Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 82: Enjoying Money
1 Timothy 6:17-19
July 15, 2012
SCRIPTURE READING: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (Michel Jevons)
UNEASY RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY
I am reading a book called “THOU SHALL PROSPER.” What to you picture when I say that? A televangelist with a gold watch asking you to send in $100 as seed money? Joel Osteen?
Do you imagine it is a book about how to have enough faith to get whatever you want?
* It is written by an ORTHODOX RABBI, Daniel Lapin and the title comes from a frequent promise of God in the Bible.
He doesn’t say it expressly, but between the lines he says, “The problem with you CHRISTIANS is you think being RICH is WRONG. You feel guilty about earning lots of money.” And he is right.
Granted, on one side is the “HEALTH & WEALTH” theology which says that if you are righteous, God will prosper you and if you are poor or sick it is because of sin.
* This is absolute NONSENSE and I have a lot to say about it, so I better restrain myself.
But on the other side, the majority of Christians are suspicious of WEALTH. Just as poverty can make you second class among THE world, being rich can make you second class among Christians.
But (we think) if you are rich, you can MAKE UP for it by GIVING all of your money away. If you don’t live on the BARE MINIMUM and give the rest away, then you aren’t REALLY BEING OBEDIENT.
ONE PASTOR I respect said, “...we should be CONTENT with the simple necessities of life because we could INVEST the EXTRA that we make for what really counts.”
* Nothing in his sermon said anything about ENJOYING this LIFE.
I understand where that ANTI-MONEY BIAS comes from – many Scriptures warn against the dangers of money:
James 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.
1 Timothy 6:10 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.
Yet at the same time, the Bible also says a lot of POSITIVE things about money:
NIV Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.
NIV Proverbs 22:4 Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.
Money is COMPLEX. It can be used for GOOD and it can be used for EVIL. It is not bad, but it is DANGEROUS. It is like a KNIFE. The more you have, the sharper it is.
* A sharp knife is a GREAT TOOL, it literally make cooking more fun, but it also makes MISUSE more dangerous.
In college I had an OLD FREEZER that was not frost free so I had to defrost it. Because I was impatient, I’d use a knife to chip the ice. The only reason I didn’t cut a finger off or destroy the freezer is because I didn’t own any really sharp knives.
Q What would happen if you were SUDDENLY RICH? Would it change you?
I see the sort of UNHAPPINESS MONEY can bring and I worry that I would CUT my FINGER off with it. But I would really love to have a SHARP KNIFE to cut the vegetables. And I would love to be able to AFFORD a good cut of MEAT.
* What I want to know for my life is how I can ENJOY the BLESSINGS of money while AVOIDING the DESTRUCTION.
And that is why I love THIS PASSAGE so much; in it Paul brings together both the enjoyment of money and the dangers. This passage brings the balance together in one spot:
* “Paul’s sound advice walks the straight line between a world-denying ASCETICISM and a self-centered INDULGENCE.”
We NEED this passage, it is to us, because in Paul’s mind, we ARE RICH – we have our basic needs covered and have discretionary income.
* If YOU WANT also want to know how to USE and ENJOY money PROPERLY, you need to listen closely.
MONEY ISN’T BAD
Let’s read the whole thing:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
* Notice what Paul does not say: “Command those who are rich to GIVE is all AWAY.”
We are AFRAID to let Jesus be lord of our money because we remember him telling the RICH YOUNG RULER to give everything away and follow him; we are afraid he’ll say the same to us.
* There isn’t even a HINT of “if they were REALLY OBEDIENT they’d become poor.”
THE DANGERS OF MONEY
But again, money is DANGEROUS and Paul wants us to AVOID the dangers:
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God...
The three biggest dangers of wealth are:
1. It easily distracts us from real treasure.
A more LITERAL TRANSLATION is “the ones rich in this age”; riches in this age and the one to come are not the same thing. They are alike as MONOPOLY MONEY and REAL MONEY.
* Being RICH in material things can easily DISTRACT us from being SPIRITUALLY POOR.
Robert KIYOSAKI (I think): “Money doesn’t make you happy. I have been poor and miserable and rich and miserable. But I would rather be rich and miserable.”
PREFER, yes, but being rich makes it EASIER to IGNORE the source your misery – spiritual poverty.
Q When you are EMPTY or MISERABLE, what is your initial response: Buy SHOES, a GAME, or TOY? Or seek GOD?
