|How To Be Rich | Deceitfulness of Riches|
|September 24, 2011|
Part 2 of 4 | September 25, 2011
Welcome to week #2 of our series called How To Be Rich. In this series, we’re not talking about how to get rich. We’re talking about how to be rich. Let’s pray as we open up the second message in this series.
I’m going to go on record and say that I hate a certain pizza place. I don’t want to name names, so instead I’ll just tell you about this place.
For a kid, this place is magical. It has it all. It has pizza. It has rides. It has games. And it has a singing rat. We all know the place I’m talking about, don’t we?
I hate this place. I mean, I HATE this place. First of all, what restaurant chooses a mouse for their mascot. Seriously. Mice in restaurants are a bad idea. If they would let me, I would go all Billy the Exterminator on this mouse.
And then there’s the pizza. I dig pizza. It’s one of my favorite foods. What I don’t like is cardboard with ketchup on it. That’s pretty much what is served at this place.
But that’s not what I hate most about this joint. What bugs me the most…it’s not the mouse…it’s not the pizza…it’s the tickets.
You go to this place. You spend all this money on tokens so you kids can play all these games. And every game gives them these tickets. And then, when your kids are finished, you go redeem your tickets for all kinds of fabulous prizes. I HATE this prize counter. It takes my kids forever to make up their mind, because they’ve got a thousand tickets. And they’ve got to size up all their options. You simply can’t rush decisions like this, because they are absolutely rich with tickets. And such wealth deserves deep and serious consideration.
So finally, they make their decision. And they trade in these thousands of tickets they have accumulated…for a plastic spider ring. Or a piece of candy.
Inevitably, my kids leave this place and by the time they go to bed, they have completely forgotten about their fabulous prizes because the prizes are all junk. They were so pumped up about all these tickets. These tickets were going to be the pathway to life-changing prizes. They would be happy and fulfilled because of these tickets. And they always…every single time…end up disappointed.
I can’t stand this place. Which is why we always allow the grandparents to take our kids. I don’t ever have to set foot in this place, and that works for me.
As much as we’d like to think that we’ve outgrown this place as adults, many of us have not outgrown the ticket mentality.
“If I can just get enough tickets, then I can buy the things that will make me happy and feel secure for the rest of my life. I just need enough tickets, then I can be happy.”
The problem with all this is that wealth is deceitful. In Mark 4, Jesus said, “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word [of God], making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19, NIV)
The deceitfulness of wealth can choke the Word of God and the work of God right out of our lives.
Wealth is deceitful. It promises things that it can’t deliver. Wealth promises happiness. Wealth promises security, but these are things that only God can give. Wealth is deceitful.
Last week we talked about the good news and the bad news of wealth. The good news is, you are rich. We discovered that last week. Some of you don’t feel rich, because you consume everything that you take in and you’ve got no margin, but when you look at your life compared to everybody else on this planet, you find out just how rich you are. The good news is, you’re rich, and it is good news because you can enjoy what God has given you and you can do a lot to make a difference. It’s very good news. You’re rich.
But we also talked about some bad news. And the bad news is what? The bad news is, you’re rich, again, and you say, “Well, how can that be bad news?” It’s incredibly bad news because riches distract us from the most important things, and we can start to trust in our riches rather than in God. It happens so easily. In fact, Jesus was the one who said it’s harder for a rich person…and that would include you and that would include me…it’s more difficult for a rich person to get to Heaven than it is to get a camel through the eye of a needle. It’s bad news.
Let’s look at some Scripture that we looked at last week again. This passage talks specifically to rich people. In other words, you and me.
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul told Timothy, “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.” (1 Timothy 6:17, NIV)
Wealth is so uncertain, which is why Paul says to put your hope in God. We put our hope in God, because He is the one who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Did you see that? Your wealth, and you are wealthy, even though you may not feel like it, your wealth comes from God. God has blessed you with it, and God wants you to enjoy it. Do you see that?
I’m not preaching an anti-wealth message. Not at all. In fact, my sincere prayer is that you are faithful with what you have, and you are generous, and then God gives you more, because Scripture is very clear. Whoever is faithful with little can be trusted with more, and whoever is generous, God blesses back. And I pray that God blesses you with more and more and more and more and more and more, so you can do more good for His Kingdom, but what I also pray is that you never trust in your wealth, which is so incredibly easy to do.
Every one of us needs to own this statement. “God has blessed me with more than I need. I am rich.”
That’s true, isn’t it? We’ve been blessed with so much more than we need. That makes us incredibly wealthy. We really are rich.
But now, we need to add something to this thought. If you are taking notes, write this down. “But I will not trust in riches. I will trust in Him, who richly provides.”
We need to understand that riches are deceitful. Satan, your spiritual enemy, wants you to serve money. He wants you to be under money’s power. He wants you to be a slave to money. He wants you to worship money.
