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We have a problem...there is something that is preventing us from being truly rich. What is it? A lack of contentment and a greed and desire for more. Todd shows us from 1 Timothy 6:3-16 how contentment in Christ is the only antidote to our problem.
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How to be Rich: What's Your Story?
How to be Rich
Well, good morning. How are we doing? Welcome to Watermark. We're glad you're with us around the Metroplex, and we're glad you're with us online. We are in a series called How to Be Rich. I think I would just set this up by simply saying, "See last week." It's important if you're jumping in on week two of this that you understand the context of where we're going.
I made a pretty crazy claim last week, and I believe it's still true, that I'm one of the richest men on earth. I want to share with you how to be rich. That's what this series is all about. I'm not talking about the fleeting kind of rich that takes wings. I'm talking about a much deeper kind of wealth that is life indeed.
Jesus said he came to give us life and to give it abundantly. I talk to folks all the time, and they say the same thing to me. "Where is this abundant life Jesus is talking about?" I'm going to tell you especially today how to live wherever you are with a sense of riches. I made a case last week, in case you weren't here, just in a big nutshell, that I have tested the promises of God, and they are true. I am grateful to invite you into it.
I'm not trying to impose anything on you, and neither is God. He is making a divine proposal inviting you to a better way. He wants you to have life indeed. That's what Jesus is talking about. Now you need to know this. I'm going to set up today and what we're going to talk about in the context of how to be rich with taking you to a Bible verse that I'm going to kind of shatter your misconception about it.
It comes in John 10:10. The context of it is just before this. He said, "Everybody who came before me is a thief. They're not really here to give you something; they're here to take something from you. They are robbers." He says, "My sheep hear my voice, and they don't listen to them."
He goes on in verse 9. He used a metaphor that he is the door. He is the way in. He will protect you from false teachers and thieves and robbers who come to do this. Verse 10. "I have come," Jesus says. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."
Here's the question: Who is the one that comes to steal, kill, and destroy? Everybody says Satan. It's not. Jesus is not talking about Satan directly here. What he is talking about are those who came before him, those who specifically were talking to the people he was talking to. He is talking about false teachers. He is talking about people who are there selling a bill of goods that will not lead to what they are telling you it will lead to. They are snake oil salesmen.
A little bit later Jesus says to the false teachers, "You are of your father the Devil, who is a liar. He is the father of liars." So in a way, the false teachers are just pigeons of the Enemy. Satan is only behind all forms of deceit. He is the one who is trying to pull you away from the divine proposal God has offered us or the divine promise God has given us. He wants us to believe God is a liar. He lies about the character and nature of God.
The ones who come to steal, kill, and destroy are marketing a different way. They are proposing to you a different strategy on how to be rich. They are liars. Jesus is saying don't listen to them. In 2005, Seth Godin, who himself was a very successful business man, wrote a book called, All Marketers Are Liars.
What I want to just talk about today as we get started is there is a problem that is keeping all of us from getting rich. That problem is discontentment. We are not content. The reason we're not content is because most of us have bought the lie. What's interesting about what Seth Godin did when he rereleased this book a number of years later… I guess too many of his advertising friends got mad at him up there on Madison Avenue, so he kind of repackaged it and now it's All Marketers Are Liars Tell Stories.
They tell stories because they are trying to get you to believe something that is going to make you want their product. This is basically it. In his book Seth Godin says, "Listen, here's the deal. They're telling you a story that if you just believe the story we're telling you, you're going to want our product."
What he says is Porsche tells a story. That $80,000 plus Porsche is basically the exact same car made in many of the same factories as the $36,000 Volkswagen, but there's a story wrapped up behind if you drive a Porsche. So you want that Porsche. "Marketers," Godin says, "succeed when they tell us a story that fits our own worldview." So we embrace it, and then we share it with others.
Have you noticed this? Let me just show you something with Tag Heuer watches. Over the years, I'm going to show you just how their marketing has changed. Here's an early ad from the 80s. It's heavy on copy. "This is how our watch works." Here's another picture of how the watch works. Look at all that copy. It's heavy with copy.
You fast forward 25 years, that's not working with people. Stories work with people. "Here's the deal. You want to be a star? Wear this watch. You want to be a stud? Wear this watch." They're telling you a story. My $40 little Timex tells the exact same time as that watch, but there's a story that goes with that watch. We love it. It's why you buy $4 Fiji water. "I drink this, and I'm on an island, man." It's the exact same water, but there's a story.
All of your favorite commercials today aren't telling you about the product. They're telling you a story. Watch this one. What are they selling? We're 45 seconds into an ad that cost $6 million in the Super Bowl. We have no idea what they're selling, except you're an emasculated, beat down, whipped male. You have no life. You carry lip balm and watch vampire TV shows. They're selling a story.
Here's the story, you panty-whipped, emasculated man. Don't give up the car. Don't drive a Prius, drive a Charger, and you'll be a man. That's a story. What they're doing is if you're a guy, you're like, "You know what? Yeah! I'm going to drive that kind of car." I'm just going to show you something because this is why so many of us aren't happy. It's not really about cars.
Let me just go a little different route. I'm going to spend a little time. I'm going to show you something. All marketers are liars. We discover our world through story. I want to just insert this right here. I'm going to give you just a little bit more Bible. It's why Jesus said what he said last week in the most crucial passage about how to be rich.
In Matthew, chapter 6, verses 19-21, when Christ was talking he was saying, "Listen. Be careful where you put your treasure. I want you to be rich. Don't invest in things that will be stolen or destroyed." Here's the key. This is the text you have to know. In verse 22 he says, "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light."
In other words, if you see clearly, you'll be able to understand something, but if your eye is bad, if you look through the wrong lens, if you buy the wrong story, then the light that is in you is darkness. If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness?
Jesus is saying, "No one can serve two narrators. No one can serve two story tellers. No one can serve two destinies. You're going to have love for the one and hate the other, or you're going to be devoted to one and despise the other. You can't serve two stories. You want to be rich? Good, follow me. This is where true riches are."
I'm just going to show you one. This is a classic one. It's a little longer, but it's worth watching just because I want to show you. This one happened in 2013 at the Super Bowl. It was two minutes long. Millions and millions of dollars. Just watch what they did.
They just told a story, and it made you go, "I'm getting that." I remember I was in a room full of folks, and when this commercial came on, we all kind of stopped. We locked in. Watch this. If you want to be somebody that God makes that blesses the world, drive a Dodge Ram truck. I didn't buy a truck. I almost got on FarmersOnly.com to get a date with a farmer's wife after that one.
Think about that. Seriously. They're marketing something. There's a story there. If you want to be the heart of the country, you want to be strong. You want to split a nightingale's leg and be a man that just causes human flourishing, drive a truck. They're telling a story. All marketers tell stories. Satan is telling you a story.
"If you just take this road, it's life indeed. You don't need to listen to God. God is not good. His Word is not true. Disobeying is not that big a deal. In fact, it's the path to life. You'll be God! It's how you're rich. Do what you want to do, whenever you want to do it." Now I'm just going to take a second, and I want to just do two more because, again, I want to show you. They're kind of fun.
This idea, beer commercials, car commercials, those kind of things are the worst at this. They sell a story like, "If you drink Michelob Ultra, you'll win triathlons. You'll work with upwardly mobile people, and you'll be perfectly fit. If you drink Corona, you'll find your beach." They're selling a story.
If you could bring anything to somebody to make them happy, what do you bring to them? Watch this commercial. Get out of here, right? You're saying, "Why is he showing a Bud Light commercial in church?" Because you're falling in love with a story. Our society right now, when things are well, what do we say? "Dilly dilly!" I've done it in messages. What we're saying is, "Life indeed." It gets so silly.
One last one, and then we're going to move on. I'm just showing you, you're being marketed to. You're more influenced by it than you believe. We all are. The reason we are not rich is because people are spending millions of dollars to sell us a different narrative. It influences us. Advertising works. It's why you are here. I'm not selling something; I'm just asking you to consider something. I'm not trying to get rich off of you; I'm trying to offer you riches. I'm just proposing to you a better way.
I want to show this one, because I'm going to come back to it a little bit later. Here's the thing. That same king, not just you bring your king that to make it happy, if somebody could do anything for the king, what would the king want, right? Watch. He is so defeated. "I can make you immortal." "You know what, just a Bud Light. That's really what I want." The wizard looks at him like, "Are you serious?"
Guys, listen to me, because I'm going to tell you how to be rich. God is, in effect, saying to you, "Hey, what do you want?" There are two kinds of people: There are those who say to God, "Not my will, but your will be done," and you believe this about God. You believe he gives grace and glory. You believe this about God, "No good thing does he withhold from those who love him." See last week's message.
Then there are those of us who God says to them, "Great, man, your will be done." He gives you what you seek, but he'll not let you have what you can't find when you seek it, because when you seek something other than God, you will not get what only God can give you. Purpose, hope, joy. Psalm 106 says God gave them the desires, but he sent leanness to their soul. Really that what their soul sought is what brought the leanness.
Let me just say this to you. It's why. You need to know this about God. In Exodus, chapter 20, God gives 10 commandments. They're commandments that a loving Father gives his people. They are not qualifiers for his kingdom. They are the King's way. Let me say that to you again. So many of us think the words, Ten Commandments, and it just makes us kind of go, "Uhhh." Right? Because there's an imperative, "You do this," instead of, "Hey, you want life? Then come here. Follow me. I've come. I'm the door. This is the pathway to life indeed."
This is what the Ten Commandments were. I want you to listen to them. He says, first of all right there in verse 3, "Don't have any other god." Small g. There is no other god. "Don't have any other gods before me." Verse 4, "Don't make for yourself an idol and a representation of your god." Whether it's a Bud Light commercial or a watch or a car or a house or some image in your mind, don't worship or serve any other image of where life is found, because it won't go well for you.
"Don't use my name in vain. Don't say that if you do certain things because you promise on me that it's going to be somehow more valuable and, therefore, you'll get more blessing. No. You just need to know, you use my name as a reminder of what is good and true. Remember the Sabbath day." That's the fourth one. "Keep it holy."
What he is basically saying, "Take some time and to meditate on who I am that you might be reminded in a world that is spending millions and billions of dollars marketing your heart towards a different story. Be still, continually. Honor your mother and father." The idea there is, they're the ones who are going to teach you my ways. When you walk in my ways, your days will be prolonged.
"Don't deal with conflict by putting a curse on your enemies, killing them and ridding yourself of others." No, reconcile with those. Be peacemakers. "Don't commit adultery." You don't know that the dead are there. "Don't steal." Because what you're taking is not what's going to make you happy. "Don't lie about other people to make yourself feel better." It's not going to work out well for you.
"Don't covet." Don't want what others have, because what others have is not going to make you happy. God is saying that to you in a loving way. He is like, "Look, those are stories. The stories. 'I could just kill that guy. Get vengeance on that guy. If I could just have what they had, I'd be happy. If there was another kind of god, I'd be happy.'" It's a lie.
When you follow those lies, you'll never be rich. God loves you, and so he says, "Follow me. Come here. I'm the door. I'm the door to life. Follow me." Boy, did you need any other illustrations this week? Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Do you need any other testimony about what's going on in the prosperous West?
In the last 18 years, suicide is up 30 percent. Can you think of any other form of death that could sneak up on our country at such an alarming rate and not be called an epidemic? If heart disease was up 30 percent, do you think we'd be hearing about? If cancer was up 30 percent, do you think we'd be doing something about it? We know there's an opioid epidemic. It's not up 30 percent. Suicide is up 30 percent.
By the way, it's not just a certain kind of person, it's all sexes, all ages, all ethnic groups and races have an increase across the board in wanting to end their life. There is a crisis in our country, because I think we're buying lies more than ever. Why? Because I think the church is more ineffective than ever in reminding people where life indeed can be found. Folks aren't rich.
In the articles I was reading about this… And I'll tell you what. The media doesn't typically care about folks who take their life. When people who have what they think they want take their life, they go, "What's up with that? Robin Williams? Kate Spade? Anthony Bourdain? He is traveling the world. He's a chef. He has a good-looking girlfriend, who knows, all over the place. Him? Come on."
They just go, and they say, "You know what? So many of us…" Here's the end of the article the Washington Post has written about this. "Research…has demonstrated a strong relationship between economic downturns and an increase in deaths due to suicide." Yet we don't see really in this guy and this girl an economic downturn.
What's really interesting is they did another study, and they showed that people who make the exact same amount of money but who live in different neighborhoods, the person who lives in a wealthier neighborhood who makes the exact same amount of money as the person who lives in a different kind of neighborhood where the average income is lesser, this person is more likely to commit suicide. Why do you think that is?
They both make 100 grand a year, but this one commits suicide. Because they're more discontent, because there's a different lie told them every day. "You're not as good as me. You're not caught up with me. If you had what I had you'd be happy." Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade can teach you this. This rich are infinitely better off than the poor, because while the poor still think money can buy them happiness, the rich know better.
You know who else knows better? Your loving God. You would do well to pay attention to him, not because he wants and commands you to do things like, "If you don't do these things, I'm not going to love you." What he is saying is if you create other gods, follow other stories, other narratives, you're not going to love your life. You're not going to be rich.
"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth so you might be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous. Then you will have success. Then you'll be truly rich." Here we go. You need to know this. I'm going to give you three simple points. I don't do this often, but I'm going to give you three simple points.
1._ There is only one story that is true and that truly satisfies._ It's the story of the creator God. It's the story we all really live in, and he says, "In this story, you're only going to find life when you are connected to the narrator, the creator, the author, and the perfecter of our story."
When Paul was checking out and he was getting ready to encourage his young Timothy, he wrote a letter to him. This is what he says. "Timothy, listen. If anyone advocates a different doctrine, if anyone tells you a different story and doesn't agree with the sound words of the one true story that satisfies, those of Jesus Christ, his words, if they give you anything other than the doctrine which conforms to godliness, that person is arrogant."
They are conceited, and they understand nothing. They are making it up as they go along. They're marketers trying to get you to buy into something so they can be more happy in their miserable story. They have a morbid interest in controversial ideas and questions and disputes about words, out of which only arise envy and strife.
It leads to abusive language, evil suspicions, constant friction between men who have depraved minds. Men who don't know the story. Men who are deprived of truth. There are some false teachers in pulpits, and they will tell you if you're godly and you give to the kingdom and you do what God wants and you use his name correctly, it will be great blessing. They'll tell you the whole reason you do these things is so God can give you more. You'll be healthier, wealthier, and wise.
Do you remember what Jesus said? There are liars that are out there. They come to steal, kill, and destroy. They will destroy your faith. They will steal your joy. It will kill your hope in God if you believe that when you do exactly what God wants you're always going to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser.
There is a truth in that, and I talked about it last week, but it's not the material way that is often sold by liars. I said last week the folks who teach health, wealth, and prosperity are false teachers. It's the doctrine of demons. It's a lie from the pit of hell. It's true. It is, and yet there is a truth in the midst of this where there are riches that come, because this is verse 6 of 1 Timothy 6.
"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment." In other words, you're not doing these things so you can get more things. You do these things because it's where life is, in walking in the way. You walk in the ancient paths where the good way is so you find rest for your souls, not so you can get the rest of the junk you think you need to be happy. You seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. When you do that, everything else that people are trying to get more things to have will be given to you.
Henry David Thoreau, who I don't believe was a man who necessarily understood the stories, a long time ago was the one who said, famously, "A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." That is a direct rip-off of 1 Timothy 6:6. When you're content.
There is a thing called hedonic adaptation. People who are part of the self-help movement study this. It's a psychological term. It's also called the hedonic treadmill. Basically, the idea is whether you move up or down in lifestyle or economic prosperity, you eventually return back to the exact same level of happiness you had in the previous lifestyle, except now your new normal requires a different, more expensive default setting.
It's why people who win the lottery are less happy than people who are quadriplegics. Because the rich know better than the poor that money can't buy happiness, and when poor people get money and they get there and they get all this, they all of a sudden go, "I thought this was going to make me happy." It doesn't make you happy.
There are guys who say a lot of funny things, right? It's true that money can't buy you happiness, but as Groucho Marx said, at least you can find it lets you buy a certain kind of misery that you want. Gertrude Stein said money can't buy you happiness, but it lets you shop wherever you want. One guy said money can't buy you happiness, but it does let you buy a jet ski, and have you ever seen an unhappy person on a jet ski?
Let me just show you what the richest guy who ever lived said. This is in Ecclesiastes 5:10. "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money…" I have to tell you, I was in a Bible study one time with a billionaire. A billionaire. We read these verses, and he just stopped everybody. He went like this, "Whoa, whoa, guys. Stop. This is true."
"He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income." Solomon says it's vanity to chase that story. You'll never be rich. When good things increase…" Why? "…those who consume them will increase." Everyone wants you to give them what you now know they don't need to be happy.
I mentioned to you before, I happen to have the same name as a billionaire who lives in this town. I get calls all the time. I get letters from all across the world. Thick letters with long stories. "Can I have this? Here's my story. Give me some money." I get phone calls from guys saying, "Give me your money so I can invest it. I can get money off the money I invest for you." Everybody wants a piece of a billionaire.
What is the advantage to their owners except to look on? This is what rich people do, right? How much time did you spend this week watching a ticker? Looking at the stock market on your phone? Those guys who don't own stocks weren't worried at all, but those of you who do, you just look at it. "Don't go down. Don't go down. Don't go down! It went down!" That's what you do.
What does it give the owner as an advantage, except to look on it to make sure it doesn't leave? This is Proverbs 23:4-5, "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." That's why you watch it. "I don't want to lose it."
Ecclesiastes 5, verse 12, though. "The sleep of the working man is pleasant…" Remember Proverbs, chapter 3, last week where I talked about how it says the sleep of the righteous is sweet? A man who works, does what he should, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep. He said this is a grievous evil which I have seen. Because I have followed that story that riches could be hoarded and it would make me happy.
"No," Solomon said, "it only hurt me. It hurt me because I started to profane my God and think I didn't need him. I took confidence in my wealth. My wealth didn't give me confidence." He is just trying to pay your dumb tax. He is trying to say, "I don't know where your beach is, but it's not here."
God is not looking to rip you off, people; he is trying to set you free. One man a long time ago wrote and said this, "You will never be happy where you are not until you're happy where you are." That is a fact. That is what now psychologists today are saying is the hedonic adaptation law, which is if you're not happy where you are, you're not going to be happy if you covet your neighbor's wife and get her. "Hey, that woman, if I was with her, that'd make me happy." No, it wouldn't.
You know what I find out from my friends who are divorced and remarried? They say this to me. "Todd, here's the truth. If I treated my first wife the way I'm treating my second wife to make my marriage work, I'd still have my first wife. My kids wouldn't have split Thanksgivings and split Christmases. I wouldn't have child support payments. My life wouldn't be as complicated as it is right now. I wish I would have done in my first marriage what I'm doing now."
"Thou shalt not covet." Just follow Christ. Don't murder your relationship; bring healing to it. There is only one story that is true and truly satisfies. Every other story is there to steal, kill, and destroy your marriage, your kids, your hope, your family, and your country. This is how to be rich.
2._ False stories always have tragic endings._ Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims is another way to say it. You guys need to know this about God. No one is here telling you, "Do this or God won't love you." What I'm here to tell you is if you knew God loved you, you would do this. This is a loving Father, and he is trying to call you to a better way. This is a better way.
False stories have tragic endings. This is 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Are you walking with me through the text? Verse 9: "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 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."
We turn our wants into needs. It just destroys us. "I need a new house. I need a new car. I need a new wife. I need a new iPhone. I need to go backpacking through Europe before I get my job. I need. I need. I need. I need." You have to be careful with that word. David said, "This one thing will I seek."
Jesus says, "Seek this one thing." If you put anything else before him, if you have another narrative, it's not going to go well with you. God is not mad at you. Last week, I meant to just take you to Proverbs 19:2-3. It just says, "Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs." It's the idea…
Proverbs 19:2: "…it is not good for a person to be without knowledge...." Don't be too quick to hurry your footsteps towards chasing a story. Verse 3: "The foolishness of man ruins [or subverts] his way..." What do we do when our story doesn't work out for us? "What kind of God are you that you would let me be this miserable? Why do I feel like this?"
God is like, "Well, because you're choosing a story that's not going to work for you. It will never make you rich. It's not my fault." Some of you, children especially, you grew up underneath somebody who was living underneath a lie. You suffered because you were part of their story. You lived with somebody, to use last week's analogy, who carried around a bucket of nails and was throwing them around everywhere you stepped.
Maybe the story you've taken out of that is, "Okay. Well, then I'm going to be angry. I'm going to be bitter. I'm going to believe God can't turn this around." I'm going to tell you, God can turn it around. Because more than anybody, you ought to learn to hate the story of that abusive parent. More than anybody, you ought to know the story you grew up in isn't where life is. You can, now that you're free and older, continue to give yourself a way to a story that's filled with lies if you want and say it's not your fault because of how you were raised.
God is just saying, "Hey, listen. Come on, man. I don't like what happened to you, but that's just this world you're in. There are people who follow a false narrative and children suffer, women suffer, people suffer under powerful people who follow a false narrative. Why, now that you are your own king are you making that the story of your kingdom? Learn to forgive. Believe I can make beauty from those ashes. Believe I can make your father's mess a message of redemption through you. I can turn the story."
This is an amazing thing I'm about to share with you. You have to be really careful, because I have prayed this prayer. I have prayed and said, "God, I want to know you more. I want to know more of you." I'm going to tell you what God usually does when you pray that. He pries your hands off of things that maybe you knew you didn't want but you still are depending on.
Often when you ask God to show you more of him, he doesn't reward you with more health, wealth, and prosperity. He lets you see he is sufficient without health and without wealth and without prosperity and that he alone is who he says he is. I talk to people all the time... Joni Eareckson Tada in a wheelchair for 50 years. She says, "No, I would never have chosen this story for myself, but I have to tell you, I know a sweetness of God." She does. She knows a depth of the goodness of God that I will never probably attain to in this earth.
I can remember when I was about her age, I prayed this, because to me, as a young man, as an athlete, I thought, "Man, the most horrifying thing to me would be me in a wheelchair." But I said, "God, would you please, if the only way I can learn that you are who you say you are, if the only way I can learn that is to put me in a wheelchair and be fed through another person's hand the rest of my life, put me in a wheelchair. Because I believe you're that good.
If I have to go through that to learn that's who you are, put me in a wheelchair, but God, please, don't let me live my life with such vain self-dependence that the only way I can learn that is if I'm in a wheelchair. Let me learn, Father, more gently. Let me learn from a humble heart that seeks you."
All I've done… You need to know something. If I'm in a wheelchair this next week, I've lived my life in such a way that I believe I didn't need the wheelchair to learn the goodness of God. I don't believe that's what Joni necessarily needed. She might tell you she did. I don't know. What I would tell you is you want to seek God like he is that good.
I'm going to say this again. The greatness of God, the transcendent beauty and goodness of God is such that your greatest idea about the greatness of God is not great enough. So much so that you can pray what I just said, but then I just said, "Lord, let me live with an attentive heart. Don't let me be like the mule or the horse that needs bit and bridle to jerk his head a certain direction. Let me be obedient to you and see the goodness of your way."
Not everybody who is in a wheelchair needs to be in a wheelchair to learn about the goodness of God. If you are in a wheelchair, if you're like my friend Brandon Landis and when you're 9 or 10 years old you go from a strong, healthy boy to being struck with dystonia to where you can't speak, can't control your muscles, sit there and learn the goodness of God just like my hero, Brandon, is doing.
He knows the depth of the richness and goodness of God, because he is not distracted by things I don't want to distract me but certainly are. When you ask God to show you there is no life in false ways, what God does sometimes is take away not necessarily bad things, but false things. Let me just prove it to you. This is why James wrote what he did in James, chapter 1.
He says this in verses 2 through 6. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…." Because now you're going to get a test to see if your faith is really true. You're going to see when you test God, he is true. If you focus on him and believe the story that this is the world you're just passing through, it's a vapor, it's a wisp, it's going to make you have more endurance in the midst of losing things in this world. "And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
You're going to lack wisdom in certain circumstances, so ask God. "God, show me what you want me to learn in this." Don't waste your pain. This week, I was around Cheryl Bachelder, who is the CEO of Popeyes. I actually heard her speak at a place. She was talking about some of the team building exercises she did.
She is a Christ-follower. She said, "When we did this team building exercise, we asked people in leadership to share with those who were over them, peers, and underneath them, three or four significant events in their life that were formative, that made them into the person they were today."
She said there wasn't a single one of us who talked about wins, victories, or celebrations. Every single one of us, when we talked about the things that formed us to be a strong servant leader, talked about sufferings and trials and tribulations and pains. It's the treasure of pain. It lets you see false gods aren't worth hoping in.
Paul wrote the exact same thing in Romans 5:3-5. It says, "And not only this, but we also exalt in our tribulations...." Why would you rejoice in tribulations? "…knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance…" I learn more about the sufficiency of Christ. "…and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts…."
When we get our hands pried off of things we start to live more with our focus not on things but on the goodness of God. When you pray, just be ready that God, in his kindness, might take away from you things you know are no gods at all but sometimes become things we're leaning on and we don't even know we're leaning on them, and he is still there.
This, by the way, is Philippians, chapter 4. It's worth noting. It's one of those other verses just like John 10:10. People think it's Satan who is the thief. It's not. It's false teachers, which are pigeons of Satan, in a way. This other verse that shows up all the time that people share has nothing to do with our ability to do things we otherwise couldn't do if we didn't have faith in terms of athletic accomplishment or some other human feat.
No. It has to do with a human perspective that changes when you know this. What's the verse? It's Philippians 4:13. "I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me." What Paul is writing right there about is, "I can live in every circumstance through Christ who strengthens me." Let's just read it.
He is talking here about the key to riches. The reason suicide is spiking is because there is anxiety about, "Will my God perform in the future?" Anxiety is the fear that God won't get something right. Depression is you living in a sense that God has done something wrong. Or maybe you've done something wrong, and God can't change your story, and it depresses you.
I read a story recently about people who take their life jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. There are a number of men and women who have survived jumping off that. A handful, actually. Of the thousands who have died when they jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, there has been a handful of people who have survived.
One of those guys said this. "When you jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, it takes you four seconds to hit the water." That's how high you are. He said, "When I jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, I wasn't off that bridge one step, I wasn't off one second before I realized there wasn't a single decision in my life I couldn't change except the one I just made." Isn't that true?
I read a story about a gal who was living during the Great Depression. She had five children. Her husband was making 18 bucks a week, and then he lost his job and got sick. He couldn't even bring in $18. She finally went to her rickety little heater in her apartment. She turned the gas on, didn't light it on purpose, gathered her kids in bed with her, and sat down. They said, "Mom, we just woke up. Why are we taking a nap?" She said, "That's all right. Just close your eyes. Just close your eyes. Just close your eyes."
In the other room, she didn't turn off the transistor radio. In that other room, on that transistor radio all of a sudden came the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." "All our sins and griefs to bear!" She sat there, and she listened to it. She quickly ran up and shut off that heater. Sixty years later, she talks about all the joy she would have missed with five beautiful children and grandchildren, the hope God gave her, and the life she lived, that she trusted in her friend, Jesus.
False stories always have tragic endings. If you believe in one, it's not going to work out for you. Paul is saying don't be anxious. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [all that you have] let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren…"
This isn't a verse to keep you away from porn. This is a verse to keep you away from anxiety. "…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise…."
By the way, who is true and honorable and right and pure and worthy of praise? God alone. Focus on him. Focus on his ability to turn things around. Paul is saying, "This is my key. The things that you've learned and received, heard and seen in me." It's what I said last week. Practice these things and the peace of God will be with you.
Paul says in verse 10, "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me..." There were some folks in Philippi who sent him some provision. He said, "I didn't do this because I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in every circumstance. I know how to get along with humble means. I know how to live in prosperity.
In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both in having abundance and suffering need. I'm rich. I can live in every circumstance through him who strengthens me." That's Philippians 4:13. Do you know God like that? Or do you only serve him if he gives you what you want? You don't know God. What you want is him. That's how to be rich.
Now folks, listen. We should care for one another. If we somebody who is lacking, we should provide for them. That's what the Philippians did. That's how God's love is expressed often, through one another here. That's why I've challenged Community Groups who have more to be with Community Groups who have less.
We're not Communists here; we just meet each other's needs. There are people who can't send kids to camps like you. There are people who can't provide for their kids as they go back to school like you. As the body of Christ, shame on us if we just go, "Be content." No. We help provide for them in a way that would give thanks to God.
Because we have what we need, we have more than we need, and they have a need, they don't have enough, so that in our poverty of riches and their riches of need, God would be glorified in all things. False stories always have tragic endings. First Timothy 6, just kind of pushing on. Here's the last thing I'll tell you.
3._ We have to pursue, practice, and proclaim the story of life for the glory of God and the good of others_. That's what we do. We have to pursue and practice and proclaim the story of life for the glory of God and the good of others. That's how we live. It's kind of what I just got through saying, but let me read it to you. Because here's the solution. The cure for discontentment is not to pursue more things. The cure for discontentment is not even flee more things. The cure for discontentment is pursue God more. Practice your faith. Proclaim the sufficiency of your God.
"But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you are called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
You were baptized. "If Jesus is enough for me, I'm going to live for him."
Live for him. Quit living for money. It is unchristian to make the object of your life to gain wealth. As we said, you go, "Wait a minute, Todd. I might do much for the kingdom of God if I make money." Well, you might.
I said if the object of your life is to make money, it's unchristian. In fact, money is not a god or a devil. Money is just simply this. Money is a chance for you to show more of who you are. Money makes you more greedy or money makes you more loving. What is your money doing? Every time you get money, does it up your standard of living or does it up your standard of giving? No, you live in accordance with your faith. Verse 13:
"I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession…keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!"
Seek him. The key to contentment is to seek more of God and to realize that's all you need. If, in the seeking more of God, you make more money, then show that you're more loving, not more greedy. Let me take you all the way back. If you had a wizard who said to you, "Hey, what do you want, man? I'll do anything you want from me. I can put a curse on your enemies. Or I can make you immortal."
No, no, just do the beer thing. Did you see what happened when he turned the bird into something? I have no idea what the advertiser was doing. Because when you turn a bird into some object, it seemed to be a little stack of beer, but it wasn't. I have no idea if somebody stuck this in, but you can't miss it. Maybe you did.
This is what the picture is of when he turned the bird into something. Would you look at it? Don't miss that. Because that's where life indeed is. It's in following the way of Jesus. That's where immortality is, and that is where life is. Not in just numbing yourself with some mechanism in your misery, but life indeed. That's how you're rich.
Father, I pray we would heed this teaching. As you said to your disciples, "Now that you've heard these things, you will be blessed if you do them." So I pray that we, as your people, would do this. We would seek first your kingdom and your righteousness. We would care for one another. We would let the money you have given us be a means to express more of your love for people, care for people, furtherance of your kingdom and its preaching so that more people can have life indeed.
We thank you, Lord, for what you reminded us of this morning. You're not marketing anything. You are sharing the wealth of who you are. Let us pay attention to it. In Jesus' name, amen.