My Money, My Car… My Worship?

This is for JD.

What is worship?  Is “worship” just the church services we attend on Sunday?  It is called a “worship service” after all.  What about singing? Is worship just singing praise, like some Christians seem to think? Still others define worship as a “lifestyle.”  This is true, but what does that mean?  What kind of lifestyle?  Something seems to be missing in our definition of worship.  So, what is the heart of worship?

This is what I have come to realize in my short time… Worship is to treasure God as absolutely, and in totality, more valuable than anything else.

Do you value God higher than everything else?  I expect you all to say yes…but… do you really? Do I? This includes our jobs.  This includes our car.  This includes our RSP’s.  This includes our money, our family, and all of our material possessions.  Is God more valuable to you than your season’s tickets to the canucks?  Is God more valuable to you than that vacation?  Than your business? Than that cruise?  Than that BMW? Is God more valuable to you than your 55” flat screen TV?  … Do you treasure God as absolutely, and in totality, more valuable than anything else? I said i did…but really I didn’t.

I am not rich.  In fact most of you would not even consider me wealthy, at least according to the standards of our western culture…but I am in the top 8% wealthiest people in the world and so are most of my readers.

Let’s turn to the bible now.

Luke 12:22-34 is generally turned to as a text to encourage people to trust God who is in control – He will clothe you, he will feed you, don’t worry.  BUT we tend to neglect the last part attached to the end (which I bolded for dramatic purposes). This text is all about our worship:

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Did you say that worship is a lifestyle?  You were mostly right. Our outward acts of worship show how much we treasure God. We learn in this text that Jesus says your entire life, (whether you eat or drink or whatever you do), do it all to show how valuable God is to you.  And look! It appears that money and possessions are a part of our “entire life”…who knew?

So the way we worship with our money and our possessions is this: Work hard to get them (Most of us hardy Dutch folk agree with that) – and then work hard to use them (ok)  in a way shows how much you treasure God (so confused…).  Let me put it this way: The way we worship with our finances and possessions shows how much we treasure God, or on the flipside, how much we treasure money. That is what this text is all about. And this is what worshipping God with our entire lives is all about.  It is not about putting in the 10% into the bag at church and then buying that BMW and ignoring the homeless widow…

It took me a long time and a lot of prayer, some help from people in the church, and a lot of grace from God to get to where I am today on this position. When I was younger, I did not tithe as I was supposed to, I did not care about missions or the church or our pastor’s salary, and I did not give all I could give to the work of God. I did, however, go out to Boston Pizza alot, and the pub for beer and karaoke, I brought some more beer home, I rented a lot of movies, and went out for many, many, many dinners and movies, I bought a lot of things, stupid, ridiculous things like Hockey cards, comic books, DVD’s, video games, sporting equipment, Ipods, jackets, things and things and things …all things, all useless, all earthly possessions that moth and rust can destroy.

Jesus told his disciples to “Sell your possessions.” Jesus didn’t say, “Give from your savings.” He didn’t say “Buy that BMW and give from what you have left over.” He didn’t say “Go on that vacation but don’t get the presidents suite.” No. He said, “Sell something, and give.” Why? Why would he say this?  Why should I sell something and give? Jesus wants us to realize this: All that we have is from our Father in heaven, He wants us to put our trust in our Father who gives and also takes away, and not in anything else.  He wants us to use what we have been given for the benefit of others. Live a simple life, don’t accumulate things here, but in heaven.

Luke 16:13 Jesus says,

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

To serve money is to love money and pursue all the benefits money can give. Pursuing money is not limited to the rich; even the poor person who abuses credit, who schemes, who lies, cheats and steals isunder this as well. If your heart goes after money, whether you work 80 hours a week or steal from your neighbour or abuse credit, where is your treasure?  Well, let me answer that for you…money is in and of this world so where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… It hurt’s doesn’t it? It is really sin against the first commandment – “have no other gods before me.” On this point… I have failed on this.  I have broken the first commandment… My guess is many of you have also.

Let me clarify, Jesus does not demand you sell everything, but he wants you to have your priorities in the right place.  Jesus does not say that your car is sinful, but if your priorities are not in the right place then it certainly is.  And so is that vacation, and that TV, and those hockey tickets, and that jacket, and that video game, and that beer and anything else that you put above God.

If you, like me, have been guilty of placing money above God, and breaking the 1st commandment,  then you must seek Jesus Christ, who bore the wrath of God against your sin.  Repent, seek Christ, sell and give. But don’t let me know what you give . Put your treasure in the things above. Test your faith and examine yourself.  Where are you building up treasure?  How is your prayer life?  How often do you read and meditate on the Bible? How is your walk with Christ and your fellow believer? Do you Believe in the rich promises of our heavenly father? Do you give to the upbuilding of your brother or do you build up your collection of things?

This is worship: To treasure God as absolutely, and in totality, more valuable than anything else.

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  1. doulanic says:

    Excellent blog material Ryan! Wow – you sure write well ….and bang on. I really struggle too with this issue – but more of a struggle with seeing so many people flaunt their wealth – in our family, in our church community, and in the broader community. Have you read the book “Money, Possessions and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn? EXCELLENT read. Well, anything by Alcorn is great. 🙂

  2. One Christian Dad says:

    thanks Nicole. I think we all struggle with this…and that is good. The trouble begins when we stop struggling against it. I have not read much by Alcorn, but I have heard nothing but good things. I have so many books on my to do list but I will add it!

  3. jelillie says:

    A hard word but oh so good! When we spend more on dog food than we do on building God’s kingdom something in our kingdom is out of order! Thanks!

  4. Garrett says:

    Hey Ryan, You make some very good points in this blog but I ask you this, are you describing true worship? or are you describing how to make sure we have no other gods but God to obey the commandment “thou shalt have no other gods before Me”? To me Worship is serving God in all that we do. Has he given us employment do it to the best of our ability that God may be praised, do we have calling to be an office bearer serve cheerfully giving God glory and this can be applied to so many more things specifically as well as broadly. Listening to a sermon in church service, singing God’s praises, giving to God’s work in tithes and freewill offerings, being a faithful steward, godly husband, wife father mother child etc. Pray with out ceasing, in all things giving thanks. Visiting the widows and orphans, visiting the sick. I think that living out the Christian life is our worship to our God, and to “treasure God as absolutely, and in totality, more valuable than anything else” is obeying the first commandment.

  5. One Christian Dad says:

    Hi Garrett,
    You have a point and I wholeheartedly agree that living the Christian life is our worship. I asked my self – “what is worship?” Is it just living a life of thankfulness? Sure, but that hardly seems sufficient. True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of worship is obedience to God and His Word. To do this, we must know God; Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father. To make it simple I said that we worship God when we value God higher than anything else. It is in this frame of mind that we can worship in times of plenty and in times of nothing. God is good, regardless of our state of life or mind and is worthy of our worship regardless of any external factors. Lets all worship, with our whole lives, our God who gives and takes away. *edit – I am not trying to argue with you here 🙂 I am sure we agree on this for the most part – I am just showing you where my line of thought is coming from.