A mom was trying to teach her two kids about Jesus and the Easter story. When she reached the part about Pilate and what he did with Jesus, her six-year-old son, Noah, got mad and asked, "Mom, do you think Pilate did the right thing?"
His mom said, "No. I think God used Jesus' death on the cross, but Pilate should have stood up for Jesus." Noah said, "I agree. I would have grabbed Jesus and run with him to the plane and jumped in and taken off quick." His eight-year-old brother, Ryan, said, "Noah, there were no planes back in Bible days." Noah said, "But Mom said he was a Pilate. Duh. Weren't you listening?" That's one of the greatest questions about the Bible and spiritual wisdom of all time. How often must God want to say, "Duh. Weren't you listening?"
This is true in many areas of our lives: the way we talk, the way we treat other people, the way we forget humility, and the way we deal with anger. But nowhere is it more true than when it comes to our financial lives and learning to say, "Enough." Last week Nancy mentioned that Jesus said more about money than any other topic except for the kingdom of God. Out of 30 parables, 19 are set in an economic context, almost two-thirds of them. The lost coin, the parable of the talents, the parable of the rich fool, and many more. The Bible has thousands of verses about financial issues.
How are people in our day and culture doing when it comes to living with financial wisdom from God's perspective? I'd suggest not terribly well. I remember when I came to Menlo, a long time ago, somebody saying, "I know preachers don't like to talk much about money." That struck me as odd. At our former church, the senior pastor was a guy named Bill Hybels. Bill was thoroughly Dutch, and wasted resources (especially in the church) were offensive to him.
On the platform at Willow, we would use duct tape to mark where folks were supposed to stand at various points during the service. Bill would argue with the facilities team about whether or not we were reusing the duct tape long enough, making sure every penny went as far as it could go at that church. He loved to talk about the Bible and money, and he was brilliant at it. He loved it. I remember one time he did a sermon called, The Financial 10 Commandments. I've never forgotten that. I'm going to change several of the commandments, but I want to use that structure for this message and talk together about the 10 commandments for wise financial living.
Many of you could talk about wise financial management better than I ever could, but I have been involved in church life and ministry long enough to know that even people who are brilliant at accumulating money may not handle it in a way that would honor God by the end of their lives. For the next few moments, we're going to speed through the 10 financial commandments and ask if we're all willing to live financially wise lives in light of the Bible.
John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.
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