Summary: In this message the apostle Paul sets before us six principles of financial contentment.
There is a story about a mother and son who lived in a forest. One day when they were out walking a tornado surprised them. The mother clung to a tree and tried to hold her son. But the swirling winds carried him into the sky. He was gone. The woman began to weep and pray: “Please, O Lord, bring back my boy! He’s all I have. I’d do anything not to lose him. If you’ll bring him back, I’ll serve you all my days.”
Suddenly the boy toppled from the sky, right at her feet—a bit ruffled up, but safe and sound. His mother joyfully brushed him off. Then she stopped for a moment, looked to the sky, and said, “Lord, he had a hat!”
This story is a good illustration of our attitude toward the money and possessions God has given us. Even when God blesses us greatly, we still want just a little more.
When it comes to finances, many of God’s people live in a constant state of dissatisfaction with what we have. The reason is that we are all sinners, and sinners are natural materialists.
We could define materialism as the “theory or doctrine that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life.” If you are a Christian, you would deny that you believe in materialism. But many Christians, who are not materialists in theory, are materialists in practice!
You know you are a practicing materialist if there is a certain amount of money you think you must accumulate, or something you believe you must buy, before you can be happy. What is it you are waiting to have before you will be satisfied? A minivan? A newer house? A house with one thousand more square feet and a third garage? New bedroom furniture? A new car? New clothes? A vacation to Disney World or a cruise to the Bahamas? A faster computer?
Financial discontent has ruined marriages, caused parents to neglect their children, robbed people of joy, and caused the work of God to go without adequate financial support around the world.
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. (Philippians 4:10-14)
Last week I began a new series of messages titled, “Taking the ‘Stew’ Out of Stewardship.” This is the second week of our Capital Stewardship Campaign, which we are calling Forward by Faith. The leadership of the Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church believes that God is calling our church family to move forward by faith to fulfill the mission that he has set before us.
The mission of the Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church is to bring people to Jesus Christ and membership in his church family, develop them to Christlike maturity, equip them for their ministry in the church and life mission in the world, in order to magnify God’s name.
The Session has approved a campaign target of $575,000 to be given over a period of three years for three specific goals: (1) to retire our current mortgage early, (2) to refurbish our grounds and facility, and (3) to add pastoral staff.
Last week I mentioned that if everyone in our church gave 10% of his or her income to the church we would have more than enough to finance the mission of the Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church. Presently we have approximately 85 active, resident family units in our church family. The median annual household income in our community for 2006 is about $75,793. (The average annual household income for our community for 2006 was even higher—$92,125.) Ten percent of the median household income is $7,579. Multiply $7,579 by 85 family units, and our church’s annual income should be $644,215. Consider that giving to our General Fund is on track to reach approximately $300,000 for this year, and you can see that giving in our church averages about 4.6% per family unit.
That means that if everyone was giving 10% of his or her income to the church, we would have almost a quarter of million dollars more in income this year. That means that if everyone was giving 10% of his or her income to the church, we could retire the mortgage by June next year. That means that if everyone was giving 10% of his or her income to the church, we could do significant refurbishing of the property and facility by the end of next year. That means that if everyone was giving 10% of his or her income to the church, we could add at least three additional pastoral staff in 2008.