5 Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have because He has said, “I will never leave you; I will always be by your side.”6 Because of this promise, we may boldly say, “The Lord is my help - I won’t be afraid of anything. How can anyone harm me?”
This isn’t the first time the subject of money and possession has been brought up by the writer of Hebrews:
“Instead, think back to the days after you were first enlightened and understood who Jesus was: when you endured all sorts of suffering in the name of the Lord… how you cheerfully accepted the seizure of your possessions, knowing that you have a far greater and more enduring possession. Remember this, and do not abandon your confidence, which will lead to rich rewards.” (10:32-35)
Revisiting this theme is not surprising.
Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables Jesus told deal with money and possessions.
10% of the Gospels deal directly with the subject of money.
The Bible has 500+ verses on prayer and 500 - verses on faith, but 2,000+ verses on money and possessions
There are a LOT more sections addressing poverty/the poor
Last week we talked about sex. The next verse in Hebrews is about money. I wonder if the writer saw more of a connection between money and sex than we do. We see a Greed/Immorality Connection a number of times in the New Testament in the sense that they are often talked about right next to each other:
Hebrew 13:4-5 – “marriage bed pure…free from love of money…”
1 Corinthians 5:11 - “sexually immoral or greedy…”
Ephesians 5:3 - “not a hint of sexual immorality, impurity or greed…”
·Colossians 3:5 – “ sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed…”
1 Corinthians 6:8-10 – “You cheat and do wrong…sexual immorality…thieves and the greedy…”
Here’s the connection: when we take what is not ours to take, we are greedy thieves. We tend to think about it only in terms of money, but the same principle applies to sex. We can take money or purity; we can take things or innocence; we can take material and immaterial things from people. When we take what is not ours in one are of life, odds are good we will be inclined to take what is not ours in other areas of life.
And if greed is idolatry, well, we are looking at two idols that might, in some ways, be the same idol just seen from a different perspective.
“No one can serve two masters: 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 both God and money (Mammon).” - Matthew 6:24
So, let’s talk about how to see and use money through the lenses of Scripture.
1. Money Is From God
“Every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to use it, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19)
2. We Are Stewards
For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then the one with the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And the one with two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.......To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. (Matthew 25)
3. Money’s Has The Potential To be Destructive
Mark 10:24 - “How hard is it for those who trust in richesto enter into the kingdom of God!”
Matthew 13:22 - “…the love of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches,choke the word of God, and he becomes unfruitful.”
Timothy 6:10 - “For the love of moneyis a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith…"
Hebrews 13:5 - “Let your character be free from the love of money,being content with what you have…”
Proverbs 11:28 - “He that trusts in his richeswill fall…”
Psalms 62:10 - “If riches increase,don’t set your heart upon them.”
Proverbs 22:1 - “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.”
What are the warning signs, that money is becoming a problem? I like how Tim Keller puts it:
How do you know that money isn’t just money to you? Here are some of the signs. You can’t give large amounts of it away. You get scared if you might have less than you’re accustomed to having. You see people who are doing better than you, even though you might have worked harder or might be a better person, and it gets under your skin. And when that happens, you have one foot in the trap. Because then it’s no longer just a tool; it’s the scorecard. It’s your essence, your identity. No matter how much money you have, though it’s not intrinsically evil, it has incredible power to keep you from God. – Tim Keller
4. Money Has Great Potential For Good
“Now, my brothers, we must tell you about the grace that God had given to the Macedonian churches. Somehow, in most difficult circumstances, their joy and the fact of being down to their last penny themselves produced a magnificent concern for other people. I can guarantee that they were willing to give to the limit of their means, yes and beyond their means, without the slightest urging from me or anyone else. In fact they simply begged us to accept their gift of supporting their brothers in Christ. Nor was their gift, as I must confess I had expected, a mere cash payment. Instead they made a complete dedication of themselves first to the Lord and then to us, as God’s appointed ministers.
I don’t want you to read this as an order. It is only my suggestion, prompted by what I have seen in others of eagerness to help, and here is a way to prove the reality of your love. Do you remember the generous grace of Jesus Christ, the Lord of us all? He was rich beyond our telling, yet he generously became poor for your sakes so that his poverty might make you rich." (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)
Generosity is a gift of grace.We can bea blessing fromGod toothers through usby the power of the Holy Spirit, and a way to show the reality of our love for Christ and appreciation for his generous grace.
When we realize that others are in need, and we have the resources to alleviate that need, we should generously and joyfully do so.It is a sign of the reality of our love for God and others. God does not prosper us so we can indulge ourselves. God prospers us so we can extend the gift of generous grace to others.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions were all his own, but they shared everything they had...it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)
This is not government mandated communism or socialism; this is Holy Spirit inspired, voluntary communalism.We talked last week about covenant community; this is the financial implications of covenant community. We are part of a community that needs our contribution from the blessing God has given us. That could manifest in many ways, but here we see one clear and practical way: take care of each other’s physical needs.
“Much depends on the answer to these three questions: Is it fair? Do we care? Do we share? If we obtained it unfairly, if we do not care for it responsibly, and if we refuse to share it with others...we are in as much danger for keeping as a thief is for taking.” - Lewis Smedes,Mere Morality
5. Generosity is meant to be an act of worship, not a legalistic transaction followed by angry, begrudging givers. If you go to our new website, you will see this language on our giving page:
“The act of giving is first and foremost an act of worship. We give back to God a portion of that which God have given to us to steward. We give as an act of spiritual discipline to free us from the love of money; we give as a demonstration of faith that God will provide for us; we give because it is from our provision that God intends to provide for the mission of the church and the ‘family’ in the church.”
6. In giving back to God, we reorient our hearts.
Money. The NT does not mandate an amount, but 10% is probably a good baseline if for no other reason than an act of discipline to reorient our hearts and provide for the work of the kingdom. If you aren’t giving that much, try it for a few months and see what happens in your heart (and our church’s budget J) “I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. If our giving habits do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we want to do but cannot do because our giving expenditures exclude them.” – C.S. Lewis
Resources (lending stuff)
Presence (listening; investing relationally)