Summary: God help us not be prideful about what we've accomplished but rather reflect a spirit of gratitude.
Introduction: You have a problem
* God's ways work
I teach how to handle money according to what the Bible says as best I can figure out. I've done that for approaching 30 years now. I've studied the Scriptures. I've had all the arguments. I've had all the criticisms. I have all the people in academia who don't understand. I have all the people with a different doctrine who don't understand, and I get all of that. But at the end of the day, most of us who love Jesus and understand that the Bible is His Word, we get that God wrote us a love letter on how to live our lives; and when we handle money this way, the weirdest thing happens-it works.
When you get out of debt, live on a budget, live on less than you make, and save money, you end up with money. It's the weirdest thing.
But we've got a problem that's developed in our culture, and the problem is that the people who I've taught to handle money well, when they handled money well, it worked. And they ended up with some. Then they're being criticized. Even some of the people who I didn't help with money have won with money, and they're being criticized.
* You are already wealthy by global standards
It's an interesting series of spirits floating around in our culture today, and it's a bit of a problem. Because here's the problem: If wealthy people are evil, you're all in trouble. If you make $34,000 a year, you're in the top 1% of the world. You're a one-percenter.
If you make $11,000 a year, which puts you substantially below the federal measure of poverty, you're in the top 10% of the world. If you have a computer, a cellphone, a television and a car, you're wealthy.
And so if wealth is evil, you've got a problem. And yet there's this spirit flowing through the land right now that's twisting a biblical view of wealth and saying that somehow because you have had some level of success-whether it's $34,000 or $340,000-you've done something wrong.
Open up your iPads, your iPhones or maybe a Bible to Luke 10:38 and John 12:1. If you want to pull them up, you can, or I'll just read them. Those of you who have been Christians since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, you'll know these stories. I didn't grow up in church, so these stories are all still so fresh to me, even though I've studied them for 30 years.
Luke 10:38 says, "Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word, but Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me alone to serve? Therefore tell her to help me.' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'"
Apparently-and we can argue about it in the commentaries-they were probably the same two women in this next story. They were sisters, by the way.
"Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper, and Martha served."
There she is again.
"But Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary"-there she is again-"took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray him, said, 'Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?'
"This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and he had the moneybox, and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said to him, 'Let her alone. She's kept this for the day of my burial.'"
I was reading a friend of mine's book. Robert Morris has such a wonderful book out called The Blessed Life, and he did a drive-by on a subject that really got me to praying, thinking, and studying, because I'm seeing a movement in the marketplace and in our culture in the mainstream and in the church that needs to be discussed here.
It's a wonderful book, by the way. If you haven't read it, it's probably one of the premier books on generosity and giving out there. Robert's a wonderful teacher on that. But he did a drive-by, and I'm going to steal his drive-by and turn it into a talk. In other words, I'm going to finish what he started. He said that there are three spirits around the subject of wealth. There are three people in these stories I just read you that I think represent these three spirits.