Summary: This sermon looks at the negative attitude of being stingy and God's cure for it.
How Much Is Enough?
John D. Rockefeller lived from 1839 to 1937. In 1916 he became the first person in the world to reach a nominal personal fortune of one billion dollars. He was the founder, chairman and major shareholder of Standard Oil Company. By the time of his death it is estimated that his net worth was $392 billion dollars. If you adjust for inflation - he is often regarded as the richest person in history.
As a youth, Rockefeller reportedly said that his two great ambitions were to make $100,000 and to live to be 100 years old. He believed that "God gave me money" and followed John Wesley's dictum: "gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can." Rockefeller was a religious man and always gave a tithe to the church and also support efforts in education and medicine.
It is reported that at one time Rockefeller was asked about wealth; "How much money is enough?" His reply was, "More than I have."
This morning I want to talk with you about a behavior that is not mentioned very much in churches today. What I want to talk about is being stingy.
Stinginess is human nature – actually it is fallen human nature. Stinginess is an expression of selfishness. It is an expression of this is mine and you cannot have it. It is a product of being narrow minded.
One of the most popular shows in America back in 1999 was “Who wants to be a Millionaire.” The first person to win a million dollars in America on that game show was a man by the name of John Carpenter. (Not the movie producer.) John worked for the IRS. Of the million dollars he was able to keep $400 thousands. The IRS took the rest.
The question shouldn’t be who wants to be a millionaire – it should be – “How bad do you want to be a millionaire.” A recent survey asked people what they would do for two million dollars? Here are the findings:
3% said they would put their children up for adoption
4 % said they would have a sex change operation
7% said they would kill a stranger
16% said they would leave their spouse
23% said they would become a prostitute for a week
25% said they would abandon their entire family
Stinginess – another name for it is Greed.
Did you know that God has quite a bit to say about selfishness and greed? Look at some of the verses I found in the Bible:
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed. Proverbs 11:6 (NASB)
5 "Imagine a person who lives well, treating others fairly, keeping good relationships— 6 doesn't eat at the pagan shrines, doesn't worship the idols so popular in Israel, doesn't seduce a neighbor's spouse, doesn't indulge in casual sex, 7 doesn't bully anyone, doesn't pile up bad debts, doesn't steal, doesn't refuse food to the hungry, doesn't refuse clothing to the ill-clad, 8 doesn't exploit the poor, doesn't live by impulse and greed, doesn't treat one person better than another, 9 But lives by my statutes and faithfully honors and obeys my laws. This person who lives upright and well shall live a full and true life. Decree of God, the Master. Ezekiel 18:5-9 (MSG)
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. Proverbs 3:27 (NASB)
Another way to say the same thing is:
Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person. Proverbs 3:27 (MSG)
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB)
This morning let me read a parable from our Lord. It is found in the gospel of Luke:
16 And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' 21 "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Luke 12:16-21 (NASB)