The Solomon Secrets
Hope for the Financially Challenged - Part 3
DVD: Veggie Tales, Madame Blueberry, Stuff mart
In my messages I try to be as honest as I can be in those areas of my life in which God is still working on. This is one of those areas. I don’t always square with what God wants for my life when it comes to money. Some of those confessions have been hard, some have been a little easier.
All of us have areas of discontent in our lives. It could be buying clothes, dishes, movies, motorcycles. Ski boats, classic cars, guitars, and farm equipment. These things all causes us want more and be satisfied less. Somewhere along the way, we have to ask ourselves, “Where does it all end?” Because once you start wanting more, you are never satisfied. Contentment slips out the back door of your life.
America is the wealthiest country on the face of the planet. We have more stuff, amusements, and gadgets than any other country. But are we more content and more happy as a result? Everyone knows the
answer to that question. David Myers says that…
Never has a culture experienced such physical comfort combined with such psychological misery.
There was a man whose name was Solomon. He was the wisest man that ever lived. He was also the wealthiest. In his writings, especially in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, He tells us the secrets of living well with money and the
desires that war within us.
1. The Secret of Contentment
Indulging in luxuries, wine and rich food, will never make you wealthy...
It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to always be wanting something else.
How content are we with what we have? Why do we always convince our self that happiness is one more purchase away? A lot of us think that contentment is a future condition that when I get everything I want, I will arrive at that place. Contentment is not a destination; it is the journey. Solomon says, “You have got to enjoy what you have, and then you find contentment.”
Dealing with this desire for more is what lies at the heart of one of the 10 Commandments. The 10th one says, “Don’t covet.” Coveting is desiring what God has chosen not to give. This commandment, more than any of the other ones, tends to expose the sinfulness and the brokenness of our heart.
The 10th commandment is different than the other 9 in that it is the first commandment that moves away from an outer action to an inner attitude. Think about it like this: All of the other commandments, when you break them, result in an external behavior. You can find evidence of lying, stealing, adultery, murder. But you can be guilty of coveting, and nobody ever knows. As a result, it is a sin that we rarely confess in the church. To ourselves, to one another, or even to God.
It is this commandment that the Apostle Paul talked about in Romans 7 that was his Achilles heel. He
had a problem of coveting. In fact, one of his most quoted verses is Philippians 4:13…
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We quote this verse when we want to try to climb Mt. Everest or lift 350 lbs., as some type of self-help, ‘We’re
here to pump you up’ verse. But do you know what this verse is really talking about? Contentment!
I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little.
With Christ’s help, you can learn contentment. In Mark 10, Jesus spoke of the sin of coveting when the young rich man came up and asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus looks at this rich young
ruler and says…
“You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”
Do you know in that list of commandments the one Jesus didn’t quote? All of the commandments that deal with
your neighbor are listed except “Do not covet.” Why did Jesus leave it out? Well, He goes on to say…
And the young ruler said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
This man considered himself to be a scrupulous law-keeper. And as he bench-marked his life against external obedience, he thought he was right on. Jesus left out coveting for a reason, for this is the commandment that he broke all the time. This man’s problem was money.
What Solomon presents to us is learning to live within your means; learning to be content with what you
have. True wealth coupled with simplicity is the best way to live.
There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.
This verse is about living within your means, not living within your imagination. Pretense is the social are of pretending, with the intention to deceive others about ‘Who I am, and what I am.’ It is also about deceiving yourself. Because self-importance is always based on self-delusion. It is always about ‘Image Management’.
What Solomon is saying is that is better to live simply and really be rich, than to live extravagantly and to be poor.
Let me tell you a true story. A older couple showed up one day at Harvard to see the president of the university, though they did not have an appointment. As they made their request to the President’s secretary, the secretary noticed the woman’s pale blue gingham dress and the husband’s thread-bare suit. She knew that these back-country hicks had no business being here at Harvard, much more seeing the president that day. The way they looked, they just didn’t belong here at this prestigious university. She responded very shortly, “He is going to be very busy all day.” The woman replied, “Well that’s okay, we’ll wait.”
They waited. And they waited. For several hours they waited. The secretary was hoping that in the waiting, they would just grow frustrated and leave. But they weren’t leaving. Becoming desperate, she goes to tell the president. “I know how much you hate to be irrupted, but there’s a couple out here who wants to see you today. They have been sitting out here for hours and they have no appointment, but they say they need to see you today. Could you just spare them a couple of minutes? I am sure we can dismiss them and get them out of here.”
The president breathes a heavy sigh, and gets up in exasperation and walks out to meet the couple. The lady with the blue gingham dress rises to meet them and says this: “We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard and was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him somewhere on campus.
Well, the president was unmoved and untouched by her story. He said, “Madam, we can’t put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, the place would look like a cemetery.” The lady quickly explained, “Oh no, we don’t want to erect a statue. We would like to give a building to Harvard.”
The president rolled his eyes and looked at his watch and replied, “A building? Do you know how much a building cost? We have over 7.5 million dollars in the physical plant alone!”
At that, the woman was silent, and the president was happy. At last, he thought they would leave. She quietly looked to her husband and said, “If that’s all it cost to start a university, why don’t we just start our own?” The old man nodded in approval. The president’s face contorted in confusion, and on that day, Mr. & Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away and returned to their home in Palo Alto, California, and began the university that bears their son’s name—a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.
A lot of times we make the mistake of thinking that we know what real wealth is, and that we know who these wealthy people are. But for the most part we don’t.
Most of us, when we think of wealth, define it as Webster does: Wealth refers to a people who have an abundance of material possessions.
Most people think that Millionaires own expensive clothes, and have nice watches and drive fancy cars. But in a study that came out a couple of years ago entitled The Millionaire Next Door, the authors talked about
the reality of what millionaires look like in this country. Listen to this.
Most millionaires in America did not inherit their wealth—80% of them are first generation affluent. Most millionaires live well below their means. They wear inexpensive suits, drive American-made cars,
and only a very small minority drive the current year automobile.
Most of us wouldn’t recognize real wealth if we saw it. That’s why the book is called The Millionaire Next Door. This is the contrast that Solomon was talking about 3,000 years ago. There are those who appear to have nothing but are very wealthy. And there are those who, because a matter of pretense, appear to have all of the flashings and trackings of wealth but who have nothing but a huge amount of debt.
There is a better way to live, and that is to live simply. Not only does he talk about contentment, but he
also talks about the nuts and bolts of finances too.
2. Money Management Secrets
In Solomon’s writings, you can find tons of principles, verse after verse of financial advice, including things like not going into debt, what interest does to us, not signing on loans for other people. Let me give you 3 basics in terms of financial success that Solomon gives us.
The first is…
• Keep good records. (This is the principle of accounting)
Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be secure for the next generation.
In Solomon’s day, they did not have stocks, they had flocks. What a shepherd had to do was always know the condition of his herd of sheep and the number of them. What Solomon is saying is that You have to watch your business interests carefully. Keep track of your financial concerns. If you don’t, you won’t have any security.
Keeping good records involves four things:
• What we owe
• What we own
• What we earn
• Where it goes
Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.
• Develop a spending plan. (This is the dreaded “B: word—the budget word)
Plan carefully and you will have plenty. If you act too quickly, you will never have enough.
Stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it.
This is God’s IQ test. God says, “Do you want to know how smart you are? If you spending all that you make, that’s not very intelligent.”
Budgeting tells your money where you want it to go, instead of always wondering where it went.
Most of us wouldn’t dream of driving a car with a broken gas gauge without figuring out some way of determining how much gas we still have in the tank. But many of us live our entire financial lives without a spending gauge. And many times we find ourselves out of money between paychecks. All of a sudden, the
resources are gone and we resort to plastic because we don’t have a spending gauge in our life.
• Save for the future.
Take a lesson from the ants...learn from their ways and be wise! Even though they have no prince,
governor, or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.
Solomon says, “Look at the buds. Even the buds don’t consume all of their resources. They put aside some for the future.
Studies have found that the average American living today at the age of 65 will have $250 or less in their savings account. Now if you made $25,000 a year never getting a raise, and you spent 40 years in the marketplace, in 40 years time you would have a million dollars pass through your fingertips.
Let’s say you made $40,000 a year, and you put aside what most financial planners would say is a safe number for the future-10% of your income—in 30 years time if you had it in a fund that produced at 7%--you would have a half a million dollars in savings off of $40,000 income.
Solomon not only talks about the nuts and bolts of finances, he also teaches us about…
3. The Secrets of “First Things”
This is the heart of financial success for many people. A lot of people are convinced that the more they give
away their money, the less they’ll have. But Solomon said the opposite is actually true.
It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything.
The Bible teaches that the key to real wealth is being generous. The more we give, the more God allows His resources to flow in our direction. You cannot separate financial health from generosity. Solomon gets very
specific about what this should look like in a child of God.
Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. (Will you circle those two words? First and best) Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.
Proverbs 3:9-10 (The Message)
As children of God, we’re told to give the first and the best to God—not the leftovers, not money we have left over after the bills are paid, but the first and the best belongs to God. Solomon offers us 3 reasons why
Three reasons to pay God first:
When you look to the past with gratitude, you say, “God, the only reason I have anything in my life today, the only reason I am able to make money is because you have blessed me with my abilities and health to go to
work. So, in gratitude, I bless you with my first and best I have to offer, because it is all yours anyway.
It is a statement of priority. You are saying, “God, you are #1 in my life. Because You are #1, you get the first
and the best of anything and everything I make. You are #1; You get it first.”
For the future, it’s about trust. You are saying to God, “God, You have made certain promises about this, that when I put You first, that You get involved in my financial affairs. You open the resources of heaven and flow them into my life to make sure that I always have enough.
The past, the present, and the future. Now if you’re afraid to do this, you need to understand that the bottom line is that you really don’t understand the nature of God.
The word trust is an interesting word. It is the word used to describe a servant who literally prostrated themselves, laid down in front of their master. This was the posture of a servant. They laid there as they waited their master’s orders.
As God’s children, we lay before Him—we lay before Him our life, we lay before Him our finances, we lay before Him everything that we are and everything that we own and we say, “God, I await your bidding.”
God says in His word that He wants #1 place in your life—He will not settle for #2, #3; the only position He wants, the only position He deserves is #1.He tells us in His word that the first of everything belongs to
Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.
The law of first things says that Whatever is done with the first determines the rest. Why is that so important to God? If He is God, He doesn’t need my sheep or my money! That’s true. He puts this principle in His word because He wants to remind us of the position He holds in our life—#1, nothing else, nothing less.
Let’s be honest. What is the one thing we want to do with the first of everything? We want it for us. Do you remember what you did with your first paycheck? I was a freshman in college working at Mr. Gatti’s pizza. I took my first paycheck and went out and bought a leather jacket at the mall. It would have been helpful if I had a Harley-Davidson to go along with my leather jacket, but I didn’t. I blew the money on me. That’s what we do. We blow it on us and what makes us happy.
Think about the average business. You see a dollar bill on the wall. What does that say? That’s the first dollar they ever earned. “That’s my dollar. I frame it, I keep it. This is my trophy.” But God says, “No. The first belongs to Me. Because I am #1.”
For those of us who grew up in church, you probably remember the Old Testament story of Jericho. Jericho was the first city that the Israelites, when they went into the promised land had to battle. They marched 7 times around, the blew trumpets, and the walls fell down. The Israelites didn’t have to engage in battle or even lift a sword—God did it all.
This town, God said, was devoted to Him. It was the first town, and God said, “You shall not take any of it’s spoils, riches, servants, or cattle. Leave it all for Me, for I am holy. This is the first city, and the first always belongs to Me.”
Usually, the spoils of war usually went to those who fought in battle, because that was the only way you got paid. No remember, who fought the battle of Jericho? Did the Israelites? No! God did. He said, “Everything in the city is for me.”
But there was an Israelite names Achan. Achan saw all of this gold, and he took it and he buried it under his tent. As a result, the next battle they engaged in, the battle against the smaller city of Ai, they got their hind-quarters kicked. Joshua and the people discovered that Achan disobeyed, and Achan and his family paid very dearly for their costly mistake.
If you ever loose sight of this characteristic of God, you will be tempted, as Achan was, to grab what you can now, and ignore what God has said. The order that we give God our money is the order that we give God in our life. When God is constantly an afterthought, When God is always a priority less than #1, it says something in that area of my life that I am willing to put God.
The main reason we worship now on Sunday instead of Saturday is because Sunday is the first day of the week. In Jesus’ time, Sunday was a work day. And while everyone else was out trying to make a buck in the marketplace, Christians said that, “No, we will give God the first day of the week; we will set that aside for Him, for He is more important than us making a couple of bucks. The first day of the week belongs to Him.”
God is not poor. He owns it all. If you give to God, you are not helping Him out of a jam.
This is what God says through David:
I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
You have never given God anything. We have only returned to Him what is already His—that’s what the Bible makes clear.
A.W. Tozer said it like this:
I am obliged to tell you that God doesn’t need anything that you have. He does not need a dime of your money. It is your own spiritual welfare that’s at stake. You have the right to keep all that you have to
yourself. But if you do, it will rust and decay, and ultimately ruin you.
God is a creator, not a consumer. As a result, the things that we give to Him, He multiplies and He blesses. He doesn’t keep for Himself. That’s why this is so integral to financial success—when you learn about giving to God with all of your heart, you will find that God will bless the rest in ways that you cannot expect or imagine.
I am sure that there are some in here that have had a bad experience with a church, or a bad experience with a pastor. Right now, you’re saying in your heart, “I don’t care what you say. I am not about to turn loose of any money and give it.”
Ultimately, it is not about whether you are giving to a church or to a pastor; it’s about whether you are giving it to God. If you are giving to God, God will bless it. He will honor it, and He will multiply it beyond your wildest imagination.
Now I couldn’t finish this message without talking about this last thing, which is…
4. Solomon’s Dirty Little Secret
Solomon really loved the Lord. He wrote accurately and truthfully about all sorts of financial matters long before economics became a credited source of study in universities. But Solomon also had pockets of disobedience in his life.
What I want to say to you is this: It is possible to really love the Lord with all your heart, and to have a heart for God, to spend time with Him and to serve Him, and still hold on to areas of disobedience.
Solomon knew what was right. He wrote a 1,005 songs and over 3,000 proverbs declaring God’s truth. He was good at preaching to others. World leaders came to sit at his feet and learn. But as wise and discerning as he was, it wasn’t what he knew that got him into trouble; it was how he lived and the choices he made.
When you read through the book of Proverbs you would be tempted to conclude that Solomon must have had it all together. He lived truth. But the fact is, even though he was a man who preached about the dangers of excess, he also lived a life of excess.
Consider this: The book of Proverbs was likely written by Solomon when he was young man, because it was written from a father to a son. Here’s a young father preparing his son to go out and embark on life. In Ecclesiastes, his next book, is written as an older man. He was in a mid-life crisis. He lived a life of total excess; he lived in opposition to many of the truths that he taught in Proverbs.
God gave Solomon incredible wealth, but it was a test. It was a test to see whether Solomon would use it to drown himself in luxury, or whether he would use it to bless God and to bless God’s people. He failed the test. He wrote about the dangers of silver and gold, but every cup he ever drank out of was made of gold, In fact, the book of Kings tells us that every vessel in his house of Lebanon was made of pure gold.
At one point in his life, Solomon became obsessed in his life with accumulating more money. It took him 7 years to build a house for God, the temple. It took him 13 years-almost twice as long—to build his own house. He was absorbed in self-consumption.
Thankfully, he came to the end of his life, and he realized this…
Whoever loves money never has money enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
Solomon tried it all without God, and he said at the end of his life, “It was all meaningless. It was worthless.” It didn’t matter.
Just like Solomon, all of us in here know the truth, but are we obeying the truth? Are there pockets of disobedience in your life? Many of us think we’re exempt from this teaching. We tell ourselves rational lies, and we rationalize and disobey what God has clearly taught us. We say to God, “God, this is my area. This is
where I call the shots. You can’t be Lord in my life over this area. I am not going to submit to you as Lord.”
Some of you today need to make God your CEO- Your Chief Executive Officer. Put Him in charge. Let Him call the shots. He needs to be #1 in every area. The biblical word for that is Lord.
Some of you need to make Him your CFO- your Chief Financial Officer. You say “yes” in every area except your finances. You say “No, God” when it comes to your checkbook. That is not okay for a disciple of the Lord. It is about Lordship. It is not about money. It is not about sheep. It is about Lordship—He calls the shots.
"Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that you can take two small ten cent pieces, just two dimes, and shut out the view of a panoramic landscape. Go to the mountains and just hold two coins closely in front of your eyes--the mountains are still there, but you cannot see them at all because there is a dime shutting off the vision in each eye." It doesn’t take large quantities of money to come between us and God; just a little, placed in the wrong position, will effectively obscure our view.
--A. W. Tozer, I Talk Back to the Devil
“I’ve learned that we must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me.”
-- Corrie ten Boom, quoted from Memorable Scenes from OT Homes, Swindoll, p.29.
CD: Things We leave behind, Michael Card