Summary: The only way money can buy happiness is when you give it away. How can we do that and why does God think that we need to learn that practice in our lives?
(This sermon series is based on a book by Randy Alcorn entitled "The Treasure Principle)
OPEN: Years ago, there was a comedian named Joan Rivers that said: “People say that money isn’t the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.”
A preacher spoke of having served at a small congregation for a short time. He said the church building could seat 400, but only 40 came. The average age of the congregation was now over 70. They were a dying church. They hadn’t grown or changed much over the last 40 years and they’d fired their last three preachers because… well, let’s just say they were a tough crowd to please. There wasn’t a lot of JOY in their church.
On Sundays - when it would rain - they’d put buckets around the auditorium to catch the water that dripped through the ceiling. It would seem that they couldn’t even afford to fix the leak. Well… actually they could. They had over a million dollars in the bank but they refused to spend it. (Alan Danielson) They had the money but they couldn’t buy the joy! They were a poor little rich church. A church without joy or hope … or even God. WHY??? Because and the money in the bank belonged to them… not to God.
Now… supposedly they were Christians. I mean, they did go to church, but just because they met in a church bldg. didn’t make them Christians any more than sleeping a garage would have made them cars. Let me repeat their money (and their building) belonged to them… but not to God. And that robbed them of joy and hope and their closeness with God. They had the money, but they couldn’t buy the Joy!
(PAUSE) Why? Because money messes with your mind. According to a study reported in 2006 edition of the journal “Science” a team of psychologists noted that “The mere presence of money changes people,” said Kathleen Vohs, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and the lead author of the report. And “Money changes people’s motivations,” said the co-author “They are less focused on other people. In this sense, money can be a barrier to social intimacy.” Back in 1998, researchers at the Univ. of Chicago studied the lives of 800 teenagers and found that the wealthier the community, the less happy the teenager. (October 1998 issue of "Monitor on Psychology") And another source even went so far as to say: “The only way money buys happiness is when people give it away.” (Ronald Brooks, a Louis A. Bantle professor of business and government policy at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Whitman School of Management).
Money is funny that way. The more we cling to cash, the more miserable we seem to become. Money can rob us of JOY and hope and … even God. Jesus said “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24
The Bible seems to teach us that, if we want the joy God can give us, you and I need to think of the money we have as being God’s money. It belongs to Him! Then we need to use that money for God’s purposes.
In our text today, we’re looking at a church that had virtually no money… but the money they had bought them the kind of JOY that many people crave. In II Corinthians 8:1-4 (Paul wrote the Corinthians Church) “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.”
The Macedonians were really poor - and yet they had an abundance of joy. Why??? Because they overflowed in a wealth of generosity to needy.
Just a little background info: There was a famine in Israel at the time, and the Christians at Jerusalem were suffering. So the NEW churches throughout Asia were taking up a collection to send back to Jerusalem to buy food and supplies for the Christians there. And the Christians in Macedonia (despite their poverty) were giving above and beyond their means to help out. And God was impressed! And they received an abundance of JOY.
Now THAT is a Biblical principle. Jesus said ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35