What’s Mine is Mine

by Sean Foster on June 30, 2013

SERMON
I Timothy 6:17-19
Sunday June 30, 2013
Sean J. Foster

I Timothy 6: 17-19

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. A-men.

Today is the last sermon in a series that I have been leading us through: I Believe in God, BUT.
• I Believe in God, but I worry
• I Believe in God, but I don’t share my faith.
• I Believe in God, but I don’t forgive.

Well, I decided to leave the easiest sermon in the series til last. I Believe in God, But What’s Mine is Mine. So today we are going to look at Money.

Our lesson today that Lawrence read to us from Paul’s letter to the young Timothy. Timothy is a young preacher who Paul has been mentoring. And so these are words of advice to Timothy for his ministry. But in the passage that Lawrence read from I Timothy 6 today, this section is addressed to a specific group within the church where Timothy is the Pastor.

Paul writes, As for those who in the present age are rich. So this one tiny section of the letter is specifically addressed to the wealthy of the congregation. Those with a lot of financial resources.

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Those wealthy people, are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus (or, in so doing, they will be) storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they (and again, this is addressed to the rich), so that they may take hold of the life, … that really is life.

This is a unique section in the Scriptures where Paul is specifically address the rich, and the wealthy in Timothy’s congregation. So, in making the application, one of the first things we need to discern is – who are the rich in this present age?
• Who does this text address?
• Who does it apply to?
• How do you decide if you are rich or not?

Now the way that most people decide if they are rich or not is by comparing themselves to others – which is not always an accurate way of deciding if you are rich or not. Let me try to illustrate what I mean.

Back in March of 2011, Fidelity Investments did a survey. (http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/03/14/survey-wealthy-americans-bury-their-heads-in-piles-of-money/)

They survey 1000 millionaires. All of them had a net worth of at least 1 million dollars, but according to he survey, the average net worth of those who participated was 3.5 million. And the question they were asked was: Do you feel rich?

Over 40%, 42% responded, I do not feel rich. Another question was asked by the survey, how much money would you need to feel rich? And the lowest number was 7.5 million. I would need to have at least 7.5 million dollars before I would feel rich.

There were various comments collected as to why these millionaires did not feel rich.
• I don’t feel rich because I thought being rich I would feel content.
• Or I would feel successful.
• Or I would secure.
• But I don’t feel content, successful or secure,
• I don’t have enough.
• I must not be rich.

When we think about the question: am I rich, we tend to compare ourselves with others who have more than we do. And in doing so, we then conclude, I am not rich compared to them, so, I’m not rich.

We always want more. We live in a society that teaches us to always want more.

So, who is Paul writing to when he writes to those in this present age who are rich.

I mean, if there are people with a million dollars in the bank and they still do not feel rich; who are the rich?

I have shared this before, but it is worthy of being shared again. (http://www.angelfire.com/co/prophetjonas/richpoor.html)
In the world today, there are just over one billion people who live on less than one dollar a day. Most of us spend more than that on coffee.

Another three billion people live on about $2.00 a day.

Now lets jump forward. If you make $30,000.00/ year, you are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world. Yes, people in Ontario live on $30K a year in Ontario. It is just above the poverty line. And you are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world.

And you really don’t have to jump up very far to be in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world. If you have access to more than $80,000.00/ year, you are in that top 1% of the wealthiest in the world. Now that’s a humbling fact.

Timothy, command those who are rich in this present age. … How do we know that this passage applies to us. Well, I would guess that most of us are in that top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world. More accurately, I would suggest that most of us are part of the 5% who are the wealthiest in the world. It is extremely probable, that the majority of us are in the top 1%.

These words of Paul to Timothy are address to us. As for those who in this present age are rich…

Well congratulations, you are richer than you think.

The first thing Paul say’s to us: don’t be haughty.
• Don’t be conceited.
• Or proud
• Or self-important
• Snooty
• Or over-confident
• Arrogant
• And feel superiority over others.
Don’t look down on others because of your affluence and wealth.

James, that small book towards the end of the New Testament, he gives a wonderful illustration.

He says, suppose a man comes into your meeting, wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and then a poor enters who is wearing shabby clothes.

Now, if you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say: Here is a seat for you, but then say to the poor man, you stand there, or sit by my feet.

James say’s, have you not discriminated among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts.

Ouch!

We all do it. I mean, we are easily impressed with wealth. We live in a world with price tags. And if there isn’t one, we assign one.

The Old Testament prophet Samuel said it well: Humanity looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

Paul is encouraging that we do not make judgments on people based on their wealth, their appearance, the clothes they wear, their level of education. Regardless of status, wealth – know first, that they were made in image of God. They are first a child of God.

The invitation that Jesus gives and invites us to adopt is to love one another as we love ourselves.

The guy who is the CEO of a large company, rich and wealthy, and the homeless man who enters our worship service. You can tell that he has been wearing the same clothes for some time now. In fact, before you see him, you can likely smell him. He reeks. Paul invites, treat them the same.

I mean, let me break it down a little further. It is more than just behaving the right way. Paul is addressing a heart issue here. Love them. Love both of them as you would love yourself.

What else does Paul say to these rich folk. He say’s, Tell them to not put your hope in wealth. Timothy, tell these folk to put their hope in God, not their money. Sure, we get that, but it’s really putting into practice right? Having the right priorities.
• Money won’t save you.
• Money won’t get you into heaven.
• Our possessions are secondary to God.

The truth is, no matter how much money you have, it’s not our money. It’s God’s money… How about that for a reality check? It’s God’s money. I’m going to flesh that out some more, but before I lose my train of thought, Paul continues: Timothy, remind those rich folk that God richly, … richly provides everything .. for their enjoyment.

