Summary: It all belongs to God - how can we learn to be content in any circumstance - how can we be good stewards or managers of what God has given?
Where Is Your Treasure, part 2
October 12, 2008
Open with Chinese finger puzzle illustration – invite someone on stage to put their finger into the puzzle with the preacher and try to extricate themselves.
The key to this illustration is something we’re going to look at more closely this morning, in a continuation of the things we looked at two weeks ago, regarding money and possessions. Remember, a few weeks ago, those of you who were here and awake, we focused on Matthew 6, especially verse 21, which says:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
And then verse 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 serve both God and Money.
We noted that throughout church history, people have seen that money is a significant temptation, and can even compete with our love for God. Yet, we also see that the problem isn’t necessarily having money or things. In and of itself, money has no power. It’s the love of money that’s a problem, and it’s a problem most of us wrestle with at one time or another. That’s made clear by another passage of scripture we read:
1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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.
And here’s where the Chinese finger puzzle, which is sometimes called the Chinese finger trap, comes in. Money has the same kind of pull on you that the puzzle does. The more you strain to get it, the more it traps you. The solution to the potential problem of money, the way out of the trap, is to loosen our grip on money and things. To let go of it.
Before we continue, I must correct an error in a statement I made 2 weeks ago. I told you it had been ten years since we last heard a full message related to money and possessions at TCF. Further research has revealed that’s not true. It’s been close to 6 years, but hey, who’s counting. And what I said last week remains true. If ten years is plenty of time between messages on this theme, so is almost six years. So there, for the record – I stand corrected.
We ended a few weeks ago with a passage of scripture which I think is key to our understanding of how to deal with money and things.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
So, as we move on this morning, considering the theme of money and possessions, we can say this:
1. money has no power in and of itself, it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil
2. that understood, it’s still just as clear that money often is a trap – a spiritual trap, that can literally lead to destruction
3. there is a secret to being content with plenty, and being content with little, in terms of money and things, and that secret lies completely in our Lord Jesus Christ and nothing else.
In challenging financial times, and when things are good, we must trust the Lord. Contentment is based on our trust in the One in whom we can do everything.
I think our first step in dealing with this hold, that money and things can have over us is recognizing the potential trap and real danger of money and possessions, and then being honest with ourselves, and asking ourselves regularly where we may be vulnerable.
Being honest with ourselves is key. We have this amazing capacity to justify ourselves, our attitudes, our behavior, and this is very true when it comes to our attitudes about possessions.
We’re all vulnerable to the traps that things can bring. So what are the signs we may have our finger in the finger puzzle too tightly?