Money is not the root of all evil, but Scripture tells us that the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. Actually money itself is amoral, not good or evil, but provides us an opportunity for either faithfulness or selfishness. The key to contentment is not a lot of cash; the key to contentment is knowing that the King is good and that He promises to always be aware of your need. Money can bring some pleasure, but it makes a horrible god: don't trust in it.
A Biblical Perspective on Possessions, Rewards and Eternity
Giving and All That Goes With It
A Biblical Perspective on Money
Don: It's 6:00.
Carol: Oh, are you Big Ben? You just forgot to chime?
Don: It's been three hours.
Carol: So now you're a clock and a calculator.
Don: Yeah, it doesn't take three hours to go drop the dry cleaning off.
Carol: Okay. You caught me. His name is Juan, and he's from Colombia. He's in the import business, and he makes a ton of money, and you know I can't resist a man with a fast car and a ponytail. You want to smell my breath?
Don: Were you…you know?
Carol: Don, really.
Don: Were you?
Carol: Look. I'm a grown woman, and I've got a responsible job. I'm well aware of my weaknesses, and I don't need my husband checking up on me.
Don: You blew it, didn't you?
Carol: Yes. Royally.
Don: Hon, we agreed. No more shopping until we get our finances in order.
Carol: I know, but all the sales are on right now.
Don: Oh, Carol!
Carol: Look. You were supposed to find a financial adviser weeks ago, and when you didn't live up to your end of the bargain, well, let's say neither did I.
Don: I know, I know. So, what all did you buy?
Carol: Well, don't freak out. You know how I love to shop.
Don: Yeah, do I ever.
Carol: After I try it all on, I promise I'll take half of it back.
Don: Oh, honey.
Carol: Okay. I will, I will. I promise.
Don: You'll take most of it back.
Carol: Okay, some of it?
Don: A little of it.
Carol: Okay, anything I can't wear.
Don: A teeny, tiny bit of it.
Carol: Okay. I'll take half of it back, I promise, even stuff I can wear.
Don: Have you seen the American Express bill lately?
Carol: Okay, two-thirds?
Carol: Okay, four-fifths. That's my final offer.
Don: Our agreement!
Carol: Oh, all right, all right, all right. I'll take all of it back. But I really like the pink one.
Don: Well, actually, I, uh, may have found a way for you to keep it.
Carol: Talk to me, big boy.
Don: While you were out shopping, I was here doing some financial planning.
Carol: You? Mr. Unorganized?
Don: Okay. If you don't want to hear about it…
Carol: Oh, no, no. I was just kidding. I want to hear all about it.
Don: All right. Well, we're getting killed on the high interest on our credit cards because we're running them up to the max.
Carol: How much?
Don: You don't want to know. But look at what we got in the mail today.
Carol:"You are invited to the Watermark financial seminar."
Don: What? Oh, no, not that…this.
Carol: What's that?
Don: This, my dear, is our bridge to the twenty-first century. It's called a low introductory rate.
Carol: Honey, we do not need any more credit cards.
Don: Oh, we need this one.
Carol: Okay, I just don't get it.
Don: All right. What we need to do is transfer the balance from these more expensive cards to the cheaper ones. I mean, we're paying a minimum of 18 percent interest. I mean, this one alone is 22 percent. So what we do is consolidate all of our higher cards onto these teaser rates. Like this one. This is 5.9 percent for 12 months, and then it jumps up to 9.9 percent after that. And this one is 9.9 and jumps up to 12.9 after six months. So, what we do is we start with the 3.9 percent, then we move to the 5.9 percent in three months, and in six months we'll be ahead 9.9 percent. In one year, that's 14 percent.
Carol: Fourteen percent in a year?
Don: You can't get that kind of return on the stock market, baby.
Carol: Wow! Well, you know what I could do is I could just run up all the credit cards to their max, and then we could save 14 percent on even more money.
Don: The new credit cards won't have that high of a credit limit to do that.
Don: But I think I've thought of that too. What we can do is take out a home equity loan of $50,000.
Carol: Honey, we've only been in our house for two years, and we're still making PMS payments on the mortgage.
Don: I…PMI payments. Besides that, some of these guys will allow you to borrow up to 125 percent on the value of your property.
Carol: Okay, so we'll be paying for 10 years and on stuff we already owe.
Don: Yeah, but, hello! We can write all of that off and get an even bigger tax refund next year, a lot more than this year.
Don: Oh yeah. We won't save as much on the home equity loan, but we'll still be ahead almost 7 percent.
Carol: Wow! Most CDs I know don't even pay 3 percent.
Don: Oh, I know, and with a CD your money is all locked up, but this way, our money is actually working for us.
Carol: And I can take advantage of all the sales!
Don: Oh, I mean, really. In the first year, we'll be ahead between 7 and 14 percent and get an even bigger tax refund next year.
Carol: I love it!
Don: Oh, I should write a book! I tell you what. You know, by next year at this time we'll be looking at over $4,000.
Carol: Four thousand dollars? That's more than when Aunt Eunice died.
Don: Yeah, and this time it's because of our hard work and great financial planning.
Carol: So I can keep all of it?
Don: You can keep all of it!
Carol: Oh, thank you. I love you, my financial wizard! You make money come out of nowhere.
Don: Thank you. Thank you. And you know what? I think we ought to celebrate.
Carol: I think I know what you're thinking.
Don: The bags are already packed.
Carol: Cancun, here we come!
[End of skit]
Why do you want to be rich, do you think? Probably so you can do things with your richness that would provide for you that which you really ultimately want. Most of us want to be rich because we think that in richness, in wealth, in prosperity comes the life we've always wanted. It gives us the peace, the security, the contentment that nothing but money can provide.
I want to tell you again that God is concerned for your desire, and what he wants you to understand is that he is not against your contentment. He's not against your peace. He's not against what it is you long for. He would, however, contend with your strategy to achieve it. Psalm 16:11 is a neat little verse tucked away in our Scriptures that we don't often think of.
You need to know this about God. As we start to talk about money, I want to say again: God is not after your money. He doesn't need your money. There is one thing that in his sovereignty he has decreed he needs from you. Though he is owner of your life and all else he creates, he has chosen to allow you to determine whether or not his grace will draw you to repentance. And that is you.
Unless God in his sovereignty comes crashing in and woos our hearts and allows us to respond to him, we will hold the one thing that he has told us he wants that he will not claim unto his own. The Scripture says in Psalm 16:11 that in his presence is fullness of joy and in his right hand are pleasures forever. Let me say that again. In his presence is fullness of joy and in his right hand are pleasures forever.
What God wants for you to have is fullness of joy, and he wants you to enjoy the pleasures that he alone can provide. No amount of money and no amount of wealth can ever get you there. These three weeks, we're going to talk about the green. The Bible talks a lot about the green: what the Bible has to say about money.
Next week, the gray. How much of your money does God want you to share with him? Most folks think God operates in terms of a tithe or 10 percent. Next week we're going to share with you that that is an unbiblical idea. There's a gray area about how much money God wants for you to share. Then the gold: how money and our use of it and our attitude toward it has a lot to say about rewards in the life that's ahead of us.
God wants you to understand a lot about money, because he knows our attitude about money and material possessions is inseparable from our attitude about him and our spiritual condition, and he knows our spiritual condition is inseparable from true joy and, truly, from true pleasures. When you look at the Bible, you'll find out that when Jesus told stories about life… He told about 38 of them. Almost 50 percent of those stories (16 of them, to be exact) dealt with money and material possessions and our attitudes toward it and how we use it.
There are over 288 verses in the Gospels alone that deal with money and material possessions. One out of every 10 verses deals with this subject. In the Bible there are over 2,000 that discuss and deal with money. Now why is that when there are only 500 that deal with the idea of prayer, which is relationship with God and communion with him, and fewer than 500 on faith, which is the means through which we might have relationship with God?
Why in the world does the Bible talk almost two to one, with prayer and faith combined, about money? Because that which prayer is ultimately a sign of (relationship with God) and which faith ultimately provides is best illustrated in our attitude about money. One of the things I like to do is do some reading around. There's a book called The Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth Century Quotations. What I love about this little dictionary of quotations is it has some famous misquotes in there.
One of them is, "Beam me up, Scotty." Who said that? Not Captain Kirk. Those words were never uttered on his lips. How about that? "Play it again, Sam." Where did that come from? Do you know those words were never uttered, not just by Humphrey Bogart's character in the movie Casablanca but you can't find them in that movie anywhere? "Me Tarzan, you Jane." You might know who said that, but he really didn't. Neither in the movie Tarzan, the Ape Man or in the novel were those words ever uttered.
There's another famous misquotation. I did a series a number of years ago called The Most, and what I did is I went through and I took the most read verse in the Bible, the most misunderstood, the most quoted, the most awful, the most important, the most essential. It was just a fun way to dive around the Scriptures and look at specific different verses. What's your guess what the most read verse in the Bible is? It's Genesis 1:1. Most of you guys… "I'm going to read through the Bible." So most of us have read, "In the beginning…" And then it tapers off pretty sharply from there.
The most misquoted verse in the Bible deals with what I want to look at today. There's a great misquote around money. Interestingly enough, a man who has made his living (or did for a while at least) talking about the Lord was back in the paper when he was let out of prison: a young man by the name of Jim Bakker. Jim Bakker misquoted this verse. Listen to what he said. This is a few years back.
"Fresh off parole, Jim Bakker wants back into prison, but he doesn't want to stay. The fallen televangelist asked worshipers Sunday at Faith Temple church in Taylors, South Carolina, to support his plans for a prison ministry. Prison, Mr. Bakker said, helped him focus on God, family, and friends and taught him that 'money is the root of all evil.'"
Now, whatever Mr. Bakker learned about money, family, and friends, he did not learn about Scripture, because that is a misquote. The Scriptures do not say money is the root of all evil. What do the Scriptures say? The Scripture says the love of money is a sort of all kinds of evil. There is a huge distinction between money, which the Bible says is amoral… In other words, money itself is neither good nor bad. What we do with it gives it its value.
Money is not the root of all sorts of evil. Money is not the root of all evil. It is the love of money that is a root of all sorts of evil. The Bible addresses money. Why? Because God cares for your soul and because God wants you to have joy, and he knows money can never give you joy. God wants you to have peace and contentment, and he knows money can never give you that.
It goes without saying, but I'm going to say it. Friday, Scott and Julie Fowler did not care how much money they had or they were about to inherit. Brian and Meredith England did not fret about money on Friday, but they wondered where peace would come, and they knew that peace would not come from any amount of cash they could have or anybody could ever give them. God wants you to have that peace, so he begs you to have a better attitude, a different attitude about money. Money, the Scriptures tell us, is not the root of all evil.
1 . Money is a means of blessing. In other words, having money doesn't, frankly, matter very much. The Bible tells us that money is something that people who are extremely gifted might have. In Proverbs 22:29 it says, "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men."
What it's talking about here is if you're gifted in what you do, you're not going to be just randomly out there not sought after by others. In the law of supply and demand, if kings want you, others are going to want you as well if you're gifted in what you do. The idea here is that you're going to be blessed. If you are skilled in what you do, you will stand before kings. There will be a great demand for what it is you supply, and you will be blessed.
Proverbs 28:20 comments on this. "A faithful man will abound with blessings…" This is not health, wealth, and prosperity. This is not a promise that if you are faithful to God he will give you fig trees that blossom and vines that bear the fruit in season. This is talking just about the fact of life. Men who are disciplined and diligent and faithful, who work hard, who study, who appropriate all their giftedness toward that which is useful to society, there is a blessing that is associated and correlated with that. Money is not evil; money is a means of blessing.
2 . Money is an opportunity either for faithfulness or selfishness. It's not evil. What you do with it is what determines whether or not it's evil. Money does not equal materialism. Do you know that you can be materialistic with $50 as easily as you can be with $50 million or $50,000? Materialism is an attitude, which is that money alone, material things alone, possessions alone, can give me joy, peace, contentment, and significance in life.
The Bible says that's fleeting and you're foolish to invest in that. Jesus in Luke 16 said, " [I encourage you] , make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings." Jesus calls money (and we'll talk about this in a second) unrighteous mammon, or unrighteous wealth. I'll tell you why in a minute.
Here he says, "Look. You have this unrighteous wealth, not because you earned it by unrighteous acts but because it ultimately is not eternal, not from the throne of God." Money is not something that will go on into perpetuity. It is neither moral nor immoral. It is amoral. It's not eternal. It's not from the throne. It's not eternal in nature.
He says, "Use this thing as an opportunity to make for yourself friends where you're going." He tells a story about a shrewd servant who does just that. What God says about money is, "It's not evil. Just use it wisely." It's an opportunity for faithfulness in your life or selfishness in your life, and you would be wise to use this neutral thing positively, not negatively.
3 . Money is the smallest of things to be trusted with. This is what it says in verse 10: "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth…"
Again, wealth not from heaven or not eternal in nature. That's what he means. Not money you got from some drug deal. That's not what unrighteous wealth is limited to, just in case somebody was going to take that little section and base their life on it. He said, "If you're not going to handle something that's not eternal in its preciousness and nature, why would I give you something that is?"
4 . Money is worthless to trust in. Again, how many of you all think money comforts people at the hour of death? How many people are so stupid to believe in a moment when death comes calling at your household that money is something to trust in? How many men on their deathbed ask for a copy of their financial statement? How many men ask for an issue of Playboy?
How many want one more read through Das Kapital by Marx? How many want one more perusal through Adam Smith's economic works? None. Not one. You see, at the grave it's very easy to see what does and doesn't matter. Hear me on this: God isn't here to shake you down; he's here to build you up on a foundation that will not go away when the rain comes down.
By the grace of God, some of the families that have walked through the darkness of this week have found something that is not worthless to trust in, and they have found an inner prosperity, an inner peace that is sufficient, though their outer prosperity is completely insufficient, because they understand what the Lord says about where joy is.
The Bible implores you to know that as well, not just for the moment of the grave, but what's true at the grave is what's truest in life. God wants you to trust in that which matters. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said, "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens."
5 . Money is potentially dangerous to your faith. George Barna, who is probably the most astute observer (he's the George Gallup of our day), just released Friday a poll on the quality of life, and he said there are two things which most determine the quality of life people have. Guess what those two things are. He said two things are what influence whether or not people feel happy, connected, and in control in life.
First, he says, faith. As he looked across the board, he said people of faith are more consistently self-diagnosed as happy, connected to other people, and feel like life is not out of control. Secondly, he said, there's another group. Not necessarily people of faith, but he said people who have money also generally describe their life as happy, feel connected to other people, and generally don't feel like life is out of control.
There is only one thing which separates these two groups of people as he went through his study. When he looked at folks he called well-to-do folks who make more than $90,000 and compared those to folks who made less than $30,000, he said there was a marked difference in people's growing in their faith and spiritual lives.
Those who made less than $30,000 were growing in their faith and, therefore, were also growing in their joy in life, in their connectedness to others, and in their having a sense of control even when life is out of control. Those who had made over $90,000 were not growing stronger in their faith…as a rule, not as a fact.
Money and faith are the two things which get you certain places, but what George Barna found out the Scriptures have been telling us all along: that money is potentially dangerous to your faith. Money is not an evil, and the reason money is addressed in the Scripture is because the Bible is so relevant to our lives. God cares for you. Do you understand this? He's not here to shake you down.
You have nothing…I don't care who you are…that Jesus Christ needs; therefore, you have nothing this church needs, and we ask for nothing from you, but Jesus Christ has everything you need, and when you understand that, trusting him with all that you have for his continued glory and his continued work and his continued advancement becomes one of the greatest joys of your life. That's what we're in the middle of looking at this week.
If you've come thinking we're here to manipulate you or guilt you into parting with your money, I want to tell you again: we hope these three weeks that you understand our goal is that you would part with your self-will and self-dependence that will not provide for you fullness of joy and pleasures forever, and we want to give you something: contentment and something worth trusting in that is not a some-thing, it's a some-one.
We're going to look most fully at 1 Timothy 6 today when you will find that that last little section is most completely unfolded. I'm going to give you some basic principles, and we're going to look at 1 Timothy 6 together. In 1 Timothy 6, Paul talks about a lot of different stuff. He has been working in the first part of that chapter with false teachers.
He says there are two problems with false teachers. First, they don't adhere to God's Word. They get caught up in endless arguments and speculations of men. Secondly, they have an attitude of self-advancement, and they believe that godliness is a means of gain. In other words, he says, if you look at heresy, if you look at religious inventions of man…
That means even taking the teachings of Christ and separating them from what God offered them to us for and institutionalizing them into a vehicle through which we can hold people in bondage and hold over their heads the fact that we hold the keys to the kingdom, so you'd better participate with us. It can be a very manipulative thing.
If you have not found out by watching history that religion can hold people hostage with their cash, you have not been watching closely. Whenever you see false teachers, you always see not only a distortion of the Scriptures and their unwillingness to adhere to God's Word, but you always see somebody in somebody else's pocketbook (and excuse the crassness of this) or somebody in somebody else's pants.
There is always immorality involved. You will see somebody sleeping with somebody else's children or somebody diving into somebody else's bank account, whether that's David Koresh or even major worldwide religious systems. There is immorality and there is exploitation. Paul told you it was coming in 1 Timothy 6.
What he does in 1 Timothy 6:6 is he picks this idea up, and he says simply this: "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment." In other words, what he's saying there is godliness is a means of great gain when it is godliness for godliness' sake, because godliness for godliness' sake always is accompanied with contentment. Godliness does not give financial gain.
There is no health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine you can find in the Scripture, but there are false teachers who will tell you you can find it there. So they will tell you to give them $10 and will promise you $100 in return, and if you give them $1,000, there's no limit to what we can do there. I'm going to tell you this: if you give sacrificially and generously to this church, do you know what you'll have? You will have given sacrificially and generously to this church.
If you've done that with a heart out of acknowledging and honoring Jesus Christ and the Lord, you will have taken an amoral thing, a non-moral thing, and used it for good, and you will make friends for yourself that you will never regret. Not here, because I don't know who gives what at this church, and neither does any other leader, but you will make for yourself friends in a kingdom that is coming, and Jesus says that is wise.
Jesus tells you that storing up earthly treasures isn't just simply wrong; it is plain stupid, because he says you're going to have moth eat it, rust destroy it, and thieves steal it. So he begs you to use this stuff wisely. He tells you that if you use godliness to give you financial gain, you've missed the point, but if you seek godliness for godliness' sake, it will give you contentment like nothing else will.
Henry David Thoreau… Most of you guys read his CliffsNotes when you were in high school. So did I. Actually, I read Wendy Wyan's CliffsNotes of the CliffsNotes. But Thoreau, this great naturalist of the 1800s, basically said as he meditated, "A man is wealthy in proportion to the number of things he can live without." He understood, whether he knew it or not, 1 Timothy 6:6, that godliness is a means of great gain. When you have Christ, whether you have outer prosperity or inner despair, you have something no outer prosperity can give you.
There's a story about a simple believer who lived away from the rush of the city, and he had a very wealthy neighbor move in next to him who was trying to get away from the bustle of what was out there and built for himself a great sprawling house out there away from where he was. He had things and accoutrements to it that, frankly, that man never had seen before.
When his neighbor finally moved in, he walked over to him and simply addressed the man. He said, "Neighbor, if you ever need anything, you come and see me, and I'll tell you how to get along without it." Because what he knew is what that man had left the city to come find in the country he wouldn't find in the country, but he would find it in his Creator.
"If you're ever missing something, you come tell me, and I'll tell you how to get along without it. I don't have half of what you have, but I have something you're looking for, and you don't find it just in getting away from the city. You find it by getting on your knees and acknowledging who you are and that there is one who in his presence is fullness of joy. It isn't a bunch of Ben Franklins; it's the one who created us and has been looking for you for a long time."
First Timothy 6 tells us also that the key to contentment, very simply, is not a lot of cash. The key to contentment is knowing the King is good and that he promises to always be aware of your need. This is what it says in Hebrews 13: "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said…" Notice what the writer of Hebrews says. The same thing.
It doesn't say, "Make sure your life is free from a lot of money." Beware: money can threaten your attitude toward what it means to be faithful, but he doesn't say, "Be free from money." He says, "Make sure you don't live with a love of money." He goes on to say, "…for He Himself has said, ' I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you ,' so that we confidently say [as David did in Psalm 118] , 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'"
It doesn't matter what comes. It doesn't matter what locusts eat. It doesn't matter what economies take away, because God is with me and God alone provides for me what others think riches and wealth can provide for them. The key to contentment is not cash or green in the hand; it is God in the heart.
I can remember when I had a job that was paying me upwards of $9,000 a year. I was driving a Delta 88 with an oxidized blue paint job that you can't get just anywhere that had who knows how many hundreds of thousands of miles on it that I sold for $400 to my roommate. I could put all of my possessions in the world in the back seat of that car. I can tell you that those were some of the most carefree days of my life. There wasn't a lot of worry.
You could get in that car. You could spill stuff in it. I wouldn't freak out. I could bump into you and I wouldn't freak out, but my $40,000 Suburban… I sometimes catch myself talking to my kids like they're about to spill ink on the Mona Lisa and go, "What is wrong with me?" It has been well said that the loudest noise known to man is the first tick in a new car. "What's that? I thought I just purchased serenity. What's that squeak?"
Contentment is not found in a lot of cash or a lot of material things. It's knowing simply that God is good. I want to tell you something, and I want to say this very tenderly. Contentment does not come waking up and knowing those you love are there to love again that day. Too many of us believe that.
Sweet Julie Fowler came up to me at the end of the first service, and I was making this point: the rich are infinitely better off than the poor, because while the poor still think money can buy them happiness, the rich know better. Let me say that again. There are some people in this room who have not yet made it to $90,000-plus. There are some who make more than $90,000 who haven't made it to $900,000-plus. There are some who have made it to $900,000 who haven't made it to $9 million-plus. That's what our body is made up of…that scale. I know that.
The folks who make $9 million are infinitely better off than those who make $900,000 who are infinitely better off than those who make $90,000 who are infinitely better off than guys like me who were making $9,000, because while the people who make $9 million or $90 million know that money can't buy them happiness, too many of the rest of us lower down that food chain still think it would.
We have to go through the horror of experience if we won't be educated by the wonder of revelation to find out what they already know, so they are better than we are. That is why the married folks in this room are infinitely better off than the single people. Some of you single people still think if you could just find that one relationship and walk to the altar and wear a ring and a white dress for a day, you would be happy.
Married folks in this room know better. I mean that. That doesn't mean there isn't joy and real happiness in marriage. There is, but if you get married thinking, "Once I'm there, once that little ring is on my finger, once I carry around an ounce on my left hand, life will be full…" You need to know, while there is great blessing in marriage, even in the finest marriage, marriage is a lousy god.
Some of you girls in this room who don't wear size 2s don't like to go shopping, and you are in far worse shape than that little girl in this room who loves to go shopping and loves to look at herself in the mirror. Do you know why? Because some of you gals think if you could just cut 30, 40, or 50 pounds life would be better, and that sweet, cute little thing in this room knows better, so she doesn't have to go through a diet or some compulsive act, damaging her body, to figure that out.
This is what Julie came and said to me, and I wouldn't say it if she didn't. She said, "Todd, I needed this message, because some of us who don't have kids think if we just had kids, life would be better." This is a mother who was less than 48 hours away from losing her twins. What she said to me was, "Contentment comes not in children; it comes in Christ alone." She knows that as a mom who just lost her two children. She grieves as she should grieve, but she has what many people with 10 children never have.
The Lord is desperate for you to know him and understand what she knows. I am so sorry for the Fowlers and for you, Brian and Meredith. Words just don't even approach it. But what God is doing in the midst of this is he is declaring something through you that he must love you dearly and trust you much to allow you to honor him in that way. We will weep and we will mourn, but we will bless him whether he gives or takes away.
That, folks, will tell you about the goodness of our God. We don't love him because our children live to be 40 or 400; we love him because he is good and in his presence is fullness of joy. We don't love him because the economy is going to come back and be strong and we're going to get to keep living in certain zip codes and drive certain cars; we love him because he is Lord and he died for us on that cross alone. If our lives betray that testimony, we must repent.
God's view of the green is his view of children. It's his view of everything: enjoy it while you have it. Children are wonderful blessings. Marriage is a wonderful blessing. Healthy bodies are wonderful blessings. They are lousy gods, because they will fleetingly fly away. There is one thing, one person who will be there at the end who we must deal with, and if we don't know him, we will find anything but contentment.
First Timothy 6:7-8 says it this way: "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." I'm going to make a statement here, and I want you to understand it. This is true. There will never be a member of this church, there will never be a follower of Christ who is integrated into this body, there will never be a single homeless person at Watermark Community Church unless we are all homeless.
We will give and share and sell our possessions in order for you to have what God has promised you that you would have…not a house in a certain zip code, not a certain education for your children at a certain type of school, but we will see to it, if we have to divest ourselves of every personal asset we have, that you will be given proper food and proper shelter.
If you come amidst the body of Christ, you will have what he has promised you here, and we will maintain no personal comfort or luxury for ourselves to see to it that it happens. That's as it should be. Homelessness is unnecessary in the context of life as God wants it, and as you seek him here, you will find here what he has told you he will give you here. Mark my word on it.
He tells you that we didn't bring anything into the world so we can't take anything out of it either. We all know the old story. Whether it's Rockefeller's account or whoever it was, when they ask, "How much money did he leave?" the answer is always the same: "All of it." So he tells you: what you want to do is be rightly aligned to a King who has your best interests in mind and trust in nothing other than his sovereign goodness toward you.
In 1 Timothy 6:9-10, we'll find this to be true: if you're not content, then you will contend for that which leads to temptation and is ultimately a trap. In other words, 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare [a trap] and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money [philargyria] …"
Those of you who are students or remember a little bit of your ninth-grade chemistry, you'll remember the periodic chart has for silver…what symbol? Do you remember? Ag. You ask yourself, "Why is that?" That's because the Greek word for silver is argureos. This little verse… It's the only place it shows up in the Scripture. It's phileo-argureos, or philargyria is what the two words together are. It's the love of money.
"For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." It has been well said that the man who thinks money can do anything may be well thought of to do anything for money. I was reading a story this week about actors and things they have done to make money or further their fame or to get places they wanted to go.
There was a story about Ted Danson and a part he played and how he regretted the fact that he was a chiffon meringue man, and he wore these yellow tights and meringue on his head, dancing down a street, talking about pie mix, and how he regrets it to this day. There are parts in there about Sissy Spacek and what she said, and on and on, these different characters. There was one that stuck out to me. It was Michael Caine, a very distinguished actor, a gentleman from England.
They were talking to him about one movie he made that he most regretted, and this is what he said: "I have never seen the film, but by all accounts, it was terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it's terrific." What he's saying there is simply this: if you aren't content where you are, then you will strive for that which ultimately leads to a temptation and a trap. You'll sacrifice your professional integrity, you'll sacrifice your dignity, anything to get that which you treasure and value.
While many of you have never been a part of a film you wish you weren't a part of, how many people in this room could say this? "I have never seen the child, but by all accounts, he is terrible. However, I've seen the house that neglecting him has built, and it is terrific." See, that cuts a little closer to home, doesn't it?
If somebody walked up to you and offered you a million dollars to make your son a drunk, you would have rejected it. If somebody walked up to you and offered you a million dollars to make your little girl promiscuous, to make her vulnerable to the first coy boy that comes alongside and shows her attention for a fleeting moment, you would have slapped him and sent him out of the room, but how many men cut that deal that they fly off to Dallas while they're having a son?
Because of the love of money, it gives birth to all kinds of evil. What the Scriptures are begging us to do is to be careful what we love. Love that which when you seek it brings fullness of joy and pleasures forever, not which gives you a vapor of joy. The reason the Bible talks about money is because God loves you and is desperate for you to not be deluded and deceived.
Money is not evil, the Scriptures tell us. It is a tool for evil or for good. I made that point earlier. It's an opportunity for faithfulness or selfishness. It can be a crucial chink through which other vices can gain access. This is what Jesus is saying and why he makes this point in Mark 14:18-19. He's talking about how money can choke out faithfulness in your life.
He talks about how the seed fell on a certain soil, and it says thorns grew up around it and began to choke it out. You can see it right there before me. It says the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the desires for many things choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful, and you lose that which ultimately will bring us the life we want.
Let me say it this way: what you chase is what you worship, and what you worship determines who you are. The Bible is saying money is a wonderful servant; it's a lousy god. If you don't let your money serve you, then you will serve it. You will be a slave to it. This was not just a skit for some people. There were certain people taking notes when he was going through how to get some more cash.
That's why we sent an offer to you, this financial seminar, that you might learn how to use this amoral thing for good, how to escape the bondage of debt. Look at your Watermark News. We want to serve you. Not beat you up for how money has oppressed you but help you start to work your way out. You chase what you worship, and what you worship determines who you are.
This is 1 Timothy 6:11. In verses 6-10, what Paul had been doing is talking about those who might be suspected that they would do anything for money because they love it. In verses 11-16, he's going to address those who have already professed a love for something else. They've professed a love for God.
So he says to them, maybe to you, "But flee from these things [the love of money, the love of self, the love of pleasure, and the love of sleep] , you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." What's he saying there? You are what you worship. Some of you worship money, so you pursue the things which give yourself to money.
A lot of guys, as I said, tell their kids they're working 80 hours a week for them so they can provide for them, allow them to have the things they want and send them to the college they want. Some people work a lot of hours and try to convince God they want to have more to give him. God doesn't need your money, and neither do your children; they need you.
