Do you want to be rich? What about being the richest person alive that you know? Because of the grace of God, you can be the richest person you know. The living God is better than you can imagine, and a relationship with Him is the way to be rich.
Rich in Relationships: Avoiding the Poverty of Isolation
How to be Rich: So Rich You Can Add to the Wealth of Your King
How to be Rich: What's Your Story?
How to be Rich
Hello, Watermark. How are we doing this morning? We are starting a new series called How to Be Rich. If you're a guest and you walked into a church that looks like it only wants to tickle your ears and saw the title of a new four-week series they were doing was How to Be Rich, I want to thank you for not leaving, because what I'm not going to do is tell you how to be rich in the way the world defines rich. That may not be a surprise, although it might be if you're a guest.
There are a lot of places that this morning are tickling the ears of people and telling you if you serve God and honor God and do what you should do, if you give to him, he will return to you that which is pressed down and spilling over and shaken so more can come in, that God will give you more than you could ever give him, like God is some lottery machine that you put in some money that returns to you great reward and riches, that health, wealth, and prosperity will be yours if you serve God. That is a lie from the pit of hell.
There's nothing in the Scriptures that indicate material prosperity or physical health will be yours if, in fact, you serve and honor God. Let me just say something to you. There are verses that are very confusing in the Scripture that lend themselves to thinking this way. Joshua 1:8 says, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth…so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."
When we think of prosperity and success, we typically think in terms of square footage and income and how we're perceived by the world and how comfortably we live in life. That is a bad view of prosperity and success, because as the Scriptures tell us again and again… Proverbs 17:1, for example, says, "Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife."
There are a lot of very materially wealthy people, a lot of famous, acclaimed people in this world who are successful and rich in the things the world aspires for and longs for who have homes full of strife. Proverbs 15 talks about this in a different way in verses 16 and 17. It talks about how there's turmoil in the house. It says, "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it."
You can have a lot of riches and have turmoil, and it's not a very peaceful place. Proverbs 15:17 is a lot like Proverbs 17:1. It says, "Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred." I'm not going to tell you how to be materially rich today, because I don't think that will ultimately make you happy. I do want to say this. Most of us are materially rich. I'm going to talk about the fact that I am one of the richest people on earth, not materially, but I also am materially rich. So are most folks who are going to listen to this message.
According to the Global Rich List, which you can go to, if you just put in your annual income and if your annual income is $25,000… That isn't even your personal holdings or savings or the car you drive in or the clothes you own or the house you maybe have part ownership in with the bank. If you make $25,000 a year, period, and we lined up all of humankind, 1 to 100, there would only be two people in front of you in line, if you make $25,000 a year in US dollars.
We are all rich. The Bible tells us who are rich in this material way that we are to be rich in good works. I'm going to stick one more thing in here so I can get away from it. My friend Charles Spurgeon (who I never met because he had been dead decades before I was born) said this, and I want you to know I agree with him.
"…I believe it is anti-Christian and unholy…" This is Spurgeon's quote, and it could be mine. "…for any Christian to live with the objective of accumulating wealth. You will say, 'Are we not to strive all we can and to get all the money we can?'" I would say to you, as Spurgeon did, "You may do so. […] I cannot doubt but what, in so doing, you may do good service to the cause of God." As so many of you have here in giving. "But what I said was [no man should live with the object of accumulating wealth and call himself Christian]."
In fact, the Bible warns against that. It says of the love of money, if the object of your life is to get more money and to be rich in the world's eyes, you will have fattened oxen at your table and hatred with it. You will have strife. You will have a lack of peace, because money is an idolatry that will never satisfy. I'm going to tell us that if our goal is to be rich by the world's definition, then it is an unholy and anti-Christian goal.
In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, if you ask Millennials… I don't think Millennials are that different than 20-somethings from generations past in many ways. Here's one way I don't think they're different. If you ask Millennials what their greatest goal is right now, what they want, what their secret or maybe not-so-secret desire is, 80 percent of them say it's to be rich and famous. That's what they want, because they think that's going to provide for them happiness.
The Bible talks about the deceitfulness of riches. Part of the deceitfulness of riches is that it's going to promise you something it can never deliver. You think, "If I just had it, I'd be the one person who could get it and be satisfied with it," only to find out when you get there that is not the case. The Bible does say if you're an individual who focuses on the Lord and his will and way, you will be prosperous and successful. So what does that mean?
Let me insert one more thing here. I'm now going to make that transition. Not only am I well in front of most people in the line of humanity, I am not just rich in a material, worldly way with great accountability that comes with it, and any of you who make $25,000 a year are right there with me, I am one of the wealthiest men on earth.