Q What are you teaching your KIDS to do?
We tend to use money like a BAND AID on CANCER.
2. It easily leads to pride.
What is it about money that so easily makes us ARROGANT? We might take pride in our ABILITY to earn more (skills or drive). We might also take pride the THINGS money can buy.
* And so often pride is a cover INSECURITY.
Q Do you use your money to feel like a BETTER PERSON?
* It will NEVER be ENOUGH – you will never be good enough.
If you can’t experience GOD’S LOVE and ACCEPTANCE without money, you won’t experience it with money. So many people are just trying to gain approval and value from an EARTHLY FATHER.
3. It easily fosters self-dependence
Finally, we are warned not to put our HOPE in money. Money so easily becomes our SAFETY NET, that which makes us feel secure. But, as Paul reminds us, money is so uncertain.
* The safety is an ILLUSION – we are always in DAILY NEED of God’s provision and direction.
In the parable of the RICH FOOL, God faults the man for believing it kept him safe. “This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20)
Q How would you finish this sentence: “I am not AFRAID of the FUTURE because...”
* “My 401(k), rentals, and STOCKS?”
* Or “Because my FATHER will take care of me?”
* Or “I don’t have either – I am TERRIFIED!”
WHO’S YOUR MASTER?
Notice what all three of these have in COMMON:
* Misplaces treasure.
* Pride in money.
* Misplaced security.
In each one, money is taking GOD’S place. Paul calls us back to “putting our HOPE in GOD.” Jesus put it more STARKLY:
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.
Money is a CRUEL MASTER – it demands all of your TIME, ENERGY, and ALLEGIANCE, all for TEMPORAL THINGS that will not last. GOD also requires all of your time, energy, and allegiance, but in order to give us what we REALLY WANT.
* MONEY FAILS us, God doesn’t.
BUT ENJOYMENT IS GOOD
Given all the DANGERS of money, doesn’t that mean that it is SAFEST, best, and most God honoring to give it ALL AWAY? To live on the bare essentials?
That seems to make sense, but that is not what Paul says:
1 Timothy 6:17 ...put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
“...who richly gives us all sort of things for enjoyment.” Preachers frequently assume this means ONLY SPIRITUAL enjoyment, but that is NOT what is says: “EVERYTHING for our pleasure.”
This confirms what the OT says again and again:
Deuteronomy 14:26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.
God doesn’t just TOLERATE us SPENDING our money on the things of this life, he COMMANDS it.
* If you cannot spend MODERATELY on the JOYS of this LIFE without feeling GUILTY, you misunderstand God.
HALF THE STORY
* But that is only HALF the story.
Paul is going to talk about GENEROSITY and how vital it is to GIVE away what we have. This is where we all start getting nervous; you probably wish I would STOP HERE.
* But if I stopped here I would not only be MISLEADING you, I’d be CHEATING you as well.
LORD OF EVERYTHING (REALLY)
Q Do you want to GLORIFY God with your ENTIRE LIFE, including your money? Do you want him to b be in charge of it all?
* We would all SAY YES, but usually MEAN “NO” deep down, because we think that OBEDIENCE leads to MISERY.
I sign my letters and emails “to the GLORY of GOD and the JOY of the SAINTS.” Ultimately those are the same thing – that which glorifies also brings joy to those who seek him.
* This is the clear teaching of SCRIPTURE; OBEDIENCE is MOTIVATED by JOY.
As we plow ahead to generosity, I want you to BEGIN with the belief that OBEDIENCE BRINGS joy.
Q Have you ever had to try to talk a CHILD into trying a DESSERT you know they will love, but looks a little strange?
In that same way, I know that as obey God with your money, you will find more joy. Not “eat your SPINACH because it will make you strong,” but, “this PARFAIT is amazing.”
SHARING THE WEALTH
1 Timothy 6:18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
Paul says four things here, but it is basically TWO COMMANDS:
1. Be rich in good deeds.
He is SPECIFICALLY NOT talking about MONEY here; it is about the FREEDOM that money gives you. When you were poor in Paul’s day, it meant you were working from sunup to sundown.
* We have the FREEDOM to use our time for GOOD DEEDS.
It used to be that the taking care of a house would take over 10 hours a day. Now is it an hour or two thanks to modern inventions. This is a blessing of our wealth.
Q What can we do with that TIME our money has bought us?
The tendency is spend more TIME WORKING to get more TOYS to spend more time on OURSELVES. The toys aren’t bad, but they can be used SELFISHLY or GENEROUSLY.
Q How can you GIVE of YOURSELF?
Get to know your NEIGHBORS, VOLUNTEER at an organization you support, TEACH Sunday School, take in an EXCHANGE STUDENT.
* Don’t just donate MONEY; give your TIME, give YOURSELF – that is a more precious gift.
2. Be generous.
* God BLESSES us to be a BLESSING to others.
Marilyn just bought another stash of OTTER POPS so she can give them to neighbor kids. If she ask Sarah to hand them out, it would be stealing to for her to eat them all, and unhealthy too.
* The upside of this is that generosity BRINGS JOY.
Our GOD is a GIVER and we are made in his image, so when we give, we find joy in acting according to OUR NATURE. This works for CHRISTIAN and NON-CHRISTIAN alike.
* Studies have shown how much HAPPIER giving makes us.
GOOD KNIFE SKILLS
* Let’s talk about how important GENEROSITY is for AVOIDING the DANGERS of money.
I watched ANTHONY BOURDAIN show how use a good knife, exposing your knuckles, not fingertips. In the same way, generosity teaches us the skills we need to avoid the dangers of money:
a. Generosity helps you find your SECURITY in God, not money.
b. Generosity means using your money to HUMBLY SERVE.
c. Generosity helps you FOCUS on real TREASURE.
1 Timothy 6:19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
My daughters have a BOARD GAME designed to teach them about MONEY, complete with paper money and plastic coins we are picking up all the time.
* From God’s perspective, our money is the PLAY MONEY that teaches us how to use REAL TREASURE.
ENJOYING some of our money and being GENEROUS with SOME is the PERFECT TRAINING for real treasure. God is watching you and teaching you to see how much he can TRUST YOU with.
* Generosity shows we value GREATER THINGS over LESSER THINGS.
I believe, and the Bible clearly teaches, that the BEST WAY to ENJOY our POSSESSIONS here on EARTH and to ensure that they have ETERNAL VALUE is to be GENEROUS with them.
Pay close attention to that: GENEROSITY is the BEST of BOTH WORLDS – it focuses our attention more on heaven and allows us to enjoy earth even more.
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO GIVING
Q Where should you give?
Generosity involves both PLANNED and SPONTANEOUS acts of generosity:
PLAN GIFTS to groups that care for the POOR, such as Love Inc, Compassion International or World Concern. Give to MISSIONS.
* LAST MONTH I talked about how vital it is for the entire church to provide for the CHURCH.
But also look for OPPORTUNITIES to be SPONTANEOUSLY generous, when you can share what you have. Not just to those in need, but to those around you.
* Please text “Sunday School Teacher” ; service is almost over
Q How much should you give?
There is no SET ANSWER. I can’t give you a PERCENTAGE at which point you can say, “I gave this, now the REST is MINE, all mine.” It is all God’s.
Instead, I can give TWO PRINCIPLES that form the GOAL POSTS and you will probably end up moving UP and DOWN the FIELD:
a. Be sacrificial, but not suicidal:
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul praises the Philippians for SACRIFICIAL GENEROSITY. Yet he doesn’t want us to be “hard-pressed.”
b. On the other side of the field: Enjoy and share
In Proverbs 31, the Virtuous Woman has LUXURIES (linen and purple were luxurious in that day – like designer clothes) and that is applauded. Yet she is also GENEROUS to the POOR.
From what I see in Scripture, I THINK God will have you move up and DOWN this field: There are times he will call you to be MORE SACRIFICIAL than others. There are times that he will allow you to ENJOY the FRUITS of your LABOR.
* I am inclined to think that it will be driven by HOW ATTACHED you are getting to your STUFF.
OUT OF BOUNDS
Notice what is NOT on the FIELD: HAVE and DON’T SHARE. Not being GENEROUS ISN’T an OPTION. Reading the entire scope of Scripture, all of it agrees that STINGINESS is a SIN. It is as unacceptable as LYING or STEALING.
* Indeed it is STEALING FROM GOD.
To sum it all up, EVERYTHING we have is from GOD, he BLESSES us so that we may ENJOY his gifts even while we BLESS others.
When we are GENEROUS, we are acting like our FATHER, who gave us his Son. We are acting like JESUS who gave himself up for us, “for the joy set before him.”
* It is not MISERY that drives us, but JOY.
Q & A