Blessings and Woes of the Christian Life | Luke 6:17-26

YouTube video sermon

Do not put your trust in money, put your trust in God!

Introduction

Luke 6:17-26 ESV And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, (18) who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. (19) And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. (20) And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (21) “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. (22) “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (23) Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (24) “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. (25) “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. (26) “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

  • Jesus has just called His 12 apostles, the 12 disciples that would change the world.
    • He was preparing to send them out to do the task that has been prepared for them.
    • He is about to send them out poor, hungry, and persecuted.
      • Can such men, poor men, hungry men, hurting men, can the really change the world?
      • Absolutely, it is exactly such people that change the world, and it is the people that we are called to be.

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  • Over the next few weeks we are going to talk about the blessings and the woes of the Christian life.
    • Jesus was being incredibly real here, He was talking to 12 real men, who had a very important and challenging task in front of them.
      • And not just to the 12, but also to great multitudes of people, we see that in verse 17. So while this instruction was powerful for the 12 disciples, I believe it also applies to all disciples, that includes you and me.
        • Sometimes I think Jesus speaks bluntly to the multitudes in order to test their sincerity…
      • So as such, as we talk about these things bluntly, I want to keep it as real and as down to earth as possible, I don’t think Jesus is being Hyper spiritual here.
    • Jesus lays out four sets of blessings and woes:
      • Blessed are you who are poor, woe to you who are rich.
      • Blessed are you who are hungry now, woe to you who are full now.
      • Blessed are you who weep now, woe to you who laugh now.
      • And finally, blessed are you when people hate you for Jesus’ sake, woe to you who others speak well of.
    • *Show Title Slide*
      • Today I want to talk about the first set, blessed are you who are poor, woe to you who are rich.

Point 1 – Blessed are you who are Poor

  • Point one this morning is “Blessed are you who are poor”.
  • Now I want to get this out there right out of the gate, this section of scripture is most likely NOT a recapping of the beatitudes mentioned in Matthew.
    • Those beatitudes where preached on a mountain side, that’s why it’s called the Sermon on the Mount, on the other hand we see that Jesus came “down” to a “level place” to preach this message.

Luke 6:17 ESV And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon,

  • But what is more important then where this message is being preached is WHAT is being preached, what Jesus preaches here is not the same thing He preached on the mount, it sounds the same but is actually very different, let me show you what I mean.
    • Let me show you what I am talking about, because I think it sets this point up well… look at the verse we are going to be talking about today, compared to the similar sounding verse on the sermon on the mount:

[PUT THESE TWO VERSES ON THE SAME SLIDE IF YOU CAN]

Luke 6:20 ESV And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Matthew 5:3 ESV “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • Now at first these two verses look and sound very similar, but there are two major differences.
  • First, the blessing in Matthew is tied to Spiritual poverty, Luke doesn’t mention anything about the spirit, his gospel simply says “blessed are you poor”
  • But the other think I want you to notice is the AUDIENCE Jesus was speaking about.
  • In Matthew Jesus says “Blessed are THE poor in spirit”. This blessing applies to all who are spiritually poor.
  • However, in Luke’s gospel Jesus says “Blessed are YOU who are poor”. Jesus is saying in Matthew that it can be a blessing to be spiritually poor.
  • Jesus is NOT saying in Luke that poverty is a blessing!
    • However, He is saying that those who are followers of Christ who are poor, they are blessed. The poverty is not the blessing, but never the less the poor are blessed.
  • The beatitudes are different in location, in audience, in content, and in scope…
  • Each one of the beatitudes from the sermon on the mount is beautiful and powerful, and deserves it’s own message, but that’s not what we are talking about today…
  • Today we are talking about money, and not having much. Blessed are you who are poor.

