Summary: What is it about money that could cause Christians to cripple their faith and witness?
OPEN: Many years ago a Chicago radio station, WKOX, offered $10,000 to the individual who could devise the most outlandish way to get the money. More than 6,000 people responded to the challenge.
The eventual winner was Jay Gwaltney of Zionsville, Indiana, who consumed an 11-foot birch sapling - leaves, roots, bark and all. For the event he wore a tuxedo and dined at a table eloquently set with fine china, sterling silverware, candles and a rose vase.
Armed with pruning sheers, the Indiana State University sophomore began chomping - starting from the top of the tree - and working his way down, branch by branch, to the roots. The only extra flavoring he used was some French dressing for a massive birch-leaf salad.
Consuming the tree took 18 hours over a period of three days. When it was all over, Gwaltney complained of an upset stomach.
APPLY: Paul writes: People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (I Timothy 6:9-10)
Now eating a tree sapling might seem to be foolish, but there are people who would apparently do even more than that to get money!
ILLUS: In their book, The Day America Told the Truth, authors James Patterson and Peter Kim revealed some shocking statistics on how far people in this country would be willing to go for money. When asked what they’d do for $10 million dollars:
(25%) Would abandon their entire family
(23%) Would become prostitutes for a week or more
(16%) Would give up their American citizenship
(16%) Would leave their spouses
(10%) Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free
(7%) Would kill a stranger
(3%) Would put their children up for adoption
ILLUS: As one cynic put it: “everyone has their price.” As the above survey indicates, some people will sell just about anything to gain financial security.
I. But, certainly not Christians.
Christians wouldn’t act like that. Christians wouldn’t have “a price” for which they’d sell themselves for, would they?
Well (Paul tells Timothy) yes they might… and (in fact) yes, some had…
"Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (I Timothy 6:10)
ILLUS: My 8 year old son was reading over my sermon and came to that passage and asked me "Daddy, what’s ’griefs?’"
I explained that "grief" was something people experience when they’ve lost someone or something that is very precious to them. And now that that "something" is gone, they feel a deep hurt and sadness.
What Paul was saying was, some Christians had walked away from their faith, their salvation, their relationship with God - to pursue financial gain. And in the end they would realize what they had lost.
It’s a terrible thing. Why would Christians even consider casting away their faith for the sake of earthly riches? What mysterious power does money have, that it could cause someone to do a thing so foolish?
II. First we need to understand… there’s nothing wrong with money.
I like money. You and I need money. We need money to cover our bills, pay our mortgages, maintain our vehicles, feed and cloth our families. We need money to support this church, pay the staff, underwrite missionaries and Bible colleges.
ILLUS: Every Sunday morning we pass an offering plate up and down the aisles. What do you put into the offering plate? Money! (pause…) At least I hope you do.
There’s not a thing wrong with money. It can be a useful tool to take care of our families, and meet our responsibilities and build up the Kingdom of God. Money can be a wonderful thing. One man (Alexander Bloch) commented: "Money is a wonderful thing… but it is possible to pay too high a price for it. (repeat)
Money is nothing more than paper and coin, and yet, Jesus warns us that we can get a little too attached to money and what it can buy:
Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. "
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot (you cannot, you cannot) serve both God and Money."