Summary: What are we to do when money becomes the battlefield? RECOGNIZE THE BATTLE; REMOVE THE REPROACH OF THE UNCHURCHED; RELEASE OUR RIGHTS; EXPECT TO RECEIVE A BLESSING.
Passage: Gen.. 13:5-ff
I ask you this evening, what is it that divides and dissolves more relationships than virtually anything else? Of course, I’m sure that it’s not true of each of you, so perhaps it will come as a total surprise to you that the number one item that married couples quarrel about is; and the number one reason for divorce in this country is ... MONEY.
You would think that of all the places on the planet; that Money would be less of a problem in American families than world wide, but such is not the case. Here in America, where God’s blessing has been abundant and fairly constant, we each find ourselves at one of the richest times in history. Right now, there are more wealthy people than has ever been before. We are sitting on a Gold-mine. Wouldn’t you figure that the least likely item to argue about would be money? Again, such is not the case.
Unfortunately, the home is not the only place affected by the war over wealth, but because Christians are not immune to the problem, the war often settles itself into pews, pulpits and padded carpet hallways of American Churches as well. How much it must grieve the Father when his people go to war over wealth, while evangelism, worship, instruction and fellowship often go by unnoticed. For many Christians and for many churches, when it’s time to create or balance the budget, they dig in and buckle down for war.
So what should you do? What are we to do when money becomes the battlefield? Turn in your Bible to Genesis chapter 13; where we stumble upon two relatives, in fact two households entrenched in a War Over Wealth.
1) The first thing you must do is RECOGNIZE THE BATTLE
Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.
Matthew Henry considered this passage and he observed that, "Riches not only afford matter for strife, and are the things most commonly striven about... [but] Poverty and labor, wants and wanderings, could not separate Abram and Lot; but riches did so"
Now you might say, Pastor that doesn’t apply to me, my wife and I don’t argue about money, we argue because she thinks we have money. Or you might say, Pastor, I’m aware of the problems wealth brings, but I’m not wealthy. Aren’t you?
Paul writes to Timothy and tells him what it takes to be content, in 1 Timothy 6:8 "If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." If you have food and clothing that’s enough. Wealth sets in when you own a home and a car or two, and not to mention a TV or three and what about the Hobbies and the other pursuits for which we’ve purchased special equipment? Friends, like it or not, you are wealthy. And therefore we are not immune to the potential of Warring Over Wealth.
So How do you recognize the Battle? When the discussion becomes heated, and the blood pressure rises, you’re going into battle. When the voices get louder and the love disappears, the war is on. When the suggestion that strife is in the air begins to reach your ears it’s time to admit it. The Battle is on. So what can you do to stop it?
2) The second action must be to REMOVE THE REPROACH OF THE UNCHURCHED
Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.
In the business community, it’s become natural and even expected in some places to have heated discussions and arguments over the cash flow. The monthly profit and loss meetings I used to attend at Wal-Mart were never easy, but they were calm and civil compared church budget time in many churches.
How is it that we fail to recognize that our pride is destroying not just us, but also it brings reproach and disgust from the community upon God himself? In the book of Romans, in the middle of the second chapter, Paul is asking the questions of consistency. You teach against adultery, do you commit adultery, you teach against stealing, do you steal? And I’d like to add my own question, you teach love and peace, but do you love and are you peaceful?
To the world around us, it doesn’t much matter what we say. It’s the actions that speak louder than words. When we fight and when we as Christians go to war against each other, Paul’s reprimand comes hard upon us in verse 24 of chapter 2. Rom 2:24 "For ’the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ just as it is written."