How Money Fears Kill Our Worship
Well, yesterday we started this five hundredth week on the podcast looking at Christian love and how that love differs from the love of the world. And I want to carry that discussion over to today because there’s another key factor that distinguishes our love. And it’s about the fear of money: specifically, the fear of not having enough money. Money fears kill our love. And money fears kill our worship. These are key points made by John Piper in a 1997 sermon on Luke 12. Here’s Pastor John to make those connections.
So Luke 12:32–34, of the dozens of texts I could have chosen, is all about worshiping God with your money. There are four points I want to make. Many more could be made: I think I counted about ten sermons I’d like to preach on these three verses. But I’ll preach one and make four points.
“When you magnify God through not being afraid about money, you worship.”
In verse 32 in particular, the first point is that God commands us not to be afraid about money, not to have fear about money. When it comes to money things, we’re not supposed to be anxious. Don’t worry. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NASB 1995). That little verse is sandwiched before and after with money. Verses 22 and following are all about money: things, clothing, house, and whether you’re anxious about them. And then it’s followed by selling possessions and giving alms and laying up treasures in heaven instead of on the earth. So the first point of this little verse — this beautiful, magnificent promise verse — is don’t be anxious. Don’t be afraid.
Five Ways to Magnify God
But now there’s a deeper point in this verse. And the deeper point is that when you’re not afraid concerning money, you magnify five things about God, and that’s worship. When you’re not afraid or anxious or fearful about money, you magnify five things about God (in this one verse). And when you magnify God through not being afraid about money, you worship. Here are the five things. These are precious things that we want to magnify about God.
1. Magnify him as shepherd.
When we’re not afraid about money, we magnify God as our shepherd. “Fear not, little flock” (Luke 12:32). The word flock means we’ve got a shepherd, and we are sheep. And therefore, Psalm 23 kicks in: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). That word is the old Elizabethan word for lack: “I shall not lack. I shall not be in want.” That is, if I have a shepherd like this, who loves to give me the kingdom, I will not lack for what I need. Therefore, if I believe that and thus exclude fear, I will magnify his shepherd-love.
2. Magnify him as Father.
If I do not fear concerning money, I show that I treasure God as my Father. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NASB 1995). So not only are we sheep who have a shepherd; we are children who have a Father. He’s multiplying images for us here to get rid of fear. Don’t be afraid — you are sheep who have a shepherd. Don’t be afraid — you are children who have a Father.
“Don’t be afraid — you are sheep who have a shepherd. Don’t be afraid — you are children who have a Father.”
Now, what does that imply? Well, verse 30, two verses earlier, makes plain what it implies. “All these things [eat, drink, wear, money] the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.” Now, he didn’t say that to mock us. He said that because, knowing that we need these things, he’ll work to provide what we need in order to magnify his Fatherhood. But now be careful. Do not come to God with an agenda defining for him what you need. Come to God and learn from him what you need. The word need today in America is so inflated that it scarcely has any meaning in a universal context anymore.
So, if we are fearless about money, we magnify him as shepherd, we magnify him as Father, and that is worship.
3. Magnify him as King.
If we’re not afraid concerning money, we show that we treasure God as our King. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NASB 1995). Who has right and authority to give us the kingdom? No peon disposes of the kingdom. The king disposes of the kingdom. And therefore, not only is he a shepherd loving us as sheep and our Father loving us as children; he is King ruling over us, providing for us, exerting sovereignty and power on our behalf as subjects against our enemies, including the lack of things we need. If we trust him as King and shepherd and Father, and thus overcome our fear of not having enough money, then we magnify him, and he is worshiped.
4. Magnify him as generous.
If we are fearless with regard to our money, we magnify him as free and generous. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NASB 1995). Not sell you the kingdom, not rent you the kingdom, not lease you the kingdom for payments — mortgage payments, rent payments, lease payments. He will give you the kingdom. He loves to give you the kingdom, which means he’s generous. And therefore, we let his shepherd-like, fatherly, kingly generosity work on our fear, our anxieties.
Now I’m talking a battle here. We’re not talking about something that happened yesterday and doesn’t happen tomorrow. We’re talking a weekly thing, a paycheck-by-paycheck thing, or unemployment check by unemployment check. We’re talking about a battle. The way we battle is by preaching to ourselves what I’m preaching right now. That’s the way I do it. It’s not automatic for John Piper to be fearless about money, though I get paid plenty. It isn’t automatic for me. It isn’t automatic for you.
We are battling fear and anxiety every day, not to mention greed. And we do it by saying, “He’s shepherd to me. He’s Father to me. He’s King to me.” And he’s not — as shepherd, Father, and King — folding his arms, standing off in the corner, saying, “Maybe you’ll get the kingdom. I’ll watch your performances.” That’s not the way he does it. Give, give, give, free, free, free is what the Lord does.
5. Magnify him as happy.
And when we overcome our fear and live free of fear, we magnify our God as happy in his giving. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NASB 1995). Or another version says, “it is [his] good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (NKJV) — or another version, “it pleases him” (NIV). He is pleased to give you the kingdom. He wants to do this. He is not selfish. Simony is not his virtue (or vice). He is a generous God.
Trust Your Providing God
So the first point of this message is to trust him as shepherd. Trust him as Father. Trust him as King. Trust his generosity. And trust the fact that it’s lavish because he loves to do it. Preach these things to yourself, and attack fear and anxiety in your life with these truths — so that when you overcome fear about money, God gets the glory as these five glorious things shine out of your life.
And if anyone asks you, “I know that you’re in financial straits, and yet at work you seem to be caring about others and happy. How is that?” Then you say, “Can I share five things with you about my God?” And he is worshiped.