Summary: A great mistake when we talk about money in the church is that we often do it in the context of a special appeal or a crisis situation.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. I’m going to read 1 Timothy 6:17-19 this morning. And the subject of this sermon is "God’s economic plan." I’m not going to talk about the world’s economic plan because you hear about that every day.
You hear about the stock market & it’s ups & downs, the rising & falling prices of oil & the problems faced by the banks & S&L institutions. You’re well aware of the world’s economic plan or the lack of it.
B. I don’t want to talk about your economic plan, either, & I certainly would not be so presumptuous as to talk about my economic plan. Because if your economic plan is no better than mine then we both have reason to be concerned.
But I would like to talk about God’s economic plan. So let’s listen to what the Word of God has to say in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, for it is a passage that may explain God’s economic plan better than any other.
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
"Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, & to be generous & willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." [1 Timothy 6:17-19]
C. One of the greatest mistakes, I think, that we make when we talk about money in the church is that we often do it in the context of a special appeal or in a crisis situation.
If I stand up & tell you that there are thousands of starving people who need our help & we’re going to take up an offering to send food - if that strikes your fancy - you’ll probably give & maybe even give sacrificially to help meet that need.
Or if I remind you that this is "Miracle Sunday" & we need your gift to help us build our new church building, & you feel that that’s a legitimate need, then you will give generously in response to that need, too.
And the result is that too often Christian people have been conditioned to think that the only time they really need to get serious about giving is when there is a need that appeals to their particular emotion. And some needs are just more appealing than others, aren’t they?
So we like to say, "Well, I gave to build the new church building," or "I gave to feed a hungry child." But to say, "I gave to pay the electric bill," or "I gave to buy some Sunday School books," is not very appealing. You see, our giving is oftentimes determined by the heart appeal of a particular need.
ILL. A few years ago some Christians were challenged to give for hotels & motels & a Christian amusement park. So they gave & gave sacrificially, only to find out later that much of the money was put into the pockets of the ones who appealed for their gifts.
ILL. And during the last two weeks we have watched with disgust Primetime Live’s expose of 3 TV preachers, & we say, "What a misuse, what an injustice that people professing to be Christians would be guilty of such deception."
D. But the problem actually starts with us, with people who don’t recognize that the teaching of Scripture is not to give to needs but to give to God.
And when that is done properly & scripturally, the problems that we have been hearing so much about will be avoided because God has a system of safeguards to prevent just such misuse of His funds.
And that system is housed in the local congregation, the Church. It is a system of checks & balances within the body of the church to make sure that His funds are not misused. That’s a part of God’s economic system.
PROP. So I want to talk about that this morning, about how God wants us to look at His system & how that affects us. There are 6 points to this sermon.
I. GOD OWNS ALL THE WEALTH IN THE WORLD
A. Point #1 is this - God owns all the wealth in the world. Psalms 24:1-2 says, "The earth is the Lord’s & the fullness thereof, the world & all they that dwell therein." Or as the NIV puts it, "All of the world is the Lord’s & everything that is in it."
ILL. Now if you went down to the Cameron County records & looked through the deeds of property, someplace along the way you would find that at 2301 Quail Trail there is a deed to a piece of property that has my wife’s name & my name on it. It says we are the owners of that piece of property.