This weekend, we continued in our teaching series called Margin. Last week, we examined how to carve out, create margin in our busy schedules. This week, we examined how to begin to create margin when it comes to our finances.
Looking at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6, we saw that the first step to creating financial margin in our lives begins by asking ourselves the question – what world am I investing in? Jesus seems to indicate (here and in other places) that their are two kinds of worlds – or Kingdoms- that our money can be directed toward: 1) The present world/Kingdom: where its about greed, materialism, get all you can get, ever growing gap between the ‘have’s and have nots’ etc. or 2) The world that is coming – what Jesus referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven: where it’s about generosity, simplicity, loving sacrifice, equality and justice.
So Jesus puts this challenge to His followers:
What world are you going to invest in? The world that is. . . or the world that’s coming?
As I studied this week, my mind went back to a time – early in my ministry- when I took a group of Jr. High students to a local junkyard.
It was the week of VBS and my youth sponsors and I were looking for a new, fresh way to engage this group of ‘tweens’. So we decided that instead of doing the usual VBS lessons and activities, we would load them up in the church van and drive them to different places in the city and teach a lesson that would, hopefully, make an impact.
So we drove to the junkyard and had the kids get out. We looked around at piles of ‘stuff’ all around us – everything from old cars, to boats, to stereos, to TVs.
I turned to Matthew 6 and read the passage about ‘storing your treasure on earth’. Then I said (something to the the effect of), “Sooner or later, everything we own ends up here. That electronic device that you ‘just had to have’, those treasures you fought over, lost friendships over – everything ends up here! Because all of these things have an ‘experation date’. These things, that this present world says is so important, that you can’t live without – it doesn’t last.”
Then I took a stick and drew a ‘dot’ in the sand (I had recently read the book “The Treasure Principle” that gave me the idea for this illustration). I said, “This dot, represents this world (and the stuff of this world). A dot begins and it ends. Its brief.”
Then I drew a line out from the dot, a looooong line with an arrow at the end. I said, “This line represents the world that Jesus said He was bringing into being. What He called ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’. Its a Kingdom, the Bible says, that will have no end.”
So then I challenged them with this question: “Right now. . . are you living for the line. . . or for the dot? The person who lives for the dot lives for treasures on earth that end up in junkyards. The person who lives for the line lives for treasures that will never, ever end. So live for the line. . . not the dot!”
For us today, I truly believe finding margin and creating a change in our financial life begins by wrestling with this same question: What world am I investing in? The world that promises that I’ll have greater success and enjoyment of life the more temporary ‘stuff’ I have? Or the world that promises that the more we give away- to meet a need, to heal a life, to change a neighborhood, to communicate hope to the hopeless – the more I’ll be investing in a world that will never end, and experience a blessing that can never be taken from us.
So let us truly follow Jesus, and commit together to:
“Live for the line. . . not the dot.”