Luke 6:20 ESV And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

  • Matthew Henry paraphrased what He imagined Jesus to be saying when He spoke these words some 2000 years ago, and he put it so beautifully I thought I would just read it to you, take a moment to take this in, it’s so beautiful and so powerful:

It’s as if Christ was saying to His disciples “You are poor, you have left all to follow me, are content to live upon alms with me, are never to expect any worldly preferment in my service. You must work hard, and fare hard, as poor people do; but you are blessed in your poverty, it shall be no prejudice at all to your happiness; nay, you are blessed for it, all your losses shall be abundantly made up to you, for yours is the kingdom of God, all the comforts and graces of his kingdom here and all the glories and joys of his kingdom hereafter; yours it shall be, nay, yours it is.” Christ’s poor are rich in faith.
-Matthew Henry’s commentary on Luke 6:20

  • There are two Kingdoms which we can posses in life, first is the one we inherited from Adam and Eve, it is a worldly kingdom, a cursed kingdom, a temporary kingdom.
    • Each of us has a little peace of this kingdom as our own inheritance… maybe it is a house you live in, maybe it’s just a bedroom. Maybe it is a sphere of influence you enjoy, influence between friends, and families, and coworkers.
    • Large portions of some of our kingdoms include social media, others have kingdoms in school, or at work, or even at volunteer groups or sporting events.
      • All of these things are worldly, they are temporary, they are cursed… but they are ours. Our house, our friends, our school, our job, our social media, our sports team… they are part of our worldly kingdom.
    • But if you are a Christian you have been born again, and with birth comes inheritance, doesn’t it?
    • And our inheritance in Christ is NOT one of dead presidents!

There once was a man who loved God, but also loved money, gold in particular… something about gold gave this guy a rush. He wasn’t interested in Lamborghinis, or Bugattis… though he certainly always drove a nice new car… and he didn’t need a huge mansion with multiple swimming pools and a hedge maze… though he certainly lived in a nice home… but this guy LOVED gold, buying it, storing it, counting it, looking at it. It gave him such a rush to acquire more and more and more and more gold. None the less, in the time he was not spending collecting gold, he worshiped God, and served Him faithfully. His gold was his only vice. One night, while this man slept, an angle came to him in a dream and said “Sir, put your house in order for tomorrow you die” the man replied to the angle “please, oh messenger of God, I know I am not supposed to bring anything with me, but PLEASE let me bring my gold” the angle agreed, and the next day the man died, his spirit and his gold were instantly transported to heaven. When he got there Saint Peter greeted him and said “Welcome! But I have to ask, why did you bring all this pavement with you?”

  • Describing New Jerusalem, the eternal city of Zion, which is what we commonly call heaven, John wrote this:

Revelation 21:21 ESV And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

  • Literally the streets of heaven are gold. It’s pavement y’all. Purer gold than we have ever even seen.
    • No amount of worldly riches will ever compare to what we have in the kingdom of God.

Matthew 16:26 ESV For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

  • If we truly live the Christian Life, the one the Bible talks about… if we Radically follow Scripture as if it was the God Breathed Word that we say it is…
    • Then the words of Jesus here would need little explanation.
    • The Bible describes a Christianity where some leave EVERYTHING behind to follow Jesus.
    • It describes a Christianity where others share everything they have with other Christians.
    • It describes a Christianity where everything you have is mine and everything I have is yours, and everything we have belongs just as much to the church down the street as it does to us, and everything they have belongs to us.
      • And I am not talking about communism… NO, I am talking about Christianity as if we were one body working together as the Bride of Christ. As if we truly understood that we are all on the same team, and that there is a task at hand to be accomplished, to go into all the world and make disciples, and that we all have the same task so as a team we work together to accomplish that task.
    • In that mindset it makes sense to say “Blessed are you who are poor”.
      • But instead we have a very different Christianity.
      • One that tries to encourage believes to both Gain the whole world and save his soul.
      • It says “Follow Jesus, yes, but also chase after riches and prosperity!”
      • It says grow your earthly kingdom while you wait for your heavenly kingdom.
      • It says “don’t worry about them, let them worry about them, you worry about you”.
      • Grow your house, your job, your hobbies, your wealth…”
    • But Jesus says “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God”
    • I don’t know about y’all but I would rather have the kingdom of God then the kingdom of me!

Point 2 – Woe to you who are Rich

Luke 6:24 ESV  “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

  • Point two this morning, Woe to you who are Rich…
  • Here is how Matthew Henry paraphrases this line from Jesus sermon here…

“You that are rich are in temptation to set your hearts upon a smiling world, and to say, Soul, take thine ease in the embraces of it, This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell; and then woe unto you.”
-Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke 6:24

  • You see… there is a temptation that is strong when you have money… I know this temptation very well because I get it about every time we get paid… when you have money you have this temptation to buy things…
    • To buy things to bring comfort.
    • To buy things that bring joy.
    • To buy things that bring happiness…
      • Or maybe that’s not you, maybe you are good with your money… then there is a temptation to put your trust in your money, to find security in your investments and bank account.
    • Here’s the problem for Christians… God is supposed to be our comforter!

Psalms 23:4 ESV Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

  • That verse would read a lot differently if it said “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death all the stuff I bought with my money will comfort me, sure everyone is dying around me… but, phew… got that new Xbox!”
  • Not only is God our Comforter, but shouldn’t He be our source of Joy too?

Romans 15:13 ESV May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

  • It’s not like buying things to bring joy is new to American culture… there was lots of things money could buy to bring joy in Biblical times… yet they are never mentioned as sources of joy in the Bible, only God is…
  • What about simply buying things that make you happy?

Psalms 37:4 ESV Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

  • Hmm… delight yourself in money and it will give you the desires of your heart? NO! Delight yourself in God.
  • But I think the biggest problem wealth can have is that it can tempt you to trust and lean on it.
    • To trust your retirement package, or your investments, to trust in your bank account…
    • I want to read the entirety of Psalm 62, just let the Word preach here for a minute.

Psalms 62:1-12 ESV To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. (2) He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (3) How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? (4) They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah. (5) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (6) He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. (7) On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. (8) Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. (9) Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. (10) Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. (11) Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, (12) and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.

  • Jesus says “Woe to the rich, for they have their prize here on earth”.
    • Y’all I don’t want earthly prizes, I want eternal prizes, amen?
  • I could go on and on about the dangers of riches…
    • I could talk about how it’s harder to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.
    • Or I could talk about how you can’t serve both God and money.
    • I could draw parallels to the evil of money and the betrayer Judas, who was Jesus’ treasurer and was stealing money from the offering, and how it was money that bought Jesus’ betrayal.
    • I could even talk about how the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…
  • But that’s a sermon for another day, instead I want to transition to my final point this morning… point three, Living the Christian Life in Light of This.

Point Three – Living the Christian Life in Light of This

Matthew 19:16-22 ESV And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (17) And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” (18) He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, (19) Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (20) The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” (21) Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (22) When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

  • Nowhere in scripture does it say that it is a sin to be wealthy.
    • Let me say that again to be perfectly clear. Nowhere in scripture does it say that it is a sin to be wealthy.
  • But time and time again it says that being wealthy makes things more difficult. This is a perfect example…
    • Here we se a wealthy man, talking to Jesus Christ in the flesh.
    • He has the chance to ask one question of the man who very well may be the Savior of the world, what does he ask?
      • “What do I need to do to enter into eternal life”
      • That’s a pretty good question to ask! Right‽ Way better than Nicodemus who asked Jesus if Jesus wanted him to crawl back into his mothers womb to be born again!
    • Jesus answers by throwing out a few of the 10 commandments, the man responds that he has kept them since his youth, then Jesus says “Great, then all you need to do is sell everything and come and follow me!”
    • To which the young man responds by leaving sad. And why was the man so sad about this response? The answer is right there in the scripture:

