Summary: 6th in a series from 1 Timothy. Which do we love more: God or money? Let’s use the resources God places in our care to honor Christ and aid those in need. “You can have all this world, but Give me Jesus!”
Lessons for a Healthy Church:
Avoiding the Money Pit
Introduction: In 1986 Tom Hanks & Shelly Long starred in a movie called "The Money Pit." It’s a film “for everyone who’s ever been deeply in Love or deeply in debt.” One of my favorite lines: “Here lies Walter Fielding. He bought a house and it killed him.” Disagreements over money cause marital failures, church splits, business breakups, and any number of other disputes. The power of money can be used to accomplish incredible good or horrible evil.
Proposition: To properly harness the power of money, Paul offers believers some godly financial advice.
1. Embracing materialism promotes discontent (verses 3-10)
One last time Paul warns the Ephesian church about the false teachers that were plaguing them.
They taught that godliness is a means of financial gain.
1) We know that those who adhere to biblical standards often enjoy tangible benefits & concrete blessings
2) Yet there is not one place in the Bible that guarantees financial blessings to the godly. (Ref 2 Corinthians 11:27)
Those who strive to become wealthy by being spiritual open themselves up to all sorts of problems.
1) They will distort & deny the truths of the faith (vs. 3-5, 9-10) Living for the goal of wealth in this world will make us destitute in the next (Lazarus & the rich man)
2) Instead of improving the quality of their lives here & now, they tumble into the pit of discontent & despair (vs. 9-10)
The truth is that those who are sincerely following God will enjoy total contentment that comes from having their basic needs and primary desire met.
A) Basic needs: food & clothing
B) Primary desire: pleasing God
Bob Russell told a story about a rich man who was determined to take his wealth with him. He told his wife to get all his money together, put it in a sack, and then hang the sack from the rafters in the attic. He said, "When my spirit is caught up to heaven, I’ll grab the sack on my way." Well he eventually died, and the woman raced to the attic, only to find the money still there. She said, "I knew I should’ve put the sack in the basement."
C) To avoid discontentment & dismay, there must come a time in our lives when we proclaim, “I’m rich enough.”
2. Rejecting materialism promotes godliness (verses 11-16)
There was once an optimistic farmer who couldn’t wait to greet each new day with a resounding, "Good morning, God!" He lived near a woman whose morning greeting was more like, "Good God... morning?" They were each a trial to the other. Where he saw opportunity, she saw problems. Where he was satisfied, she was discontented. One bright morning he exclaimed, "Look at the beautiful sky! Did you see that glorious sunrise?" "Yeah," she countered. "It’ll probably get so hot the crops will scorch!" During an afternoon shower, he commented, "Isn’t this wonderful? Mother Nature is giving the corn a drink today!” And if it doesn’t stop before too long," came the sour reply, "we’ll wish we’d taken out flood insurance on the crops!" Convinced that he could instill some awe and wonder in her hardened attitude, he bought a remarkable dog. It could perform remarkable and impossible feats, which, the farmer thought, would surely amaze even his neighbor. So he invited her to watch his dog perform.” Fetch!" he commanded, as he tossed a stick out into a lake. The dog bounded after the stick, walked on the water, and retrieved it. "What do you think of that?" he asked, smiling. "Not much of a dog" she frowned. "Can’t even swim, can he?"
Just as optimism & pessimism are diametrically opposed to each other, Greed & godliness do not mix! They are like oil & water. In order to pursue the one, we must flee the other.
There are six virtues Christians must pursue:
1) Righteousness (obedience to God’s standards)
2) Godliness (reverence for God)
3) Faith (personal trust in Christ)
4) Love (seeking the highest good for others)
5) Endurance (a patient, persevering commitment)
6) Gentleness (humble tenderness)
The lure of wealth is great (show ads from last week’s papers). We are to fight this in hand-to-hand combat as warrior-athletes.
It’s not easy to do, but achieving it brings great rewards.
The love of money brings nothing but destruction & despair.
An enduring love for Jesus offers eternal treasure.
3. Managing God’s blessings promotes generosity (verses 17-19)
Paul does not stop writing at verse 16. It is possible for Christians to be godly and rich.
Materialism, not money, is the problem.
This affects everyone at every level of the financial ladder. The poorest of the poor can still be materialistic.
Did you know that out of 38 parables that Jesus told, 16 deal with money in some form or other? If you add up all the times that heaven and hell are mentioned, it comes to fewer times than money is mentioned. The New Testament says 5 times as much about money than it does about prayer. There are about 500 or so verses on prayer and faith combined, but there are 2000 verses dealing with money and possessions.