I told some friends as I was thinking about what I was going to do this week that I really wanted their prayers, because this is a message I probably shouldn't give in the sense that I want to wait another 30 years before I give it, but in another way I don't want to wait, because I want to tell you I'm not just rich in the world's eyes. If you put me in a line of 100 people, I'd be at the very front of the line.
I don't think there would be anybody in front of me, but there might be other people standing with me. I am one of the richest men on earth, and I'm going to tell you how to join me and how to be rich. I may not have a bunch of fattened oxen, and I may not have the finest possessions, although I have more than I probably deserve, I have wealth that is beyond those things.
I was talking this week to a guy who has accomplished amazing things in life, and he said, "Listen, Todd. Bottom line, I don't really care what's going on with me. If I have hope and purpose and joy, I can do anything." This is where I am rich. I have hope, purpose, and joy in an abundance. The reason I have it is not because I'm smarter than anybody but because the kindness of God has shown himself to me. I am rich in every way God intends.
If you look at the Scripture and what God says… I'm not going to do this. I could spend our entire time just in Ephesians, chapters 1-3. When Paul is walking through what happens to those of us who come into relationship with Christ, he uses the word rich six times. Watch this. In Ephesians 1:7 he says, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…"
The reason I'm going to share with you what I'm going to share with you today is because I have experienced the riches of his grace, because Proverbs 22:4 is true. I wanted to teach this series because of Proverbs 22:4. Proverbs 22:4 says, "The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life."
This is where health, wealth, and prosperity liars, deceivers, and false prophets take verses like this and Joshua 1:8 and abuse people, and they are all over, many in this city and state. American churches have exported prosperity gospel around the world, and it is one of the greatest judgments against our country and pulpits that has ever come out of our land.
It's just not true, but Proverbs 22:4 is true, because Ephesians 1:7 is true, because Ephesians 1:18 is true. When you know Christ, the "riches of the glory of his inheritance" is yours. Ephesians 2:4 is true. When you know God who is rich in mercy, then you receive that mercy and you yourself have received all the mercy God intends.
Ephesians 2:7: We have the "surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ." Ephesians 3:8 says, "Christ has given to me, the very least of all men, the ability to preach to the Gentiles about the unfathomable riches of Christ." In him, as we teach our kids over there, all the wisdom of God is found. Then in Ephesians 3:16 it says we will experience and he'll grant us the riches of his glory.
The Bible says all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, which simply means when we live our lives according to a way that seems right to us it doesn't lead to greater glory; it leads to greater trouble. But here's the amazing thing. When God was on earth in the person of Jesus Christ and his disciples came to him and said to him, "Hey, we want to be great. We want glory. We want to be men who are seated at your right hand and at your left hand," Jesus didn't look at them after three years and go, "What are you asking for? Who are you guys? What do you mean you want to be great and glorious?"
This is what Jesus says to them. He goes, "That's great. That's a fantastic goal. Do you know I created you for glory? Do you know I created you to be my representatives on earth? Do you know I want you to be glorious men and women? Do you know I don't want sin to come and taint you and deface the image of God that is in you? But here's the thing. The way you become great is not through politicking. The way you become great is not through inside maneuvering. The way you become great is not so you can lord it over others, as the nonbelievers do. No, be like me," Jesus says.
"For even I, the Son of Man, God eternal, didn't come here to be served but to serve and to give my life away for others. If you want to be rich, be a servant. If you want to prosper, give your life away. If you want success, then don't live for your own glory." What's glorious is a man who lives the way Jesus lives. When you live the way Jesus lives, it is a rich life. Now, the reason I hesitate a little bit on this message is that I still have a lot of life in front of me, I think.
Right now I have a good friend who this weekend is on the very cusp of moving into the presence of Jesus. He said, "Todd, I have run this race, and I am face down in the dirt, poured out, having done all I can for the King." And he has. We thought we were going to lose him last week. I shot him a text. I said, "I'm about to get on a plane. I pray the plane goes down so I can beat you to glory, but if it doesn't, I want to be faithful until I get home."
I'm here to tell you that for 35 years I have walked largely with Jesus Christ. I am a child of God, and as such, I have experienced the surpassing riches of his grace and kindness toward me in Jesus Christ. The riches of his glory have been put on me. The glory of his inheritance has been mine. I have walked, because he has shown me who he is, in the fear of the Lord and humility, and mine is riches and mine is honor and mine is life indeed.
Now I can still screw this thing up at any given moment. There have been a lot of times over the last 35 years that I haven't followed my King and my Savior. By the grace of God, I've never done that in such a way as to violate the privilege of leadership with you, but there are times in my home I don't follow Christ and I bring strife. There are times in my heart alone I drift away from meditating on the Word of God without ceasing, and because of that there is darkness that comes into me.
