Jesus on Taxes, Wealth, and God’s Generous Kingdom

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we concluded our preaching series entitled “Jesus Said What?!” by turning to another important topic: wealth. I led us through an exploration of four passages on this topic: Matthew 17:24-27; 19:16-30; 20:1-16; 22:15-22. In the end, I called us to live open-handed before God through a series of prayers included in the outline.

This message is from the eighth part of our longer journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” “Who Do You Say I Am?“, and “‘Tis the Reason.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.” (Matthew 20:1)

Two Taxes (Matthew 17:24-27; 22:15-22)

The Temple Tax (17:24-27)

The Poll Tax (22:15-22)

Lord, we open our hands before You to use our money for the good of Your kingdom and responsibly on earth.

The Upstanding, Rich, Young Man (Matthew 19:16-30)

An honest question, a spiritual hunger, and a sad departure (19:16-22)

Jesus’ general statement on wealth (19:23-24)

The shock of the disciples and the promise of Jesus (19:25-30)

Lord, we open our hands before You that You would set us free from idolatry of money.

A Story about God’s Generous Kingdom (Matthew 20:1-16)

A parable about the kingdom of heaven (20:1-12)

The unfair, but lavish generosity of God’s kingdom (20:13-16)

Lord, we open our hands before You that You would generously fill us and send us out with Your generosity.

Living Open-Handed with Jesus

Using our money for the good of God’s kingdom and responsibly on earth

Set free from the idolatry of moneyFilled up with God’s generosity and sent out with God’s generosity


Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 19:21 or 20:16
  • Select one of the segments of Scripture we explored this week for further study and reflection. As you take time alone with God, ponder what God is telling you about Him, about you, and about your discipleship. As God prompts you, respond in tangible action. 
  • If you haven’t already, make a budget of your income and spending. Consider how your budget reflects or prioritizes God’s kingdom. Ask God to help you wisely steward your resources. 

The Weekend Wanderer: 6 November 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


fracturing“The Six Way Fracturing of Evangelicalism” – Michael Graham with Skyler Flowers at Mere Orthodoxy: “The last few years have highlighted major differences in how Americans have processed the same cultural moments. Every month seems to bring another national Rorschach Test as to how we parse the times. Unlike Rorschach Tests these national events are not always neutral blobs of cultural ink. The same rending of the fabric of America is also happening (maybe not so) quietly within evangelicalism. I regularly hear from about six dozen pastors from around the United States. Over the past year, each of them have expressed to me that they are exhausted, and I have yet to hear from a single one that they are thriving. When drilling down on these things much of the exhaustion revolves around what we have all been intuitively feeling and objectively observing: evangelicalism is fracturing.”


joustra-001-scaled“Unity in Diversity: Understanding pluralism in light of the imago Dei”– Jessica Joustra in Comment: “We are hungry for dignity. What Charles Taylor calls the politics of recognition—the perverse and often baffling need for each one of us to be affirmed in our uniqueness—is a hunger at the heart of so much North Atlantic hurt. Christians, cautious of these therapeutic politics, often fall back on the image of God as a sure rock on which to base our recognition of human worth. But what does it mean to image the divine? What does it actually tell us about who we are, and how we should live? One of the places we can go to best answer this question is—perhaps surprisingly—Calvinism. Yes, you read that right. The same tradition branded as racist segregationists in the American South, South Africa, and elsewhere; as misogynists and abusers; as argumentative, ill tempered, bearded theobros.Can grounding for human dignity really come out of John Calvin and his tribe? I want to argue that in Calvin’s tribe, and particularly in his student Herman Bavinck, we find a beautiful, pluralistic, and foundational doctrine of human dignity and human diversity. This gift comes to us now at an urgent time, certainly for all Christians, but especially, perhaps, for Calvinists. This doctrine begins—as Calvinists so love to—with the triune God.”


mosaic-rehov-imj“What Did People Eat and Drink in Roman Palestine?” – Megan Sauter in Bible History Daily: “In a land flowing with milk and honey, what kinds of food made up the ancient Jewish diet? What did people eat and drink in Roman Palestine? Susan Weingarten guides readers through a menu of the first millennium C.E. in her article “Biblical Archaeology 101: The Ancient Diet of Roman Palestine,” published in the March/April 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Although it is difficult to reconstruct the diet of the average person in Palestine during the Roman and Late Antique periods, Weingarten, as both a food historian and an archaeologist, is well equipped for the task. Using archaeological remains and ancient texts, such as the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Talmuds, she pieces together the ancient Jewish diet.”


126179“In Plain Prayer: Why Missionary Families Are Showing Love to Haiti Kidnappers” – Donald B. Kraybill and Steven M. Nolt in Christianity Today: “Like many others, we have been following the story of the 12 adults and five children associated with Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) who were kidnapped in Haiti on October 16 and are being held for ransom. The situation is difficult to contemplate, and we join countless individuals around the globe in praying for their release. Unfortunately, circumstances in Haiti have allowed kidnapping to become all too common, routinely placing the lives of locals—and sometimes those of foreigners—at risk. But although the CAM abduction story fits a sad pattern of sorts, the official response has provoked queries from both religious and secular observers. The nature and tone of CAM’s public statements and the prayer requests from the captives’ families have surprised many people because they have included prayer for the kidnappers and a desire to extend love and forgiveness to the gang members holding the 16 Americans and one Canadian captive.”


most-evangelicals-still-giving-to-church-charity-the-nonprofit-times“Most Evangelicals Still Giving To Church, Charity” – Mark Hrywna in The NonProfit Times: “When it comes to charitable giving, evangelical Protestants are just like everyone else — more or less. Those who attend church or read the Bible more often tend to give more to church and/or charity, as do those who are older and have higher incomes, but there are some who don’t give at all. ‘The Generosity Factor: Evangelicals and Giving,’ a 32-page report released by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research, estimates that only 13% of Protestants, about one in eight, give anything close to tithing, which authors estimated at 8% of household income. Almost one in five (19%) give nothing at all. The study was limited to those who did not identify with a non-Protestant group, such as Mormon, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox. American evangelical Protestants represent an estimated 23% of American adults, roughly 59 million people. Evangelical giving broke down as follows, according to respondents:

  • 74% give to church;
  • 58%, charity;
  • 51%, church and charity;
  • 22%, only church;
  • 19%, did not give in the last 12 months; and,
  • 7%, only to charity.”

Austin Kleon mind map“How to make a map of your mind” – Austin Kleon at his blog: “When ideas aren’t coming, or I’m confused about what’s going on in my head, I’ll make something called a mind map. Starting in the middle of a notebook page, I’ll draw a picture, or write a word or phrase with a box or a circle around it, then I’ll write the first word or phrase that comes to my mind next to it, enclose it with a box or a circle, and draw a line connecting them. I’ll repeat this process until the page is full. There’s not a whole lot to this simple technique, but it’s one of the easiest ways I know to get myself going when I’m stuck. It does at least 2 things for me:

  1. It serves as a form of “free writing” — it gets things out of my head quickly so I can look at them on the page. (I think because you’re starting in the middle and working out, the radial pattern tricks your brain into loosening up.)
  2. Because it’s nonlinear and the words are spread out, I can see or make connections between things that I might not if I were just writing straight prose.

I’ve made so many of these maps over the years…”


Music: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, “Moanin’,” from Moanin’.

Real Treasure: the heart and the life

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our series “Becoming Real” on the Sermon on the Mount by looking at Matthew 6:19-24. This brief passage explores what it means to have our interior and exterior lives unified in terms of what we most value and how that plays out in our material wealth and treasure. Our discipleship is spiritual but always must be worked out materially and tangibly.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire “Becoming Real” series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”  (Matthew 6:19-20)

Real Treasure (6:19-21)

  • The reality and limits of earthly storing up
  • The promise and possibility of heavenly storing up
  • The importance of the heart

Real Wholeness and Generosity (6:22-23)

  • The single eye
  • The bad eye

Real Dedication (6:24)

  • Divided loyalties
  • The power of mammon The calling of God

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching on real spirituality in one or more of the following ways:

  • Consider memorizing Matthew 6:21 or 24 this week.
  • As a prayerful reflection on this passage, write about, sketch, or paint the visuals from this passage. As you do that, pray about your response to each image, laying your life down into God’s hands.
  • Look at your last month’s expenses, perhaps even checking your credit card or bank account statements. What do they say about what you’re devoted to and what has your heart? Consider this: if someone saw your account statements, would they know you were a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ or not?
  • Consider digging deeper into how our finances and discipleship fit together by reading one of the following books: Richard J. Foster, Freedom of Simplicity, or Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle.

The Radical Simplicity and Generosity of Jesus and His People

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

One of the most notable things about Jesus was His radical relationship with wealth and possessions. Jesus lived simply and had no tangible possessions that we know of. He relied on the generosity of others but also lived radically generous with what He had and who He was. Jesus’ life abounded with simplicity and generosity.

It is because of this that the early church had a marked freedom in relation to wealth and physical possessions. The early church was a community of simplicity and generosity, living unchained to wealth and possessions. As we read in Acts: “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” (Acts 2:44)

Throughout Paul’s letters we see a radical simplicity and generosity in relation to wealth and possessions. When writing to Timothy, Paul describes how believers can live simply, not holding onto possessions because we know we only need a few things: “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:7-8).

We also read, both in Paul and in Luke’s account of Jesus, warnings about the power of possessions. Paul tells us that a dedication to wealth can destroy us: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). And when Jesus warns the rich young ruler, He does so knowing how wealth can take the place of God: “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.’ When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy” (Luke 18:22-23).

Jesus and the early church lived with radical simplicity.

But that simplicity overflowed with generosity.

The radical generosity of the church is so clear in Acts 2-6, where the life of the church was marked by an open-handedness with what they owned: “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45). Whereas many of us may be tempted to turn a blind eye to the needs in our midst, the early believers faced into those needs, not only becoming aware of them but helping to meet those needs. In Acts 4, finances were shared directly with the needy: “It was distributed to anyone who had need” (4:35). And when the Greek widows were facing inequity in the generous distribution, deacons were appointed specifically to address that situation (6:1-7).

The early church’s generosity was marked by sacrificial living. We are told in Acts 2 that early believers were so moved by the compassion of Christ that they “sold property and possessions” (2:45). And later in the account, we hear that “from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them” (4:34). This was then brought to the apostles for distribution to those in need.

There was a radical generosity and simplicity that marked the life of the early church. Where did this come from? It came from an overflow of the grace of the Lord Jesus, who gave everything for them. But it also came from a life oriented around life in God’s kingdom as seen in the simplicity and generosity of life that Jesus modeled on earth.

Real Spirituality: three vital spiritual practices

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our series “Becoming Real” on the Sermon on the Mount by looking at Matthew 6:1-18. This passage builds on the earlier teaching by Jesus about surpassing righteousness (see “Real Righteousness”) by exploring three vital practices for spiritual growth: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire “Becoming Real” series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.
If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:1)

Who Are We Living For?: The Audience of Our Righteousness (6:1)

  • Practicing, or doing, righteousness
  • The assumption: “When you give to the needy…and when you pray…when you fast” (6:2, 5, 16)
  • The hypocrites and their audience: “in front of others to be seen by them”
  • The real righteous and their audience: the Father
  • A word about “reward”

Giving to the Needy (6:2-4)

  • The way of deficient righteousness: announcing it for honor
  • The way of surpassing righteousness: secrecy in giving that gives for the Father

Prayer (6:5-15)

  • The way of deficient righteousness: public prayer to be seen by other or babbling prayer in hopes of being heard
  • The way of surpassing righteousness: secrecy in prayer and few words in prayer that rests in the Father
  • A pattern for prayer
  • Forgiveness and prayer

Fasting (6:16-18)

  • The way of deficient righteousness: looking somber so others see it
  • The way of surpassing righteousness: secrecy in fasting that hungers for the Father

Practicing Real Spirituality as Disciples of Jesus

  • Disciples put real righteousness into practice with real spirituality
  • Disciples practice real spirituality with secrecy and hiddenness
  • Disciples practice real spirituality for an audience of One

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching on real spirituality in one or more of the following ways: