As we continue our series, “How to Be Rich,” Todd teaches us that the reason the Bible talks so much about money is because it can grab our hearts, unlike few things can. God’s Word doesn’t tell us how to get rich but how to be rich. The more we know God, the more we will take joy in being a generous steward on His behalf.
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
All right! Well, good morning! How is everybody doing? Happy Father's Day! Welcome to the little series we're in called How to Be Rich, not to be confused with how to get rich. You missed the "Buy Amazon stock in 1998" meeting. This is How to Be Rich. What you need to know is you have a heavenly Father who wants to help you be an individual who lives a life that is rich indeed.
We last week were talking about how if you have the wrong narrative to your life, it's not going to lead to blessing. We made the observation that there's only one story that has a path to true life. There's only one story that is true and that truly satisfies. We saw that in 1 Timothy, chapter 6, verses 3 through 8.
Then in verses 9 and 10, we made the comment that false stories always have bad endings. Ideas always have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. There are a lot of people who are following a false narrative about who God is and about where life can be found.
Then we looked in verses 11 through 18. We said we have to pursue God, practice his ways, and proclaim the story of life he gives us for the glory of God and the good of others. That's where life indeed can be found. What I'm going to do is wrap up 1 Timothy 6 today, and then we're going to show you the exhortation of a loving Father toward you so you can have life indeed.
That's what you really want. You want to be an individual who understands the true character and nature of God. That's how you can be rich. So many of us think we're going to find life and fullness apart from the way God directs us and calls us. First Timothy says no, that's not the way it's going to go. The Bible, frankly, is just saying the same thing. "I want you to know I'm a good Father, and I delight in things going well for you."
The very first week of this series, I made a crazy claim. I said I'm one of the richest guys on earth. In fact, I don't know anybody who is richer than I am. I know folks who stand with me at the front of the line, but I don't know anybody whose life is richer than mine is because by the kindness of God, I have walked with him, by and large, for decades in my life.
Proverbs, chapter 3, was a section of Scripture at which we looked. On this Father's Day, it's a good verse to remind ourselves. This is what our Father wants for us. Proverbs 3 says this in verse 13: "How blessed is the man who finds wisdom…" God wants to bless you, so he wants you to spend time with him. He wants you to have understanding.
"For her profit [the profit of wisdom] is better than the profit of silver and…gold." You want to dig in there. It says the benefit of 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." The Scripture says the way of wisdom is "…a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast." You have a Father who wants to bring blessing into your life.
I got a text message or two this week from different folks who were where my daughter was. One of my daughters is up there serving at a summer camp loving people. They sent me a bunch of pictures of Landry with some of their kids and their friends' kids just saying, "Your daughter has been a blessing to us. Your daughter is loving these kids. Todd, you've always been an encouragement to us, but I can't think of any greater kindness than your kids loving my kids."
I have to tell you, you know, the Bible says there's no greater joy than to see your children walking in the truth, because there is nothing that gives me joy as much as when I see my kids do things that make people not just love me but love them! It did chase back through her. Because of the way my kids acted, I got text messages and encouragement. "Thank you, Todd, that this is your lineage."
When my first daughter went up to school at Oklahoma State, I got a letter from a professor at a Big 12 school who I had never met before who got to know my daughter not because of her athletic prowess but because of the way she loved others in her classroom, the way she talked to him, and the way they had conversations about just life in general inside and outside of class.
He said, "I want to know your dad. I want to write your dad a note." I got a letter from a college professor saying, "I see young adults all the time. I don't see many young women like this." I have to tell you, I've gotten other letters from teachers over the course of my kids' lifetime. I just don't want you to be… "Dear Mr. Wagner…" Right?
I've gotten other letters too, but I'm going to tell you nothing delights me more than when people want to know me and thank me because they see something amazing in my kids. When my kids walk according to the wisdom that by the kindness of God I have seen to be true and they believe me and they honor the God I've come to honor, it makes people love them the way it makes people love me when I do what my Father wants. Here's what even more amazing. It makes people love my Father.
Just like when someone sees my kids act and conduct themselves in such a way that is a source of encouragement and glory to them and makes them want to know me, it makes people want to know my Father and go, "Who are you? Who raised you? Who taught you to love this way? Who taught you to handle resources, the perspective on trials, the perspective on trouble, and the perspective on riches that you have? I want to know your Dad."
There is nothing better than that. Do you want to know how rich I am? Listen to this. I am so rich that the infinite, personally supplied, all-sufficient God has given me so much that I can add to his understood glory on earth. Let me say that again. God gives me riches that allow me (and God wants you to have riches that allow you) to give to the all-sufficient, glorious God more of his glory established on the earth.
Now listen. God is not concerned about establishing his glory in general. It's already established. He is concerned about establishing his glory on earth. Why is God all-consumed about his glory? That seems kind of selfish, doesn't it?
Everything exists for the glory of God, and all God is concerned about is his glory, because he knows the more glory that is ascribed to him (which is to say God knows the more we understand the glory that is due him), the more we're going to want more of him. The more we want more of him, the more our lives will be glorious themselves.
There is nothing God our Father is more concerned about than his glory. Every day should be our Father's Day, and we should praise him and celebrate him so we can be reminded of the goodness and greatness of God. How great is God? The greatness of God is such that your greatest thought about the greatness of God is not great enough.
The more others see the greatness of God lived in and through you, the more they're going to want to know your Father. The more they know their Father, the more they're going to love him. That will add to God's joy, if you will, because he loves to bless his children. That's how rich God wants to make you.
Now watch. In 1 Timothy in verses 17 through 19, those of us who have come to understand our good, good Father are given this encouragement. Here is basically the application from this little section right here, which is when we pursue, practice, and proclaim life God's way, we are so rich that we add to God's kingdom.
In other words, think about this. We laughed last week about the Bud Light narrative and the Bud Light stories where you bring gifts to the king, and he goes, "Oh, that's very nice. You're a true friend of the crown. Dilly, Dilly!" Right? Here's the deal. I'm going to say it to you again. Paul is making the case and I'm making the case today (I'm going to tell you how) that when you live your life the way you should in the riches of understanding who God is, you are a true friend of the crown.
When you come and present your life before God or when you live your life before God, God just says much more than, "Dilly, Dilly!" He says, "Way to go. You are a true friend of the King." You add to the riches of his glory in the sense that they are further understood. How would you like to be that person who could bring the all-sufficient, self-satisfied God more joy? It says God takes no delight in the death of the wicked, but he delights in the works of the righteous.
Here we go. First Timothy 6:17-19 says, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world…" That is double entendre. The richness already is the richness of understanding who God is. Then also those who have been given the things the world calls riches. "…not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches [of this world] …"
So two things. First, if you understand who God is, you know it's a gift of grace that God in his kindness has shown you the goodness of who he is. "In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." "No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome."
When you, by the grace of God, come to understand you have a loving heavenly Father, he said don't be conceited. Other people haven't come to understand that yet. So you live your life in such a way that people are going to want to know, "Who's your Daddy? From where are you? Who raises a human like this? What is the source of this glory I see in you?"
Be a humble person who doesn't get distracted by anything. We don't put our hope in the riches that are in this world but keep our focus "…on God, who richly supplies us with all things…" Watch this. "…to enjoy." Now you're going to find out the key to enjoying everything God gives you. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." It's more blessed to live God's way than it is to live man's way.
He says in verse 18, "Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." Let me say to you again, the main application of this little section right here is that when we pursue, produce, and proclaim life God's way, we become so rich that we can add to God's kingdom.
A number of years ago on Father's Day, my wife said, "Hey, what do you want to do this Father's Day?" Or it might have even been my birthday. I said, "I'll tell you what I want to do. I want to buy a gift for each of the kids." On Father's Day or on my birthday, I wanted to get each of them something, because I wanted them to know that's my heart. Nothing brings me greater joy than to bless them, than to see them walk in the blessing of relationship with me.
It's not in (really, frankly) some fleeting gift, but I want them to see my heart that everything I ask of them and everything I do for them and call them to is because I want it to be a blessing to them. Frankly, when somebody sees that's who you are, do you know what they do? They go, "Well, I am so thankful for my father."
The fathers we have a hard time celebrating are the fathers who live selfishly. They say, "Do you know what I want for Father's Day? Leave me alone. Let me watch the U.S. Open. Leave me alone. Let me go play golf. Just let me have some beer." Right? Those aren't fathers we love. The father we love is a father like the one we have who while we're separated from him he pursues us and runs after us.
Scriptures are really clear. "Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…" I want you to enjoy life, and that's how you enjoy it. There is a section of Scripture to which I want to take us. It's in 2 Corinthians, chapter 8, that walks this out. If you are rich in the grace of God, then you're going to be rich in generosity. You want to really be rich, right? You want to be an individual who lives for others. You want to live and be rich in good works. You want to live and be rich in generosity.
In fact, I'll say this. Giving is grace's gift. When you are generous, when you're a giver, giving is grace's gift that makes you rich! People love generous individuals, and God wants people to love you. Now it's not just the ability to stroke a check or give large amounts. It just means being an individual who understands life is found not in seeking your own pleasure but in giving your life away for others. Your father loves you.
I knew raising my kids, "If you walk this way, you're going to have a dignity, honor, and a good name on you that is to be more desired than great riches." "Favor is better than silver and gold." I prayed my kids would have it, and I knew they would have it if they walked according to the ways of my Father in heaven. So I exhorted them that way.
Second Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, are a loving spiritual father encouraging his children on how to be rich. He knows when they live their life the way Jesus did (who, though he was rich, for their sakes became poor), through his poverty they might become rich. They would also be rich indeed.
A couple of days ago, I with all of our friends buried my friend Dee Elliott. Dee was an individual who was much celebrated because he invested deeply and intimately in the lives of others. Dee had some phrases he was known for amongst the guys he built into. He said if you want to know God more, read your Bible.
The Bible is a revelation. It tells you the story of God. Quit pinning on God all these characteristics of him you think are true. Let God show you who he is: that he radically pursues people who he created to enjoy the blessings of who he is, who didn't want the blessing of who he is, so they got the food of pigs and were miserable.
God then yet still made provision for them that they could be restored. What kind of God is that? You read the Scripture if you want to know God more. Don't impose upon him what you think he is like. Let him tell you who he is like.
Dee used to say if you want a better marriage, pray with your wife. I'm going to tell you it's true. It's hard to pray with somebody toward whom you're being godless. You don't seek intimacy before a Savior with somebody you are treating like a slave or not cherishing.
If you're committed to praying every day, you're going to be committed to saying, "Hey, listen. Before we go to God and ask him to bless us by showing us more of who he is, the Bible tells us if we have something going on here, we should first reconcile with each other and then come to him. Sweetie, what ways have I not honored you and loved you today the way I'm going to ask God to make me more of that man?"
Every day if you're committed to praying together, you're going to be committed to reconciling. It's going to keep the small things small, and it's going to help you address the big things that will keep you from experiencing the oneness God wants. Dee used to always say, "Are you praying with your wife?"
Thirdly, he would say if you want to be a better leader, serve more. Now Dee was incredibly insightful. All three of these things are things God's Word says.
I'm going to give you a fourth, and that is, if you want to be rich, give your life away. Live as a steward, and realize everything you've been given is a gift from God. He has given it to you so you can use it in a way that you would enjoy life and be rich indeed. That is not going to happen as you try and accumulate more and more and more for you but that you might be a steward, an individual, who takes what God has given you and you use it in a way that is consistent with the way Jesus lived so people will go, "What kind of man is this, and who is his Father?"
Second Corinthians. Here we go. In fact, let me just say this. Our kids over there today are studying in our children's ministry Luke, chapter 10. Luke, chapter 10, has the story of the good Samaritan. You all know that story. Do you know why the story of the good Samaritan was told? The story of the good Samaritan was told because somebody came up and said, "Hey, what do we have to do…? What are we supposed to do in order to earn eternal life?"
He said, "Well, look, man. You just have to love God." It's not something you do. You have to know who God is. You have to know your sin has separated you from God and God demonstrated his love for you in that while you're still a sinner, Christ died for you. You have to love God. Run after that God. Life is found in God.
It doesn't mean you have to go to religious services your whole life and be a churchman. No, it just means you have to know God for who he really is. When you know God for who he really is, you will love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. By the way, if you love God, you're going to love your neighbor, because God loves your neighbor. You're going to be like God, and you're going to love people. Love your neighbor.
Then it says this. A man seeking to justify himself said, "Well, who then is my neighbor?" In other words, "I don't want to have to love everybody, so… You know, you say I have to love my neighbor. Well, who is my neighbor?" See, when you're an individual who kind of thinks this way, when you are somebody who wants to justify yourself, you say, "Who is my neighbor?" But when you are somebody who wants to honor your Father, you say this: "To whom can I be a neighbor?" Right?
When you want an excuse to not do something, you go, "I'm not sure that person is my neighbor." Right? How many times have you heard people say this? "Hey, man. Am I my brother's keeper?" Right? Well, I don't know if you've read your Bible lately, but the answer is, "Yes!" That was said by Cain after he murdered Abel, and God said, "Cain, where is Abel?" "Hey, am I responsible for Abel?" "Well, yeah. In fact, you are and his murder."
It's amazing what people say sometimes. If you have the heart of God, you're not going to say, "I don't know if that person is my neighbor." You're going to live like this: "To whom can I be a neighbor?" Is that your perspective? When you walk around and you see people who are like, "Hey, who can I serve?" they're your favorite people. Folks who don't just clean up after themselves but look how they can clean up after you…
I love this statement: "When a man forgets himself, he usually does something everybody else remembers." I would tell my kids that all the time, especially my beautiful daughters. I'd say, "Hey, listen. Don't be smitten when a guy treats you well. Of course he is going to treat you well. That brother is fishing, all right? You want to know if a guy is a good guy?
You watch the way he treats people who he believes can do nothing for him. You let that guy be nice to you, because there is something you can do for guys. They're going to have their eyes on you. So don't be impressed when people are sweet, kind, and wooing toward you. Watch the way they serve those who can do nothing for them. That's where greatness lies."
To whom can I be a neighbor? Paul is going to tell the Corinthians how to be rich. It's a good place to drop in the middle of a book because in chapter 8, verse 1, he is starting a whole new context of things right here. He says, "Now, brethren…""Changing topics…" "…we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia…"
The churches of Macedonia when we studied the book of Acts (this is Acts 16 and 17) are the churches of Thessalonica, Berea, and Philippi. It's a region specifically with folks who came to know the Lord there through Paul's ministry who weren't really prospering. What he is going to tell these guys is God's kindness (this gift of God's relationship with them) has shown up in these people's lives.
I want to tell you something. They're going to do something, and they're doing it because they've received the grace of God. The grace of God is what compelled them to do the things that are making them rich, so rich that Paul is saying, "You have to know these people." He is writing to the church in Corinth that Paul had been in already, and he is telling them about the amazing richness of these people up in Macedonia.
He goes, "These folks are crazy!" "…in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy…" I mean, how does that happen? How can you be afflicted and yet exceedingly joyful? How can you have deep poverty and yet overflow in the wealth of your liberality? Paul says, "I know people like this who live in Macedonia."
I talk to my friends sometimes when they go overseas, and they all say the same thing. "I can't believe how happy these people were who had nothing compared to what I have. I can't believe how generous they were, the way they would take whatever was in their kitchen and make it mine. I'm not even sure they had food for two days from now, and all they wanted to do is share it with me. I've never seen anything like that, but it was glorious!"
They're talking about believers they had met in other cultures. I remember when some friends of mine and I were over in Goma. Goma, Congo, is about 600,000 people who live in a very oppressed region of the world. It's the most dangerous place in the world if you're a woman. The #MeToo movement there has been going on for a long time. There is the highest percentage of rape toward women per capita of anywhere in the world.
At the base of an active volcano, most of the city is covered in igneous rock or molten ash. It's very sharp, not comfortable in which to walk. There's a corrupt government that has oppressed them for decades. Even though it's a very rich resource country, it's not a happy place to live. We're in Goma, and we're ministering to different folks there about leadership, reconciliation, and things like this and training up pastoral leaders and government leaders.
We were there over a weekend, so we went to different church services. Some of us taught. Some of us were a part of it. One of my friends was there, and he went to this church service. They happened to be teaching about 2 Corinthians 8. The pastor talked about something we're about to read in a little bit where some of you have been given an abundance of provision, and others in our body have an abundance of need.
Their poverty is a source of rich need, which your poverty of not knowing what to do with all you have can be richly met, and God can be glorified in all things. He just challenged his body to think through ways they could care for one another. When they got done, one of the guys who was sitting next to my friend got up, and he walked up. He took his shoes off, and he laid them at the altar.
My buddy kind of said, "Hey, what was that about?" He goes, "Well, you heard what the pastor said. There are some people in our body with need. We know this is a city where it's not easy to walk in the streets. I know there are people in this church who don't have shoes. I have another pair of shoes at home. I want to meet my brother's need by leaving my shoes here."
We were there for 10 days. My friend said, "I brought three pairs of shoes with me, and I packed light!" To see the marvel of that guy's response just shook him. I'm going to tell you, it's amazing we have to go sometimes to places like this where there's not a lot going on that we can see the richness of what God provides.
I know when you talk about money, here's the thing. Money sometimes just grips us in a way that when you kind of get to church and they're talking about money, you're like, "Oh, man!" Let me just say this. If every time you open up God's Word and there's not a sense of, "Oh, man!" you're not listening, because the way of man does not lead to life. What the Word does is it just says, "Hey, son. Listen to me."
It's kind of like me talking to a 13-year-old boy in my house, and I'm saying, "Listen. That's not the way to go. This is the way to go." They're like, "Oh, man!" I go, "I just promise you. I'm not trying to rip you off. I'm trying to set you free." When our Father talks to you, when you hear God's Word, the Bible talks more about money than heaven and hell combined. Why? Because money can just destroy us. Money is a great servant; it's just a horrible master.
Money is amoral. It's not good or bad. What you do with it determines whether money is good or bad. Let me just say this. Money attracts us like nothing else. Let me give you some physics here for a second. In physics, the term mass is what determines an object's resistance to acceleration when force is applied. That's what mass is. It is the weight of the resistance that will be there when force is applied to it. That's mass.
Mass also determines the strength of an object's gravitational pull. In other words, the greater an object's mass, the more it draws other objects to it and it's drawn less to other things. See, money is one of those things that just draws us to it. When we have a lot of it, it is hard to move it the direction God wants us to go.
Sometimes people with less have a greater freedom. I've used this illustration before. I want to just share it with you. I mean, imagine this. Imagine you guys got a pizza with eight slices, and imagine you guys own eight Pizza Huts. All right? I could use some of that, right? You guys own eight Pizza Huts, and you guys own eight slices of pizza. I say, "Hey, man, the Lord wants you to give half of what you own to people who are in need." All right?
These folks over here are going to go, "All right. I'll give you four slices of pizza," because they know if God doesn't provide for them tomorrow, they're going to go hungry anyway. "Rather than just stuff myself today, why not just share it with somebody else? We can both live together today, and then tomorrow we'll see if God will provide." These folks over here are going, "Wait a minute. Are you talking about you want me to give four Pizza Huts away? That's a little crazy!"
Here's what I want to tell you. I'm not going to tell you God wants to give half of your Pizza Huts away. I'm just telling you all the dough he is giving you to knead is to bless you. So you'd better use whatever he has given you in a way that's going to lead to life indeed. Instead of just being focused about not losing your Pizza Hut, why not just ask yourself, "How can I bring glory to my Father through what he has stewarded me?"
Paul is just going to make the case, "Hey, these Macedonians have figured something out, and I want you to have it." He is encouraging his Corinthian brothers and sisters to experience the grace of living God's way. Verse 3: "For I testify that according to their [these Macedonians] ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints…"
Why? Because they had seen the joy that comes with living God's way, so they said, "What? You're telling us there are other brothers and sisters in need through famine and through persecution back in Jerusalem? We could do something now that we've come to know the riches of the grace that has come from the Messiah." That was the Jews. "There are now those brothers and sisters who are suffering. How can we help them?"
Well, Paul is like, "Well, listen. We don't expect you guys to do much. You don't have very much." That's verse 5. "We didn't expect them to do this." "…but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.""We could be a means of grace to others." Paul said it just shocked them. "We saw their condition, and we didn't expect them to want to do this, but they saw the greatness of God's way. They heard God (though he was rich) for their sake had become poor so through the poverty of God on the cross, they became rich."
They were like, "Hey! Let's give to them the way God has given to us!" They understood what made them glorify God, and then God said, "You want people to glorify you? Live like God lives!" They were in. Paul is encouraging the Corinthian church, "You want some of that? This is how you're going to do it."
Let me just say this to you, and this is an important fact. If you give yourself to God and you're not giving yourself to others, then you are deluded that you have given yourself to God. See, the Macedonians were glorious because they were God's people. Because they were God's people, they do what God does. They were generous toward others.
If you're not generous toward others, there's only one reason for that. That's that you haven't been a person who has been a recipient of generosity. I tell my kids all the time when people bully them, I go, "Hey, man. Listen. Hurt people hurt people. Don't be surprised. Don't get angry with them. Love them, because the reason they're doing that is that's all they know. Hurt people hurt people, but guess what? People who have been loved much forgive much."
Jesus says, "You want people to know you're my disciples? Then love! By this, all people will know you're mine, because that's the family way." When you are a lover, you care for others, you walk in dignity and honor, and you don't look to manipulate, oppress people, or use them for your own pleasure, people go, "Who are you? Men don't act like that!" But God's people do, and they go, "That's a rich life."
Verse 6 says, "So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well." So Titus is with Paul up in Macedonia. He is kind of writing a letter to the Corinthians. Titus says, "I'll deliver the letter, because I don't want just them to have your letter, Paul. I want to go and encourage them, because I've seen the richness of living God's way."
He says, "But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also." Paul says, "I want you. Hey, it's good you have faith. It's good you have words of knowledge that you speak wisely. It's good you guys are earnestly following God, but listen. Make sure that earnestness shows up in the way you give, because giving isn't an elective. It's a part of the core curriculum."
Watch this. "I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also." In other words, he is saying, "Look. We know the Macedonians have come to know the kindness of God because look how kind they are. Loved people love, and I want to establish that same faith is real in you. I'm not commanding you to do it. Why? Because the way to know you are rich in grace is to be rich in giving. It is to be rich in generosity."
The way you know you are rich in relationship with God is to be rich in the way you use your life as a means to be a blessing to others, just like your Lord and Savior. Paul is saying, "I'm not commanding you to do this so God will love you, but because you have been loved by God, this is how we know that you know you are loved by God: because you learned to walk in his ways."
Verse 9: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [the one you worship and adore, the one you just sang about for 30 minutes] , that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich." So you worship him! God wants you to be worthy of praise as well, so worthy of praise that others love you and go, "Who's your Daddy? I want to know him."
Verse 10. Watch this. See, this is how to have a rich life. "I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage…" Why is Paul teaching this? Because money is hard. It's got a tremendous gravitational pull, and the only way to lessen money's grip on you is to get rid of some of the mass of it. That does two things. The antidote for the gravitational pull of money is to get rid of it.
John Wesley used to say this: "When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart." Doesn't it do that? It just sinks its little talons in you, so much so that when you own eight Pizza Huts, all you do is worry about, "I don't want to lose one of my Pizza Huts!" That's what Solomon said. "Hey, what good are riches except for the owner to keep his eyes on it? Money takes wings, and money and possessions grab us in a weird way."
I'll insert this really quickly right here. There was a guy named David Garrick. David Garrick was a famous actor in England. He was the very first theater actor who was buried in Westminster Abbey. The playwright Shakespeare was buried there, and then David Garrick was buried next to William Shakespeare.
David Garrick is the reason sometimes within theater circles you hear the phrase, "Break a leg!" When David Garrick was playing Richard III, he broke his leg. He was so into his character that his performance was not at all hindered! He was just Richard III. He wasn't David Garrick with a broken leg. He went out there, and he was this amazing Shakespearian king. Everybody afterward marveled at the performance he put on even though he had a broken leg.
It became a euphemism within theater to say, "Break a leg, and no one should know." That's the theater phrase. David Garrick became very famous. He bought palaces, and he became a great collector of a lot of original Shakespeare works and just garnished his life with things. He had a buddy, Samuel Johnson, who was one of the greatest poet laureates in all of English history. Samuel Johnson walked into the house of David Garrick one time after David was having him over to show him all he'd accumulated. He said, "David, what are all these things?"
Garrick started to walk around and explain what the different things were and why he built the room this way. He went, "No, no, no, no. David, these are the things that make a deathbed terrible because your heart attaches to them." He is quoting 1 John there. "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." The more of the world you have, the more it just pulls you toward it.
Paul is trying to encourage the Corinthians to not be trapped into things that take wings and make deathbeds terrible. He says this (verse 10): "I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage…""That's why I'm writing! Don't make your deathbed terrible. Make it glorious." Like it says in 1 Timothy 6:19, "…storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future…" So that right now you can experience the praise of men and the glorious way and that God would bless you.
Going back to 2 Corinthians, he says this: "Now even though you said you had a desire to give earlier when I was with you, now you have to finish doing it." "…just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability." Don't worry about what you don't have. If the readiness is present, it's acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he doesn't have.
Can I tell you this? You know, when we bought this property and built the first building, when we did the offices, and then when we purchased Fort Worth, we purchased Plano, and we're investing in Frisco… I mean, you think about literally the tens of millions of dollars we have spent here. If we were waiting on the Wagner family to build this place, we'd be in folding chairs, outside, with an overhead projector.
I have to tell you we didn't go, "Well, what good is it for us to give, even if it was in the tens of thousands of dollars? What good is it if we give tens of thousands of dollars to a tens of million dollars project?" The answer is, "Hey, Todd. Don't worry about what you don't have. If you're ready to give for the glory of God that you can do the part you're supposed to do so that something greater can happen, just give according to what is available, not according to what is not available."
I have to tell you something. Every time I hear a story about what's going on in Fort Worth, every time I see this facility used, right now as we continue to give generously to this mission, every time I hear something is happening through the work of this body, I go, "I am fully vested in that!" I felt like I built this entire building with the gifts we gave. I just know better.
Do you know what's so interesting? When Jesus was alive, one of the places he hung out was at the temple. He watched how people gave. One time a widow goes up with two mites, and she drops it in the coffers. Jesus elbows and goes, "Did you see that? I'll tell you, there's not a greater gift given today." God is not bankrupt. He doesn't need money. He just wants people to understand that what's worth living for is everything you have.
That was all that widow had. Again, it just so happens that when you don't have very much, it's easier to give generously in proportion, but just do what you should do. You need to know something. Some of you who think, "Well, what difference does this make?" I mean, this place is not endowed. We're not Stanford here. Right? We're not just living off interest.
Week to week, people are investing in this place. Don't worry about what you can't give. Just give to the mission because you see God at work, and you want the glory of God to expand. God is ministering to you and investing in you. You want to go, "I want more of that so I can be more of what God wants, so my life can be more of the richness God intends, so more can know the greatness of my Father."
How rich can you be that you can do everything you can do that the glory of your Father is further renowned on the earth? Don't worry about what you can't do. Just do what you should. Now watch this. "For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality—at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need…" This is the verse in Goma.
"…your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need…" You have too much and need to do something with it. They don't have enough and need something. Now we have a chance for God to be glorified. "As it is written, 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and He who gathered little had no lack.'" God does this.
Here's a principle. Are you ready for this principle? God unequally distributes gifts so he can be glorified, not so we can be communists. We're not communists here. We're Christlike. When we have more than we need and we see brothers… These are not irresponsible men. The Bible doesn't say we're to give money to people who don't work. Read 2 Thessalonians 3.
These are people who are doing what they can, and for whatever reason, there is a need and a crisis. They're a part of the community of faith and are living noble lives. You come alongside of them out of your abundance and go, "How can I help you?" One of the applications of this message I'm going to stick in right here. Listen. We have a problem here because we kind of group people in our church according to often geography and life stage.
What happens is we have Community Groups that are made up of people who are all folks who are resourced abundantly, and we have Community Groups often of people who live in areas where they're food insecure. They're not even sure they have enough pizza for next week. If they have car trouble, it's a financial crisis. If they have a health problem, they're bankrupt.
This is right here at good, old Watermark! One of the things you need to do is get together with your Community Group this week and just say, "Okay. Hey, listen. Are we under-resourced or over-resourced as a group?" If you're over-resourced, you need to know something. We're part of a larger body here where there are individuals in this body who are working hard, who are vetted, who are widows indeed (not just in name only, okay?), who are people who have an inability to provide for themselves even though they're living as responsibly as they can.
You need to say, "God forbid that because it's out of sight, it's out of our mind. We need to know who are some of those Community Groups, Todd?" Talk to your Community Group leader, and say, "Hey, we'd like to form a relationship with somebody who maybe lives in a different part of town than us to get to know them. Not have them over to our house, but let's go see their apartment in which they live. Let's have them pick us up in their car that may break down on the way home and see if we should maybe do something."
Why? Not for your affliction and their prosperity but so God might be glorified that in your poverty of not knowing what to do and in their richness of need, God's people can meet as brothers together, and God would be glorified. This, by the way, is exactly what it says in 2 Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 12. You not only supply the needs of the saints, but it causes an overflowing thanksgiving to God.
What else would you rather do than to live in a way that out of the richness of your life people go, "Praise God"? We have examples of this. I have mentioned this before. There was a small group of families who emailed in and said, "Put us on a list."
By the way, we have a Charisministry here where we vet everything we do when someone says, "I have a need." We work with members of our body, but sometimes people aren't fully assimilated yet who are members, through the membership class, and they have a need. There have been people who have just said, "Let us know. We want to know what we can do."
Some of those folks have experienced some of the greatest joy. Single moms who had car trouble. There was no way for that to get taken care of. They go, "We're in. Here's $1,000. Let's take care of it." Somebody who was in transition with a job between paychecks said, "We can't feed our family." "We're in! Feed that family."
What joy in a way that was unmissed by those families that they had because they got to be a part of those stories. Don't miss out on that blessing. This is what Paul is encouraging the church to do here in Corinth. Verse 16: "But thanks be to God…" See that? "But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus."
Titus wants to go to them, and what he is going to say right here is this. God is the one who put the desire in Titus' heart to go to Corinth. Corinth was not a place and not a bastion of great spiritual maturity, but God gave Titus a heart for the Corinthians. What's going on here is you're going to see… I've said it before. What makes a man great is his concern for others, not his infatuation with himself.
Titus is regarded as a great man, and the work that is going on in Titus' heart that makes him a great man is a work of God, not because of some innate goodness in Titus. What Paul is going to say is, "Just like God gave Titus a heart for you, I believe God is going to give you a heart for others."
This week I was at Dee's funeral. There was a guy I hadn't seen in a while. I said, "Man, I haven't seen you in a bit. What's going on?" He said, "Well, I moved. I moved to God's country." I heard that, and I was like, "Okay. God's country. The brother probably moved to Colorado, right? Especially in June!" I went, "Did you move to Colorado?" He said, "No, I moved to Houston!" Then before I could say anything, he said, "Because only God could love Houston." That's what he said.
I thought that is so great, right? First, it's true of Houston, and secondly, I thought when people watch the way we go, "Hey, where is a neighbor that I can bless them?" only God… "But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Do you know that God? Is that your Daddy? Does his Spirit live inside of you? You must be from God's country. Paul is saying, "Titus is coming to you because he loves you. That's a work of God in him. I want to see the work of God in you." "For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord."
