WHAT ABOUT MONEY?
We are in a series at the moment called What About…? As God’s allies we often have questions about our faith. And we get asked questions by other people that we struggle to answer.
Last week we talked about the question, “What About Voting?” I hope you all enjoyed your trip to the polls yesterday and voted freely, with conviction from God.
Next week we’ll talk about the question, “What About God in the Old Testament vs God in the New Testament?” Why does he sometimes seem different? How do we make sense of that? The last three weeks of the series will be ‘What About Homosexuality?’, ‘What About Gender Roles?’ and ‘What About the Church?’
This week we’re talking about the question, “What about Money?”
As God’s Ally, how should I treat money? What should my relationship with money be like? Do I have enough? How much is enough? Very timely seeing as we’ve just finished one financial year and begun another.
You might be sitting here thinking, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do with my money! Especially not you, young whippersnapper!” Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you what to do with your money any more than I told you who to vote for last week. But I am going to give you some things to think about when it comes to money. Then you get to make up your own mind before God.
As we’ll do each week in this series, you can ask questions about what we’re talking about. So if you have questions about money as a Christian, please send us a message. I’ll record a midweek podcast responding to the questions that will go online on our website and through iTunes and whatever podcast app you use.
By the way, if you don’t know how to listen to messages or midweek podcasts,this article called: 3 Ways to Listen In with some easy steps to follow so you don’t miss out if you’re ever away, or travelling, or we do a midweek podcast.
MYTH // YOU NEED MORE MONEY
“The more of it one has, the more one wants.” — Benjamin Franklin
One of the ideas about money that we tend to believe is that we need more of it. If only I had a little bit more. If only I could buy this or that, or fix this or that, or give this or that. I need more money. Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street tells us, “Greed is good”. A bigger house. Another house. A newer car. Another car. A newer outfit. Another outfit. A better gadget. Another gadget.
Many of us fall into the trap every day, one way or another. That we need more.
Doesn’t it say in the Bible that God our father gives good gifts?
Don’t believe the MYTH that Poverty is bad and Riches are good.
That Poverty is evil and Riches are godly.
MYTH // YOU NEED LESS MONEY
“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.” — Robert Graves, poet
Equal to the belief of needing more money is the idea that you need less money. You might have met people who believe this and live this way. People with a Robin Hood theology who say ou should be getting rid of your stuff. Give it all away. Sell it off and give the money away. You need less money.
Didn’t Jesus say blessed are the poor?
Don’t believe the MYTH that Riches are bad and Poverty is good.
That Riches are evil and Poverty is godly.
YOU NEED CONTENTMENT
“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” — Henry David Thoreau, writer
Instead of more money, instead of less money, what you really need is contentment. In fact, it’s an idea that God put forward long before anyone else came up with it.
1 Timothy 6:6-8 NLT
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
You had nothing when you arrived, and you’ll take nothing with you when you go, so why not just enjoy and use what you have now? Learning to be thankful for what God has given you and being content with what you have – whether you have a little or a lot. Now that is what you really need!
Then you wouldn’t be obsessed with money and wanting more. You wouldn’t be devastated and distraught when you don’t have enough or what you have is taken away.
If you have contentment, you don’t let money into your heart.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 NLT
But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
In the context of talking about false teachers who see godliness as a way to be wealthy. Paul has seen people let money into their hearts and not only does it replace Jesus’ place in their hearts, it ends up piercing their heart with many sad and difficult things. Loving money is the root, the beginning, of all kinds of evil!
Contentment, on the other hand, puts up a barrier that doesn’t let money into your heart. Try this on for size:
Tony Payne, the CEO of Matthias Media here in Australia, wrote wondering what television programming would look like if a TV magnate decided to run all programming according to Christian principles.
I would particularly look forward to the new version of Better Homes and Gardens. It would become a five-minute program called Perfectly Adequate Homes and Gardens. Each week, a former bricklayer or plumber would take us on a tour of an ordinary family home and say, ‘As you can see, the Wilson family home has plenty of potential. There is lots we could do with this one. However, it does the job pretty well. It’s warm and dry and comfortable. No obvious structural problems. We are going to encourage the Wilsons to be content and leave it as it is.’ Cut to closing credits. (from: The End of Greed by Scott Higgins)
The fictional Wilson family, by being content with what they have, are now much free-er. Their hearts are free from forever wanting more. Their time is free from working more to earn or from doing the renovations themselves. Their money is free to spend in other ways, to give more generously, to share more, to use their money wisely.
This is a difficult challenge for most of us, for me included. I am a generally content person, but I still want more in some areas. I want a newer phone, a newer iPad, maybe a few iPads of different sizes depending on what I’m doing. Newer computers, maybe a few of them. A newer watch with more options and features. A newer bike, faster, to beat my friends. New runners. If I’m not careful I can completely lose sight of what I already have: a phone, an iPad, a computer, a watch, a bike, runners, and friends to beat or lose to. When I chase riches and things I am dissatisfied and God quickly disappears from view as I become more selfish, busier, more obsessed with what I want.
On the other hand, when I have contentment I don’t want more or less, I am satisfied with what I have and God immediately comes back into view. “This is what I have, now God, how would you have me use what I have.”
If you long to be rich, if you love money, you’ll be trapped. You’ll be deceived. You’ll be led into evil. you’ll wander away from faith. You’ll be pierced with many sorrows. I think we’ve all seen it happen to other people. House, renovations, car, boat, clothes, investment, stocks, gadgets. Can we see it happening to ourselves though?
What’s in your view? More things? Less things? Or God, how can I use the things I have?
CHASE RIGHTEOUSNESS NOT RICHES
1 Timothy 6:17
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
Tim Clemens writes in this article about how much money we need as Christians.
If you think you need more money, you can back that up with thinking of rich godly people in the Bible – Job, Abraham – God’s people need more money.
If you think you need less money, you can back that up with thinking of the Rich Young Ruler that Jesus met – God’s people need less money.
But riches are not anywhere near as important as righteousness – being right with God. Righteousness is more important that richness.
If you are comparatively rich or comparatively poor it doesn’t really matter. If you are God’s ally, if you’ve accepted Jesus, God is way more interested in how you earn money and how you spend money than he is with how much money you have. Being rich isn’t evil by itself, and being poor isn’t blessed by itself. But a devotion to money is not compatible with a devotion to following Jesus.
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13 NLT)
Be righteous and rich or be righteous and poor.
But don’t be unrighteous and rich or unrighteous and poor.
Chase righteousness with God, rather than money.
Chase contentment, rather than money.
HOW TO BUY CONTENTMENT
Instead of being focused on more or less money, how can we focus on contentment? How can we keep God in focus by being content with what we have? How can we chase righteousness by buying contentment?
You can’t buy contentment by buying more things or amassing more financial wealth. But in an upside down way you can buy contentment by using your money well as God’s ally.
1 Timothy 6:18-19
Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.
Doing the things Paul advises Timothy to do are an investment in the future. These things buy true, eternal life both now in this life and then in eternal life. Use your money to buy contentment by investing in these things.
1. DO GOOD. (Use money wisely)
If you use your money wisely you won’t have to work all the time. Manage money well so that you have time and money to do good. To serve God. To serve others. To have time with others. It’s pointless to work all the time. Make time to do good – with God, with your family, with friends, with strangers.
Don’t wait to do good. Use your money well – investing and saving and spending wisely – now so that you can do good right now and into the future.
2. GIVE GENEROUSLY. (Give it away)
Be generous with your money, not clinging tightly to it. God set up his church to operate relying on financial generosity. When we give we are generous not just to God, and not just to his church in broad terms, but to our church together, generously pooling our resources to see the Kingdom of God come in our church and around us.
3. SHARE. (Let others benefit from your money)
Whether it is directly with money or things, or with time you’ve freed up – share what you have with others. Because it’s people that we can take with us in life and eternal life, not money. So be ready to share with others.
OUR CHURCH & MONEY
As a church this year we are going fairly well in these areas. We want to do good with the money we have as a church. Being good stewards and managers of the money God has trusted us with.
We rely on the generosity of each other, of each of us. As you would have read in the church news a couple of weeks ago, we are a little behind this year in what we expected in terms of offering and generosity, but God has led us to manage well what we have, and some things like not appointing a Families Pastor yet will mean we’re going ok. It’s very nice to be up here teaching on money without having to ask for it.
I have complete peace and freedom to say to you – how much you give is entirely up to you. Between you and your spouse or family or business partner or whoever, together ask God and together decide how to use your money wisely, give generously and share what you have.
GENEROSITY CREATES MIRACLES
In John 6 we have the account of Jesus feeding 5000 people. Or, more accurately, the disciples feeding 5000 people because it was the disciples who handed out the baskets of food.
They are in an impossible situation. There is no human way, even if they had enough money, to feed all those people in that place. Into that situation they find a boy who willingly (we presume) offered his small lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish. We’re probably not talking about five large sized loaves of sliced bread and two roasted barramundi in al foil. We’re probably talking about 5 small rolls and 2 bait fish or something like that.
The young boy gives his small lunch, Jesus prays over it, and as the disciples in turn give it out to the crowds the food multiplies and multiplies so that there is more than enough!
Think about the alternatives:
If the boy had held on to his lunch because it was all he had – he would have eaten enough but there would have been no miracle. The 12 and the 5000 wouldn’t have eaten or been blessed.
If the disciples hadn’t passed on the small lunch they had, they would have had a small snack between them but they would have soon been hungry and again, the 5000 wouldn’t have been fed or blessed.
The generosity of the young boy and the twelve young disciples led to a miraculous provision. It was a miracle for the boy, a miracle for the 12, a miracle for the 5000. So often that’s how generosity works. Our generosity – even though it is tiny compared to the need before us and God’s incredible resources – is created by God into his miracle for many.
Are you letting God turn your generosity into a miracle? In our church, in someone else’s life, in your life – keeping money out of your heart, pursuing righteousness with God and contentment with what you have -and leading to true life now…and then?
Some more resources to consider the question ‘What About Money?’ a bit more:
What About…? series
To listen in or read along with the rest of the series follow the links below: