God's Will for Our Wealth
I Timothy 6:17-19
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 3, 2015
*Are you rich? -- Most of us would say, "I sure don't feel rich." But think about it. In 2009, "Parade Magazine" reported that if all of the money in the world was spread out evenly, it would just be $9,000 per person. And for half the world's people that would be more that 12 years of income. For many it would be a lot more than 12 years income. (1)
*Are we rich? -- Years ago, Lucy Pearson at Clemson wrote this comparison of the world's population: If the whole world only had 100 people: One half of the entire world's wealth would be held in the hands of only 6 people, 70 would not be able to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, 80 would live in sub-standard housing with no plumbing or electricity, and only 1 would have a college education. (2)
*Are we rich? -- Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus with a question about eternal life. And after studying that story, William Boice wrote the following prayer:
"Dear Lord, I have been re-reading the record of the rich young ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me thinking. No matter how much wealth he had, he could not ride in a car, have any surgery, turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a pipe organ, watch TV, wash dishes in running water, type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress, or talk on the phone. -- If he was rich, then what am I? (3)
*Church: We may not feel rich. But compared to most of the people who have ever lived, we are incredibly wealthy. What is God's will for rich people like us? The Word of God shows us.
1. First: choose humility over being haughty.
*As Paul said in the first part of vs. 17: "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty. . ."
*Don't be haughty, arrogant, highminded or proud. Paul is talking about people who are conceited, people who think they are better than others, people who are in love with themselves, people who don't understand that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from God.
*He's talking about people with excessive and unrestrained self-esteem. In this Scripture the focus is on wealth. But why are we wealthy people tempted to think too highly of ourselves?
*Pastor Coty Pinckney explained: "We are tempted to believe that we deserve whatever we have, and to think that people who have less than us are not as smart, not as hardworking, or not as talented as we are."
*Coty added this: "Of course it's true that a talented, hard working, wise spender, smart saver is generally going to have more than a lazy, reckless spender." But we must never forget the place of grace in our lives.
*Christians: We know that the greatest place of grace in our lives is our salvation:
8. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9. not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph 2:8&9)
*But God have given so much more grace in our lives:
-Were you born in the USA? -- That's grace.
-Were you raised in a Christian home -- Grace.
-Were you blessed with good health? -- Grace.
-Did you have some excellent teachers? -- Grace.
-And did you meet people along the way who helped you get where you are today? -- That's God's amazing grace!
*Pastor Coty gave an example to help us understand. He said, "Some of hardest working, financially wise people I know are East African farmers. And their hard work and good investments have indeed improved their lot. But because of poor government and their initial poverty, these people are still among the very poor. They have to raise a large family while earning only $3 or $4 a day." (4)
*Don't you see? Every good thing we have really is a gift from God. And it's only by His grace that we have anything at all.
*In Deuteronomy 8:14-18, God warned His people about getting lifted up with pride, when they were prosperous. In the New Living Translation, Moses said:
14. "Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.
15. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock!
16. He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good.
17. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, 'I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.'
18. Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath."
*In 1 Timothy 6, Paul focused on pride coming from our wealth. But this kind of pride can rise out of beauty, strength, skill, intelligence, success, family, nationality, even religion. Remember that pride was the original sin. All of the hurt that has ever come into this world -- came because Satan was lifted up with pride. And all of us are subject to pride from time to time.
*Don Shula was the legendary coach of the Miami Dolphins for many years. Ordinarily he is known as a very humble man, but Shula told about the time his pride got the best of him.
*He and his wife went to a small town in Maine to avoid being noticed on their vacation. They went to see a movie on a rainy, messy night. And when they walked in, the people began to applaud. The famous coach whispered to his wife, "I guess there's no place we can go where people won't recognize me."
*Don sat down and shook hands with the man on his row. Then the famous coach said, "I'm surprised you knew who I am." The man replied, "I'm supposed to know who you are? We're just glad you came in because the manager wasn't going to start the movie unless there were ten people here." (5)
*We all can get lifted up with pride, but God says: Choose humility over being haughty.
2. He also wants us to trust in our God more than our gold.
*Again in vs. 17, God's Word says: "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." Notice here that it is foolish for us to put our trust in money, because riches are uncertain.
*And if you think about it, money is a heartless master. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
*Mammon in this verse means "riches" or "treasure." The NIV calls it "Money" with a capital "M". A.T. Robertson tells us that this word "Mammon" comes from the Chaldee word for the money-god. Robertson said: "The servant of mammon will obey mammon while pretending to obey God." (6)
*And the problem with serving Money is that money is a heartless master. Money will always demand more of you, and make you desire more of it. I once heard a quote from Ted Turner that went something like this: "I don't want to own all the ranches, just the ranches that are next to mine." Do you see the trap? Money is a heartless master that never says, "Enough."
*And we can't put our trust in money, because eventually it will let us down. One person said: "Money talks: It says 'bye-bye.'" And one day it will. (7)
*Proverbs 23:4-5 puts it this way.
4. Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease!
5. Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.
*We can't trust in money, but we can trust in the Lord! He will never leave us or forsake us! Listen to Paul again in vs. 17: "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy."
*John Gill tells us that almost every word in this verse gives us another great reason to trust God. We can trust Him:
-Because He is living.
-Because He is the Almighty God.
-Because He gives to us.
-Because He gives to us richly.
-And Because He gives us richly all things to enjoy. (8)
*On top of all this, we can trust God because He loves us! All of us have sinned many times and have fallen far short of the glory of God. But the wonderful good news of the Bible is that God loves us in spite of our sins. God loves us in spite of our flaws and failures.
*Romans 5:6-10 is a great place to see this truth. There the Word of God says:
6. . . When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
*See how much God loves us!
-He loved us when we were without strength!
-He died for us when we were ungodly!
-He demonstrated His love toward us while we were still sinners!
-He reconciled us to God through the death of His Son when we were enemies!
*Jesus Christ left all of His riches in Heaven to become poor for us. He even died on the cross for us, because He loves us. And because He rose from the dead, Jesus can love us forever, and He will! He has said that He will never leave us or forsake us, so we can trust Him forever.
*Whatever may happen in our lives, we've got this message from God: "I love you! And you can count on me!"
*Ron Dunn was a wonderful preacher and evangelist for many years. He went home to be with the Lord in 2001, but I got to be in one of his classes in the early 1990s. And Ron Dunn told the story of a trip he took to Colorado in the middle of winter. He went with a friend to visit some trout lakes and they came to pond that was frozen over.
*Ron's friend gave him this challenge, "Ron, why don't you get out on the ice?" Ron replied, "No sir. -- It's not thick enough!" Ron's friend said, "Go ahead Preacher. It may be your only chance to walk on water!"
*Finally he persuaded Ron, and Ron very carefully tip-toed about one foot out from the bank. Then they drove over the hill to another pond, and there was a man right out in middle of that pond. He was sitting on crate, surrounded by all kinds of fishing gear. That man even had a heater with him out on the ice!
*Ron asked his friend. "Where did he get up enough nerve to get out in the middle?" And his friend answered, "Oh: He lives around here. He knows the ice." Church, the more we know Jesus, the more we will know that He is worthy of our trust. So trust in our God more than your gold.
3. But the Lord also wants us to choose generosity over greed.
*This is God's message to well-off believers in vs. 18: "Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share." Even though we don't feel rich, God has blessed almost all of us with abundance, and He doesn't want us to be greedy about it.
*In my lifetime, Howard Hughes was a living example of the bitter fruit that comes from greed. At one time he was the richest man in the world. But an article in Leadership Journal, described Howard Hughes this way:
*"All he ever really wanted in life was more. He wanted more money, so he parlayed inherited wealth into a billion-dollar pile of assets. He wanted more fame, so he broke into the Hollywood scene and soon became a filmmaker and star. He wanted more sensual pleasures, so he paid handsome sums to indulge his every (carnal) urge. He wanted more thrills, so he designed, built, and piloted the fastest aircraft in the world. He wanted more power, so he secretly dealt political favors with enough skill to use two U.S. presidents as pawns.
*All Howard Hughes ever wanted was more. He was absolutely convinced that more would bring him true satisfaction.
*Unfortunately, history shows otherwise. Howard Hughes finished life emaciated, pale as a ghost, with fingernails twisted in grotesque, inches-long corkscrews, rotting, black teeth, and innumerable needle marks from his drug addiction.
*Howard Hughes died believing the myth of more. He died a billionaire junkie, insane by all reasonable standards." (9)
*Howard Hughes may have been one of a kind, but greed is a common temptation. Are you hungry for the things of this world or the things of God? How important is your stuff to you?
*Greed can be a powerful temptation, but in vs. 18 God is telling us to choose generosity over greed. Do good things for others. Be rich in good works. Be ready to give. Be willing to share. God tells us to do all of these things in vs. 18. Then in vs. 19, He promises a wonderful reward.
18. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
19. storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
*John Gill explained that when we are generous, we are laying up a treasure in heaven, which we will enjoy to all eternity! (10)
*God promises to bless generous givers. As the New Living Translation says in Proverbs 11:24-25:
24 Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.
25 The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
*Of course, Jesus Christ is our best model for generosity. In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul spoke to the church about giving and said: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."
*God wants us to be givers, because HE is a giver. He wants us to generously give our time, our talents, our tithes and our offerings. In short, God wants us to give our lives and our love to other people, every way we can. They will be blessed, and so will we.
*Sometimes even a small gift can make a giant difference. In 1992, a teacher named Jeff Leeland and his wife Kristi found themselves in a desperate situation. Their 9-month-old son, Michael needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. But the insurance at Jeff's new job did not cover the cost of $200,000.
*Jeff taught an Adaptive PE class that included a 325-pound 7th grader named Dameon Sharkey. Dameon was in special-ed classes, and walked with a limp. You can imagine how some of the other children made fun of him. But Dameon had a compassionate heart, and he helped out in Jeff's class every day.
*And after hearing about his teacher’s crisis, Dameon emptied his bank account. Then he went to visit the Leelands, and he brought his whole life savings to give for Michael’s medical expenses: $60. Dameon's generosity started a chain reaction of compassion by the kids and staff at Kamiakin Junior High.
*The community rallied behind the students and in just four weeks an astonishing $227,000 was raised. Michael received his lifesaving transplant, and is still going strong today.
*The sad part of the story is that 8 years later, Dameon died from a rapidly spreading staph infection. But the great news is that through his friendship with the Leeland family, Dameon gave his life to Jesus Christ. And he is in Heaven right now.
*But that's not all. Michael's dad was so inspired by Dameon's example, that he started a school club to help other children in need. They called it the Sparrow Club. It spread to other schools. So far, they have been able to help over 400 children. And last fall, the original sparrow kid, Michael Leeland, became a regional director of the Sparrow Club.
*So much good came from Dameon's generosity. Michael Leeland's life was saved. Thousands of people have been inspired to help others in need. And best of all, Dameon Sharkey was saved! (11)
*That's the kind of thing God can do through us, if we will choose generosity over greed.
*So be a giver for God. Give all you can. But first do what Dameon did: Give your heart to God. You can do that right now as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Parade, 8239, p.18 - Source: "In Other Words" April 2010 #3 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net
(2) Peachtree Presbyterian Pulpit - "Let's Hear It for the Helpers" (or "Three Cheers for those Who Help!") by Dr. W. Frank Harrington - 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 - Sept. 15, 1996
(3) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Jeff Strite
(4) Adapted from online sermon "How to Be Rich and Still Be Happy" by Coty Pinckney - 1 Timothy 6:13-19 - Desiring God Community Church, Charlotte, NC, 6222003
(5) Source: "In Other Words" Spring 1998 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net
(6) "Robertson's Word Pictures" by A.T. Robertson - Matthew 6:24
(7) Source: online sermon "Where's Your Heart" by David Hoke - Matt 6:19-24 - 091795
(8) John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible - 1 Timothy 6:17
(9) Adapted from Bill Hybels in Leadership, Vol. X, #3 (Summer, 1989), p. 38 - Source: SermonCentral sermon "Mastering Your Money" by Joel Smith - Matthew 6:19-33
(10) John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible - 1 Timothy 6:19
Adapted from Jeff Leeland, "ONE SMALL SPARROW" - Multnomah, 2000 - Cited in LEADERSHIP, Fall, 2001 - Source: "A PLATFORM FOR LIFE" - Romans 8:26-39 - "DYNAMIC PREACHING" - July, Aug, Sept, 2002 - 4th Sunday in July
"Original Sparrow joins regional Sparrow Club as director" By Megan Kehoe The Bulletin Published Oct 4, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Oct 4, 2014 at 06:10AM
"Eye on the Sparrow" by Paul Coughlin - Copyright 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International Today's Christian magazine - http:www.christianity.com11622722/