Well, I have learned that money can be a touchy subject with some Christians. There are those who believe that preachers should never talk about money. And then there are others that expect preachers to be able to help them increase their own wealth. And there is certainly no question that money is a very, very significant part of our lives here upon the earth. Many people handle money poorly, a few handle it skillfully, but even fewer handle it biblically. And that's what we want to do as Christians. Because the Bible actually has a great deal to say about money, and you cannot avoid that subject unless you are not willing to preach the whole counsel of God. The Apostle Paul gives some pointed instructions about money in 1 Timothy 6. And we're going to look at that.
There's a section earlier in the chapter, and then another section later in the chapter. And in each of these two sections, he is addressing a different group of people, and we need to consider what he has to say to both. And so we have today the Christian and his money. First of all, advice to those who covet wealth. And secondly, advice to those who possess wealth. Advice to those who covet wealth.
It actually begins in the last part of verse 5. Those who suppose that godliness is a means of gain, from such withdraw thyself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out, that having food and clothing with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition, for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Advice for those who covet wealth. And there are four things throughout the passage that I just read, beginning with this. Number one, first word of advice, don't misuse religion. And I use the word religion because that's the way many people use it. But I could say don't misuse Christianity.
Don't misuse the Christian religion. There are those, we are told in verse five, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. And who are these persons that Paul has particularly in mind?
And going back in the previous verses, we realize that he's talking about false teachers. Verse three, if anyone teaches otherwise, and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wrangling of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. So Paul has false teachers in mind who misuse the Christian religion and themselves view it as a way of getting gain, and in some cases teach others that the Christian religion is to be used that way, to be seen as a means of getting gain. For the sake of becoming rich, they, and I'm quoting now from William Hendrickson's commentary, for the sake of becoming rich, they outwardly practice godliness, making a show of their religion. For the sake of becoming rich, they outwardly practice godliness, making a show of their religion. So when we are told that they suppose that godliness is a means of gain, Paul understands that, as he says it, to mean their corruption of true godliness, their twisting of biblical godliness, their wrong consumption of what godliness is all about. In their minds, their idea of godliness is a means of gain, but in fact they are entirely wrong. In other words, these would be people who believe that following Jesus will or ought to make you rich. If you believe the word of God, believe the promises of God, have enough faith, then God wants you to be rich, and God will make you rich if you follow what the Bible tells you to do, but in most cases, as we have learned by observation, they're not really so much pointing us to what the Bible says, but to what they want us to think the Bible says according to what they say the Bible says.
That's why it's so important that we always study the Bible for ourselves because we can be easily misled by those who twist and distort scripture, those who take verses out of context, those who put together sections of scripture that don't go together at all, and will lead people to believe that if you will follow my instructions, usually is what these teachers are saying, that you will become rich. The name it and claim it folks would fall into this category. You know what they are, don't you? You probably hear them from time to time on television. I wouldn't encourage you to linger very long if you come across one of them on television. When you realize that's what you're listening to, just keep passing on through.
Just keep clicking that channel. You don't want to listen to that very often, but the idea is if you will just name it and claim it with faith, God will give it to you, and if you don't get it, you must not have had faith, that kind of thing. They suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Or I think also in this category would be people who come to the conclusion that clever Christian networking is a means of financial success. In other words, there are people who will join a church, not on the basis of the truth that is proclaimed, but on the basis of the financial advantage that they might get from that. The right kind of people are in that church.
I can make the right kind of connections for my business if I become involved in that church and get to know these people. And so in one way or another, people who are evaluating the Christian religion, not according to truth, not according to how to follow the Lord Jesus Christ truly, but according to what they can get out of it for themselves, thinking that godliness in their idea of godliness is a means of gain. But this is not what Christianity is about.
I hope you understand that. In fact, to view it that way is to pervert Christianity, and it is a serious sin. God will hold you accountable for mishandling, twisting, distorting true Christianity in such a fashion. And Paul tells Timothy in very strong language what he should do in regard to such people.
Those who suppose that godliness is a means of gain, what does he say in the last part of verse 5? From such withdraw yourself. Pull away from people like that. Don't stay in fellowship with people like that. Don't allow people like that to be in your circle of friends. You pull away, withdraw yourself from people who have that distorted idea of Christianity because in some ways they're more dangerous to the true gospel than people who are worshipping false gods or bowing down in idols' temples.
They're very dangerous to the people of god. Withdraw yourself. So advice for those who might be inclined to covet wealth, and there is that temptation for all of god's people from time to time, don't misuse the Christian religion. Don't manipulate your idea of what it means to be a Christian. Word of advice number two, don't forfeit true contentment. Don't forfeit true contentment. Verse six, now godliness with contentment is great gain. He just said there are people who suppose that godliness is a means of gain from such withdraw yourself, but now he comes back to say godliness with contentment is gain.
It really is true gain. And now Paul is shifting his mind from a distortion of true godliness to actual biblical godliness, real godliness, real Christianity, true faith, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, coupled with contentment is great gain, both in this world and in the life to come. True godliness is gain. Don't forfeit true contentment by your coveting wealth. Instead, cultivate true contentment as it is taught to us in the words of scripture. And true godliness is gain, and that means, number one, that it requires true godliness, not counterfeit godliness. In other words, it requires a true saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It requires a true new birth experience. It requires the regeneration that is wrought by the Holy Spirit of God and the spiritual fruit that flows from that, including and especially for this particular theme, contentment, learning to be content in your relationship with God and in His rule in your life.
It requires contentment, and true godliness will lead to that, but true salvation doesn't automatically produce that immediately. We have to cultivate it. Sometimes we struggle with it. Sometimes we struggle with submitting to God's sovereign rule in our lives. Sometimes we still look around with an envious eye and say, why, God, have you blessed that person with these material blessings and not me?
Why am I struggling financially when others are not? And so forth. This lack of contentment that creeps up in all of our hearts from time to time, no doubt, is the key to genuine happiness. Don't forfeit true contentment.
It's found by pursuing biblical godliness and particularly cultivating true spiritual contentment. And it goes on to tell us that the benefits of possessions are severely limited. Verse 7, for he says, we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. That's obvious, isn't it? You didn't come into this world with your hands wrapped around a wad of $100 bills, did you?
No. Nor are you going to carry any of that with you when you die. Someone has said they've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer full of possessions. It's not going to go with you when you die. You came into this world with nothing.
You go out of this world with nothing, although he's going to show us in a moment when he gets to the second section that there actually is a way to send some things on ahead of your departure. But when you leave this world, you're not going to carry anything with you, are you? So that's telling us that material possessions have a pretty short lifespan.
They have a lifespan as long as our lifespan. As far as my life is concerned, material possessions begin the day I'm born. As my parents supply to me what is needed and they end the day I die because I can't take a single thing with me. Anything that I've accumulated throughout life that is still in my possession when I die hasn't been invested in eternity. Anything that's still in my possession when I die is excess baggage that I can't carry with me. I can't put it in a U-Haul trailer and pull it behind, can I? There it is.
It's over. Now, does that mean that it is not of any value during this time from birth to death? No, actually it is, if handled properly, as we will learn.
But it must be handled properly because it needs to be put in proper perspective and it can very easily be misunderstood and misused. It reminds me of what the Bible says about bodily exercise. You know what that is, don't you? Bodily exercise profits what?
A little. For some of you who don't do anything, you are forfeiting some benefit. It does benefit a little in this life for health.
I recommend it. And I try to pursue it. I want to extend the health and strength that God has given me as long as possible. And I think exercise is part of that. It's required in order for me to be able to do that.
And I'd recommend it to you. But for those of you who put way too much attention, inordinate attention, upon getting stronger and stronger and pumping and pumping and doing all these things, that has virtually become the main goal of your life, you are foolish. Bodily exercise profits only a little, but godliness profits for eternity. So if you're putting inordinate attention upon strengthening the body, you're foolish.
You're fighting a losing battle. No matter what you do, you can't live forever. No matter what you do, you can't stay strong forever. No matter what you do, you can't stay healthy forever.
It's inevitable. Time marches on, and bodily strength and health goes down, and death is inevitable. And the things that you do for eternity are the only things that last beyond the grave, beginning, of course, with your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then whatever you do to contribute to the advancement of His kingdom. That will last beyond the grave.
That's true godliness that will last unto eternity. And like bodily exercise, material possessions are in a similar category. It's not that they are of no value between birth and death, but if we put too much value on them, if we expect too much out of them, if we put too much attention upon them, then we miss out on what is more important.
True godliness. So understand the benefits of possessions are severely limited. They have limited benefits for a limited time, and therefore we need to prioritize them accordingly. They must not take first place in our lives. They must not be the most important thing that we give our time and attention to. We must not forfeit true contentment because, verse 8 tells us, what is the true simplicity of human need? What do you need?
Verse 8. In having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. That's not a whole lot, is it? Food and clothing.
Minimal requirements. Someone said this could be maybe better translated nourishment and shelter, which includes not only clothing but housing and so forth. But having nourishment and shelter, we shall regard those as sufficient.
That's really what it's saying. Having food and clothing with these, we shall be content if we're wise. We shall be content if we're godly. We shall be content if we understand the limit that is placed upon material possessions and putting them in their proper place. With food and clothing, with nourishment and shelter, that's enough to make a godly person content. If that doesn't make you content, then you must not be very godly.
You must at the very least be immature and possibly are like these false teachers who don't even understand Christianity at all. So for advice for those who covet wealth, number one, don't misuse religion. Number two, don't forfeit true content. But number three, don't fall into ruinous snares. Verse nine, those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. Fall into temptation. Sin begets sin. When you pursue fleshly desires in one area, it's not long until you're pursuing fleshly desires in another area.
What is desiring to be rich? It's pursuing a fleshly desire, isn't it? And so you've allowed yourself that deviation from the instructions of Scripture. I am going to do this. I am going to pursue this.
I am going to succeed in this. You're pursuing one fleshly desire, and so it's very easy for you to give yourself permission to pursue other fleshly desires. Those who desire to be rich will fall into temptation and fall into a snare, a trap, like an animal trap, like one of those metal traps that clamp and the animal can't get out. That's what happens to people who desire to be rich. They fall into snares, into foolish and harmful desires which drown people in destruction and perdition. Destruction is temporal and perdition is eternal. They drown men in destruction in this life. And, even worse, plunge them into hell.
Don't fall into ruinous snares, an advice number four. Don't jeopardize faith in Christ, verse 10, for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. By replacing love for Christ with love for money, they find themselves in great danger, both in time and for eternity.
Instead of pursuing God, they pursue gold, or they think that they can pursue both. But you can't. You can't pursue both. You must pursue God and let him grant gold or not according to his will. That's his decision, not yours.
That's his choice, not yours. We're told not to pursue it. And when we do, we fall into great danger.
Because, remember, Jesus told us you cannot serve God and mammon. Many a person has tried. I can do both. Maybe those dummies can't, but I can. I'm smarter than the rest of them.
No, you're not. You are a dummy if you disregard the wisdom which comes from above, divine wisdom, God's wisdom, the words of Christ. He tells us you cannot do both.
You cannot do both. And if you try, you're going to have all kinds of problems. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil from which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Pursuing money, loving it and pursuing it brings no end of sorrows. Those who make that their goal in life usually have a life of unrest, of boredom eventually, of depression.
I see it over and over. Of envy. You'd think people that have a lot would be free from envy. They're so much higher on the scale of material possessions than most people. But of course, there's always people that's richer than you. And when you pursue this path, then you continue to envy everyone who's richer than you are.
There's no end to that. It's a life of envy. It's a life of broken health. It's a life of broken relationships. And it is a life that forfeits true saving faith.
And that's the most dangerous of all. Strayed from the faith. And so advice for those who have even a mild desire to be rich, cast that aside.
Throw that out of your life. Don't misuse religion in pursuit of wealth. Don't forfeit true contentment in pursuit of wealth. Don't fall into ruinous snares in pursuit of wealth. Don't jeopardize faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for pursuit of wealth. That's advice to those who desire to be rich.
But some people already are rich. And so in the last part of the chapter, the Apostle Paul gives some advice to those folks, advice to those who possess wealth, who are rich in this present age. Verse 17.
Command those. These evidently are people in the church. Timothy, by the way, to whom this epistle is written, was at this time overseeing the church in Ephesus, a well-established church. And apparently there were false teachers in the city of Ephesus that were teaching a health and wealth gospel and some of the members of the church were being attracted by that. And so Paul warns about that. Evidently there were members of the church who were beginning to live for things instead of for God.
And so Paul warns about that. Evidently there were members of the church who were wealthy. And so he says, Timothy, command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, not to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
Let them do good that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come that they may lay hold on eternal life. And so advice to those who possess wealth, and I've got four words of advice for those in that category. And by the way, most of us wouldn't put ourselves in that category, but it's relative. When I go to a third world country, it's obvious that everybody there thinks that everybody in America is rich.
And we laugh. We say, no, that's not true. But, yeah, by comparison to where they are, the poorest American is rich compared to the average person in Kenya or Zimbabwe or some of these third world countries.
Americans are rich, so it's relative, isn't it? But advice to those who are rich in this present age. What do we need to do? Four words of advice. Number one, cultivate humility.
Command these, says Paul, not to be haughty. Pride lives in all of us. It's a problem.
It has to be recognized. It has to be dealt with over and over and over again. We all have too much pride. But the truth is that riches stimulate additional pride on top of the normal pride.
It really does. And, therefore, those who are wealthy have to work even harder at cultivating humility than those who are not wealthy. Riches encourage us to believe that our wealth is deserved. I work harder than other people. That's why I'm wealthy. I'm smarter than other people. That's why I'm wealthy.
I'm more clever than other people. That's why I'm wealthy. Instead of recognizing that anything we have, God gave it to us. If we are able to work hard, God gave us that ability. If we have a superior intellect, God gave us that intellect. If we have more wealth than most people, it's because God has graciously given it to us.
It is not because we deserve it more than others, but pride causes us to want to think so. And if we don't suppress that sinful thought, it will cause us to think so. We'll begin to be haughty. We'll begin to be condescending, descending. We'll begin to look down upon other people who don't have as much as we are because our wealth proves that we are better than they are.
Watch out. Subduing pride requires significant effort. Cultivate humility, number two. Trust in God alone, the last part of verse 17. Not to be haughty nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Trust in God alone.
Have no misplaced hope. Riches encourage false hope. Riches encourage us to believe that we are secure because we are wealthy.
We've got all of the dangers addressed because we've made this provision and that provision so no matter what happens in life, we're prepared. But riches are uncertain. Who was that guy? I don't even remember his name, but he came up in the news in the last few days who was a cryptocurrency billionaire who's now broke, has nothing. It just all collapsed just like bang, gone. How's that for multi-millionaire or even billionaire to pauper overnight?
It can happen. We're told that back during the, when the Great Depression first hit in America in 1929. Any of you remember that? In 1929. We're told that there were wealthy financiers who jumped out of windows and tall buildings in New York to their destruction because they couldn't stand the thought of suddenly having become poor. They'd been rich so long and had gotten all of their satisfaction from their wealth and all of their social standing from their wealth and everything in their life centered around their wealth and suddenly it's wiped out and as far as they were concerned, life isn't worth living anymore and out they jumped from the window and they were gone because they couldn't live without wealth. They'd obviously been living for wealth and when it was wiped out, they had nothing left to live for.
How sad, how pathetic. Riches are uncertain. That's why Jesus said, lay up your treasures in heaven where moth and rust don't corrupt and where thieves can't break through and steal, where stock markets can't crash, where cryptocurrency can't explode or de-plode or whatever it is. Riches are uncertain. Don't put your hopes in those even though as this text tells us, God generously supplies good things in life. That applies not only to the wealthy but to all of us, the good things we have. Anything we have that's above the bare necessity, food and clothing, anything we have above that is a wonderful gift of God that God has given us to enjoy if we enjoy it properly with the right attitude toward him, but material possessions must never, ever, ever, ever replace God in our life, the goal of our life, the purpose of our life, the satisfaction of our life.
It must be wrapped up in our relationship with Jesus Christ, in our love for God and of his word. And if it's not, then our life is worthless. And if the riches dissolve, as they sometimes do, they're uncertain, we'll have nothing left to live for. And if they don't, we'll die spiritually paupers. Having accomplished nothing in life except accumulated a big bank account and real estate and possessions and left it all behind for other people to squabble over.
And they will, to be sure. Once in a while you read about an immensely wealthy person who says, this doesn't happen very often, who says, I'm not leaving any of it to my kids. I'm giving it all to worthwhile causes.
I didn't have anything when I started and it made me stronger and better. And I'm not going to ruin them by handing them a pile of wealth that they didn't have to earn and work for and learn the lessons of life. I'm not going to ruin their lives with my money. I'm not going to leave them a thing because, boy, if you want to see squabbling, you've never seen squabbling like people who are wrangling over the inheritance. And who gets what?
Who has more fights than failing to put the cap on the toothpaste? So number one, cultivate humility. Number two, trust in God alone. Number three, develop a generous spirit.
Verse 18. Let them, the wealthy, do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. Rich in good works, which could cover a whole gamut of activities in the service of the Lord, and I would encourage those who are wealthy to not take the position, my only area of service is to give money, let other people do the other tasks. I think part of that cultivating humility, not being haughty, is demonstrating that you don't consider yourself better than others, and you're willing to get in there and help set up the fellowship hall and help keep kids in the nursery and help teach the Sunday school classes and so forth and so on, whatever your other areas of interest are. But it's also clear that in this passage and its context, in this verse and its context, that Paul is saying that for wealthy people, the best, not maybe the best, but one of the primary areas of good works for them is to give.
God has given them that ability above that of other people. We normally serve the Lord with the gifts and abilities which he bestows, and so if God has bestowed generous material possessions, then what should our response of gratitude be? What should our response of love to Christ be? What should our response of being involved in the kingdom of Christ be?
We should give generously, of course. God grants wrenches for the purpose of promoting good, and so be rich in good deeds if you are wealthy, especially in giving, because those who receive bounty, a lot of surplus, are expected to give bountifully, very generously, because, as the Bible tells us, to whom much is given, much shall be required. If God has given you talent in this area, he requires you to use it for his glory. If God's given you gifts in that area, God expects you to use them for his glory. If God has given you an abundance of material possessions, God expects you to give generously of that to the work of the kingdom and to those who are in need.
Those who receive bounty are expected by God to give bountifully, so develop a generous spirit. Number four, beware misplaced priorities, verse 19, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come that they may lay hold on eternal life. Riches may either be squandered in time or they may be invested in eternity, one or the other. Riches can be invested where? In heaven, laid up for the time to come.
That's what Jesus said, didn't he? Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Your heart follows your investments, and if all of your investments are in the stock market, all of your investments are in real estate, all of your investments are material things, then guess where your heart is? Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. But if you are making significant investments in heaven, guess where your heart is? It's heavenward. It's involved in the work of Christ's kingdom. And therefore, we should use our material resources for eternity. That's what Jesus taught in the parable of the unjust steward.
Remember that steward who, well, I won't go through the story. I hope you know it. But here's what Jesus said to his disciples. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He's saying you can invest money, material things, which tends toward unrighteousness for the very reasons we're looking at in this passage in 1 Timothy 6. It ruins most people. It causes sinful temptation for most people.
But it's not that riches themselves are sinful or that money in itself is sinful, but it's the wrong attitudes that people have toward it that are so sinful. But Jesus says you can take these things and use them in such a way that when you get to heaven, there are going to be people to welcome you, to greet you into heaven, because your investment of the resources God gave you was instrumental in their being in heaven. So you advanced the kingdom of Christ. You helped in the spread of the gospel.
You did something significant for eternity. So that's how you lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, by giving generously. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come. That's how you do it, how you store up for yourselves a good foundation for the time to come, by giving, giving, giving, giving generously of that which God has given to you. That brings me then thirdly to advice to genuine believers.
This is the applications of what we've looked at and what have we seen so far. We saw, number one, advice to those who covet wealth. Number two, advice to those who possess wealth. And now number three, advice to genuine believers.
In two areas, number one, what we should know and number two, what we should do. Number one, how should Christians view money? Well, first of all, we should understand that money is a gift from God.
This is what David said in a prayer in 1 Chronicles 29, 12. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, you are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from you and you reign over all. Both riches and honor come from God. In God's design, some people have riches and some people don't. Some people have elevated honor in this world and some people don't. Who's sovereign over that?
Who determines that? God does. So money is a gift from God.
It's not wrong in and of itself. But pursuit of money should never be the Christian's goal, pursuit of money. Our goal is always to please the Lord. Our goal is always to pursue truth and excellence in everything we do.
Our goal is always to be honest and diligent with whatever God gives us to do. And sometimes in the providence of God, that earns monetary reward. If you are being diligent in pursuing truth and exhibiting truth in your life, if you are being honest in your business dealings, if you are being a person of integrity and putting that first, demonstrating Christ in your life in what you are doing, God may put you in an area of life where those very things produce reward, material reward.
That does happen, doesn't it? But it's not because you made getting money your goal. It's because you made honoring Christ your goal, serving Christ, living like a Christian, demonstrating truth and integrity and diligence and desire to help others. And it just so happens that many times those are the very qualities which earn rewards monetarily, which turn a profit if you're involved in a business. And if God blesses you with those things, it wasn't your goal that you're going to get those at any cost, but if you are busy doing the right things and God blesses with money, then it's God who made you rich.
And what does he expect? Use it for his glory. Because Christians are stewards, not owners.
We don't own anything. It all belongs to God. But he deposits a certain amount of material possessions into our lives as our stewardship for him. And God decides the size of our stewardship. Some of us have a little corner of stewardship. Let's be faithful with that. Others, God gives a large area of stewardship.
Let's be faithful with that. Whatever God has given to us as a stewardship, our responsibility is to be faithful with it and never forget I don't own this. I'm managing it for God's glory. That's how Christians should view money. But the second part, how do Christians avoid the pitfalls of materialism?
And here they are. Number one, cultivate the grace of giving. The grace of giving. Paul said to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8, 7, but as you abound in everything in faith and speech and knowledge in all diligence and your love for us, see that you abound in this grace also in the context he's talking about giving.
You are abounding in various spiritual areas of your life. You are handling other gifts that God has given you in your investment in the kingdom of Christ. But be sure that you abound in this grace also, the grace of giving. Cultivate the grace of giving. And just as a matter of practical advice as to how to do that, I would suggest, number one, begin with the tithe. I don't have time to go into that.
I spoke to you about that before. Tithing is Old Testament. Well, it is. Tithing is the law of Moses, it is. But number one, it predates that. Remember that, don't you? It goes beyond, before the law of Moses.
There's a principle involved there. Abraham understood that. He tithed. He was hundreds of years before Moses.
Jacob understood that. He promised to tithe. He was hundreds of years before Moses. So there apparently is a recognized amount that is an honorable gift to the Lord. But it's also true that in the law of Moses, there was not, I hope you understand this, there was not a tithe. There were several tithes. It wasn't 10%. Someone figured out it really all together over time became more like about 23%. You say, I'm sure glad I'm not under law.
No. But our attitude ought to be, I want to demonstrate that grace is better than law. And I want to demonstrate that whatever God's Old Testament people under Moses did by obligation, I can do that much and more because of the grace of God in my life. Our attitude ought to want to be to do better. So let's start with the tithe as a kind of a springboard, a beginning point.
You have to start somewhere. So start with the tithe, but learn to give beyond the tithe and enjoy making internal investments. So cultivate the grace of giving. We're talking about avoiding the pitfalls of materialism. If you don't do these things, then you'll easily slide into this desire to get rich. So cultivate the grace of giving. Number two, learn to live beneath your means.
Boy, that's a tough one for Americans today. Everything in our culture says, get all you can and buy it on credit and don't worry about the debt. In other words, live above your means.
What did Paul say in Ephesians 4, 28? Let him who stole before he was saved, a life of illegality, taking that which didn't belong to him, let him who stole no longer steal, but, here's what he does in its place, rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good that he may have something to give him who has need. In other words, work hard and have a surplus beyond your needs. Learn to live beneath your means so that you've got surplus to give. Learn to live below your means. Our goal ought to be to learn to live without debt. I don't have time to get into this.
I'm pushing my time now. So I'll just say a few things, but you can live without a car payment. You don't have to drive an old car for a while, but you can live without a car payment. You don't have to drive a new car and make a payment. You can live without a credit card balance and be a whole lot better off if you did. I'm not one, like some people on the radio who say, cut up your credit cards and don't use them anymore. I'll just tell you, I use two credit cards regularly, but unless I slip up and forget to make a payment or something, in a whole year, I never pay a penny of interest or penalty. But what I do is earn rewards. Right now, I could go to my computer and push two buttons and have about $1,800 transferred into my Tregan account, because it's sitting there in my reward account, on one of my credit cards. And the other one's earning me flyer miles on Delta if I choose to use them. There they are. Don't cost me a penny.
I think that's wise. But most people can't use credit cards without racking up debt. I read recently that the average American has something like, I've forgotten the figure, it astounded me, maybe as much as $100,000 in consumer debt.
Not even counting a mortgage? Do you think we're getting mired down in materialism? Gotta have this, gotta have that.
I want this so it becomes a need. Having food and raiment, let us be content. Learn to live below your means. And learn how to righteously enjoy the benefits God bestows. How can you know if you're being greedy or if you are enjoying righteously the benefits, the extras, the surplus that God bestows?
The only way I know is to be sure that I'm giving very generously so that I'm confident that I'm not being covetous, I'm not taking money that ought to be invested in the kingdom for something else. God does give us, as this passage tells us, God gives us ritually all things to enjoy. It's appropriate as long as you're demonstrating giving to God generously first. And then when that's clearly the case, it's okay to take a few things that God gives you by way of surplus and just enjoy them.
There's nothing wrong with that, but your priorities have to be right. And that's how we avoid the pitfalls of materialism. Let's pray. Father, help us in this world in which we live, in which there is so much covetousness, so much materialism, so much pressure to keep up with the Joneses and to show other people that we are able to have the same things they have and better. Oh, Lord, suppress those sinful thoughts within us and teach us to honor You with the money that You give to us as we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-16 15:21:36 / 2022-11-16 15:38:22 / 17