But by and large, by the grace of God, the direction of my life and the preponderance of my affections and my abiding have been with Jesus, and because of that, I am one of the richest people on earth. What's behind this stuff right here is just some of the trophies of grace God has given me. I think back. My sweet wife on Father's Day 2007 gave me this: "The righteous man leads a blameless life. Blessed are his children after him."
These are my five kids who have already graduated from high school. There's another footprint that wasn't born yet who's about to enter into his freshman year. This footprint just told me he's so excited to go to college and live faithfully. The one thing he is going to miss is the community of faith he's a part of here in Dallas, Texas. He said, "One of the reasons I want to go to college is I love the people of God I get to share life with in Dallas."
These four footprints are leading in the church and are pursuing a life of riches themselves. They all live in Dallas right now, and we're having family dinners where we sit and laugh. My wife loves me. She longs to share herself with me in intimacy. She's sad when I leave and glad when I come home. She makes me want to be there.
Without Christ, I would be a porn addict, a substance abuse addict. I would be divorced, my children would hate me, and I would hate myself. That's who I would be, but that's not who I am, because about 35 years ago Jesus showed up in my life, so I've walked with him. This is a note I got from Blake Holmes, who now is on staff with me here. When he was a sophomore in high school, he wrote me a poem called "Light."
He said, "This poem is just a small expression of my gratitude toward you." This was written in '89. He said, "You're a man who influences everyone's life, an individual who settles strife, a man of commitment to one, an individual devoted to the Son, a leader of compassion and love, a teacher who finds peace from above, a leader constantly providing assistance, a teacher of generosity for instance, a person never showing favor."
He goes on to talk about this, that I'm a light. Then he writes down Matthew 5:14-16. "Let others see your good works, that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven." Blake is just saying, "Todd, I've seen that in your life." This is another gift I have that's a compass. Somebody gave this to me and said, "Hey, man, when you're sailing and you have to make your way through storms and you don't know which way to go, you need a compass to direct you. You have been a source of God's grace in my life to point me through this world, how to sail in such a way that I have not dashed my hopes on the fleeting things of the world."
I have notes from my kids. A couple of years ago, I was getting ready to go speak somewhere, and somebody did the greatest thing they've ever done for me. They didn't read some tired bio we write here. They called my kids and said, "Can you tell me what you think of your dad?" One of my two oldest daughters said, "Here are the 10 things I would tell you about my dad. He teaches us the way to live so we don't have to learn by pain, and when necessary he disciplines us.
He loves us no matter what we do. He encourages and helps us. He writes awesome letters to us all the time. He gets me roses for no reason. He treats me like a princess. He's thoughtful. He's kind. He loves on my friends, and he is fun. I'm proud to invite them over to our house. He loves my mom well. He makes me secure. He's humble and forgiving. He knows his Bible."
My other daughter said, "He's wise. He backs everything up with God's Word. He's funny. He's unashamed to share his faith. He's intentional with everyone he meets. He's intentional in every conversation. He encourages and challenges me in my walk. He leads our family. He's good at every sport. He lives what he preaches and is a leader I can follow." Let me just tell you something. I am rich, and the reason I'm rich is because of Jesus. It has nothing to do with me.
This is what the Bible says in Jeremiah, chapter 9. It warns us. It says, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches…" Hear me. I am not boasting in my riches. What I'm telling you today is that the Lord is the one who makes wealth, and I'm not talking about material wealth, though I make more than $25,000 and I'm at the front of the line.
There is nobody ahead of me on earth with hope, purpose, and joy. That doesn't mean I didn't get diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. It doesn't mean I don't make mistakes. It means the man who walks with the Lord is blessed. Do you want to know how to be rich? Let me tell you. In fact, I just graduated this footprint from high school Friday night. Saturday morning, we graduated another boy we have invited into our family for the last 10 years, so I've heard a lot of different speeches that have been given at commencements right now.
The valedictorian of my son's high school class, who had a 4.79 GPA on a 4-point scale… When she was 11, she was taking high school-level AP classes. Before she got to high school, she had exhausted all advanced-level math classes they teach, so she went to high school and took college math classes at SMU. I could go to school for eight years, add both of my GPAs together, and still not be valedictorian if she's in my class.
This sweet little girl stood up, and she got to speak. She's just a cute, sweet little girl. She stood up there, and here's what she said, though. She said to her classmates, "What I want you to do is to follow your heart." I understand the sweetness of that little 18-year-old scholar in what she's encouraging her friends to do, but I'm going to tell you that's not going to make you rich. You should not follow your heart. Your heart is desperately sick and deceitful above all else.
You shouldn't follow your heart; you should inform your heart. The world, the flesh, and the Devil are here to pull you away from the God who loves you. In following him, all of your ways will be peace. If you follow your heart, you're going to follow the seductive tongue of the adulteress. If you follow your heart, you're going to want what the world says will make you great: position, pleasure, and possessions, because that's what this world offers.
God offers you something so much more. So I'm not standing up here and giving you my wisdom. I'm not boasting in my wisdom. I'm not boasting in my might. Apart from Jesus, I would be a wreck and those footprints would hate me. I'm here to tell you, for whatever reason, God sought me and has shown me his kindness. For whatever reason, you're here this morning so somebody can testify to you what Scripture says we should all do.
This is what I'm trying to do. Psalm 107:1 says, "Oh give thanks to the Lord , for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." Yesterday I was doing some reading on the transcendence of God. It's one of the characteristics of God that he is beyond all else. The greatness of God is such that when you think about the greatness of God, the greatest thought you have about God is not great enough.
Whatever you think about when you think about beauty and love and mercy and goodness and kindness, it's not enough, but if you have enough of it so that you fear missing out on any opportunity to learn from him, if you humble yourself before him, if you don't follow your heart but lean not on your own understanding and say, "In all my ways I'm going to acknowledge the God who, as great as I can know he is, is greater still," then the reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life.
Do you want to know how to be rich? Then I'm just pouring my heart out before you and telling you, "Give thanks to the Lord." Verse 2: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary…" That's my story. God has redeemed me out of the one who has come to steal my joy, kill my purpose, and destroy my self-worth. He has taken me out of pursuing my own way.
I don't know what you guys know about me, but I did not grow up in a home that taught me to walk with Jesus. I grew up in a home with loving parents who were present and made choices selflessly to care for me. I was blessed to be in a two-parent home with my biological parents, but my parents were victims of cultural Christianity, and I hated it. There was nothing about me that ever wanted anything to do with this God where I saw irrelevant, inconsistent people live their life in such a way that largely had a Sunday/Monday-Friday divide.
I grew up in a home where we never prayed except for "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for this food. By his hand we must be fed; give us, Lord, our daily bread, amen." We never once that I can remember opened our Bible as a family, and the church I went to was the place I was first exposed to all kinds of nonsense, yet in the midst of that God sought me. I can remember, for whatever reason, when I would make some money mowing lawns I would go to this little Christian bookstore in my town and buy a devotional.
I remember one devotional I had that I hid under my bed like a Playboy. It had a polar bear on the front of it. It was called "Cool Devotionals for Junior High Teens." I didn't even know God, and yet God told me, "Hey, Todd, there's something here you should know. Maybe you don't see it in all of its fullness where you are, but I'm telling you, I am who I said I am." Along about seventh grade, this is what happened to me. This is the biographical part of my story.
About seventh grade, this kid who was a good athlete and was in the center of it with all of his buddies and having a lot of fun… Those friends started to smoke weed and drink, and I was like, "Hey, I thought we were athletes." They go, "We're athletes, and we're going to party like athletes." I go, "No, I don't want to do that." They go, "Well, if you don't do that, then you're not going to do us anymore." I was like, "What? I thought we were friends. You're telling me I have to do that to be your friend?" They go, "Absolutely."
I used to sit at lunch with those friends until they'd do stuff like, "Hey, we're going to the lake this weekend. Wait, wait, wait. I'm sorry, Todd. There are one, two, three, four… Oh man. My mom only has five seats in the car. Me and these four guys… So sorry, bro. We wish you could go." They would just turn it. I can remember my seventh, eighth, and ninth-grade years… I can't tell you how many times I cried myself to sleep.
I remember missing out on the parties. I remember New Year's Eve my parents were upstairs playing cards with their friends. I went with them because all of my friends went to a party. I'm sitting down in that basement, and I just started crying watching the ball drop in New York at 11:00. I knew everybody else was together. They were having a blast. My older brother was at the party. He was having a blast.
They were all having a big time, and I'm just sitting there in a basement with a 10-year-old I hardly knew, and I just started crying. They come downstairs and look at me like, "What is wrong with you?" If you're ever watching on TV Land an episode of The Love Boat or Fantasy Island and something erupts where you can't watch the end, call me. I know how they all end, because that was my Saturday night. It was me, Julie, and the Captain and "Da plane! Da plane!"
That's all I did. Then I'd go to bed. If the Cardinals were on the West Coast I'd listen to an AM transistor radio and cry, because I was lonely, yet God sought me. He sought me in the person of Jeff Coggan and Michelle LeCrone and Paul Fraser and John Splinter. Jeff was the quarterback on our high school football team. He saw some skinny high school kid walking through the halls, and he just loved on me.
He said, "Hey, Todd, do you want to hang out?" I hadn't hung out for three years. He said, "Do you want to do something with us?" I go, "With who?" He goes, "With me and my friends." I go, "What is this? Are you going to pick on a freshman?" Eventually he called me, and I went out with him and his friends. We had fun together, and there was no evil.
They invited me to this thing called Young Life where, for the first time, I saw people love and live out of the Scripture, and they told me the way they loved and lived out the Scripture was because that God of the Scripture was real to them. Eventually, months and years later, I'd go to a Young Life camp. I'd hear the gospel in a different form, and it changed my life.
Then John, who was my Young Life leader, began to pour into me and teach me God's Word and disciple me and help me read books like Basic Christianity and Know Why You Believe. I did my intellectual work to make sure I wasn't just being duped, but I saw people whose love made me go, "I want to know your Father," and it changed me. I'm about to be 55 in a couple of weeks, and I can tell you that by the grace of God, for about 38 years plus, I have walked with him, and I am rich.
My son writes me notes like this: "Dad, I don't thank you enough for what you do for me. On a good day I'll say thanks after we get lunch that I really wanted or maybe as simple as you got up and made me a sandwich, but the thankfulness I'm talking about is the kind that I should be thankful for forever. You have taught me exactly what it means to be God's man." This was in 2012.
"To be a young man who lives a pure life, a person whose friends want to be with them because there's something different about me. Those things, among many more, are the things I'll be thankful for forever. I wish I could be with you on this special day…" He was away on Father's Day. "…to celebrate how great of a dad you are, but I'll hopefully be putting the servant leadership aspect you've instilled in me to work. I love you. I'm glad you're my dad." I am rich.
I'm here to tell you the reason I'm rich is God has made me attentive to this book. I didn't seek him. I wasn't smart enough to figure it out. Now listen. I did my work. I wanted to know why this was better than the Bhagavad Gita. I wanted to know why this was better than the Qur'an. I wanted to know why the resurrection account could be trustworthy. I wanted to know how God could be man. I did my work.
I found out faith is not the opposite of reason; the opposite of reason is irrationality. The opposite of faith is unbelief, and there was just too much rational evidence that this book was true. Then I began to test it, and I'm here to tell you I have run a lab for 38-plus years, and it is true. I'm here to tell you what Solomon said, that the reward of humility and the fear of the Lord is riches, honor, and life, and I want you to pray for me that I cling to that.
Psalm 107 continues and says, " [He] gathered [them] from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south." They came from all over, people who eventually were called back into relationship with God, people who had wandered in the wilderness in a desert region.
You might be here today and have material wealth, but you have turmoil, hatred, and strife with it, or you may not have all the purpose, joy, and hope you should have, so you are impoverished in some way. God wants to call you out of your wilderness of following a way that seems right to you, and he wants you to inform your heart about his goodness and the abundance of his greatness and riches.
People who had been wandering throughout a desert region, not finding a city to dwell in that would give them peace (that's the end of verse 4), who were hungry and thirsty, whose souls fainted within them, who cried out finally to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses (verse 6). That's my story. I'm not here to tell you I'm better than you. I'm not. I am here to tell you the living God is better than you can imagine, and that's how to be rich.
I'm here to tell you that what you want to do is invest in things that will make you truly rich. This is Jesus' heart for you. This is why when Jesus is teaching in Matthew, chapter 6, he does something… It looks like the teleprompter he's reading off of there on the mount he's giving a sermon on, that somebody jacked around with him and stuck in sentences that don't make sense. What am I talking about? Watch this.
Matthew 6:19 says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…" Like, "Here we go. Jesus wants us to live a life of abject poverty." No, that's not what he's saying there. He's saying, "I don't want you to invest in things that moth will eat and rust will destroy and thieves will break in and steal. That's not good riches. That's unreliable riches."
He goes on to say in verse 20, "Instead, this is where you should store up for yourselves treasure: in heaven, where moth and rust and thieves aren't going to break in, steal, or destroy." He says in verse 21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart is going to be also, so make sure you treasure the things that will make you truly rich." Then here comes the change in the teleprompter. Watch this.
"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Then it jumps back all of a sudden in verse 24. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and [worldly] wealth."
You're like, "What happened in the middle there with this light and lamp and eye thing?" Let me explain to you. What he's saying is if you see the world wrong… We call this today a worldview. It's the lens through which you see reality. Because you and I have a heart that if we follow it will have us follow after fleeting things, we want riches and fame and wealth that are limited in a way that will never satisfy us and that we're going to leave behind anyway.
Jesus says, "It's not going to work out well for you, and I love you and don't want you to wander through the wilderness of this world, suffering on the best opinions of men, folks with 4.79s who will tell you 'Follow your heart.' No, don't follow your heart. Humble yourself." "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
That doesn't mean easy. When you get to the edge of a sea and the horrors of the powers of the world are coming up at you, God will make your paths straight. He's going to do one of three things. He's either going to part the waters, build a bridge, or teach you to swim. One of those three things is going to happen.
Sometimes he teaches us to swim, but you have to lose the small-minded mindset that God is a tit-for-tat God, that "If I do good, God will bless me with material things." That's not what he promises. Read your Bible. What is true is when you do what God wants you to do as a dad, as a husband, as a friend, as a human, your life is glorious in a way that the world says…
They may not like why you do what you do or what you say you believe, but they can't argue with your kindness, your generosity, your faithfulness, your chastity, and your servant-heartedness. Oh, that there were more like you. In everything that we're more like Jesus, the world will say that of us. What don't they like about the church? What they don't like about the church is not that we love Jesus; it's that we don't look like Jesus. In every way that we look like Jesus, you are rich.
Can I just tell you a story? God gave me this story this week. I was at Costco. My wife called me. I was running up here because I had something up here on Thursday night with a bunch of our lawyers who work with our district attorney in town who had a real problem with a bunch of folks. She had scrubbed a bunch of cases, and there were folks who had felony charges that were still attributed to them, so they couldn't get jobs and housing and education in some ways.
So she said, "I just need lawyers who will help me expunge their records, these people that we no billed or people that for whatever reason the case was dismissed. The charges are still there, so no one wants them to live in their place. They won't get admitted to schools, and they can't get jobs." I said, "I can get you some attorneys. We have nothing but godly attorneys who want to serve."
So she came up. Our faithful district attorney here in town, Faith Johnson, came and trained our attorneys, and then those men and women sat here for three-plus hours, and everyone they called, about 140 of them… They said, "Come here. We want to, for free, expunge your records." I was coming up to speak to them and encourage them and celebrate with our attorneys what was going on. So I'm coming up here to do a good thing.
My wife said, "Hey, can you stop by Costco and get some more toilet paper and paper towels?" I go, "Sure." I run into Costco, and on my way back to the paper towel and toilet paper section I see a tool I needed for my grill, so I took it and threw it in the shopping cart. I continued to go back there, and I took the paper towels and the toilet paper and loaded up my cart.
I got up there, and my cart is stacked up high. The guy goes, "Don't take that out. I'll just scan it." So he scans the paper towels and the toilet paper. I wheel out. The guy takes my receipt and swipes it. I go out to my car and unload the paper towels and the toilet paper, and there's about a $20 tool for my grill at the very bottom. It was flat underneath all that.
I go, "First of all, Costco is a very liberal company advancing an agenda I'm not really proud of. I hate that I shop there to begin with, so they don't need this extra $20. They're not going to miss it. They'll write it off. They might even find it in their inventory. Good. It's their fault. They swiped my receipt, not me." I just thought, "This isn't about Costco and their agenda. This isn't about whether they ever know it was gone or not. It's about who you are."
So I loaded the stuff and grabbed that little stupid barbecue tool and walked back in. It's about 5:00. Everybody is buying their rotisserie chickens. The line is 10 deep. I go, "Hey, guys. I got out and this was not on my deal, so I need to pay for it." They go, "Great. Go get in line." I'm like, "What? Go get in line?" So I'm back in line. I'm sitting there kind of like this. I'm looking down. It's costing me more than $20 to stand there.
I come up and explain to the lady what happened, and she goes, "Oh, that's really nice. Thank you." I pay for the thing and walk out. The guy checks my thing again, and I walk out to my car and leave. I backed my car out and started to drive, and I got a flat because I picked up a screw in the Costco parking lot.
The first thing that hit me was, "God, thank you that I did what I should have done so I am not so small-minded as to think the reason there's a screw in my tire is because I just stole $20 worth of barbecue tool." Aren't we like that? Don't you think that way? "If I don't do this and get to confession before this happens, I'm going to get hit by a bus on the way home from school."
That is unbiblical thinking. If God flattened our tires every time we didn't do what was right, we'd all be Flintstones. There wouldn't be a single one of us who would have anything. You need to hear this, guys. God doesn't keep screws from going in your tire because you do the right thing and walk with him that nobody ever knows about.
You can be the most righteous girl on earth and walk in integrity and purity and get married and not have children. You can be a faithful, loving father, and your child can get taken out on the way to serve at a Young Life camp. You can live a godly life and your spouse will, for whatever reason, not choose to live the same godly life.
What you don't want to be is somebody who screws your own life up by making choices that litter your own yard with trash that is going to constantly give you flats. What God is saying is you live in a world where you're going to have trouble. I had trouble. I go from there to Discount Tire. I get up there, and my tire is flat. I barely make it. Then there's an RV in there that has taken all four bays and is having every tire changed.
I'm trying to get up here to be with our district attorney who I told I'd be here. I have no transportation, and I'm just sitting there. An hour and a half later I bust out of there. I get here a little late. They delayed some opportunity for me. Then the next night, I'm taking my son to graduation. They didn't repair my tire right. I go out to get in my car. It's flat again.
That night, I get home from graduation. I have a house full of folks in from out of town. It's still 90 degrees at 10:00 at night. I lay down. Our air conditioner goes out. Health, wealth, and prosperity, anybody? Yes! Yes! Yes! Because I didn't live with a sense of "I can't have joy without AC. I need tires that never get screws in them."
I have a wife who loves me, kids who long to be with me, a heart that's full. I don't think the reason I have air conditioning and godly kids is because I'm doing something. It's the grace of God. So much of it has come because I haven't screwed up my kids' lives by littering our family room with my anger and my selfishness and my abandoning them to pursue greater glories. There is nothing but wealth in my life.
What Jesus is trying to say is when you see the world incorrectly you see it not with the light of the gospel of God's Word. The Word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. God wants to direct you in the good way. This is Jeremiah 6:16: "Thus says the Lord, '[Come and hear and see.]Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths[the way of God], where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.'"
Jesus is saying when you pursue new paths, the ways that seem right to men, there's a darkness that comes inside of you, and when darkness is inside of you, how great the darkness is. What Jesus wants to do is expel the darkness, and he wants you to be informed by the kindness of his way and learn to walk in integrity and humility. When you do, you're rich…even when you have ALS, like my friend Dee, even when your womb isn't open. Proverbs 3 just screams this.
"My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Or he'll give you hiking shoes or belay you in with faith. "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil." Drop down. It says in verse 13, "How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding." I'm here to tell you I'm rich because I found wisdom and understanding.
"For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She [wisdom] is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast."
In other words, you won't be throwing screws in your own driveway. It doesn't mean there are not going to be screws in the streets all around you and your Costco. Don't be surprised. It's a broken world. These streets aren't paved with gold yet. They're littered with screws. Just quit screwing your own life up.
Do you know what would really be heartbreaking? If before I went into Costco I went and took a nail and punched my tire and then walked in and came out and went, "It's flat!" Well, of course it's flat, you idiot. You just drove a nail into it. Then I get home and it was repaired, and I drive another nail into it. That is pain. If I'd gone out to my own air conditioner that night and cut the lines, beat it with a sledgehammer, and went, "It's hot!" Of course it's hot.
Proverbs 5 talks about this, talking about the way of the adulteress. "Now then, my sons, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house…" Talking about the adulteress. It goes on and talks about how when you follow your flesh and follow your heart and what you think is right, you're going to suffer. You're going to give your vigor to others. Your years are going to be to the cruel ones.
When you drop down a little bit later at the very end of the chapter, this is the point it's talking about. It says when you don't walk in humility and the fear of the Lord, your own iniquities will capture you. It says he will be held in the cords of his own sin. It says in verse 23, "He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray." That is pain.
I'm rich not because there aren't screws in my tires and cancer in my body or things like that but because I understand why all that stuff is here and I have purpose, hope, and joy. I'm just passing through, and all I want to do is tell you about the greatness of my God. I'm rich. Dee is rich. His ALS is chewing his body up. He can't speak, and he's rich. Listen. If you haven't caught the application, let me just give it to you as best I can in big, simple, bold letters.
First, if you want to be rich, then invest in things that last and provide joy forever and that don't spin off chunks of metal and shrapnel in your life. There are only three things that will last forever, and you invest in these things. First, you invest your life in humility before the living God who is so much greater than your greatest thought about him, and you pursue him.
You pursue the only true and living good God, and you'll be rich. You might have flats, ACs that don't work, wives that leave, wombs that don't open, but you'll be rich. I'm just telling you. Secondly, you invest in his Word, which teaches you the kindness of the only true and good God, and you walk in his blessed way. You're attentive to this. You don't read this like you need to or God is going to be mad at you.
You just go, "Lord, how can I know about the one true and only good living God?" Answer: "Read my Word. Hear more of my heart. Understand my mind. This is the way of peace. This is who I am. This is why you want to know me. I love you. 'No good thing do I withhold from those who love me.' 'This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments aren't burdensome.'"
Proverbs, chapter 3, just says this, and this is so true. Verse 24: "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." Even when it's 90 degrees. So you learn the way of wisdom. You commit to the one and only true and living God, and you commit to his Word, which teaches you the kindness of the only one true living God, and then you commit to people.
You love people who will forever thank you that you introduced them to the one and true and only living good God and add praise to the one and true and only good and loving God and will give the one true and only loving and good God what he wants, which is his children to come home and not be devoured by the Enemy and the pain of screwing up their lives by following their hearts.
My life is rich because of Jesus who sought me and saved me and has held me and taught me to walk with him. I have surrounded myself with others who love me, and when I do things that are consistent with his will and way for me they go, "Todd, way to go. That's so of Jesus, and when you're of Jesus it will bring hope, joy, and purpose to your life. What else do you want?" Nothing. My God owes me nothing. He has given me more than I deserve already. I am rich in grace.
Do you want to be rich? Get to know the one true and only loving and good living God. Be attentive to his Word, not because he wants you to read it every day as some commitment to devotion but because you are devoted to that which is a blessing to you, and then you share it with others. As one beggar who has found bread, tell other beggars where riches are and celebrate every good thing in their life as they put down the shrapnel and quit screwing up their lives and begin to lean on his understanding, and cheer them on.
That's what we did here on all of our campuses two weeks ago when we celebrated people just doing something obedient and saying, "I know the one true and only loving good God who gave his life for me." Because many of you who are rich invested in others, there are stories of people who now sing praises to that one true and only living good God, and they're thankful, and they're rich with us in grace. Watch this.
Todd Wagner: Hello, friends. Welcome to an amazing weekend. We celebrate that the words of Jesus are true. He said this crazy thing. He said, "The works that I have done, even greater things will you do if you believe in me." Because a lot of you believe in Christ, you've been sharing your faith.
You've been talking about the kindness of God and the way he calls us out of darkness into his marvelous light. These are stories of life change that, frankly, feed us all year long. We are so grateful for the way you love your Lord by telling other people of his love for them. Let's celebrate Baptism 2018, Watermark.
Female: I am celebrating my new life in Christ because before Christ my life was just empty, broken. I was seeking fulfillment in people, and now I know I am totally fulfilled in Christ and he is my Savior, and I live to follow him and glorify his name.
Female: Before Christ it was just all about me, trying to find a job that paid a lot of money, trying to look for validation in relationships. After Christ, I'm just realizing none of that can fill my heart the way God does.
Male: I get to be a new creation, committed wholly to my wife, to my walk with the Lord, living in community. Baptism isn't saving us, but it's a profession of our faith that we're united with Christ.
Male: I get baptized today because I want to tell the world that I've been freed from sin and shame, that even I am covered by the grace of Jesus Christ and that I have peace for the first time in my life.
Female: I'm so, so undeserving, and yet he sacrificed himself for me, to save me, to wash me clean, and that blows my mind.
Male: I had no hope, I had no joy, and I had no purpose. I was constantly at war with myself and riddled with anxiety, but I've found peace now, more joy than I've ever felt in my entire life.
Male: I am no longer dead in my sin, and I've been raised to life with him. God used so many people here at Watermark in his body to bring me to a right understanding of who God in Christ is, and I'm so thankful for them.
Male: I have Jesus, who traded places with me. He traded everything so I can live a wonderful eternal life.
[End of video]
Oh man! You cannot share what you do not have, and when what you have is eternal and unending you can share all of it and have no less of it. So I want to share with you my riches. I want you to have what I have. I want nothing from you except for you to know the one true and good living God. I want you to understand his Word is what will show you his heart and his mind for you and the paths that lead to peace and hope and joy and purpose.
I want you to invest with me in those who are not yet children of God so you can have them look at you and say, "Thank you that you were the vessel the Spirit of God used to bring me into an understanding of where the riches are," and then will add to the chorus of those who will sing all of the songs that are worthy of our God. That's how to be rich. Let's just sing that. God in his kindness.
I prayed today somebody would be unraveled from following their heart and the mystery of the goodness of God would be made known to them and they would become a child of God. If you are one, would you just testify with me through song? "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." Let's close with this.
I'm rich, and I can give to you what I have. If you are here… Just like you saw some of those folks say. "I have been throwing screws in my driveway. I've been screwing my life up for years." It's not too late. God retreads tires. He takes your mess and makes it your message. Some of the consequences of that are not going away, but you can begin today to make amends and repent and follow him and add blessing to the trouble that is in your life and find healing and make your sleep sweet.
That can start today, but you have to come, and you have to quit following your heart and start to follow him. Would you come? We'd love to help you. If you've already been rescued, he rescued you so you could stand and sing. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." We're about to start a week of worship.
There are all kinds of people who are still drowning and in the wilderness, and you get to go and tell them where the inhabited city where God dwells is, and it's with Jesus. It's who we are, church. It's who we are. Would you come if you don't know him? Would you, having been rescued, child of God, stand and sing if you do? Amen? Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.