Has it ever crossed your mind, have you ever considered that your family would have you take a job that demands less of your passion, energy, and time so they can have more of you? Have you ever heard that? Have you ever thought about that? Your kids can get a lot of cash from a lot of places. They can only get one dad, one mom, and that's from you. God is desperate for you to be there for them and not to worship the wrong thing.
Paul tells us, "Pursue these things." It's interesting what we should pursue, according to 1 Timothy 6, is what he tells us we will have when we pursue him. Look again at 1 Timothy 6:11. Watch this. "…righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." Now Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit…" What happens when you pursue Christ and yield to him? Look at what you get. "…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…"
He tells us in 1 Timothy 3, just a few chapters earlier, "It is a trustworthy statement: if any man wants to be an overseer, if anyone wants to shepherd other people's lives, if anyone wants not just the office but has the desire to impact other people, that's a good thing he desires to do." He says, "An overseer, then, must pursue these things…" What are the things? It's the things he said in chapter 6, verses 12-16, that godly men should pursue. Don't be a lover of money; be a lover of that which will produce in your life that which ultimately makes a man's life worth living.
Now look at 1 Timothy 6:12 and following. I want to read this section for you quickly as we get to a close. "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." Remember what's going on. In verses 11-16, it's him telling you, "This is what makes life valuable. This is what makes life good. For those of you who have professed a love for God, live this way."
He says, "Fight the good fight," and he goes through and talks about the good fight that Christ fought. It says in verse 16, " [Christ] alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen." This is the one who's worthy of your heart.
What he's saying there is when somebody comes up to you and asks, "How is business?" you ought to respond, "It's a war out there." Fight the good fight. That's the phrase. When somebody asks, "How's your business?" you go, "It's a war out there." That's the right response when people ask you about your business. But what is 1 Timothy 6:11-16 saying?
When somebody asks you, "How's business?" your business is to be a lover of God, a lover of others. I'm going to tell you something: that is a fight, because our world is seducing us and tempting us and taking us a lot of directions. When's the last time…? In this economy, people ask you all the time, "How's business?"
You should respond, "It's a war out there. I'm fighting the good fight, though. I'm disciplining myself for the purpose of godliness. I'm neglecting my body. I'm buffeting my body that I might be its master and it might not master me. I'm saying no to the things the world says are okay to do in terms of indulging my eyes in other places. I'm waking up early and not loving sleep and spending time with the Lord and prayer.
I'm loving my family, and I'm being devoted to my wife, and I'm cherishing and honoring her. I am fighting the good fight. That business is going all right." They're going to look at you and go, "Excuse me. I meant work." You go, "Oh! Yeah, well, it's a war there too, and I'm trying to be faithful there as well." It's a war, folks. What he's telling you is you don't fight the good fight at work and neglect the good fight that's eternal.
That's verses 11-16. We simply close with this one idea here. In verses 17 down through verse 19, he closes this. He says, "These are people who have a desire to have money. Here are people who have already professed the desire to know God. Now let me address those, whether they desire to have money or more money or whether they already know God or not. If they are rich, this is my exhortation to them."
It doesn't matter if you love God yet, and it doesn't matter if you have money and want more. If you are rich, verses 17-19 are for you. This applies to a large percentage of folks who sit in this room with me. This is what he says:
"Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed."
There are six things here that tell you what he says to the rich. I'm going to bullet them out very quickly.
If you're rich, don't be conceited. Remember that the Lord your God is the one giving you power to make wealth. That's what it says in Deuteronomy 8. That's what it says in 1 Samuel 2. Don't be conceited. If you're rich, it's God's blessing in your life.
If you're rich, don't be confident in your cash. It is foolish and fleeting. It might be worth something today and worth nothing tomorrow. Your Enron stock is not as secure as you think.
Don't punish yourself. Do enjoy his goodness to you. I have a buddy. The way he says it is, "You eat your rocky road." Go ahead, buy yourself a double scoop. Enjoy God's goodness. You know he's a loving Father and he wants you to enjoy certain things. People ask me all the time, "Is it wrong to have this thing or drive this thing or go to this place?" I'm going to tell you, I don't know.
If all you ever think about is how you can use your money for you, I think that's a problem. If sometimes, though, you use your money for you to bless your family and enjoy life, do you really think God doesn't want you to enjoy life? In his presence is fullness of joy. In his right hand are pleasures forever. So I would assume that he would allow you to have some pleasures now.
He has come that you might have life and enjoy life, and part of enjoying life, as a good general, is to give you a little bit of time when you're enjoying a sabbath, a break, a time away, a time of rest, a time of celebration. I'm going to tell you to enjoy your green, but I'm not going to tell you just that. I'm going to tell you all that the Bible tells you. I'm going to tell you the Bible says to enjoy your money; it's his goodness to you, but I'm going to also tell you:
4 . Share his goodness to you with others, because that's part of why he has given you that money. If every time you make more money your first thought is, "Now I can do this," you don't understand why God has given you money.
5 . Be rich in good works. One of the things I see so many people in this body who have made a certain amount of money do is they use their money to work less so they can serve more, counsel more, disciple more, shepherd more. They have made themselves incredibly available to this ministry and to others so they could be rich in good works. They are materially sharing their blessings, but they don't use that as some scapegoat excuse to not tithe their life.
They don't say, "I'm going to keep making more money so I can keep giving more money away." The Bible says you make sure you take God's goodness materially and share that with others, but also make sure you take what your place of provision is, and you don't have to work maybe as much as the next person, and you be rich in good works. Why? Because he wants you to have life indeed. This is the warning:
6 . Beware of investing too much in the good life and missing out on life indeed. You see, some folks are so consumed with living the good life, gallivanting around here to there, buying this, purchasing that, they miss out on life indeed.
This is a statement that is true. I have right here… We have not publicized this, and we have taken appropriate security measures, but we have over a half million dollars in cash, upwards of a million, right there inside that case. It's made up of American dollars…ones, fives, tens, fifties, and hundreds. To illustrate where life indeed is coming from, I'm going to have somebody in a minute come up, and they're going to have 15 seconds to take as much as they can and stuff it in their pockets.
When you walked in, you were handed a Watermark News. Inside one of those was a dollar bill, and it said, "I want to be rich." Who has it? Does somebody have it? All right, come on up here. We're going to close with an illustration. I'm going to tell you again that we have an opportunity for you, in 15 seconds, to stuff I don't know how many thousands of dollars you can get in your pockets.
Do you have pockets, Teresa? No. All right. In fact, Teresa's husband works at Watermark, so I want you to take that dollar right now. We're going to throw this dollar around four times, and whoever gets it has the opportunity to do this. John, we'll start with you. Throw it over your head and give it to somebody else. All right. There's one, two, three. It's coming your way, baby. Get excited.
All right. Thank you. If you'd come on up here, the young lady in the black and white shirt, and sit right here. I'll talk to you during this song, and you'll have an opportunity… Do you have pockets? Okay. Give it to your husband next to you. I'll visit with you as we sing this song. Here's where I want to end. I'm going to show you. I'm doing this as an illustration, and we're going to enjoy him having fun doing this.
I want you to know that what Paul is saying about money is that money will leave you disappointed. There is not life indeed where money is or with what money can provide. There is life indeed when everything this world holds dear is taken from you and God is there, and when everything this world tells you that you need, God is there still.
You have peace no matter what your circumstance. When the fig tree is in bloom and when the vine does not produce its fruit in season, you still say, "Blessed am I, because I live with life indeed with God." What God wants you to have is fullness of joy and pleasures forever. His love is life for you. We'll sing that song, and I'll show you this illustration.
I told you in here we have close to a million dollars in American currency. It's ones, fives, tens, fifties, and hundreds. We're not idiots. The big stuff is at the bottom. We're going to give you 15 seconds to dig in there. You need to be aggressive, obviously, and just shove as much in your pockets as you can. What you get is yours. All right? Ready? Go! Start shoving in your pockets. What's not in your pocket doesn't go. It has to be in your pocket. Time. Stop. Now, Drew, let me ask you a question. How much money did you come up with there?
Drew: Oh, maybe $10.
Todd: Why is that? See, here's the deal. I'm going to show you something. We got this from the Federal Reserve. This is, they think, somewhere between half a million and a million dollars. It is made up of ones, fives, tens, fifties, and hundreds. That's why they trust us with it that we probably won't go through the trouble of putting it back together.
What Drew just experienced is the disappointment money can provide you. What I want to share with you… This is where all money is headed. See, some of this cash… Who knows if it hadn't been in your wallet already? But it was never yours, and it's not going to be. This is where all money is headed. God says there's no life here. It's foolish. It's crazy.
This is where everything that some of us are hurting our families for is headed, and he wants you to have life indeed. This stuff wouldn't have worked on Friday. It's not going to work tomorrow when we lay little Maddie to rest, but Jesus will, and his love is life indeed. Though Drew is disappointed because of the fact that he only has $15, some folks are going to experience disappointment with that stuff in a much more severe, eternal way.
God doesn't want your money; he wants you, and in having you, he wants you to have what you think money can provide or children can provide or looks can provide or marriage can provide. Do you understand that when he talks about money, money is just the one that grabs us the most? It's not the only thing. He is the only one, and he wants you to know he's not after your green. He wants you to know he is God.
May you go knowing that, and if we can help you wrestle through who he is and how he loves and provides for you even when the fig tree bears no fruit, we would love to talk with you. If you have never seen Terry Tate: Office Linebacker, you need to check that out this week and join us next week for the world premier of "Barry Bates: Offering Linebacker" right here.
We'll see you. Have a great week of worship.
It's clear that money and giving are important, but it's also easy to become jaded about the way churches often speak about finances. In "The Green, the Gray and the Gold" sermon series, Todd takes on the myths, misconceptions and musts of a true biblical perspective toward money and all that goes with it. You'll see that ultimately our attitude about money and material possessions is inseparable from our spiritual condition, and our spiritual condition is inseparable from true joy in life.