"In the same way we want you to be giving of your own accord… I'm writing to encourage you. He is coming because he loves you, and he wants you to not grow weary in doing good so you can be somebody who (thanks be to God) lives the way you live, because that's where richness and life indeed is."
Do you see what's going on here? Watch this. In the rest of the chapter, he just basically goes through, and he just says, "There's another group of guys we're sending with Titus. They all have the exact same heart for you." Then we get to 2 Corinthians, chapter 9. He says this: "For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints." In other words, "I know who you are. I know your heart." "For I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year…"
In other words, "I have told the Macedonians you're God's people." As I tell people all the time, when folks say to me, "Man, Wagner. I've been to Watermark. That is a beautiful church," I always say the same thing. I go, "Who did you meet?" They go, "What? I'm talking about the building."
"Oh, I thought you said the church."
"Yeah, it's a beautiful building."
"But I thought you said it was a beautiful church. The church is the people. Man, you should meet the people there because they are beautiful in the way they love one another." Beautiful in the way so many of you, in your abundance, are being generous in sustaining this mission, giving generously to other brothers and sisters on mission, and giving generously to others in this body who are faithful people who just are having a hard time right now. It's a beautiful thing.
Paul is saying this. "I know who you are. I've talked about you." Verse 3. He says, "But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, so that, as I was saying, you may be prepared.""Coming with me are going to be some Macedonians, and I don't want them to see you not ready. That will put shame in my confidence in you. I don't want that to happen." "So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness."
What Paul is saying is, "The gravitational pull of things can take you and hold you from the glory God intends for you to have. So I'm encouraging you, and I'm writing you to be careful to not let things own you. I know you're scared that the way to life is to have more things. I'm reminding you that's not the way to life. I'm sending Titus so he can encourage you not to limit what you might reap because of greed, covetousness, or fear."
Paul is going to say, "I want to calm your anxious heart. I want to remind you of the way of life. It's to be generous like your Father." He is going to use these words that health, wealth, and prosperity liars distort. Do you guys watch Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, these guys who want all these folks to help them buy all these new planes and all this different stuff right here?
What you're about to read right here is not this. It's not, "Give God $50 so he can give you $500 so I can fly a G650." That's not what you're about to read, but that's the way these kind of verses are distorted in the text. It says this: "Now this I say…""I just want to remind you people." "…he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."
What he is saying here is not how to get rich. He is saying, "I want you to be rich. I want you to have an abundance of what God wants for you." Don't begrudgingly be God's people, because when you're God's people, it's life indeed. Now watch what he says. "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion…"
He is just saying, "I want you to give, not because if you don't you're going to be judged by the church. I want you to give as a way of showing you belong to Jesus' church and you advance Jesus' kingdom and live generously so your Father can be glorified. I want you to do this because you love God, not so you can be loved by God or you can have more human wealth."
This is what he tells you you're going to bountifully reap. Watch this. This is what false teachers won't show you. Here is the bountiful reaping. "And God is able to make all grace abound to you…" You'll have more! You'll have "…sufficiency in everything…" You'll "…have an abundance for every good deed."
In other words, you're going to see that when you live God's way, it is life indeed. You're going to know what the Thessalonians, the Bereans, and the Philippians knew. In your great affliction, there can be abundance of joy. In your great poverty, there's great liberality. This is how to be rich.
Look. When most people give today, they're giving like this. Okay? This is a good picture I found this week. This is the way most people give today. Don't be a "selfie giver." Be a selfless giver, because it's the way to greatness. What Paul is trying to say is do it joyfully. By the way, this is why we don't pass a basket here at Watermark. Did you know that? I mean, it's not because we're endowed. It's because we don't want to compel you by some obligation. "Are folks watching if I put a $20 in or try to sneak one out?"
I mean, there are people here who give every week and all the time because they see God at work here. They do it joyfully. We don't want money to be what people think we're about, but we also… I want to tell you if you think the reason we don't pass the basket is we feel like there's shame in giving to the ministry, boy, we have done you a great injustice.
No, we want you to give biblically because it says in Matthew, chapter 6, verses 1 through 5, to give in a way that your left hand doesn't know what your right hand is doing. You don't give in such a way to practice your righteousness before men and to be noticed by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven, and you have no reward with your Father in heaven if what you're going to turn in is how much you gave to God's kingdom, like that's going to establish your righteousness.
No! Because God's righteousness is established in you, you begin to look like your Father. Paul is just encouraging them toward that. "As it is written, 'He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.'" It's just talking about when you start to live God's way, you're going to be more encouraged to live more of God's way.
Obedience is its own reward, and you get a heart that starts to go, "I want to do more of what my Father wants, because when I do what my Father wants, I see it bring life to others. I want to do that with all of my heart." He quotes from Psalm 112, which is the psalm of the righteous right here, where he says, "He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever."
Paul is trying to say, "You have no idea the way God is going to use what you're going to use in your being obedient. I can't wait to see what the fruit of the Holy Spirit's work in your life is going to be." Acts of non-generosity are quickly forgotten; acts of generosity endure forever.
Verse 10: "Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and…" What's going to increase? Grace in your life. A desire to do good works in verse 8. Then verse 10. What's going to increase is "…the harvest of your righteousness."
Verse 11: "You will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God." Do you see what increases when you're generous? It's not, "Give $50; get $500." At the same time, I'll tell you this. God is not an idiot. The reward for faithful service is often the opportunity for more service.
Whether that's going to come in the form of material (of money and wealth) or not, it will certainly come with a heart that's more willing to do what God wants. This is life indeed. When you live life the way Jesus wants you to live and when you're generous, it turns into something glorious, even if it's just a little at a time.
I'll tell you there's a story I came across this week. My buddy Graham actually shared this also. He read the same article I did in the New York Times. This is a guy here. He is called the "Man with the golden arm." His name is James Harrison. He is 81. When he was 14, he had a great, traumatic event in his life, and he needed massive surgery. A tremendous amount of blood had to be infused into his body to give him life. It took a significant amount of strangers' sacrifice to help him to live.
He said, "As soon as I'm an adult, I'm going to try and give life to others." From the time he was 18 until just last month when he was 81 (They said, "James, you have to stop giving blood. We think it's no longer good for you"), the guy every three weeks gave blood: 1,173 times. This is just a retired railway administrator who fears needles. He said something like, "Not once in 1,173 times did I watch the needle go in my arm. I didn't like doing it, but I had great joy in giving blood because I saw somebody sacrifice for me. I want to sacrifice for others."
Here's the thing. When we buried Dee Elliott the other day, you know, you always talk about things like this. My buddy Clint Bruce was talking about him in the eulogy. You know, when someone is born on January 1, 1960, and they die June 1, 2018, (as an example) we talk about what makes that life glorious is the dash between them. Right? Have you ever heard that?
When Dee was alive, Clint told Dee, "Dee, you have a great dash." You have to be careful when you say that. "You have a great dash." Really here's what a dash is. A dash is just a bunch of very small dots closely placed together. In fact, they're so closely and tightly together that you can't distinguish them until it forms a line.
What makes your life great is just a little bit, a unit at a time, of being generous and living as Jesus wants you to live. A unit at a time. A unit at a time. A unit at a time. In fact, when you give blood, that's what you can give (a unit). Do you know what's so interesting about blood giving? A unit is about a pint of blood. The average adult has 8 to 12 pints of blood or 8 to 12 units of blood in their body. Let's just say 10 on average.
One-tenth of your blood is what you can give each time you give. Do you know what else is interesting about the human body? It's your body is constantly producing blood so within 24 to 48 hours max of you giving a unit, it's completely resupplied.
Now here's what's amazing about James Harrison. He gave blood 1,173 times. What he didn't know until 10 years into this thing is doctors in Australia came to him and said, "James, you need to know this. Your blood has some unique characteristic to it. There's a strain of plasma found in your blood…"
They later found it in about 150 other people, but James' blood was the one that helped them discover disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop what's called the Anti-D injection. Basically, when a mother has a negative blood type and the baby has a positive blood type, it causes a reaction in the immune system, which affects a baby's red blood cells, which often leads to death.
They said, "James your blood has something we think can save this." They started to inject, through a needle, blood platelets from James' blood into women over the last number of years. Seventeen percent of Australian women have this issue. They said he has saved, with one unit at a time, 2.4 million babies. That's pretty amazing!
He went, "I just want to give back. What somebody gave to me, I want to give back." Now you look back at the end of this man's life, and you see him just doing what he could do with one unit at a time. It just added up. Australia is saying, "This is amazing! No one has ever done anything like this." His own daughter had this disease. Two of his grandchildren are alive because of James. People look at this guy and go, "How do you do that?" Well, you do it just a unit at a time. Faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful.
Let me just give you just a couple of quick prayers, and we close with this. Ask God this in prayer (and I'll put these out on the web every week in sermon notes, so you can just pray these prayers): "Father, has the degree of my giving suggested I've recognized and embraced the full extent of your grace in my life or does it suggest I need to recognize and respond to your grace in deeper and more heartfelt ways?"
Secondly, pray this: "Father, could it be that you've raised me up and given me what you've given me today with the financial assets you've entrusted me with for such a time as this because there's an abundant need somewhere else? So in my great poverty of not knowing what to do with my riches, you're going to show me as I'm diligent to work with this community and others about what we could do at this moment for the glory of God."
Thirdly, "Father, is my life revolving around you? Open my eyes." Pray this. "What am I holding onto that's robbing me of present joy and future reward? Since money and things exert mass and mass exerts gravity and gravity holds things in orbit, which of my 'assets' can I give to your kingdom and others so you become the center of my gravity?" I want to tell you something, man. You push your heart toward others, and your heart will go where others are. You push your heart toward God, and your heart goes there.
Finally, "Lord, have I been acting as if I own what you have stewarded me? Deliver me from that that says, 'I'm the owner, and you should be grateful if I give a small percentage to you and your kingdom,' as if you were anything less than a God who is my Lord and King and who I want to be a steward of. Help me to grow in that area."
Folks, the heart of this text is you can have a life that's rich indeed. As you pursue, practice, and proclaim God's way, you're so rich that your Father, who has everything, increases his kingdom and the glory ascribed to him because of you. What else do you want to do?
Father, I pray we would walk out of here today just being encouraged by the Macedonians, by Titus' trip to the Corinthians, and by Paul's admonition to young Timothy and that we would see what you want for us is to have more of the joy you intend for your children as we walk worthy of the calling with which we've been called. Would you help us to be your people, to be faithful in all things? In Jesus' name I pray, amen.