The Elephant in the Church! - Refusing to Ignore the Obvious!
When it comes to money be aware of the lure.
John & Joy Brooks – Thank you for sharing your story.
On September 12, 2011, Brandon Wright, a 21-year-old Utah State University student was traveling on U.S. 89 when a BMW pulled out of a driveway in front of him. In anticipation of the accident, Wright laid his bike down on its side and slid toward the car. Both vehicles burst into flames. The driver of the BMW quickly escaped, but Wright was trapped under the 4,000-pound sedan.
This horrific accident drew an immediate crowd of students and construction workers. Now here’s what’s amazing. Brandon’s rescue was captured on video by Chris Garff who was looking out of a 9th floor window of a nearby building taking a break from producing a promotional film for the university.[i] (Watch Brandon Wright’s rescue unfold[ii] -Video)
Wright was immediately transported to Intermountain Medical Center, where he was treated for two broken legs and a fractured pelvis. But he’s alive. What’s amazing is that he suffered no head injuries even though he was not wearing a helmet. He later said to his family he was very humbled, and owes so many people his life.[iii] Something tells me Brandon Wright will not have any trouble counting his blessings this Thanksgiving. Let’s help him. Let’s name them one by one. Thank you God I’m alive. Thank you God other people risked their lives to save my life. Thank God I could get to a hospital quickly. Thank God I have a loving family to provide support in my recovery! What about you? Have you counted your blessings lately? I have a few. I thank God, I’m alive! I thank God I feel good. I thank God for my wife, daughter and son. I thank God for his mercy and grace. I thank God for being so creative. For making eagles so majestic and turkeys so tasty! My blessing list could go on and on, but there’s one thing I’m really, really, really thankful for and that’s money in my pocket! Open up your Bibles today to 1st Timothy chapter 6. First, do you need a copy of God’s word? (Gift Shop Ann.) He has spoken to us. I pray we’ll listen. Last week we began a new series called The Elephant in the church! Sometimes it seems easier to just pretend a problem will go away. I am going to ignore the obvious. But as a leader I refuse to ignore the obvious. The elephant(s) in the church at Ephesus are false teachers. The elephant in this church is our belief that God’s commands concerning tithing and generous living are optional. The Bible is loaded with principles on wise money management. Here are two! This all starts at 1st Timothy 6:6. Remember, false teachers taught that contentment could only be gained through self sufficiency. Paul says no way! You can only experience contentment by being Christ sufficient. I must thank Meggan Jacobus for pointing out an important fact. Did you know that “If you say the word “gullible” slowly it sounds like oranges.”[iv] C’mon. Try it. Say it with me - “gull-i-ble!” What does it mean to be gullible? “Easily duped! Because we trust people we can be easily tricked or deceived.” False teachers do that really well. Beware of anyone who says to you – following God is a piece of cake. That the cost of following Jesus is minimal! After all the song is “I surrender some!” Following Jesus means everything will go my way – health, wealth and happiness! Here’s money management principle #1. Find verse 7. When it comes to money have the right perspective. Everything belongs to God. Everything is on loan to us from God. God’s word says to give back 10% of what already belongs to God. Choose to live generously.
Here’s money management principle #2! Find verse 9. (Read 9 &10) When it comes to money be aware of the lure. Having money is necessary; loving money is sin! “C’mon, Greg, what’s wrong with loving money? Loving money rearranges our priorities! We skipped a verse. Go back to verse 8 in 1st Timothy 6! Oh give me a break! How many 21st century Christians living in America are good with just something to eat and something to where? Not many! Dr. Michael Moss helped me see that food and clothing are actually broader in scope than what we think. Food in the Bible is not always just what you eat but includes having a job to enable you to buy something to eat. Clothing also refers to covering or lodging.[v] So clothing is not just what I wear but having a covering/roof over my head. So taking a page from Baloo, here are the bare necessities. Food to eat, a job to provide food to eat, clothing to wear and a roof over my head. When a person loves money they fall for the lure and start thinking that the bare necessities of life include a whole lot more. I’m not sure if what I’m about to say to you is really cool or really creepy? Do you ever stay at a hotel? Do you hate jumping into those cold hotel bed sheets? Well, if you stay at the Holiday Inn's Kensington, London, England location, they offer a free five-minute "human bed warming" service. What does a human bed warmer do? A hotel staffer, dressed from head-to-toe in white fleecy footed pajamas, will get into your bed and move around, generating some heat between the sheets.[vi] Folks, that’s kinda creepy. Is the toilet seat next? Loving money distorts what’s really a need and what’s really a want! Go back to verse 9! People who want to get rich…
Who is “rich” to you? My son Sam recently asked me, “Dad, who’s the richest person in the world?” I guessed then and said, Carlos Helu. I was right. Carlos Slim Helu is worth 74 billion followed by Bill Gates at 56 billion and Warren Buffet at a paltry 50 billion.[vii] Man, that’s allot of money! My mind starts wandering all over the place, wondering what it would be like to be that rich!
Do you know what “rich” means in the Bible? The word ‘rich” in this 9th verse means “to have abundance or to be richly supplied.”[viii] A rich person is someone who has more than the essentials – food, job, clothing & shelter! When my son Sam asked me who was the richest person in the world. I should have said, Well, Sam, actually I am and so are you! And so are you! 1.4 billion people in this world live on $1.25 a day. They are poor. We are rich. They can’t provide basic needs. We can. So when Paul says in verse 9, People who want to get rich… the truth is we are already rich!
Turn to the back of your newsletter! Do you see the question printed under the elephant logo? If God enabled you to be (beyond comprehension, stinkin’) rich, what would you do with the money? “Greg, I would own several homes. Maybe one in Maui and another Switzerland. Maybe a man would say, I would purchase a fleet of cars. Big cars, fast cars, expensive cars – that way I could drive a different car each day of the week. Ladies, I’m curious if you can answer this question. The average woman owns how many pairs of shoes? Husbands, if you want to earn brownie points look at your wife and say, “Honey, there’s nothing average about you!” Ladies, survey says, how many do you think? 19![ix] If I had tons of money, Greg, I would own hundreds of pairs of shoes; not to mention accessories like purses and jewelry.
What Paul wrote makes so much sense. Go back yet again to verse 9. (Read 9 &10) Loving money will create such sorrow. Money is necessary. Loving money is sin! How can we overcome the lure of loving money? Who here has heard of Stephen King! What is Stephen King’s specialty? I thought it was horror! Cujo still gives me nightmares. The truth is – it’s giving! Stephen King delivered the commencement address to Vassar graduates a few years ago. King said this, “A couple of years ago I found what “you can’t take it with you” means. I found out while I was lying in a ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood. I had a MasterCard in my wallet, but when you’re lying in a ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts MasterCard. We all know that life is ephemeral, but on that particular day and in the months that followed, I got a painful but extremely valuable look at life’s simple backstage truths. We come naked and broke. We may be dressed when we go out, but we’re just as broke. Bill Gates? Going out broke. Tom Hanks? Going out broke. Steve King? Broke.
All the money you earn, all the stocks you buy, all the mutual funds you trade – all that is mostly smoke and mirrors.
So I ask you to begin giving and to continue as you began. I think you’ll find in the end that you got far more than you ever had, and did more good than you ever dreamed.”[x]
How can we overcome the lure of loving money? By giving! By giving money and by giving thanks! I’m so thankful for money in my pocket! And with this money I (WE) can do so much good for God! Do you remember Brandon Wright? Crashed his motorcycle. It burst into flames. People came to his rescue. What did God do for us? He came to our rescue. He gave us his son. God’s a giver. As our father, he commands us to give! Come thank God! (White poster board)
[v] C. Michael Moss, CP NIV Commentary, 1st Timothy, 119
[viii] Logos Bible Software, Rich in 1st Timothy 6:9
[x] Nelson Searcy, The Generosity Ladder, 40-41