casted lots. The High Priest or the priest would differentiate where they would live in the land by casting lots. Saul, the King of Israel was chosen by casting lots.
One of my favorites I came across was Jonah. Jonah Chapter 1, he is on this boat with these sailors and the wrath of God is coming against them and they are trying to figure out who is in sin, like, who on the ship is sinning. Not me, not me. Well, we will figure it out. Guess how they figured it out? They casted lots. Talk about a bad roll of the dice for Jonah, right? It is like, we know who it is, it is Jonah, right?
The disciples figured out who would replaced Judas as one of the twelve. Matthias was the man chosen. How did they figure it out? They casted lots, right? You talk about a nice pool on that one, huh, forever, for eternity, you are one of the Twelve, sitting on the twelve thrones of Israel.
This is what they understand about the Old Testament casting lots system, they always did it to discern the will of God for their life. There was no wager involved, there was no bet involved, there was no risk of losing anything.
Now here is the natural question you are asking because it was a question I asked this week. Should New Testament Christians today, 2014, Chattanooga, Tennessee, around the world, should we cast lots to determine the future? Which college should I go to? It is UTC, hey, we are here. Who should I marry? I don’t know. I mean, that is the question. Should you cast lots to determine your future? And the answer is, guess what? No! But why no?
The last time we see the casting of lots is prior to Acts 2. Once Acts Chapter 2 happens, something changes in the people of God. Because prior to Acts Chapter 2, the Spirit of God was around the people of God. After Acts Chapter 2, when the Spirit descended upon the Apostles, the Spirit of God enveloped the people of God. He indwelt the people of God. So from that moment on, all New Testament believers who would come after that, have the presence and the power of the Spirit of God. So that is the first element we use to determine the will of God.
Here is the second element we have. We have the Word of God. New Testament believers after Pentecost did not have the Word of God. In fact, the Word of God was not canonized until the third or fourth century. What that means is, they didn’t have a one stop shop to determine God’s will and God’s way for their life. We do. Aren’t you glad of that? You don’t have to pull out papyrus scrolls and try to figure out God’s will for your life.
Now a lot of young people are saying, well, Pastor, how do I determine God’s will for my life? The will of God will never be contrary to the Word of God. So if you want to know what to do in the Kingdom of God, see what the Word says. And God’s Word will never contradict His will.
Lets start with Matthew 28. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Any questions? You could start there. Well, I don’t like to do that. Well, lets start with Acts 1:8, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Be a missionary in your home town or abroad. John Wesley said, “It is not the things in the Bible that I don’t understand that I have a problem with. The things of the Bible that I do understand is what I have a problem with.” The Bible is pretty simply, when you read it, you discern God’s will for your life.
The final element we have and the final tool we have in our arsenal is prayer. Probably the most under-utilized contraption God has given us is the two-way Walkie Talkie in the midst of a war. We are not fighting against flesh and blood here, folks, we are fighting against principles and powers, spiritual demonic forces of another world.
So how do you determine the will of God for your life? You pray, you are led by the Spirit and you look to the Word of God.
Let me give you four reasons why we shouldn’t gamble as Christians. So what about New Testament believers? Should we gamble? Here is the first reason why you should not gamble or participate in the system of gambling.
Gambling abolishes the Biblical work ethic. It undercuts the Biblical work ethic. God consistently and continually says, work hard, work long and you will be compensated for your work. God constantly condemns laziness and slothfulness, and people who don’t follow through with things or lack integrity when it comes to work. Proverbs Chapter 13 Verse 11 says, “Wealth that is obtained by fraud will dwindle away,” watch this, “but whoever earns it through labor will multiply it.”
But Pastor, I do work when I gamble. I mean, I have a card counting system that is out of this world. You ought to see me bluff in the midst of a Texas Hold’em game. I mean, I have a got a tell system that is unparalleled. You could never tell that I am bluffing.
Friends, that is not work. In fact, the Bible calls that stealing. When you attempt to take something from someone that is not yours, it is called stealing. And more importantly, when you are working that you don’t have a benefit to the consumer, that is not work the way the Bible explains it. The Bible is constantly commendating hard work and working with integrity. So the first thing is, when we participate in gambling, it undermines the Biblical work ethic.
