Summary: A stewardship series, sermon number 2. This message takes a look at how materialism destroys our faith.
Commit to Grow
Pastor Glenn Newton
Oct. 10, 2004
(Read Psalm 37:1-9.)
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you (nlt).
Legendary comedian Jack Benny was well known for his portrayal of stinginess—By the way, is there anyone under 45 who knows who I’m talking about? In one of his comedy routines, a robber pointed a gun at Benny and demanded, “Your money or your life!” after a long pause, the thief poked the gun in his ribs urging a response, to which Benny immediately responded, “I’m thinking! I’m thinking!”
Sometimes we’re like the comedian as we struggle to make decisions about priorities in life. Although God does not point a gun at us, He does confront us with the very same question, “Your money or your life.” Listen to the words of Jesus, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24).
Jesus knew the spiritual connection between our pocketbooks and the priorities of our lives. He said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Warning His followers to “watch out!” and be on “guard against all kinds of greed,” Jesus left no room for confusion on this topic when He said, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (v. 15).
Materialism Is the Enemy of Faith
Yet, we live in a world caught in the constant desire for more. Our lives are constantly bombarded with messages about products that will make life better, keeping us dissatisfied with what we have. Advertisers count on us to always be searching for the “bigger and better.” We’re encouraged to spend our lives chasing after the “great American dream.” We call this pursuit of worldly possessions, “materialism,” and it is the enemy of faith.
Jesus said we could have pocketbooks “that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (v. 33). But too often, people have easily and without hesitation traded their lives for silver and gold—and plastic—similar to the story Jesus told about the greedy, rich fool, who tore down his old barns to build bigger ones so he might hoard more for himself. “God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” (vv. 16-19).
Then Jesus said, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (v. 21). Or as the New Living Translation reads, “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” We, like the “rich fool,” can become so confident in material possessions we neglect others and our need for God.
Materialism, however, isn’t just about collecting the world’s stuff. It’s about thinking like the world. Materialism is an attitude, and John tells us this desire to possess more earthly stuff is certainly not a heavenly one.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
(The Message says it this way)
Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity (tm).
There’s nothing wrong with having a nice car, living in a comfortable home, or dressing in the latest fashion, unless those possessions possess us, unless the pursuit of those things keeps us from seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord. That’s the real danger (Toler, p. 32).
Materialism considers the temporal (the temporary) more important than the eternal. (Toler, p. 32). Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. . . . my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). So if we’re copying Jesus (living Christ-like lives), we’ll always make our decisions—including financial ones—based on the eternal, not the temporal.
When considering the scriptural principles of giving, you would not expect non-Christians to give to the Lord’s work, but you would expect Christians to be examples in their giving; surely, most are, at the very least, tithers. Here’s the problem: giving percentages among evangelical Christians have actually been declining for the past 30 years (Toler and Towns, Developing a Giving Church, 1999).