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Life of Paul Part 34-The Principle of Contentment-Handling Money God's Way

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
June 28, 2020 8:00 am

Life of Paul Part 34-The Principle of Contentment-Handling Money God's Way

So What? / Lon Solomon

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June 28, 2020 8:00 am

Handling Money God's Way

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Good morning, everybody.

Hey, it's wonderful to see all you guys here. Hey, I want you to take a Bible. Let's open it together in the New Testament to the letter that Paul wrote the Church of Philippi. We know it is the book of Philippians, chapter four.

We're going to be coming there in just a couple of moments, Philippians chapter four. But did you ever wonder why people don't go to church? I mean, why is it when you get up on Sunday morning and you drive out of your neighborhood that there are very few other people driving out of the neighborhood?

I mean, they're watching TV, reading the paper, drinking a cup of coffee, walking the dog, jogging or sleeping in. Why is it they aren't on their way to some church like you are? Well, survey after survey has found that the number one reason why people say they don't like going to church is because the church is always asking for money. You got it, money. We all know that the most sensitive issue between people and church is the issue of money.

And so today, I want to start a short series all about money. You say, What are you nuts? Why would you do that? We just agreed it's controversial. It's sensitive.

I know. But you see, friends, I am committed to making every single one of us here into a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. And one of the most distinctive features of a fully devoted follower of Christ is that that person has a biblical worldview in terms of how they see money and in terms of how they handle money. In fact, it may come as a surprise to many of us here to learn that God says more about money in the Bible than he does any other single subject. God says more in the Bible about money that he does heaven, hell, eternal life, salvation, faith, prayer, anything.

And the reason for that is that God knows that how a person handles money is one of the most pivotal issues in a person's life. More people's lives have been destroyed by the mishandling of money than by all the armies that have ever marched. More marriages have been blown apart. More careers have been ruined. More reputations have been wrecked, and more families, extended families have been ripped up because of money than any other single reason. And so friends, that's what this series is all about. It's not about asking for you to give more money to McLean Bible Church.

That has nothing to do with this series. This series is about educating us with what God teaches in the Bible about handling money so that we can do two things. Number one, we can insulate our own lives from unnecessary pain and heart ache by mishandling money, and so that number two, we can mature into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. So here's the deal I want to make you. For the next several weeks we're going to talk about money, but I promise you I'm not going to ask you for a single dime from McLean Bible Church. Is that fair?

I mean, is that a deal? Are we okay? Well, even if we're not, this is the only message I brought. So, I mean, this is it, gang. This is what we're doing today.

All right. Now, you say, well, Lon, I don't understand. Why is it that I thought we were doing the life of the Apostle Paul.

Where did this come from? Well, we are doing the life of the Apostle Paul, and actually this fits right in. Remember where Paul is. Paul has crossed over from Asia, from modern day Turkey.

He sailed across the Aegean Sea to the town of Philippi in northern Greece in the province of Macedonia. And here in Philippi, the Apostle Paul for several months now has been preaching Jesus to the people, and a thriving church has started to develop. You say, well, who's in this church? Well, Lydia, the first believer in Europe, a very wealthy merchant lady dealing in purple. She was in this church. A horribly possessed, demonized young girl whom the Apostle Paul had healed. She was in this church. Lots of other people were in this church. The Philippian jailer, he's in this church. And the New Testament tells us that this church community here in Philippi became the most generous, the most liberal, the most big-hearted church of all the churches in the New Testament in terms of giving financially to the work of God. This church understood God's principles of handling money better than any other church Paul ever established. And so before we move on in the book of Acts to the next city, to Thessalonica, I thought this is a good time for us to stop and to talk about these principles that the church of Philippi knew so well, and that you and I need to know if we're going to handle money successfully like they did.

So that's why we're stopping here. Now, let me remind you, the church at Philippi gave numerous times to support the Apostle Paul's missionary work. Philippians 4, where we are, verse 15. Moreover, as you Philippians know, Paul writes, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel message, when I set out for Macedonia, when I left Philippi, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you only.

For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid, money, again and again when I was in need. Second of all, this church took the lead when Paul was taking up a collection for the poor believers in Jerusalem. It was this church at Philippi who was an example to every other church in terms of how they gave. 2 Corinthians 8.1. I want you to know Paul writes about the church in Philippi, that their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. In fact, Paul says, they begged us for the privilege of giving to help the poor believers in Jerusalem. And finally, the whole letter of Philippians was written from jail. Paul was in jail in Rome. And the whole reason that he wrote was because once again, these Philippians had sent money to help support him when he was in jail in Rome. And look what it says, verse 18, Philippians 4, he says, I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts, the money that you sent me by way of him.

This was the only church to send money to the Apostle Paul when he was in jail. And so in responding to this, Paul writes them back the book of Philippians, the letter to the Philippians, which is really nothing more than a big thank you note for the money that they sent him. And in chapter four, the Apostle Paul lays out all four principles we want to look at about how to handle money God's way. They're all in this little chapter. And these were principles that not only did the Philippians know, but they had all demonstrated.

So let's stop and I want to look at these before we move on to the next city. And we're gonna do the first principle today. And that principle is found in verses 10 and 12 through 12. Let's look, verse 10.

Paul says, I rejoice greatly in the Lord, that at last, you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, I know you've been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. Now he's talking about the money they sent. And you say, well, I don't understand. What does he mean they had no opportunity to show?

What are you talking about? Well, remember the Apostle Paul on the way to Rome got shipwrecked in the middle of the Mediterranean, floated out in the ocean for a while, finally was a castaway on a couple of islands for a while. What he's saying is, I know you guys wanted to send and help me before, but you know, it's a little tough to send money when you're floating around in the Mediterranean city. There was no way you could get any money to me. I know that now that I'm in jail in Rome, and everybody knows my address. Now you guys have sent me something.

That's what he says. But he says, I want you to know where my heart is. I want you to know in writing you this letter and saying thank you, I'm not trying to manipulate you into giving me more money.

Look what he says, verse 11. I am not writing this because I'm in need, for I have learned to be content. Whatever the circumstances, I know what it is to be in need.

And I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty, or living in one principle number one of handling money God's way. Paul mentions the word twice in these verses, is the principle of contentment, contentment. And it's very interesting to me that God mentions this principle first. He does it on purpose, because God wants us to understand that the foundation stone of handling money God's way, the foundation stone of a biblical system of money management is this principle of being content with whatever it is the Lord has given us at any given moment in time. Or to put it another way, it is impossible to build a system of biblical money management on the foundation of greed.

Let me repeat that. It is impossible to build a system of biblical money management on the foundation of greed. And the reason why is because handling money God's way in the Bible is centered around the word generosity. Generosity. Listen to these verses. Matthew 10, verse eight. Freely you have received, Jesus said, freely give. Proverbs 22, verse nine.

A generous person will themselves be blessed by God. Second Corinthians chapter nine, verse seven. For God loves, Paul says, a cheerful giver. Acts chapter 20, verse 35. The Lord Jesus himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. First Timothy chapter six, verse 18. Command followers of Jesus Christ, Paul writes to Timothy to be generous and willing to share. Psalm 112, verse five. Good will come to the person who is generous.

And friends, we could go on all morning with verse after verse after verse, but I think the point is clear. Biblical money management is built on the base of generosity. Biblical money management is built on the base of generosity.

Now here's the problem. Greed is the mortal enemy of generosity. Generosity says give. Generosity says share.

Generosity says be open handed with what God has given you. Greed says hoard. Greed says get it all and keep it for yourself. Greed says be close fisted with what you got. It is impossible for a greedy person to be generous, which means it is impossible for a greedy person to have a biblical system of money management. And what is the opposite of greed? It's contentment, which means only a person who is truly content with what God has given them, only that person can truly get more joy from giving than receiving. Only that person can really embrace the other principles that we're going to layer on top of this principle, number one. Only a person who is truly content with where God has put them, only that person can really put together a biblical system of managing money.

Now you say, well, Lon, I hear what you're saying, but here's my problem. I got a world screaming at me to be greedy. I mean, every TV program I watch, every radio program I listen to, every newspaper and magazine I read, everybody screaming at me the message of greed, hoarding, stockpiling, getting, keeping for myself. How does a follower of Christ get to be content like Paul says he was? Well, that's a great question and we want to answer that as we conclude today. But before we answer that, let's at least first agree what contentment is.

Let's define it so we're all talking about the same thing. Most of us would probably define contentment as having enough money. You know, somebody once asked John D. Rockefeller Sr., Mr. Rockefeller, how much money is enough? He thought for a minute and then he said, just a little more than you have. Now there is an important point in there for us to think about and the point is this, as long as we try to define contentment in terms of how much we have or how much we don't have, then as John D. Rockefeller said, we will never be content because nobody ever has enough.

You always want just a little bit more. That's not what contentment is in the Bible. The Bible defines contentment completely differently than what you have or what you don't have.

It's right here. Look at verse 12. Look what Paul says. Paul says, I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty and I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or living in want. Would you notice what Paul says?

He says, I've had a lot and I've had a little. I know what it's like to be in the market in 1999 and I know what it's like to watch the Nasdaq go through the floor. I've been on both sides of this and you know what Paul says? I know how to be content either way because my contentment is not based on the size of my bank account. It's not based on what I have or what I don't have. You see, friends, true godly contentment is not about the size of your portfolio. True godly contentment is an attitude. It is a perspective on life.

It's a way of seeing the material things that we have. True godly contentment is an outlook on life and material things that comes out of believing three biblical truths, three things God tells us in the Bible. Now I'm going to tell you what they are, but let me say this as we begin. If you really as a follower of Christ can believe and embrace all three of these truths in your spirit authentically, genuinely, you can go into any situation whether you got a lot or a little and be completely content.

And if you're not completely content where you are, let me tell you why. It's because one of these or more of these biblical truths you really don't believe. I mean, they may be in the Bible, but you don't really, really believe them. So let's see what they are. And let me tell you, if you'll believe all three of them, you can be a content person because Paul believed all three of them.

That's why he could be content where they had a little where they had a lot. Here we go. Number one, biblical truth number one. Contentment is like a stool with three legs on it of biblical truth.

Here's leg number one is that as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to believe that God is in absolute control of every detail of our lives, including how much money you and I have at any given moment in time. You know, if you know the story of the Book of Job, at the beginning of the book, Satan and God have a conversation about Job. And here's what Satan says to God. He says, Does Job fear God for no good reason? Of course, he loves you. You've put offensive protection around him, and you bless the work of his hands so that his flocks and his herds are spread throughout the whole land. He's a wealthy man.

Of course, he fears you and he loves you. Well, what is Satan really saying here? He's saying, you know, it's no accident that Job has the money that he has. God, it's no accident that he has the material wealth that he has. It's a direct result of you, God, deciding to give all of that to him. It's your sovereign choice that's responsible for why he's got what he's got.

Hey, this is the message of the Bible, that every human being has what they have as a direct result of God's sovereign choice. Look at Psalm 75 verse six. Not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation.

God is the one who raises one person up and who lowers another person down. Now, this truth applies to power. This truth applies to fame. This truth applies to position and influence, and this truth applies to financial wealth, too.

As followers of Jesus Christ, do we really believe that whatever material wealth and money we have or we don't have, that it is the result of God's direct sovereign and individual choice that he made for you and for me? Do we really believe that? See, friends, this is why two people working at the very same company, they can both come in at the same time in the morning. They can both go home at the same time in the afternoon. They can both have the same educational degrees.

They can have the same access to company resources. They can both be just as dedicated, and they can be just both as committed, and they can both work just as hard, and yet one of them goes up the ladder and the other one doesn't. How do you explain that? This is why in the military you can have two officers who are both just as capable, just as dedicated, just as hardworking.

One of them makes flag rank and the other one doesn't. How do you explain that? It's true in the world of athletics. It's true in the world of politics.

How do you explain that? Friends, the way the Bible explains it is that success doesn't come from the east, or the west, or the desert, or just from hard work, or just from commitment, or just from ability and capacity. God is part of this. He himself makes the call who goes where?

Directly, personally, and sovereignly. Now if you're here today and you've had a lot of success in your life, then this is an easy truth for you to digest. You're sitting out there going, well yeah, of course, I believe that, yeah. But if you're sitting out there and you know what, you've watched other people in your company or in the military that you don't think are nearly as qualified or nearly as hardworking go right past you up the ladder, you're having a little trouble swallowing this right now. You're having a little trouble accepting this right now, which means it's time for us to go on to truth number two that we all need. And may I say that even if you're sitting here and you've had a lot of success in life, you need to come with us to truth number two because, friends, things can change awful quick in our world as every partner at Arthur Anderson understands, if you know what I mean.

Okay, now truth number two is this. As followers of Jesus Christ, when it comes to material wealth, God always gives us what he knows is best for us at any given moment in time. Look at Psalm 84 verse 11.

No good thing, the Bible says, let me repeat that. No good thing does God withhold from those who walk with him. Now, do we really believe this? Do we really believe that if God felt it were best for you or me to have more wealth or more money than we have right now that God would give it to us because if it were really good for us, no good thing does he withhold. Do we really believe that? Do we really believe that God would give us a raise, give us a promotion, give us a new job, give us an inheritance, give us a windfall profit from some investment we make. Let us win the lottery.

Who knows? But somehow, some way if it was good and best for us to have more money, God would give it to us. You really believe that? And that the only reason you and I don't have more right now is not that God's incapable of giving it to us, but that God has surveyed your life, surveyed my life, looked at our spiritual condition, examined our hearts and said, you know what, this is as much right now as I feel I can trust you with. This is as much right now as I feel I can safely give you without you harming yourself or harming other people.

You have the amount that's best for you right now. Do we really believe that? Because if we don't, you and I are never going to learn to be content. You say, well, Lon, here's my question. Why doesn't God let me make that decision? Well, I'll tell you why. Because he knows we'd all make it wrong.

That's why we'd all make it wrong. I had a guy in my office not too long ago. Really, this guy's a lot of money.

I mean, buku shekels. You understand what I'm saying? And he got it just recently from a lot of great business deals and business investments. And I was fascinated with what he said to me. He said, you know, Lon, 10 years ago, I wanted to be a rich man. I prayed to be a rich man. I wanted all the money I got today and asked God to give me all the money I got today. And do you know, no matter how hard I worked, how hard I tried, no matter how many hours I put in, I couldn't get there.

God just wouldn't let me get there. He said, I'll tell you what, 10 years later, looking back, now I realize if God had given me all the wealth I have today, 10 years ago, it would have been the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. It would have gone to my head, would have made me arrogant, snotty, haughty. I would have misused it. I would have squandered it. I'd have hurt myself. I'd have hurt other people. And then he said, I'm glad God didn't give this to me 10 years ago. He said, well, Lon, wait a minute.

Wait a minute. What are you really saying here? Are you really saying it's wrong for people to work hard? Are you really saying it's wrong for people to go out and try to be a success? Are you saying it's wrong for people to go out and try to improve their economic situation and life? I mean, is that what you're saying?

No, no, no, not at all. Friends, I think we should work hard. I think we should aspire to be successful. I think we should aspire to be the best that we can possibly be. So long as, you said, I was afraid that was in there.

Yeah. So long as you and I are willing to be content with whatever level of success God chooses to give us. So long as you and I don't go out and compromise our ethics, our integrity, or step on people to try to go somewhere that God is saying is not good for you to go there. And I don't want you to go there right now.

And let me say one other thing. If you really want more wealth, if you really want more money as a follower of Christ, I can tell you how to get it. So you can.

I can. And it's not by going out and selling your soul. Let me tell you how you get it. Go deeper in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Become more mature in your walk with Jesus Christ. Develop a greater godly character than you presently have today.

And friends, what does the verse say? No good thing will God withhold from you if God gets to the place that he feels because of your spiritual growth and your godly character development, that you can handle more money and be safe with it. He'll give you more.

He's not trying to hold out on you. The only way you're going to get God to give you more though is to get to the place where he feels he can safely trust you with it. So forget going out and trying to earn it and ring it out of the world system. You grow in your walk with Christ and you watch what happens.

As long as God feels he can trust you with it, he'll give it to you. Let's summarize. What have we learned so far? We've learned we're not quite done, but we're almost there.

What did we learn? We've learned that contentment is an attitude. It's an attitude. It's an outlook that says, number one, I believe with all of my heart that God is in total control of how much money I've got right now.

I believe that. And second, I believe with all of my heart that God personally decides how much money is good for me at any given point in life. And therefore, here comes contentment. Therefore, I will cheerfully accept God's decision on this matter.

I won't chafe under it, but I will embrace wherever God has put me as the will of God for my life. Friends, that's contentment. But you can't get there unless you believe those two truths with all your heart. You can't get there.

Now there's one more leg to the stool, and that's this. As a follower of Jesus Christ, the way to become really content is to realize that real security in life is found in our relationship with Jesus Christ. It's not found in money anyway. I mean, can we really be honest with each other here?

Let's do that. Why is it that you and I love money as much as we do? We all love money.

Let's be honest. Why is it that we love money so much? Why is it that we want money?

Well, I'll tell you the main reason. It's because when we've got money in the bank, we feel secure. When we got money in the bank, we feel like we're a little insulated. We're a little protected from the uncertainties of life. If you got $50,000 in the bank, okay if the dishwasher breaks, big deal. Okay, if your car gets banged up a little bit, you can fix the fender.

Okay, if the air conditioner goes, okay, whatever. I got a little protection. I got a little hedge. And it makes us feel a little secure.

Now, here's the question. Does having money in the bank really make us secure? I mean, hey, listen, if that were true, Elvis would have been the most secure person on the globe. He wasn't. If that were true, Princess Di would have been the most secure woman on the earth.

She wasn't. That doesn't really produce security in our life. Look what Paul says here in verse 12. He says, I have learned the secret of being content. Well, Paul, what's the secret?

Please tell us the secret. Well, he will. Verse 13, I can do anything through him, Jesus Christ, who gives me strength. The secret to Paul's contentment was he wasn't dependent on money for his security.

He wasn't depending on his bank account for his contentment. He said, as long as I've got Jesus Christ, I can do anything I'm ever called upon to do. My security is rooted in Jesus, my relationship with Jesus. The fact that Jesus Christ goes with me everywhere I go, it's not rooted in how much money I have. And you know, that's what he wrote and told Timothy. First Timothy 6 17. He said, Command those who are rich in this present world not to put their trust in wealth, but to put their trust in God. That's where security is.

You know, my son, John, he's 17. He was driving home Monday on the beltway, coming home from school on the inner loop of the beltway, coming towards the Wilson Bridge. And he was looking over his shoulder, trying to locate where this state trooper had gone. The guy had been behind him, and it disappeared from the mirror. And he was trying to figure out where he was. Now don't ask me why he cared where a state trooper was. But anyway, he was trying to find him. Well, what happened is the people in his lane, he was in the far left lane came to a complete stop. And when he turned around, the problem was he was still going 65 miles an hour. He had virtually no time to brake and just hit the brakes and slammed into this guy in front of him completely totaled our car, knocked this guy across all three lanes onto the right shoulder of the beltway. And the state trooper when I got there was still waiting to talk to me said, and I quote, Mr. Solomon, he said, when I got the report on the radio of the kind of accident this was, he said, I totally expected to find DOAs when I got here dead on arrivals. You know, my son, John got out of the automobile, walked away, no broken bones, not a cut, not even a bruise on his body. Now that's the grace of God.

Friends, let me tell you something. When you're about to plow into a stopped car on the beltway at 60 miles an hour, there is no amount of money in the world that's going to provide you any security. You want Jesus Christ next to you when you're about to hit that car. In fact, anytime you drive on the beltway, you want Jesus Christ next to you in that automobile. That when you're facing surgery, and you're getting wheeled into that operating room, it doesn't matter how much money you have in the bank, you don't want that bank account book laying on the stretcher with you.

You want Jesus Christ walking next to you into the operating room. When we send our children and our grandchildren out into this uncertain world. It doesn't matter how much money we've got in the bank.

That's not going to provide any security for them. We want Jesus to walk with them. And let me tell you, when you get ready to face the grave and eternity, my dear friend, not gonna make a bit of difference how much money you got, you're not even going to care. You're going to want Jesus Christ next to you. If you're here today, and you've never trusted Christ as your real and personal Savior, I'm here to tell you, Madison Avenue has sold you a bag of lies. You will never find security in how much you have. You will never find security in material wealth.

It's not there. Security comes from knowing Hebrews 13 five that Jesus said, I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you. Even if you're about to plow into a car going 60 on the beltway, you can count on it, I'm going to be there for you.

Now that's real security. So let's summarize, what have we learned today? Here's what we've learned. Friends, we have learned that in order to be content, it means that we have got to see the world through the lens of biblical truth. We can't see the world through the lens of Madison Avenue.

We'll never get there. And if we're going to handle money God's way, we've got to start from the foundation of being content. Because being content is the only way we can be generous and being generous lies at the heart of handling money the way God tells us.

And how is it that we get real contentment? Well, we've got to believe three things. Number one, we've got to believe that God is in total control of how much I have or don't have. Number two, we've got to believe that whatever wealth God has chosen to give me at this moment in time, it's because He knows that's what's best for me. And number three, we got to believe that our security lies in our relationship with Jesus anyway, not in how much money we got. Now, here's my challenge to you. Do you really believe these three things?

I'm not interested whether in the Bible, I know they're in the Bible, that didn't matter. Do you really believe this? Is this how you see your money? Is this how you see your material wealth? Is this how you see your life?

Because friends, unless we see our life this way, we will never be truly content people. We will never be able to build a system of biblical money management. So I want to challenge you to ask yourself, is this really how I see my money, how I see my material wealth? And if it isn't, then I've got a suggestion.

Ask God to help you change it. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, thanks for talking to us today about money.

You know, that's a subject we all deal with. And you know that Madison Avenue screams at us a message that is completely contradictory to the truths of the Bible. Father, my prayer today is that you would remind us what you say about this subject and that you would challenge us, that you would challenge us, God, to look at our material wealth and the whole issue of money through the lens of biblical truth. Make us people who really believe the things we've talked about today so that we can be content wherever we are, so that we can be generous and build a real system of biblical money management in our lives. So God, change our hearts, change our very perspectives because we were here today, and use this series to really be a huge blessing in our lives and in our families. And we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 06:32:23 / 2023-06-10 06:45:22 / 13

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