Being Content in a Material World
By Lynn Floyd
Introduction: Proverbs 30:7-8 (New Living Translation) says, “Two things I ask of You, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion. That I not be fully and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.”
This is probably the kind of my prayer many of us are not comfortable praying in our lives. I think sometimes we don’t think we can do it. This is a prayer asking God to give him what he needed and not just what he wanted. That is what the writer here is saying “give me my portion”. The New International Version says “give me my daily bread.” When is that last time your prayers have been simply for daily bread? Have your prayers been ore of “give me more” or “give me what I need?”
Transition: I have only been a pastor for over 2 and a half years now. I have found it interesting in my teaching and preaching that people would much rather hear about their need for prayer and Bible reading more than they would about money and possessions. Why do you think our possessions arouse such strong reactions from us? Why do many get uptight when you begin to talk about money? For the most part Americans define their net worth by their money and status. “My name is Lynn Floyd and I live in the Wood River Subdivision and I work at Riverwood Church.” We must always remember that our identity comes from Christ and not in what we own
It’s important that we talk about our possessions and stuff. Jesus talked more about money and handling our possessions than almost any other theme in the Bible. Money and possessions have the potential to own and handle us if we don’t get a handle on them first.
Our living in a materialistic society does not help us in this fight. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements. In one evening of television we can take in as much as 250 messages that tell us we are missing something. (Discipleship Journal, issue 112 July/Aug 1999) I even saw a commercial just this week from the “Men’s Warehouse” in which the owner said, “Every man needs to own at least one suit.” He made it sound like it was a commandment. What our culture has been successful at doing over the years is making a God out of being satisfied. Tricia McCarry Rhodes said, “We may be starving our souls while stuffing ourselves with the treasures of this world (Discipleship Journal, issue 112 July/Aug 1999). We have deified dissatisfaction. “You deserve a bigger house.” “You deserve a 4 door car.” “You need a DVD player because no one rents VHS movies anymore.” These messages pound us every day! Many do not even realize that this is happening to them. That’s why it is important to look at what the Bible says about being content in a material world.
Transition: Let’s look at 1 Timothy 6:8-10, 17-19.
There were those who were using godliness as a means to financial gain. Paul is saying in these verses that godliness with contentment is great gain. This was addressed to people who weren’t rich but may be tempted to want to be rich. Verses 17 through 19 were written to those who were already rich. Paul is not speaking against the desire to earn money in order to meet our needs and the needs of others. He is warning against the desire to have more and more money and the ego boost that material luxuries can provide. Paul is saying money is not necessarily the issue. It is the love of money—the obsession of it that is the problem.
Transition: In this text Paul gives us some reasons why we shouldn’t pursue riches.
The first reason why we shouldn’t pursue riches is because we are not taking it with us when we die. John Piper said, “There are no Uhauls behind hearses.” Every single one of us will be stripped of our things when we stand before God one day. We will not have our credit cards, our cars, or bank accounts.
The second reason Paul gives us here that we shouldn’t pursue riches is because we can and should be content with the simple necessities of life. This is something that swims against the flow of our culture today. “We need more and we need it bigger and better” is what we hear continually. We need to know today that it is POSSIBLE to be content. It’s possible because when you have God near and for you, you don’t need extra money or extra things to give you peace and security. Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? It is also possible for us to be content with the simple necessities of life because the most satisfying things in life cannot be bought. Relationships cannot be bought. Genuine community cannot be bought. A picture perfect sunset cannot be bought. The love of a family cannot be bought. We need to hear this today!
The third reason Paul gives us for why we shouldn’t pursue riches is because the pursuit can end in the destruction of your life. We see the stories in the headlines all of the time. John Macarthur said, “Statistics indicate that the more money you have the more likely you are to commit suicide. Life expectancy decreases as income increases. Money adds to stress and that in turn takes years off of your life. One study shows that wealth also intensifies moral decline and family disintegration. Marital infidelity and divorce rates rise with income levels. Obviously money cannot buy happiness.” (Crosswalk.com)
Transition: In verses 11-16 Paul urges Timothy to flee from this! He then shares a word he wants Timothy to share with the church, specifically the few who were well off. By the way, those of us who live in America need to understand that compared to the rest of the world we are extremely well off. If you have three meals a day, a house to live in and a car you need to know you are rich! So as Paul shares these directives to the rich in the first century keep in mind it applies to us as well. Here are three directives to the rich:
Number one, don’t let your money produce pride (Vs. 17). This many times happens after we make a new purchase of something. We have the tendency to want to show it off and sort of announce it to people. This is not healthy for us to do.
Secondly, hope in God more than you hope in your riches. Always remember that your riches do not love you. You might love them but they don’t love you. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Proverbs 23:4-5 says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
Finally, be a good steward of your money. Paul says to be rich in good deeds and generous, willing to share. See your income as an opportunity given by God to bless others. The more we’ve been blessed with the more we should be ready to give away! Of course, this philosophy flies in the face of American consumerism.
Transition: We have to get a handle on our money and possessions before they get a handle on us. We can’t let these things distract us. Am I saying today for you to give all your money away? Am I asking you to take a vow of poverty? No. I’m challenging you to be content. There has to be a change of heart. It’s an inward reality that happens when you are satisfied in God. Satisfied knowing he is going to take care of you. Satisfied in knowing he is all you need.
Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” If we’re loving God with all of our heart, soul mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves do you know how we’ll look at our possessions? We won’t look at them!
I want to challenge you to begin praying Proverbs 30:7-9 this week. May you being a journey of being content in this material world of ours.