In 1 Timothy, the Bible says, “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.” (1 Timothy 6:10, NIV)
This is one of the most misquoted, misapplied Scriptures in the Bible. I’ve heard so many people use this Scripture to say that money is evil. But that’s not what it says, is it? This verse doesn’t say that money is evil. It says that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Your money is not your problem. Your stuff is not your problem. Your heart is your problem. It’s not money, it’s the love of money that leads us down a destructive path.
We are rich. We’ve already established that in this series. So the question is, can you have too much stuff? The answer is no. But stuff can have too much of you. That’s where we are destroyed. Not when we have money and stuff, but when money and stuff have us. For most of us, money will be the number one competitor for our heart.
In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24, NIV)
You cannot serve two masters. Jesus said it is absolutely impossible to be devoted to two masters. And look at the two masters He points out. God and money. Not God and sex. Not God and __________. He highlights God and money, because He knows that nothing else has the power to rule your life like money does.
The Bible says that you cannot serve both God and money. It tells us that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It reminds us that many people, in the pursuit of more money, have wandered away from the faith, and they’ve pierced themselves with many, many griefs.
It all comes down to the love of money. Now, most of you would say, “Well, I know people who love money, but I don’t. I don’t, I don’t love money.”
Well, when I look at Scripture, I would argue that many of us do love money. How do you know if you love and trust money? Let’s look at three Biblical thoughts.
The first one is this: people who love and trust money never have enough. People who love and trust money, they never have enough. Look at God’s Word.
In Ecclesiastes 5:10, the Bible says, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NIV)
“Whoever loves money never has,” what? Enough. “Whoever loves money never has enough money. Whoever loves wealth, is never,” what? Satisfied. That person is never satisfied with their income.
If you’re not satisfied, then the Bible says that you love money. That’s the straight up, unvarnished truth.
I don’t know how this plays out in your life, but for me, I often think if I had more I could buy more. If I had more tickets, then I could get more and then I’d be happy.
Go back to 1 Timothy 6 again. In verse 6, the Bible says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6, NIV)
Godliness with contentment is great gain. Contentment simply means that I’m satisfied, I’m content, with what I have. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have drive and initiative. It doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard. But it does mean that, whatever stage of life I’m in, whatever I have or don’t have, I’m content.
Contentment is a lost virtue in our culture today. And it’s all because instead of contentment, we get into comparisons. I compare what I have to what other people have.
I’m satisfied with my car, until I see your car. I’m content with my house, until I look at your house. My TV is awesome, until I see your TV.
When I start comparing, then all of a sudden my car is a piece of junk. My house is a shack. And my TV is so small and outdated and I can’t even bring myself to turn it on.
Now, my car, my house, and my TV didn’t change. They are exactly what they always were. What changed? My heart. My heart changed, because instead of being content, I started comparing.
This is how wealth begins to deceive us. It drives us away from contentment and toward comparisons. All of a sudden, our joy and trust and security no longer come from God. They come from accumulating more money and more stuff.
Here’s a question for you. Do you know how much money you need to be totally secure? Do you know how much money you need to be totally secure?
The answer is…more than you currently have. That’s the answer. It’s always the answer, because wealth is deceitful.
If your stack is this big and you don’t feel secure, you think you need more and more and more and more and more, and what happens is, you are being deceived. Those who love and trust money never have enough.
How big does your stack have to be before you’re secure? The answer is it has to be bigger than it is now. Because we’ve bought into the lie that wealth is our security.
In Proverbs 18, the Bible says, “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.” (Proverbs 18:11, NIV)
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city. In other words, their wealth is their protection. They imagine it as an unscalable wall. “If this can just be big enough, I’ll be safe. No one can get to me. I’ll be secure.” But it’s all in their imagination. It isn’t real. Their security is an illusion.
What’s happened? Wealth has just deceived you again. Those who love and trust money, they never have enough.
Second thought is this: those who love and trust money have money in the bank, but no peace in their hearts. They may have money in the bank, but no peace in their hearts. Or, they might have toys in the garage or boats for the lake and whatever, but, but no peace in their hearts.
Here’s what Scripture says. Proverbs 15:16 says, “Better a BMW with …” Hang on a second. I’m sorry. I misread that.
It says, “Better an HDTV.” Did I, did I mess up again?
Okay, ladies, here’s one for you. Better twenty pairs of shoes. Oh, no. I’m just messing with you. Okay, sorry about that. I had to be an equal opportunity offender. Okay?
Let’s do it for real. “Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.” (Proverbs 15:16, NIV)
Better a little with the fear of the Lord than, what? Than great wealth with turmoil.
You’re rich. You may not feel rich, but you are rich, and most rich people I know have great turmoil. Here’s what’s crazy. Many of you have a bigger income than your parents ever did, and yet, you are miserable.
So many of us are chasing after that target, that carrot on a stick. But every time we think we’ve caught the carrot, it moves.
If I could just make this much, then everything would be ok. The carrot moves. If I can just get this, then I’ll be all set. The carrot moves again. The target never stops.
I accumulate more and more and more. My stack has gotten bigger, but the peace in my heart hasn’t. In fact, for many of you, you’ve got more than you ever dreamed possible, and not only are you miserable, but you have financial pressure all the time.
You know what? There are people who make one-third of what some of you make, and they can’t figure out why you’re so financially stressed. It’s because you’re consuming it all and you’ve got no margin, whatsoever. And you’re miserable thinking this thing, or that thing, or this thing will make you happy. You’ve got the toys and the look and the income and the house, and still you’re not satisfied. You’re miserable and you’re stressed.
Can I say it just as simply as I can? You’ve been deceived. You’ve been tricked. It’s the deceitfulness of wealth, and for some of you, it’s absolutely consuming you. You cannot serve both God and money, and so many people I know are serving money.
Third quality of those who love and trust money, they find it increasingly difficult to give big. They find it increasingly difficult to give big.
Why is that? Because we don’t feel like we have enough. What happens? A lot of people I know today, they start to think, “If I had more money, that would solve most of my problems.” That’s what a lot of people think. Some of you might think that. “If we just had more stuff…if we just had that house…if we just had this car…if we just had this income…if we just had this much saved, that would solve our problems.
When you think that, you are directly under the influence of money. You are under its power. You’re serving it. You think money would make things better.
Listen, more money is not going to keep your kids off drugs. More money is not going to heal your best friend from cancer. More money is not going to make your marriage better. You think it will. It will not. You’ve been deceived, and so when we could give generously, we don’t, because we want our stack to get bigger.
If you’ve been at ACC for a while, then you’ve heard Biblical teaching on the tithe, that ten percent belongs to God, and you return the tithe to God through the local church.
You’ve heard that and say, “I think that’s probably right, and God blesses those who give in this way,” and you say, “I love the church and I love what it’s about. I’d love to do that, but whenever I start to think about it, I think ten percent! No way! I can’t do that. I gotta build my stack.”
Or, maybe for you, its, you see somebody who’s in need and think, “Oh, man, I love this person and I want to help, and I would love to be able to just cut a check, but I, I can’t because if I do, there might not be enough left for me.”
Here’s what’s crazy. And for you with a small stack, you’re not going to understand this. If you have a small stack, you’re going to think this is insane. Studies have shown over and over and over again, percentage wise, that those who have less give more; and those who have more give less. Sure, there are exceptions, but there is great evidence that those with a smaller stack give grossly higher percentages than those with a huge stack. Why? Because those with a big stack start trusting in the stack instead of trusting in God, and those who don’t have a stack can’t trust in the stack, and they just trust in God!
Some of you, you’ve got a big stack, but you don’t know how to give. That’s not how to be rich. That’s how to be selfish.
In 2 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul was talking about a group of people that were poor. Not American poor. Not people who say, “Yeah, I’m poor,” while they’re watching their big flatscreen and drinking a $5 latte from Starbucks.
These people weren’t American poor. They were for real poor. They lived in actual, real poverty.
Here’s what Paul said about them. “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3, NIV)
Out of their most severe trial and their extreme poverty…we’re talking dirt-poor poverty, they overflowed with joy. And they welled up in rich generosity.
Paul said that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. They didn’t have much, and so they didn’t trust in it. They didn’t trust in their stack because they didn’t even have a stack. They trusted in God, and they gave radically, generously. That’s how to be rich.
Here’s what Satan will whisper to you. He’s going to tell you, “Give when …” That’s what a lot of us are going to hear. Give when.
Give when you get your student loans paid for. Give when you get your car paid off. Give when you get that raise. Give when you get the house that you want. Give when …
By contrast, God will say, “Give now.” Give now. That’s what He’s saying to us.
I know some people will hear this and think, “I knew it. The church just wants my money.”
If we were just interested in your money, why do we always tell our visitors, “Don’t give. We don’t want anything from you. We’re just glad you’re here.”
It’s because we don’t look at your and see dollar signs. We look at you and see someone who is desperately loved by God and we’re thrilled that you’re with us today.
So why even talk about giving? Because we want you to be rich. And to be truly rich, you can’t be dominated with selfishness. You’ve got to live with generosity.
God has blessed us with more than we need. We’re rich, but we will not trust in our riches, but in Him, who richly provides. I will no longer be deceived by wealth, thinking more will make me happy and more will make me secure, because that promises something that only God can give. And I will not seek meaning in the things of this world. I will only seek it in One who truly gives life. That’s how to be rich.
Today is decision day for all of us. We get to choose our master. We choose whether God or money will be our master. We choose whether truth or deception will be our master. We choose a Master who gives real life or a master who offers a counterfeit life.
All of us have this decision in front of us. Today is the day when we draw the line in the sand and say, “No more. No more deception. No more being duped. No more lies. I choose truth. I choose life. I choose Jesus.”
A lot of us need to decide today to recommit our lives to Jesus, because money and stuff have really gotten in the way. Others of us need to make that first time decision to trust Jesus as the Savior and Lord of your life. To repent of sin and be buried in baptism with Christ, and then be raised to a brand new life with a brand new Master.
Now is the time. Let the choice be made.
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