Let me just take a moment to share with you some of the most creepy song lyrics of all time… From Sting and the police “every breath you take every move you make every bond you break every step you take I’ll be watching you”. Those lyrics are creepy because they talk about someone watching you when you don’t want to be watched.. This morning we hear that Jesus is WATCHING. There’s comfort in that – there is warning in that. Today we want the Word of God to rip down any ounce of separation between God and us by answering this question – should Jesus really be watching my wealth?
Our lesson for today starts out this way – Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Jesus was literally studying the people as they gave to the church. The thought of Jesus just sitting there watching staring studying…it’s enough to make anybody uncomfortable.
But I want to know what Jesus saw. The Bible tells us that Jesus saw rich people throwing in large amounts of money. In fact – if you read the original it seems as if the wealthy folks were putting their offerings in this way. Drop it in the bucket walk back around and do it again.
Jesus continues to watch and he sees a widow. She puts in two copper coins. On the outside it looked like a small amount – but Jesus tells us that he watched and saw more. “I tell you the truth this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” Jesus saw that the rich gave out of their wealth but she gave from her poverty from her heart all she had to live on.
Both people gave a clear answer to the question should Jesus really be watching my wealth. The answer from the wealthy men was yeah watch me see what I can do but don’t watch my heart. The answer from the poor woman was Jesus watch over me because as I give this…only your plan is going to get me through.
Let me tell you a quick story. There was a business man. He’d done pretty well for himself as he would describe his finances. He’d often take friends out to dinner when they were in town on his dime. The man would order one of the best bottles of wine – make sure the people see the label so they can look up the price later. He’d converse with his friends about how he helped children at the local school – how great his family is – and how he’s working so hard to provide a good life for his family and others. Server came back out to the table with the bill he takes it purposely leaves a huge tip for the table and the server to see. Fact was he didn’t really even like to share. Outwardly it looked great inwardly he was broke. The man’s gifts to his friends had nothing to do with his generosity instead he wanted people to watch what he can do.
See I think sometimes we’re good at making the outward motions of generosity. I’ll share with people what looks like a lot but really its just frosting on my cake like the men in the temple. But to trust God and say watch me guide my heart to good decisions financially. That’s harder to do. To go through a budget for my church, my family, my community and ask the question about every resource I have is this done with the right heart for those around me? That’s something I don’t really want to talk about and I certainly don’t want God to see because he knows my budget isn’t always sacrificial and doesn’t always look to God as manager but instead me.
And that’s usually because God isn’t first in our hearts. When God isn’t first I become first. And when I become first my heart becomes broken and full of empty things instead of being like the woman who was filled with a heart of trust though she was broke.
Friends that mistrust between you and God has been taken totally away by the Savior who watches. His eyes have seen the same temptations as yours but he won for you. When Satan tempted him with the wealth of the world he said don’t tempt the Lord thy God. Days after this story Jesus would be kneeling and praying in the garden of Gethsemane and the very thing that he watched on this day would be the very thing that was given in exchange for his blood – 30 pieces of silver. We say God you have no right to watch my money he says watch how I let greed put me on a tree. And on that tree Jesus bled and died to forgive the hearts that loved copper more than Christ. On that cross his blood outpoured so that my heart could be changed so that I could have a relationship with God that isn’t built on suspicion and guilt but trust and love for today and for eternity in heaven.
Back to the woman again. Remember how I told you that she said Jesus watch over me I trust you? What do you think happened to her after this? Jesus isn’t going to commend her and then let her fall. Jesus isn’t going to acknowledge her faith and see her ruined today or for eternity. She was provided for and blessed. Friends I know it aint easy for you either to say Jesus I hand my budget over to your direction in my life watch over me. It’s scary to trust somebody so much that you ask them to direct your most prized possessions. We know God’s grace and love but doing it every day is another story. How do we deal with that? How can we have that trust? How do we open up and say Jesus I need you to watch me?
I think we can look at some examples Christian people in our own life that did it. I knew an older gentleman. He wasn’t flashy didn’t have the best car didn’t have the biggest house. In fact his health was in pretty bad shape. He could barely walk. And while he was blessed by God I wouldn’t say that his resources were limitless. He was by all accounts a normal joe. He never once told me about this but after he died I discovered. On his shelf in his house he stored his offering envelopes. When he got them in January he would sit down, pray, go over his budget, and stuff each envelop with a check even a year in advance. 52 checks. How did that man know that he would be ok and those checks wouldn’t bounce 6 months down the road? How did he say God you blessed me so I give to you from a heart of trust?
Its because he knew Jesus loved him rich or poor. It’s because he gave for the right reason.
Last week you heard about a story from your sister Rochelle about a time when budgeting meant saying God I don’t know where this is coming from but I trust you will take care of me.
For today friends I want you to see that your management of gifts has nothing to do with the people that watch you – it in fact has nothing to do with the church and it isn’t the church asking you for money. It’s a personal relationship with God where you say Jesus because you were always faithful to me even when I was broken I’ll trust that you will always fill me up. Watch over me.
Maybe a hymn verse would say it best. Take my love my Lord I pour at thy feet its treasure store take myself and I will be every only all for thee. For the woman in the temple – for you – what a comfort it is to know that Jesus is the greatest giver who watches over you. Don’t hide anything from him trust, manage, and share. AMEN