Secondly, gambling undercuts the economy. Gambling undercuts or undermines the economy. A fair transaction is when two parties agree on a price and you exchange goods and services for a fair market value. When you attempt to take something from someone that is not your own, it undermines the economy of which God set up. Because a gambler hopes to take something that is not his or hers.
Matthew 13:45 is the great proof text on this. “The kingdom of God, Jesus says, is like a man in search of fine pearls. When he found the pearl of great price, he went and sold everything he had to purchase it or buy it.” Notice what the text doesn’t say. It doesn’t say he stole the pearl of price. It doesn’t say he conned the man out of the pearl of great price. It doesn’t say he manipulated him for the pearl of great price. It says, he sold what he worked for and then he bought it. Gambling undermines Biblical morals.
Third, gambling breeds greed. There is no other vice that would have a hold of you that would breed greed more than gambling. In Exodus Chapter 20, the tenth commandment is “Thou shalt not covet,” which basically is greed. Gambling is built on the lie of acquiring outrageous prizes, outlandish winnings…you can have a new car, you can have exotic vacations, you can have an extravagant boat or millions of dollars added to your bank account. The Bible speaks against greed over and over. Luke 12:15. Jesus said, “Watch out, be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”
Church, let me remind you, many people fell in the Bible because of greed. King David lost his kingship because he did not do what God told him to do with the spoil of the land. And because of his greed, he lost it and was disqualified. The rich young ruler was this close to following Jesus and because he had too many possessions and his greed overwhelmed him, he turned from Christ. I believe Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus because of his own greed. Ananias and Saphirra, if you think of that couple in the New Testament book of Acts who sold their farm or sold their land and lied about their possessions, what they had left, they dropped dead immediately. It was all because of greed.
The sin of covetousness is actually the sin of idolatry because what people do it turn monetary gain into their god. Let me say that again. The sin of covetousness is actually a sin of idolatry because monetary gain, affluence and resources become their god.
But here is the trump card as to why I want to plead with you, make a case with you not to get involved in the system of gambling. Gambling, more so than anything else, exploits the poor. It exploit’s the poor. More than any other segment of our society, gambling cripples the poor. It abuses those who can least afford to be victimized. Exodus Chapter 20 Verse 15 says, “You shall not steal from people.” And while there are few winners, there are millions of losers.
I want you to understand, folks, the Bible is clear about helping the poor. We as born-again believers are challenged to help the poor. In the Old Testament, the prophets constantly judged people for not taking care of the poor. It is no accident that the largest outlets of lottery tickets have landed in the poorest communities of our country. That is one thing that didn’t happen by chance. They are there for a reason. And what it does is, it continues to impoverish the poor and it preys on the weak. Not to mention the fact that gambling can become a vice, gambling rips families apart, causes divorce, exponentially increases money problems, exacerbates emotional issues such as depression, ulcers sleep disorders, headaches, muscle pain and stress, skyrockets crime and violence where casinos are, it increases the rate of suicide exponentially, in fact, it is no accident that the state of Nevada is the highest in the nation for suicide. It leads to burnout. It promotes alcohol abuse, drug abuse and addiction, impacts children negatively, families negatively and increases physical abuse to name a few.
So here is a couple of clarifying questions. Would you participate in a system that cripples the poor? Would you engage in a system that robs the impoverished of the world? Would you participate in a system that causes depression, promotes alcohol and drug abuse, skyrockets crime, increases bankruptcy, escalates divorce and worsens violence? I didn’t think so. Neither would I.
Wayne Gurdon, I believe, who is the leading theologian in our day says, “Churches need to teach their people that gambling is a very unwise way of spending their money.” He says, “While I cannot find a Biblical basis for absolutely insisting that it is wrong to participate in a charity raffle or an office football pool, my personal practice for many years has been to avoid gambling completely.”
You see, it comes down to this for us as believers, are we going to follow the Word of God and the way of God and the instruction of God or, are we going to bend to man’s opinion, or worse, our own?
But see, I have talked a lot about gambling. I have talked a lot about what gambling is and gambling is not. I have made a Biblical case against gambling, but I want to show you the issue that is rooted below the surface of gambling which I believe is a heart condition, particularly for Christians. And that is, I believe gambling, get this, church, is an issue of stewardship. I believe gambling is an issue of stewardship.
If you have your Bibles, go to Matthew 25. I am not going to spend much time here, but I want to point out the parable of the tenants for you. Matthew 25 Verse 14. When you are there, say “Word.” What Jesus is about to teach us in this parable is that you and I are not owners, we are stewards of the resources and the finances we have. Okay? Jesus told the parable of three men who were given talents in Matthew 25:14. I don’t have a lot of time to explain it to you, but let me say this. Jesus goes to them and He gives them talents. A talent, in the language of the New Testament is something that can be weighed out. It could have been a silver talent or a gold talent. Silver talents were 6,000 denarii; gold talents were 30 times that amount. A denarii was $1,000. This is a large sum f money.
And so, the Master of the house gives slaves…that word is key there…slaves one five talents, one two talents, based on their own ability and one guy gets one talent. And they are given a task of going out and investing the money and bringing back the return.
Two points of this passage I want to make. The first one is this, the Master of the house judges them based on their actions. So they are judged based on what they did with the money. Now the first two guys go out and they have a plan. Lets say for example they buy a field. They purchase a field. They buy the tools. They till the ground. They plant the seeds. They fertilize. They pull weeds. They water. They get the harvest. They sell the harvest for a profit and then they bring that money back to the Master. These are good stewards. They have a plan. They work the plan. They are hard workers.
The other extreme is the third man who has one talent. And what this man does is simply go home and bury the talent. He spends sideways energy burying the talent and he probably goes to a banyan tree and watches the other two guys in the sweltering heat working hard. Right. Whew! It is hot out here. I am getting tired just watching you guys work, huh. And he has got every excuse as to why he can’t do anything with the money that has been entrusted to him.
So the first thing we see is the Master judges them based on their actions. Secondly, more importantly is, their reward is for all of eternity. Write it down. Their reward is for all eternity.
Now what happens is this. I want to make a case for you that when Jesus says that the Master comes back to the house in Verse 19, He uses a code word to talk about the Second Coming. Now if you don’t look at it closely, you may miss it. Notice what Verse 19 says. “After a long time, the master came back.” Now that might now mean anything to you. But if you take that phrase, get this, and you insert that into the Olivet Discourse which is the last discourse Jesus has, looking over the Mt. of Olives, Jesus gives us this phrase repeatedly. He says to His disciples, “After a long time…after a long time…after a long time…” to prove that He is talking about the Second Coming. So I want to principalize the text and say this, the Master of the house comes back on the Day of Judgment. This is the day that the books will be opened, the accounts will be reckoned, all the wrong will be made right and get this, every single one of us will give an account for every penny that has been entrusted to us, just like these men.
The first two guys hear from the Master, Well done, my good and faithful servants. You have done well with little or have been faithful with little. I am now going to entrust you with much. Right? Come into the joy of your Master.
One of the things I want you to write down is this, based on this section, your faithfulness on earth with your resources will determine your future reward in heaven. Let me say that again. I want you to get this. Your faithfulness in how you steward your resources on earth will determine your reward in heaven or dominion in heaven, you could say it that way.
The third slave gets a very different response from Jesus. “The Master,” Jesus says, look at Verse 26 replies to the man who goes and digs up the talent and brings it back to Him. He says, “You evil, lazy slaves!” This is red letters here, folks. This is Jesus talking. Talking for the Master. “If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers. And when I returned I would have received my money back with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away form him. And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness into the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Tell us what you really think, Jesus!
Jesus says that this man on the Day of Reckoning we looked at as lazy and slothful, disobedient because he did nothing with what was given to him. You see, even the Prodigal Son did something with the money. He squandered it on loose living, right? At least he did something with the money. This man simply did nothing with the money. He did nothing.
Let me give you three walking points based on this text that apply to your life. Here they are. The first one. God…and this is profound…God is the One who gave out the resources. God allocated and distributed the talents to the individuals based on His prerogative. Now what does that mean, Robby? That means that the man with two couldn’t look at the man with five and say, why didn’t I get more. The man with one didn’t look at the man with two and say, why didn’t I get more? God gave them exactly what He thought they could manage. Now I know what you are thinking…I wish I had more money in this world to do more things and manage more money. I know you are thinking that. That is a temptation to think that way, but friends, you can be certain of this, when you stand before Jesus Christ on the Day of Reckoning and He will open the books and His account ledger is perfect and you are to give an account like I am for every penny that passed through our hands, you will believe on that day that you had enough. You will think you had enough.
You see, Jesus never…the Master never judges the man based on what he has. He judges the men based on what they did with what they were given. The question I would ask you is how are you stewarding the resources that God has given you?
The second point I want to make. When you step into eternity, you can never go back and do it again. You see, once you step into eternity, you can’t go back to earth and change how you managed your resources. There is no CONTROL+ALT+DELETE or there is no power button on the Apple, right? There is no reset button on the hard drive. You can’t go back and do it again. Your destiny is determined, your fate is sealed at that point. There is no do-overs in heaven, right?
And here is the third and probably the most convicting. What you do here with your resources will determine your reward in heaven. So how you manage resources here will determine your reward in heaven.
Dr. Al Muller, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary affirms this idea. He says, “The Bible presents the stewardship of material possessions as a crucial issue of discipleship.” It is an issue we need to teach people in discipleship. “The Christian understands that his possessions and money are not his own, but God’s. We are merely trustees who will be judged for the quality of our stewardship.” He finishes, “Those lottery tickets and trips to Las Vegas are going to be hard to explain when calls stewards to give an account for them.”
Friends, if you want to go all in for God, go all in for the Kingdom of God. If you want to make a bet, bet on the Kingdom of God. It is one investment that will never come back void and the dividends are for eternity. Right?
Now, I know what you are saying. You are saying, Well, Pastor Robby, I do give. I just don’t give money, I give my time. I always give my time and I serve at the church. Listen, thank God for your service. We couldn’t do it without the hundreds if not thousands of you who serve in a capacity here at Brainerd. But your service never supplants your money and your giving.
Do you know that giving money is the only Christian act that you can’t fake? Did you know that? You can’t fake giving. You can fake holiness. You can fake service. You can fake worship. You can fake devotion. You can fake raising a holy hand and singing holy songs to God. And we will never know what is happening in the quietness of your heart. But you cannot fake stewardship. Why? Because it is black and white. It is a black and white issue. You either give or you don’t give.
And why is money so difficult for us to hear? Here is why: money is a monitor of our heart. Do you want to know how I knew I was growing in my sanctification process and I see others that I am investing in grow? When they start to loosen the grip on the possessions they have. Do you want to know why I know money is a hot button? Because right now you are uncomfortable about me talking to you about money. We all get uncomfortable. Hey, listen, I get uncomfortable when pastors talk about money. But Jesus talked about money more than He talked about heaven and hell combined. Did you know that? Money. Why? Because the love of money is the root of all evil.
Now recently I ran a report. I just want to say for the record, I don’t know what any individual gives at Brainerd Baptist Church. This is something we pride ourselves on at Brainerd. I don’t know what you give. Two people in the church know what you give and they are in the Finance Office and no one else does.
I was in a mentoring group with a pastor who is a pastor of a larger church, seven or eight thousand, I guess. And he mentors a group of younger pastors, so I am in a room of about seven other guys. And he tells us two or three weeks ago, he says, you probably should go back to your church and run this report because it will surprise you. He said, the report just is just simply numbers. Run the report of how many people percentage wise gave to the budget last year? Just run the report, simple report. And then he proceeded to tell us as a group, the number of people percentage wise in his church that gave nothing to the ministry. And immediately when he said that, I thought, there is no way our church is that high. I mean, we have a compassionate church. We give and we make disciples and we go to the nations. There is no way our number is that high.
When I got the report back, Church, I was in shock. I couldn’t…I had to double check. I said, is this right? There is no way this is right. It was right. 64% of the members of Brainerd Baptist Church gave nothing to the general giving of Brainerd Baptist Church this year so far. 64% didn’t give a dime to the ministry here at the church. If you raise that number, which is even more alarming, to $100 or less, people who gave $100 or less, the number goes from 64% to 70% and if you raise it to a mere $500 or less, not discounting $500 but $500 or less, the number rises, get this, to 80% of our membership. These aren’t guest. Membership at Brainerd gave $500 or less. If you look at the Old Testament as the training wheels, 10% of our income to the work of the Lord, that means that people gave, based on a salary of $5,000 for their household this year. That is alarming.
What is even more alarming is the fact that 1/3 of everyone in this room, 1/3 only gave something. Two-thirds of the people in this room didn’t give anything, if we look at it statistically. Let me put it in perspective. That is 2,000 of our members gave nothing. Does that bother anybody? So 80% of the ministry is being funded in a sense by 20% of the people.
I just want to appeal to you as your Pastor, listen to me, we need you to give. We need you to support the ministry here, not so that we can do great things here, although we will do some great things here, but we need to reach a lost world with the gospel. And until the people of God get passionate about the things of God, we are never going to see it. And money is hard to talk about because it is a thermometer of our heart. And I would love to sit here and say, you need to start giving 10% next week, but I would be fooling myself because it is hard to give 10% when you have never given any percent. Ten percent is the training wheels in the Old Testament. They actually gave more but ten percent is the training wheels of giving. You should be as a Christian in the New Testament under grace we give more, but I would be a fool to expect 10% but I want to be reasonable. I want to be honest with you. Would you consider giving maybe 5% of your income, giving 3% of your income to the work of God for the advancement of the gospel?
You know, I started thinking about this number and I thought, it is really simple. If half of the people, watch this, who gave nothing just gave $10 a week, $10 a week…that is two lattes. You just cut back on happy hour or after 2:00 at Starbucks, right? Just $10 a week and that is just half of the 2000, so 1000, that is $10,000 more to do the work of ministry. If those ten or those thousand continue that for a year, we will have increased the opportunity for missions by a half a million dollars. Just $10 from half of the people that didn’t give anything to the budget or anything to the work of ministry at Brainerd Baptist.
Let me ask you as we close. How are you spending your money? You see, the problem with money is this, it is an issue of the heart. You see, we look at money differently. You either look at what you have as being an owner or a steward. You see, an owner is a person who says this - I own it! I went to school to learn how to get it! And it is mine! Don’t tell me what to do with my money! It belongs to me! It is my bank account! I can spend it at will and do whatever I want to with it as I please. That is an owner mentality.
A steward is someone who says, everything that I have has been entrusted to me by another person in order to use for the advancement of His ministry. It is a game changer. So I don’t own anything. I don’t have anything. In fact, I can’t do as I please with the things I have because they are not mine to begin with. Your job as a steward, your only job is to manage the resources that have been given to you for the One who gave them to you for His glory and His honor. Come in real close…as Christians, the Bible sways we don’t own anything. We don’t even own ourselves. The Bible says we have been bought with a price. We are not our own, so glorify God in your body. So God bought us with His Son and His blood. Everything we own has been given to us as stewards. And at the end of time, we are going to give an account for every penny that we had. Think about that. How we spent everything that went through our possession, in our hands.
Now up to this point, you may be saying, well, Pastor, this is a sermon about gambling. I have never gambled a day in my life. Praise God! But friends, I don’t want you to miss this oversight. If you, as a New Testament, born-again believer are not using your resources and investing them in the Kingdom of God for the advancement of the gospel, that may be the biggest gamble you ever make. And it will be the one, probably that you regret the most when you stand face to face before Jesus Christ Himself.
So I want to encourage you today as we finish, lets do something about this. God doesn’t need your money. He wants your heart. He wants your heart. He doesn’t want your money. He doesn’t need your money. He wants your heart. And so lets start today. Lets do something about it. Lets make a difference. Lets make a change for the advancement of the gospel, for the story that has been written from the beginning of time and it will be written to the end of eternity. It is the Great Commission of God. It is not the great mission that God does it without you. It is the Great Co-mission. That is why He says we partner with Him for the advancement of the gospel. And lets begin to be good stewards of what we have. Why? Because you will be thankful for eternity. You will be thankful for eternity.