Matthew 19:22 KJV  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

  • The truth is: It’s easy to give up everything to follow after Jesus when you don’t have a lot of things to give up… but when you have a lot of stuff, really, really, really awesome stuff… it’s a harder pill to swallow leaving all of that stuff behind.
  • The fact of the matter is: I like having nice stuff! Do y’all like having nice stuff? I LOVE technology, I want flagship cellphones, big tv’s and nice computers!
    • But I would leave it all behind in an instant for Jesus! How do I know, because I have done it before, I continue to do it, and I will do it again, and again and again as long as Christ asks me too.
  • What I want to develop in this church is not a spirit of poverty, that’s nonsense, I don’t think God necessarily want’s us to be poor.
  • But I also don’t want to develop a spirit of earthly prosperity. That’s also nonsense, clearly from this passage.
  • Instead what I want to develop in each and every one of us, I am PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS, I want to develop a spirit of following Christ at every turn, at every moment, at all costs.
    • God may bless some of you with wealth, praise God, some of the mightiest men in scripture were wealthy… but if He does, serve Him with that wealth.
    • God may bless you in your poverty, providing great spiritual riches… there were plenty of great men in the Bible who had few earthly possessions… use that as an opportunity to follow Him all the more.
  • If you want to buy houses and computers and cars and whatever, fine! Just don’t let it be in excess and don’t let it ever slow you down from Christ. Never buy anything you are afraid to leave behind.
    • Don’t be like the man collecting gold only to find out that gold was used as pavement in heaven!
  • Instead live your life pursing Christ. And if you do, when He asks you to leave everything behind you will not hesitate! YES LORD! SEND ME, I WILL GO!

Conclusion

  • I want to close with this story, a true story from my life:
    • When I was in community college there was a kind of odd guy there who I became friends with… because I am kind of odd.
    • I was always generous so I would buy him food here and there, treat him nice, hang with him.
      • He never ONCE bought me food, even though I am sure he could afford it, and that’s ok, I never expected it.
    • And he would always tell me about how great of a pitcher he was.
      • Mind you he never played sports in high school, never played on a team, but he said he was amazing and was joining the community college team.
      • Woohoo! Your on a community college team, great job bro, that’s about as impressive as being on your church softball team.
      • But he would always tell me that he blew his coaches away, that they couldn’t believe how good he was…
        • I never really listened, or cared, but he always tried to talk about it.
      • One day he told me, all ecstatic like “Christian I just got signed with the yankees as a back up pitcher.”
        • I was like “Uh… is that like the name of another community college team?”
      • He was like “NO! Don’t be stupid the New Your Yankees!” I was like “oh, cool” I didn’t really believe him though…
        • So I did what any self-respecting young man does when he doesn’t believe something, I googled it… there his name was, right there on the New York Yankees Roster… I was dumbfounded…
        • Turns out he was a really good pitcher…
      • We hung out a few times after that, he would tell me what his salary was going to be, he showed me some of the official gear…
        • And he would ALWAYS talk about after he got paid he was going to buy me a condo in new York and a new car so we could hang out.
        • He said he was going to pay me back for all those lunches he bought…
        • He said he was going to make it so I never had to work again.
      • Then… he was gone. Off to play on the Yankees… I never heard from him again. He deleted his Facebook and made a new one (He never accepted my friend request on his new one), he changed his phone number… that was it.
      • The moral of this story is this: If you are not generous now, getting money is not going to change that.
        • If you don’t bless others now, being a millionaire won’t change that.
        • If you don’t tithe now, getting a raise won’t change that.
        • If you are a bad steward with your money now, winning the lottery wont change that…
          • Did you know that 70% of lottery winners end up bankrupt? Statistically you have a higher chance of going bankrupt as a lottery winner than your average American! Why? Because if you were bad with money as a poor man you will be bad with money as a rich person.
        • Therefore church, I do not ask you to sell everything and give it to the poor, I simply ask you to be ready to do that should Christ ask.
          • Start living generously now.
          • Start living in Christian fellowship having all things in common now.
          • Get your finances in order.
          • Start tithing.
          • Be faithful with the little God has given you so that he knows you will be faithful with much.
        • I close with Luke 16:10

Luke 16:10 ESV “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

 

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