We get pretty weird and possessive about money. That’s a general comment, but its true. What is the leading cause for divorce today? Money. People are weird about money.

We think it’s our money. But it’s not! All that we have belongs to God.

I mean, here’s the test. When you die, how much do you take with you?

Timothy, I am being serious here. Remind the people to not put their trust, their hope, in wealth. Don’t let them believe that it is a source of security. Remind them to put their hope in God. God richly provides for our enjoyment.

God does not want to deprive us of anything.
• It is Ok to be wealthy.
• It is OK to be rich.
• It is OK to have money.
But don’t put your hope in it. Don’t put your trust, in your wealth. Your stocks, your GIC’s, your assets, your nest egg.

You ask the folk in Calgary, struck by flooding, how secure do they feel? Did their money protect them? … Put your hope in God.

Christian Smith is a sociologist at Notre Dame University. And he did a study on giving and Christians. And one of the things that he discovered is that Christians have a comfortable guilt when it comes to money. A comfortable guilt.

He say’s, according to his research, Christians know that they should give more, and they feel guilty that they don’t, but it is not enough guilt to make them increase their givings. Now that is fascinating. A comfortable guilt.

So Paul’s advice to Timothy is for Timothy
• to tell these rich folk to do good.
• Tell them to be rich in good deeds.
• Tell them to be generous and willing to share.
For in so doing, they will lay up treasure for themselves. Actually the text reads that they will store up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future.

It’s a strange thing that happens when we are generous. It is completely counter-intuitive to what the world teaches. The more generous we are – the more blessings we reap. Giving reaps blessings.

But I want to go back to that statement of Paul’s that God richly provides.

If we go back to the beginning, in Genesis we learn that God created everything. So logically – everything belongs to God. He created it – it’s his. As the Psalmist writes, the earth is the Lord’s.

Then God creates humanity, and gives a wonderful gift of dominion over all creation. A generous God. Dominion is a kingdom word. And what it means is that we are in charge. We decide what happens.

It’s fascinating to me as a father. I watch my children, and they pick up this idea of having dominion really quickly, and very early in life. One of the first words that children pick up when they start to learn language; … well, one of the first words they pick up is the word NO. They don’t like to hear no, but they sure like to use it.

But one of the first words they pick up is – MINE. They figure out pretty quickly that they have a kingdom. They have dominion. Of course, they wouldn’t use those words. They would simply say: It’s Mine!

So God say’s to humanity, his prized creation, you have dominion over my creation. It is yours to posses to rule and to decide. In other words, we say how it is used. It is part of our kingdom.

So, what I am trying to say is that it is part of who we are. We are to have possessions. It is a gift that God has given to us. But in giving us dominion, the purpose was not so that we hoard and store away, and become greedy. The purpose is for us to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with. Not to hoard, but to share. To be generous. To be rich in good deeds.

It’s not bad to have possessions.

You know, I was thinking. Perhaps the question that we should ask is: Why should God trust me with His money? Why should God trust me with what really belongs to him? But God is always willing to take risks with us. I give you dominion over all things. For our good pleasure. For our enjoyment.

But whenever we start to think that it’s ours; and we forget that in actuality it belongs to God, we usually start to get into trouble and our decisions get skewed. We become selfish. And we start saying things like: what’s mine is mine, and I’m not sharing. They already get enough of my money!

I have heard it said, dozens of times, Sean, you know, if I had more money, I would give more. But that doesn’t really pan out well in reality.

And lots of studies have been done on this. It has been shown over and over again, and consistently proven that the less money people have, the more they are likely to give. Isn’t that fascinating. But it’s true.

People who make less than $30,000/ year give on average 4-5% of what they make. Logic would then suggest that if you had more money – you would give more. But it’s not true. The more money you make – the less you are likely to give. People who make $100,000.00 a year give away an average of 2%. Hey, I thought you said if you had more, you would give more, but it’s not true.

Money does not make people generous.

God. Having a relationship with God – makes people generous. Because it’s a heart thing.

Jesus said it this way. It is more blessed to give, than it is to receive. And it is a fascinating phenomena. Because it is so counter-intuitive to the way that we think. It is more blessed to give than it is to receive. That when we give, it becomes a blessing to us. When we forget ourselves and I really think that is key. That when we forget ourselves and reach out and give, to others, to the church; we end up getting helped. And that relationship, .. that most important relationship that we have with God…
• Is deepened.
• And strengthened in new ways.

Because as we give, what it say’s is that we trust God, more than we trust in our wealth. Holding onto our wealth say’s to God that we don’t trust God to look after us.

Back in July of 2010, Allen and Violet Large of Truro, Nova Scotia. They won 11.2 million dollars playing the Loto 649. They had never been around that kind of money ever. And they decided – they didn’t need it. They decided to give it away.
• They gave it to the church.
• They gave it to the Salvation Army.
• They gave it to people they loved.
• They gave it to causes that would honor God.
Rich in good deeds. Generous and willing to share.

Dr. Kennon Callahan. He is preacher, teacher, writer. He is now in his 80’s, but he teaches all over the world on church growth and stewardship. I have listened to Callahan teach; I think it is now 5 times that I have had the joy and opportunity of listening to him. He said, ask people how much they love and the church, and they will tell you they love the church.

Then ask them, How much are you leaving the church, when you cross the river and go to be with the Lord? It will show you how important the church really is to them It will show you how much they love God’s church. How much are you leaving to the church when you die?

How we deal,
• And think
• And talk
• And spend
• And GIVE our money.

• It say’s a lot about who we are,

• And it say’s a lot about our relationship with God.

I Believe in God. Period!

A-men.

Next post: