Stewardship Series #3 2009
1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim 1:14
Guard Your Trust
Let me talk today about a Word we don’t talk much about, that is covetousness.
There is a Malaysian Proverb that says “Give him the leg and he will want the thigh also”
If we think about this word at all, it is usually as wanting what someone else has. When I was a kid, I would see a kid with a new bike and say, “I want Johnny’s bike”. My mom would correct me by saying, “no, you want a bike LIKE Johnny’s bike.” And somehow that was all that mattered. Well, wanting your neighbors things is definitely coveting, but wanting to keep up with your neighbor is the same thing. Wanting something simply for status purposes is also the same thing. “Pastor are you saying that I can’t have nice things or new things or even some extravagant things?” No, if our heart doesn’t accuse us, then we are good. I mean that if God’s Spirit gives us permission within, because we can afford and are living obediently and proper in our priorities, then go ahead. But the key thoughts here in our passage today are priorities, obedience, perspective, and contentment.
The important thing for us to realize is not the question, “is 100% mine or 90% mine”? The mature understanding is that all that I have belongs to Jesus Christ. 100% belongs to Christ. With that said, the scripture IS clear that tithing is a Biblical Standard. And Malachi teaches us that the tithe belongs in the “storehouse” that today is the local church as in the O.T. it was the Temple or local Synagogue.
Scripture teaches that we “owe” or “pay” a tithe and we “give” and offering. That is to understand that we haven’t given an offering until to the Lord until we have given MORE than a Tithe. An offering can take many forms. It can be given, as the Holy Spirit leads, to individuals, to faithful ministries, or to special needs or efforts in the church. But, a true reading and understanding of scripture reveals that a tithe belongs in the local church for the ministry of that body.
I read something interesting this week, that if the average church increased their giving as individuals to the tithing minimum, that is, if every member would give a full tithe, then the budget of that church would increase by 4 Fold. That would take New Life’s budget from $190,000 to over $770,000. Not only that, but this same article stated that the increase in giving to our local SBC churches would generate an additional $85,000,000 in money to missions. 85 Million!
So, what are we talking about here? Are we saying that people should live in a shack, drive 20 year old cars and eat P,B,&J sandwiches so that we can tithe? No, that’s not the issue. God’s plans are always good and doable. But the problem is not that if we obey god there is nothing left to live on. The problem is that many of us are so out of order, in wants vs. needs, that we’ve created circumstances where we can’t or thinking we can’t obey God.
So it comes to the word, contentment. The By-product of contentment is being able to guard the things God has entrusted to us. Scripture says, “Godliness WITH Contentment is Great Gain.” We can be godly and obey and not be happy about it and it won’t last long. Or, we can allow discontentment to drive us away from godliness. But if we can be content with what we have and what our gift from God can provide for us, then we can follow the Lord in godliness and THAT is Great Gain.
So, Paul gives Timothy, a young preacher and instruction and then again as a more experienced preacher the same instruction; “Guard the trust you have been given.” (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim 1:14) So, this is a command for every believer, every age, young and old … Guard Your Trust.
Read long with me then from 1 Timothy 6 beginning in verse 5 and down through verse 20.
How can we live a life of Contentment that will enable us to guard the trust we have been given?
1. Understanding Contentment
In England Lord Congelton heard his cook praying to the Lord, “if I only had 5 pounds (about $25) I’d be content” … he thought about it, and gave her the money. He left the room and paused to listen for her to pray thanks to God … instead he heard … can you finish it for me … “I should have asked for 10”
Contentment – what does that mean?
Oxford’s Dictionary says contentment is a state of peaceful happiness or satisfaction
Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as a state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be.
2 Corinthians 9:8 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Easton’s goes on to say that Contentment is Opposed to - 1. Envy
James 3:16 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
- 2. Greed
Heb 13:5 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.
- 3. Out of Control Ambition
Proverbs 13:10 10Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
- 4. Anxiety
Matthew 6:34 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- 5. Discontent
1 Corinthians 10:10 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
Contentment comes from the INSIDE, birthed by the merging of Humility with the Intellectual Understanding that God is in Charge and is Good, that his promises are sure, and that the Gospel is greater than all things
Contentment also understands our unworthiness
Paul says “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”
V7 says we brought nothing in and we take nothing out. You know it, have heard it said, there are no uhaul trailers on the back of Hearses … “you can’t take it with you” it’s not just an old saying, it is a biblical statement.
Do you Remember what Job said when he was struck with sickness, had lost his wealth and his family …? “naked I came into the world, naked I will leave, blessed be the name of the Lord.” – i.e. if I have anything I have more than I came in with, if I have nothing I have what I came in with and I’ve truly lost NOTHING …
That, my friends, is internal contentment
V8 talks about necessities … are my basic needs being met?
Vv9-10 teach us that there is danger and temptation in earthly riches.
Young’s literal translation renders verse 9 “those wishing to BE rich, do fall into temptation and a snare”
It noticed the difference in people wanting to gain monetary resources and those who want to BE RICH
Plouteo – be rich, have acquired wealth, proper
People who want to be known as people who are wealthy … influential, prosperous, known …
The idea there is that this type of person finds their identity in who they are and what they have
And when that becomes our desire, v9 says we run the risk of
Falling into – means to experience or fall toward …
Temptation – the word is peirasmos – examination / temptation – to submit to a test to learn the true nature or character of; or a trial given for the purpose to make one stumble
So Desiring to BE RICH can be used by the evil one to reveal the true nature of greed that is at the heart of every sinful man … and can be used to trip or cause to stumble a believer who lets it get in his way
And then it becomes MORE than a temptation, a test or a proving ground …
The next step is it becomes a
Snare – pagis – a trap – snare, danger, control
This word is literally a trap used for entangling birds or mammals …
I’m thinking of those crazy Geico commercials and one has that silly bundle of cash under a box trap …
The purpose of a trap is to catch something for your own purposes NOT for their benefit
What is the result?
Many desires, foolish and hurtful
Ruin and destruction
Now let’s think about what we’ve already talked about
When we lose contentment and we become consumed or at least driven by the desire to get ahead, keep up with the joneses …
We are led along by desires …
Who of us are NOT guilty … you know we want to lose a pounds so, instead of pushups situps, watching what we eat, run or walk the block, or even a $20 membership to the gym each month … no, we got to buy the “gonna make you look like a superhero or supermodel in 20 days $400-$800 home exercise equipment that we use for a few days and then start hanging clothes on it.
I won’t make you lift your hands, but I have one in our basement … we finally moved it down there after we stopped hanging clothes on it
Dangerous … probably not
But that’s just an example
And that’s just one thing
But when it becomes a pattern,
When we do it without talking as a family or couple
Relationships are affected
As it controls us it prevents us from at least doing the things we know that God commands us to do and at most it leads to destruction of every area of life
Giving is a barometer of where we are spiritually
And so Paul writes in verse 10, “money is the root of all evil” ? is that what he said? NO … that’s the way it has been quoted … but he didn’t say MONEY was evil. It’s just a thing. But the “LOVE of money” is the root of “all the evils” – is the way the Young’s puts it.
Think about all the evils that plaque our society
White collar crime
The Love of money leads to all kinds of evils
People … GOOD people … NORMAL People
Eager for money
Because it says they have Wandered from the faith
And Pierced themselves with many griefs
My guess is that this hits home with many today
Verse 9 says these things DROWN us or plunge us
Philargyria – love of money or love of greed
Cause to wander – apoplanaoa-po-plan-ow cause wrong views
The truth about this form of wandering is that it deceives us into believing we are doing what is right, acceptable, ok, not necessary
And before long you are changing the way you spend or give or obey in order to do what we think is best and right
Money itself isn’t evil but it sure knows the way to get there doesn’t it? And it can lead us that way in a hurry if we aren’t careful
I’ve never seen someone lose their true wealth or ability to care for themselves by pursuing godliness
But I’ve sure seen people lose their godliness by pursuing money
Contentment – autarkeia ow-tar-ki-ah sufficiency of the necessities of life; a mind contented with it’s lot
835 A Contented Man’s Shirt
There is a story told of a king who was suffering from a painful ailment, whose astrologer told him that the only cure for him was to find a contented man, get his shirt, and wear it night and day. So messengers were sent through the king’s realm in search of such a man, with orders to bring back his shirt.
Months passed, and after a thorough search of the country the messengers returned, but without the shirt.
“Did you find a contented man in all my realm?” the king asked.
“Yes, O king, we found one, just one in all thy realm,” they replied.
“Then why did you not bring back his shirt?” the king demanded.
“Master, the man had no shirt,” was the answer.
So as we learn to understand contentment … then we can
2. Guard the Right Things
Look at verse 17
Command those who are rich … not to be arrogant nor put their HOPE in wealth
Why? Guarding riches unduly is uncertain / unsure – you can’t count on it … it’s like storing water in a funnel
We do our best to take care of the future, but what do we really have?
I have money that is affected by the stock market but my HOPE is not in the stock market
I have a different retirement plan
I have a little room … in a place called GLORY …
Jesus said in my Father’s house are many rooms … I go there to prepare a place for you … and if I go, I will return so that where I am you will be also”
So if things fall apart on THIS earth and I don’t have much in my 70’s … that’s alright because I’m just passing through
I’d rather obey my Father here and have a room in HIS mansion
I’m not saying you shouldn’t put your money in the bank, make good investments, care for your future … but do you control it and make it work for you or are you controlled by your money and plans?
On the other hand, guarding our relationship with God leads to True Pleasure
That’s why Jesus started that passage in John 14 by saying “do not let your hearts be trouble. Trust in God, trust also in me.”
Also in John 14:15
Jesus says “if you love me, you will obey what I command”
That involves EVERY area of our life
Why do we trust him with our eternal life, but don’t trust him with our purchases, our spending, our investments, our tithe, our earthly life?
Verse 17 says “command those who are RICH” … and you say “I’m not rich” … oh yes you are … nearly everyone in this room is rich, we may not be named Trump or Gates
But let me take you into the back roads of Romania, down the dusty roads of El Salvador … we ARE rich
So verse 19a says Lay up Treasure for Eternity - treasure as a FIRM FOUNDATION for the coming age
When we do we do what God tells us to do, we start something here on THIS earth that will be FINISHED in Heaven
And in the meantime we
19b says “lay hold of Real Life”
Do you see there … we are trying to Hold On to our earthly Treasure and attain Real Life … and all the time losing it
When the opposite is true. when we make deposits in eternal things … then we hold on to the things that are REALLY Life
Remember Jesus said he who saves his life on this earth will lose it but he who loses his life for my sake will save it. What good is it if a man gain the whole world and lose his soul Mark 8:35-36
I’ve said before that Life is not in our things … Life goes through our things
You won’t find LIFE in your job but life goes THROUGH Your Job
You won’t find life in your Marriage but it goes THROUGH your Marriage
Life isn’t in your leisure but it goes through it
Life isn’t in your money but it can go through your money
Those things are all tools to add to your life as you surrender your life and your things to Jesus Christ because it is all his
So if we can get to a place of contentment, and place your guard around the right things …
3. Fix Your Gaze
V11 – flee – pheugo – flee, escape, disappear quickly, avoid
from all of this – what we’ve been talking about … money over godliness
V11 – pursue – dioko – pursue; hasten, press forward, strive, persecute,
Where are we going to set our gaze?
V11 – in regards to obedience in the area of our finances
Godliness – I will use my resources with the understanding that they belong to God
Faith – believing that God will meet my needs and make up the distance
Love – my focus will be on the Lord I love and the people who can be helped with the resources I provide
Endurance – this is not a short term investment but an eternal investment that will pay off in Heaven
Gentleness – or meekness – in other words, I will get out of the way cause it’s not about me
We must turn our back on one thing to pursue another
Focus on running to Jesus as a practice and you naturally run FROM the false
Don’t think about what you are giving up think about what you are gaining
Still want to be Rich? That’s ok
DO good – doing what is right, doing good deeds … taking action
By the way look back at verse 18 Paul says
COMMAND THEM …
To BE RICH … same word … BE RICH … but BE RICH –
In Good Deeds
And Generosity or liberality
And a willingness to share – to fellowship koinonikous
The more we pursue these things
The More we lay hold of heavenly things and FIND REAL LIFE
Take Hold – eternal things – when we grasp eternal things we will naturally hold the temporal more loosely or drop them all together
And that my friends is where contentment lies
I’m not telling you to go and sell all you have and give it to the church or the poor
I’m telling you to LET GO of everything you have
I’m telling you that the place to start is to be obedient to the Lord in regards to the specific things like tithing as a practice
And as we let go of the little things … 10% we can begin to let go of the other 90%
And begin to grasp Heaven
We can begin to lay a heavenly foundation for Eternal reward
The Power of Contentment
Once upon a time, a stonecutter lived all alone. Though he had acquired great skills, he was very poor. He lived in a tiny bamboo hut and wore tattered clothing.
One day as the stonecutter worked with his hammer and chisel upon a huge stone, he heard a crowd gathering along the streets. By their shouts he could tell that the king was coming to visit his humble village. Joining in the procession, the stonecutter gazed in awe as the king, dressed in marvelous silk, was greeted by his subjects.
Oh, how I wish I had the power and glory of the king, he thought. He has soldiers at his command. There is no one more powerful.
His cry was heard in heaven, and immediately the humble stonecutter was transformed into a powerful king. He found himself riding on a great horse, waving at the crowds of people who had flocked to see him.
This is power, he thought.
As the summer progressed, however, the new king watched the effects of the heat upon his people. Men and animals became weary, and plants withered under the powerful rays of the sun. As he looked at the sky, the new king realized that the sun was more powerful than any earthly ruler.
How I wish I were as powerful as that, he thought. I wish I were the sun. Immediately, his wish was granted.
The stonecutter relished his new role as the sun. He gloried in the power he felt as he surveyed the kingdoms below. As he sent his bright rays to earth, he watched kings and princes hide under their parasols; he watched as powerful warriors became weak under his gaze. Even the crops in the field were under his command.
Then one day a tiny cloud moved over the land, shielding the earth from the sun’s bright rays. Seeing that here was something more powerful, he thought, I want very much to be a cloud.
Again, his wish was granted. Now he blocked the sun’s rays and felt important. He gathered all his strength, becoming a gigantic cloud, and began to pour down rain on the earth. Rivers formed where previously there were none, and water flooded the streets of the cities and the farmland. Everything—trees, animals, people—seemed to be awed by his power. Only the massive rocks were unswayed. Again he had discovered something more powerful.
There is nothing, he thought, as powerful as a rock. How I wish I were a huge stone. His wish was granted.
As a stone he remained motionless and powerful, unmoved by sun or wind or rain. He felt exempt from all the forces that shaped the existence of those around him.
Then one day a man approached, carrying a bag. When he stopped, he pulled out a chisel and a hammer and began to chip away at the rock. Realizing that the man with the tools was more powerful than any rock, he cried out, “Oh, I want to be a stonecutter.”
Once again heaven heard his cry, and he became a stonecutter. Once again he lived in a bamboo hut and made his living with hammer and chisel. And he was content.*
Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain
So guard the Trust that you have been given