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Grace to You - Resource

I'm going to ask you to return to the 16th chapter of Luke and last week we looked at the opening 13 verses under the subject, “Thinking Wisely about Money.”  We actually worked our way down through the end of verse 13, but I want to talk some more about this issue.  So in a sense we're going to extend this text and this subject today and next Lord's Day as well.

Luke chapter 16, the opening 8 verses you will remember are a parable Jesus tells about an unjust steward, about a man who in a clever, shrewd, and wily fashion used money available to him to secure a future.  Knowing he was being fired he took advantage of the time that he had to work deals with his master's debtors to then indebt them to him so that when he was let go from his current position they would be obligated to receive him.  He was securing his future satisfaction, his future comfort, his future well-being by very shrewd use of money.  Jesus said sometimes people in the world are far more shrewd in planning for their future with the use of money than are the sons of light.  He is telling us that we need to be very wise in how we use our money with a view to the future, and not an earthly future, but a heavenly future.  And he opens up to us the reality that we can use our money to secure joys, surpassing joys; fulfillment, satisfaction forever in heaven.  It's one thing to plan for the few years of your retirement here. Quite another to plan for a full, rich eternity, and that's what Jesus is teaching.

After the parable in verse 9, Jesus makes an application.  Just as the man secured future friends with the wise use of money, then you need to do the same.  Verse 9, "I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings."  All he is saying is that use your money so that someday when you go to heaven there will be a group of folks there welcoming you.  What does that mean?  Those folks who are there to welcome you will be the ones who have been reached with the gospel by your money.  You gave to the church, to the work of the church, to the mission of the church, to evangelism, to missions, to the spread of the gospel and as a result they were reached and apparently God will let them know who were reached by your gifts so they can be there to welcome you when you arrive.  What an amazing thought.  What a gracious gift on the part of God.

How inviting!  I mean, it's one thing to think about arriving in heaven and meeting all the people you already knew.  That's OK.  Reunions are going to be a reality there, but how about arriving in heaven and meeting all of the people who were reached with the gospel that you would never know until you meet them there, your new friends who will welcome you into your heavenly dwelling.  There's a real connection between eternity and time with regard to money.  You can't take your money with you, but you can invest it in such a way as to enrich your eternity.

That is why our Lord Jesus in Matthew 6, said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth."  That is a command, not ambiguous.  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt, where thieves do not break through and steal, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also."  Put your money in a place where nothing can ever touch it, where it can bring you an eternal reward, never being corrupted, never being diminished, and know this, that wherever you put your money your heart will follow. Your heart will follow.

The use of money critical.  I want to draw one little thought out of that passage I just quoted you from Matthew 6:19-21.  “Lay up for yourselves.”  This is not about giving your money to the Lord and never seeing it again.  This is about laying up treasure for yourselves.  This is just sheer grace.  I mean this is the magnanimity of God.  This is the generosity of God.  This is the greatness of God's goodness and love, that not only does He bless us in this life with everything we need and more, but He says, "I want you to have for yourselves treasures in heaven."  I want you to have the maximum enjoyment of all that is possible in eternity forever.  It's for your eternal benefit.  It's for your eternal joy.

Turn for a moment to 1 Timothy chapter 6.  First Timothy chapter 6 verse 17.  The apostle Paul writes, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world," that would be us by any definition, "not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Instruct them to do good, be rich in good works, be generous, ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed."  There it is again.  "For yourselves," in Matthew 6, "for themselves" just a little bit of change in the pronoun, but it's for us.  The point is this: If you use your money to do what is really good, which of course is the advance of the gospel, you use your money to do those good works that are really good, those spiritual works that bear fruit, if you use your money to be generous to others and are eager to share, you will store up for yourself the treasure of a good, solid basis for your eternal life.  You'll lay hold of what is really life, life indeed.

Your money stops here but your treasures don't and how you use your money here will have an impact on eternity and how much you enjoy it there.  This is just sheer goodness.  We don't deserve anything.  We don't deserve to be forgiven.  We don't deserve to get there by the bare minimum.  We don't deserve to even be in heaven.  And we should be content with what is meager, and here the Lord says, "Look, I'll take you there by My grace, and by My grace I'll make heaven as full and rich as you in your own commitment are willing for it to be."  What you do with money right now is determining your eternal joy.

We looked at the parable of the man and he used his money shrewdly and wisely and Jesus in response to that gave us three basic lessons.  Number one: money and your attitude toward others.  Use your money for the advance of the gospel so that people will be saved, who will be in heaven to welcome you when you get there.  That's verse 9. And then in verse 10 He said this: "Ye...He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  If, therefore, you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon (money) who will entrust the true riches to you?” Eternal blessings, eternal riches?  And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's,” your money is not yours, it belongs to God, “who will give you that which is your own?” Again that eternal reward.  So, while you're here your first perspective is I want to invest in the salvation of others who will be there to welcome me when I come; secondly, I want to understand this:  That it's a matter of faithfulness, not a matter of how much.  If I'm unfaithful in a little, I'll be unfaithful in much.  If I'm unfaithful in much I'll be unfaithful in little.  It's a question of faithfulness.  It's a...It’s a spiritual perspective.  And if I am faithful I will find when I get to heaven the true, eternal riches that will become my own.

And then the last word from our Lord in verse 13, "No servant can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.  You can't serve God and mammon,” or money.  Pretty simple!  Money and your attitude toward others: Use it in gospel enterprise.  Money and your attitude toward self: It is a measure of your personal faithfulness.  Money and your attitude toward God: How you relate to your money determines whether you're serving him or you're serving money and you can't serve both.  That's impossible.

So, summing it up, no earthly commodity is more revealing of our devotion on all fronts, the things that really matter, the souls of others, our own spiritual life, and God himself, than money.  You either use your money this way or you waste it, you forfeit it.  You have nothing eternally to show for it.  Purchasing friends for eternity by gospel involvement welcomes you into heaven in a glorious way. Being faithful here will guarantee that God will reward you there. If you are faithful here he will be faithful to you there.

We know this from the parables that He told.  He gave certain things to stewards and they were given the opportunity to multiply those things and when they did it well He said, "Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”  And he who is faithful over little becomes lord over much.  And understand this:  You either serve God and His glory with your money or you serve material things.

Now that's the basic teaching here.  But I want to spend a couple of weeks, this week and next week, just kind of expanding that a little bit and talking to you a little more personally and practically about this issue.  The first thing we need to do is kind of diagnose where we are, OK?  So we say, "I understand that, I get the point, I get the principles, very clear.  I want to know where I am.”  So let's just ask a simple question.  What are the signs of materialism?  What are the sinful signs of materialism?  A little diagnosis to start here, here are some things to thing about.  First of all you know there are some elements of materialism in your life when you are characterized by anxiety over money.  Being anxious about money means one thing: You're spending more than you have.  It could mean, I guess, you're unwilling to trust God for the future, but generally it is the result of the fact that you are spending more money than you have and that's very easy to do in our society because everybody can spend money they don't have, everybody can spend the bank's money, and then become anxious about how you're going to ever pay it back, looking down the road not seeing any capability and yet you keep on spending.  If you find yourself being anxious over money you are beginning to experience to one degree or another, maybe mildly or severely the reality of materialism.

Secondly, covetousness.  Covetousness is simply this: you want what somebody else has.  You want what somebody else has.  You want what is new, what is novel, what is different.  It's this desire for more, and it is a very strong compulsion in our unredeemed flesh.  Another element, another I guess you could say facet of this materialistic attitude, another symptom in the diagnosis is selfishness.  Selfishness is simply this: You don't have any joy in giving.  You get much more satisfaction in holding on than in letting go.  You would rather keep it than give it.  This is grudging, this is being selfish and it means that you somehow have your heart attached to this, either for your own indulgence or for your own security.  You're not willing to give because it's not in your heart to give, or you're not willing to give because you fear the future, which means you're not trusting God to care for the future.  You are hoarding it, you are guarding it and that is an indicator of materialism.  You are to one degree or another putting your trust in what you possess.

Another thing is preoccupation.  Preoccupation with money means that you'’re thinking materialistically, constantly worrying about your investments, constantly worrying about the rate of return, constantly concerned and anxious over this, that, or the other place where you put your money wondering if there's something better, something more, something faster, something that would get you're a quicker return.  Even gambling falls into this category.  Preoccupied with getting it as quickly as you can.

And that leads me to greediness. Greediness is wanting more fast, wanting more fast, not in the normal way to gain and to grow your money and to increase your money, but looking for some way to get it fast.  It turns so easily into greed and then no matter how fast it happens to work if you kick in some deal that works fast then you think about how it could even be faster, or how you could find another fast track and it manifests in impatience.  That indicates greed.

Another symptom here of this little diagnosis of materialism is discontent.  You begin to lose appreciation of what you have.  Nothing you have is enough, whatever...whether it's a commodity or whether it's an account, or whether it's an interest rate, or whether it's a house or a car or any other thing you have it's not enough.  You are seduced by what you do not have rather than content by what you do have.  This kind of dissatisfaction, this kind of thing is a serious symptom that your heart is pursuing the mammon of unrighteousness, anxiety, covetousness, selfishness, preoccupation, greediness, discontent.

Idolatry needs to be thrown in here too, sacrificing relationships with people for stuff.  People do it all the time. In this desire to be better than the people around you, to have more than the people around you have to show up the people around, you alienate the people around you.  You flaunt...People flaunt the stuff they have, whether the clothes, or the jewelry, or the whatever it is to appear to be better than everybody else.  That's a great way to establish relationships, really marvelous, really.  Just make people feel like they're beneath you, that you're better than they are, and you will for sure alienate them.

And some people will spend money even though it alienates them from spouse, from family, from close friends, church friends.  They don't care.  They just want the stuff.  There's usually a lot of pride attached to that.  So you see materialism isn't what you have, it's not about an amount, it's not about the kind of things you have, the size of things you have, etc., the value of things you have.  It's about a heart attitude.

Back to 2 Timothy 6, for a minute, verse 17.  Just a little thought here, "Instruct those who are rich," indicates to me that some people are rich by God's sovereign purpose and that's not sinful in itself, OK, not necessarily sinful in itself.  Boy it's hard to be rich and not sin.  It's easier to be poor and not sin.  There's a...There’s a realm of sinning that you can't do it you're destitute.  It does narrow your field a little.  But in itself being rich is not wrong.  “Simply instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited,” not to be proud.  That's so hard because when you're rich you tend to be proud.  That's another symptom, pride.  You flaunt what you possess.  You flaunt what you own as if you are somehow superior to others who don't have what you have.  Instruct those who are rich, it says to not to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches.  Don't put your trust in money, but on God, who by the way richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Don't get me wrong, he says, God has richly put this planet together.  You understand this planet is just so rich in all the riches that come pouring out of this planet were intended by God to be enjoyed, if you give Him the glory and if you hold them very lightly and hold that stewardship to advance His gospel and the name of Christ.  Just take what you've got and do good in the true sense, good works and generosity, ready to share, and use it for treasure in heaven, the life that really matters.

So look at your own life. Anxiety, covetousness, selfishness, preoccupation, greediness, discontent, idolatry, pride, confidence, trust in your money; these are the symptoms of materialism.  And look, I mean, we're all sinful and we all are finding ourselves somewhere in there and we all know what those little struggles and battles are like and they aren't necessarily just long-term things.  They show up all the time, just about every time you go shopping, every time you watch a commercial.  We're being blasted with temptation on a lot of fronts and this is...this is one huge one.  It's not an easy time in the world to be content, humble.

Now Scripture has a lot to say to cure us, OK?   We can sort of find ourselves in the little pathology that I just laid out for you, but the immediate response is going to see how do I deal with this, how do I find a cure to this?  Let me sort of pull you through that this morning and next time.  I want to give you two points today.  Number one:  the right to possess money.  This is good news.  I'm not asking you to give it all up.  I’m not...We're not saying that, neither is the Bible.  You have the right to possess money.  The Bible teaches that all that you have comes from God and He gave it to you and to me.  It's a trust.  It's a test.  It's a stewardship, but it's from Him and He wants us to have it.  The Bible teaches that all money is really God's.  Let me show you.  He sovereignly gives it in differing amounts to people, and especially to His own people.  Haggai 2:8, "The silver and the gold is Mine,” God says.  Well if it's His, if it's all His then what I have of it comes from Him, through providence, through my skills, my talents, my work.  Deuteronomy 8:17 and 18: "You shall remember the Lord your God.  It is He that gives you power to make wealth."  There's that providential skill, opportunity, coincidence, all those features.  It is God who owns it all.  It is God who gives you the ability to make wealth.

Proverbs 8:20-21, "I walk in the ways of righteousness ... to endow those who love Me with wealth."  Wow!  "To endow those who love Me with wealth, that I may fill their treasuries."  That is amazing.  God wants you to enjoy richly all things, 1 Timothy 6, again.  First Corinthians 4:7 says in a very generic sense, "And what do you have that you didn't receive?"  I don't have anything that I didn't receive.  Everything I have was given to me.  I just showed up in the world one day, laid claim to nothing, everything from the time I was born, my parents picked me up, everything single thing has come to me from an outside source.  I have created nothing, same with all of us.  And God gives this to us because it is His to start with.  If He didn't give it to us we wouldn't have it, because it’s all His.  It has to come from its source and He's its source.

Listen to Psalm 50, "Every beast of the forest is Mine," verse 10, "the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird of the mountains and everything that moves in the field is Mine.  If I were hungry I wouldn't tell you."  I like that.  I don't need you to get me something.  It's Mine. "For the world is Mine, and all it contains."  Wow!  Every animal, every bird, every rodent, every insect, every everything is Mine.  If I need anything I'm not coming to you.  You're coming to Me.  It's all Mine. And therefore, everything that is ours is a gift.  It's more than a gift; it is a stewardship.  Job was wealthy and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, all those patriarchs were wealthy.  There were even people in the New Testament who were wealthy enough to have a house large enough to be a church.  Israel was very rich, really rich, the nation Israel.  Isaiah 2:7, "Their land is full of silver and gold. Neither is there any end to their treasures."  God gave them the best land on the planet with the most wealth.  Then He said to them, Deuteronomy 8:17, "Remember the Lord your God, for it is He that gives you the power to get wealth."  Don't forget Me now that you have all this.  Don't forget the source, don't forget the stewardship. Don't forget the responsibility.

So it's fine to have it, it's a gift from God and whatever you have received God has allowed you to receive.  It all has come out of this planet.  It all has come out of this creation, all of it.  And it's in your hands as a believer and it'’s OK.  It is even honorable if you have gained it in the right way, not if it's unrighteous.

Let me tell you what God has designed.  He has designed a way for you to increase your wealth.  I'll give you a couple of ways in which God has designed it.  Number one: work.  Work.  This is good.  Work.  Idle hands are still the devil's playthings.  We all know that.  Proverbs 14:23 says, "In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."  Shut up and go to work.  I mean that's the current vernacular translation of Proverbs 14:23.  Shut your mouth and get back to work.  And we've all heard that at some point in our lives.  I have echoes of that even from my parents.  So we all understand the value of work.  In Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 28, we are reminded, "Let him who stole steal no longer,” if that's what you used to do, “but rather let him labor performing with his own hands what is good in order that he may have something to share with him who has need."  Now there's a perspective: Work, work with your hands so that you'll have enough for you and to share and always the stewardship comes in play, isn't it?  Always the stewardship comes in play.  Something for you and something for somebody else who has need.  That's what was going on, as you remember, in the book of Acts when the early church was giving whatever they had to those who had need, Acts 2:45.  They were selling their property and possessions, sharing them with all as anyone might have need.  So work.

Colossians chapter 3 defines a little more about the nature of that work in a wonderful way.  Colossians chapter 3 verse 22, it says, obey your boss if you're a servant, slave, or a master on earth.  “Work not with external service,” that is you're only doing something when he's watching, but as those who... “as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord."  “Don't work just with eternal eye service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart serving the Lord.  Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord, rather than for men."

So you're working.  You say, "I hate my job."  You can't hate your job. You're doing it for the Lord.  The Lord gave you that.  That's a stewardship you have right now.  Oh you may want to find another job. That's fine too, but for the moment you have that job, work is honorable, labor is good, labor is God's way for you to increase your treasure and you do whatever it is that God has put before you to do heartily as if you were doing it for the Lord, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  There will even be, I believe, a reward, not only here, but in heaven, for someone who did his job or her job to honor the Lord.

So work is the first way that God has designed for us to increase the wealth that He gives generously to us.  Listen to Proverbs 28:19, "He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty."  You're never going to have a harvest if you don't plow.  Don't just hang around thinking your ship is going to come in.  Go to work. Go to work.

Second Thessalonians...I'm thinking of verses just to add to this...2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul says, “Even when we were with you we used to give you this order, 'If anyone will not work and neither let him eat.'"  You don't work?  You don't eat.  Now that would never make a national welfare policy.  You don't work, you don't eat.  You don't help people by giving people food who don't earn it.  This is not helpful.  This is diminishing of human dignity, the image of God, the purpose of God, and it allows too much idle time, no productivity, no sense of well-being, no sense of contribution, no sense of achievement, no sense of accomplishment, no sense of provision, no opportunity for generosity. It's just destructive.  Paul says, I told you that repeatedly.  You don't work you aren't eating.

Proverbs 6:6, probably remember this...6-10, "Go to the ant, oh lazy man.  Observe her ways and be wise.  Having no chief officer or ruler prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.  How long will you lie down, oh lazy man?  When will you arise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and your poverty will come in like a vagabond, and your need like an armed man."  Look at an ant.  Do you ever see an ant stand still?  Have you ever seen a kicked-back ant?  They never stop moving.  They never stop moving.  It's amazing.  It is amazing.  I don't know where all that energy comes from.  Isn't it amazing?

The key to great success is get out of bed.  Get out of bed. Go to work.  Proverbs 20:4, if you won't plow in the cold you're not going to have a harvest when it gets warm.  So work is a biblical doctrine.  It is a God-honoring doctrine.  It started in Eden.  The first thing that God said in cursing Adam was, Adam, guess what?  You're going to work and it's going to cause you to sweat, and it's not going to be easy because there's going to be thorns and thistles biting you in the ground, it's going to be cursed and you're going to have to work by the sweat of our brow and that's how it is.  But out of that is going to come blessing and treasure and riches that you'll enjoy.

Now, 1 Timothy 5:8, "If anyone does not provide for his own, especially those of his own household,” that's your own household and your, own meaning associated extended family and friends, "if anyone doesn't provide for his own in his own household he's denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  Wow!  You deny the faith. You literally are a horrible Christian example because a Christian is one who serves God and honors God and God says work and give and care for your own needs and the needs of others.  That's part of what it means to be a Christian.  You're...You’re denying the faith, in a sense, and you're worse than unbelievers in this sense, even unbelievers take care of their own.  That's axiomatic in general principle.

Well there's a second way you can increase your treasure.  The first way is work, the second way is save, save.  Proverbs 21:20, "There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise.  The foolish man swallows it up."  Another way to say that would be: The wise man saves for the future; the fool spends whatever he gets.  Pretty typical isn't it?  To live on a very edge or worse over the edge of what you have, and save absolutely nothing.  Let me say it again.  There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up.  The fool eats everything, consumes everything and has nothing stored up.

In the 30th chapter of Proverbs verse 24, "Four things are small on the earth, but exceedingly wise. Ants are not strong but they prepare their food in the summer."  You've got to learn to live on a margin and you've got to learn to be obedient to the word of God.  You've got to have...You’ve got to have some money that you're not spending.  I mean how can you respond to the opportunities to give, how can you invest in the kingdom of God if you're completely upside down, if you're tens of thousands or whatever in credit card debt and you're spending somebody else's money literally spending somebody else's money to pay off somebody else whose money you spent.  That's what financing debt does.  If you have more going out than you have coming in and you're living on credit, you have no discretionary dollars, you have no margin, you have no saving, you can't respond to God' matter what.  You're not in a position to do that and somebody might come to you and you have an impulse to give and so you give a credit card gift and now you're spending again somebody else's money.  You need to have a margin.  You need to basically spend less than you take in so that you have planned for your future, which will be upon you very, very rapidly; and not only the bad things that might come in the future, but the good things and more...most importantly the opportunities in the kingdom of God.

Imagine Jesus showing up in our culture today and walking in the church and coming up here and saying, "Anybody who would like to forsake everything and follow me out the side door."  Oh, I think I got to analyze that one.  We are so engulfed and hooked.  Somebody might say, "Well, I want to go Lord, I want to go, but I got to work because I owe all this money and I’m. OK I'm not free to go.  Well if the Lord came and said, "Well I'd like you to drop everything and go to the mission field, or I'd like you to drop everything and serve in this mission opportunity here or there, I'd like to have you drop everything and serve me."  And I can't do that Lord, I have to keep making the amount of money I'm making because I've got to fund the deal here and the deal is deep in debt and I got to get out of debt and I'm looking down the road and it could be years, years, decades.

You know this is really like Psalm 19:13; this is presumptuous sinning.  Don't presume on the future. Don't presume on God's grace in the future. Don't presume on God's provision in the future.  You need to save, you need to be careful, you need to be wise so that you live in a margin and you spend less than you take in so that you have something for the future, not just future difficulties, but future opportunities.

And that leads me to a third little word, the word “plan.”  Oh that dreaded word budget.  You know it's a simple thing to have a budget.  Spend less than you take in.  How you spend it you can figure out.  Get a priority list; decide what really matters, start there, work down the priority list, and when you've hit what you'll allow stop.  It's not brain surgery.  And just remember this: You're planning with the Lord's money.  We have people today in the world who are called “financial planners,” right?  Financial planners.  A guy comes in and tells you what he's going to do with your money.  So you say OK, Mr. Whoever you are, you don't even know who they are, some manager of some fund somewhere, whatever.  Here's all my money, go do something with it.  People do that.  It's kind of scary.  For all you know he's embezzling everything.  The church had an account for me when I first came here.  Put a little bit in.  You know, we were young, didn't have much and just a little bit.  It was all lost in a scandal.  That's fine. I mean it was a good lesson.

I don't know if you've thought about this, but you are God's money manager.  You're God's financial planner, you are.  God says OK, here's all this money, take this will you please and manage it for me.  Oh. You know money managers should have a high sense of integrity and responsibility.  Would you agree?  If you're going to manage somebody else's money that's pretty serious stuff.  I mean if I'm doing my own thing with what's mine then hey if I fail then I fail and it's all my responsibility.  But if I give it to you and you waste it or you embezzle it or you do something useless or pointless with it or whatever that's really a severe breach of trust.

So what I need to do as a believer is plan how I'm going to use God's money given to me.  That clears a lot of things up.  So I only ask one question. Will this honor the Lord?  Will this honor the Lord?  Is this a God-honoring place to put that money?  Is this where it can have the greatest impact?  That's the only question.  And the truth of the matter is: If we managed somebody's money the way we manage the Lord's money we'd all be in prison for our own little private Enron scandal.  We'd all be in prison for embezzling.  God is an awful lot more gracious than most people would be.

You have to understand what you're doing.  You have to assess where you are.  Proverbs 27:23 and 24: "Know well the condition of your flocks.  Pay attention to your herds.  Riches aren't forever."  Simple look at what you've got, take assessment of it.  Find out just how many animals you have in your flock of sheep and how many cattle you have in your herd and understand what the future looks like.  It's just plain, wise, common sense planning.  Proverbs 24:3-4, here's a paraphrase:  Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits by keeping abreast of the facts.  That's just a business.  That's the way life is.  You want to be successful with your money?  Plan wisely, use your common sense, and keep aware of what's happening.  Wow!  And you have that responsibility as God's personal money manager.  And you are endeavoring to manage all that He's given you in such a way as to bring Him glory, to bring Him glory.

I think God is glorified if you have something beautiful to wear or a piece of jewelry that is beautiful and it's’s a gift of love and an expression of love.  I think God is pleased with that when you give Him the honor and the glory for that and you thank Him and you enjoy that.  But you understand that it's a gift from Him and you praise Him for that, and you don't go overboard on those kinds of things to the exclusion of those things that are direct investments in the wonder of His glorious gospel work.

So you have to plan.  You want to plan so Romans 13:8 says, "You don't owe don’t owe any man anything."  Get out of debt.  It doesn't mean you couldn't put a mortgage on your house.  There are some things that are very good investments.  Jesus understood borrowing money.  Jesus said you should have taken your money and put it in the bank.  Remember when He said that?  So you could have earned interest.  He told the servant that in the story.  You should have put your money in the bank and earned interest.  Jesus knew then that if money went into a bank and He was paid interest that same money went out of the bank and somebody paid interest to borrow it.  So Jesus is affirming the economics of banking, for that which is legitimate, for that which is collateralized.  That's how the world works.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Borrowing money for an appreciated item is sensible.  Borrowing money that has collateral that is at least equal to, if not more than, the money is reasonable.  It's simply using your resources in different forms.  What you don't want to do is borrow money for depreciating items, turn yourself upside down.  The last thing you want to do is borrow money for consumable items, which is what credit card spending is.

So, we have to think of work, we have to think of saving and we have to think of planning as if we were God's personal money managers.  There's a lot of things involved.  Proverbs 17:18 says don't co sign for somebody else, because now you've obligated God's money that belongs to you to somebody else, which means if you cosign for somebody...I think sometimes within a family we come to help people in the family. But the Bible says don't cosign for somebody, don't countersign for another person's note or you will become responsible for that person's debt and you've just locked up your stewardship of God's money for that person and so their irresponsibility invades God's territory.  Work. Save. Plan.

On the negative side: Don't do things that are wrong to get money, things that are... Don't steal.  There are a lot of ways to do that.  One way, James 5:4 "Behold the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields," your gardener, your harvester, workers in the field that brought in the harvest, the grain, the pay for those laborers, "which has been withheld by you,” you didn’t pay them, “cries out against you."  Cries out to God.  You have somebody work, you pay them.  If you don't pay them you're stealing what is theirs.  “The outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth."  God says pay the people who do work for you.  So you don't exploit. You don't take money that belongs to someone else.  You don't gamble.  Isaiah 65:11 and 12 talks about risking things with fortune and destiny and is talking about gambling.  Sort of a betting on the odds, a hedging on what the quote-unquote "gods" might do.  You don't owe debts. Pay your debts because that money belongs to somebody else.  You're withholding what is rightfully theirs.

You say okay, I don't think I'm stealing and I don't think I'm not gambling, I'm not exploiting, I'm in a difficult situation, I work hard and I'd like to save better and plan better, but I'm always short.  Why am I so short all the time?  Well one, do you really need more or do you just want more?  Is God testing your trust?  Are you misusing what He gave you?  Have you violated biblical principles?  I mean come on, if you're not a very good money manager of what He's given you, do you think He's going to give you more?  That wouldn't make a lot of sense.  If I had a money manager who was not doing what was supposed to be done with the money I wouldn't give him any more, take away what he had.

There are some things that you need to think about.  Let me just give you some of the Proverbs.  Proverbs 11:24, "There is one who scatters yet increases all the more.  There is one who withholds what is justly due and it results only in want."  “Are you generous?” is the question, or are you stingy?  Stinginess tends toward poverty.  There are people who scatter and they get more.  There are people who give and they get more.  And there are those who withhold and hoard, and keep and protect and they don't even do what they should do.  They’re...They're stingy; they're unkind.  I've said this so many times, and it's a simple thing, when people do things for you, when you give to people be generous.  If you're going to err, err on the generous side.  It's a wonderful Christian testimony.  You know you go to a restaurant and you eat a nice meal and you leave like a 5 percent tip and a tract.  It's ridiculous.  If you want to leave the tip forget the tract.

People who are stingy like that, who hold back what is generous and just, end up in diminished resources because people aren't drawn to them and their options begin to wither.  Another thing you have to be aware of: Proverbs 21:5, "Everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty." Hastiness. Like stinginess is devastating; so is hastiness.  Don't be in a big hurry to get everything you see.  Some people just...That's it I want it, I've got to have it and boy if you have that kind of mentality in this world you're really in trouble because the stuff is paraded across us endlessly.  If you're in a big hurry to get it it's probably not good.

Thirdly is discipline.  People without discipline, just wild spenders, no control, no self control are going in the end be unfaithful stewards.  They will diminish what they have.  They will put themselves in a position to be unable to put treasure in heaven and they will limit their eternal joy.  Laziness is another thing, Proverbs 20 verse 13, "Do not love sleep, lest you become poor.  Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food."  Proverbs, I think it's 23:21, says, "Drowsiness will clothe a man in rags."  Energy, discipline, generosity; be generous.  Don't ever be in a hurry to buy anything.  Be disciplined, which means that you have sensible, reasonable, common control over your decisions.  Be alive and alert and energetic.

Another thing that's eventually a disaster, as we well know, Proverbs 23 also, "The heavy drinker and the glutton come to poverty."  If you're just a consumer...In this case it's alcohol and food, but could be anything, if you just never consume enough you're going to end up upside down for sure.

So we have a right to money.  It comes from God; He gives it to whom He will, sovereignly, in varying amounts.  We are told to work for it, to save for it, to plan for it.  God will give us all that we need.  Everything that we have we manage for Him.  If we manage it faithfully it will increase and it will grow and we will be blessed both here and throughout eternity and there will be friends there to welcome us when we arrive who are there because the gospel went to them when we supported it and we'll find that having been faithful over whatever we had here, that we'll be given much to enjoy there.  And having served God not money here, we will enter into the joy of our Lord there.

So the first thing is you have a right to possess money.  Second point, just brief, we come to the real issue, the way to regard money.  OK, I have a right to have it so how do I view it?  How do I view it?  Whether I have ten dollars or a million dollars how do I view this money?  First of all the... Let's look at the wrong way.  Don't love it.  Ecclesiastes 5:10, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money."  Isn't that an irony?  If you love money you won't be satisfied with money because if you love money you never have enough money.  You just never have enough.  You cannot love it.

Proverbs 28:20, "He that makes haste to be rich will not be innocent."  You will corrupt yourself; you will draw yourself into sin, if you love money.  That's why 1 Timothy 6:9-10, says, "The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil."  It's not money that's evil; it's the love of it and you can have a lot of it and not love it and you can have none of it and love it like crazy.  It's a question of attitude.  Turn to that passage.  We'll sort of wrap up on that, I think. First Timothy 6, verse...well let's look at verse 7.  First Timothy...verse 6, "Godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment."  So godliness and contentment go together.

Contentment is a great thing to think about.  The contentment is what marks the heart that is not materialistic.  OK so contentment.  In verse 7 he says, "You brought nothing into the world, you're going to take nothing out."  OK, so you came in with absolutely nothing; you're leaving with absolutely nothing.  You came in naked and you're going out naked.  It's all here and that's it.  "If you have food," verse 8, "and you have clothes be content."  How many clothes do you need?  How much food do you need?  How much of a house do you need?  How much of this and that, I mean where have you gone beyond what is necessary?

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge men into ruin and destruction...ruin and destruction.  Loving money is destructive.  It is destructive.  You're going to fall into all kinds of temptations and traps when you chase money.  I'm not talking about working hard.  I'm not talking about doing the best you can, working with excellence and diligence and being as creative and as innovative, and as clever and as thoughtful, and as zealous, and as passionate, and as careful as you can be in your work so you can honor the Lord in your work, and so that you can do the very best in your work.  I'm talking about pursuing money as your goal rather than excellence.  The love of money plunges people into temptation and traps and harmful desires and ruin and destruction.

That's why verse 10, "The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil” and people who have longed after money have wandered away from the faith.  It sends you away from the faith.  It sends you on a journey away from what is right and good and holy and true and you wind up piercing yourself with many an unnecessary pain.  You just inflict wounds on yourself by loving money. Verse 11: "Flee from these things."

For money Achan brought defeat on Israel's army and death to himself and his whole family.  For money Balaam sinned against the truth, against God, tried to curse God.  For money Delilah betrayed Samson and ultimately brought the death of thousands.  For money Ananias and Sapphira became the first hypocrites in the church and God executed them as a testimony against their love of money.  For money Judas sold Jesus. Not very good company for money lovers, not a group I would like to hang around with.  Love of money will lead you, the Bible says, to forget God.  Proverbs 30 verses 8 and 9 was not written by Solomon.  It was written by Agur and Agur had watched Solomon ruin his life by loving money, and Agur said, "Give me neither poverty nor riches.  Feed me with the food that is my portion.  Give me just what I need, no less, no more, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?  Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.’”  Oh God, don't let me be like Solomon.  Give me just what I need, no less, no more.  He saw love of money is deadly.

Love of money will cause you to stop trusting in God.  Job 31:24, "I have put my trust in money. If my happiness depends on wealth it would mean I had denied the God of heaven."  Proverbs 11:28 paraphrase: Trust in your money and down you go; trust in God and you flourish like a tree. Don't trust in uncertain riches.  Trust in God who gives us richly all things to enjoy, again 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

So love of money causes you to forget God, stop trusting God, will cause you to sell out, thirdly, cause you to sell out.  It's been said everybody has his price.  At what point do your principles disappear off the table.  What's your price?  Everybody says, you know, when money speaks the truth is suddenly silent. People sell out for money.  They sell out for position, prestige, power, popularity.  They're not willing to say the truth.  They're not willing to hold to their virtues and their values and their integrity for money.

Always reminds me of that old story about the beautiful woman who was at the banquet and sitting next to a gentleman who said to her, “Would you spend the night with me for $100,000?”

She blushed, looked a little embarrassed and finally said, quietly, “Yes.”

And he said, “Would you spend the night with me for $10.”

And she said, “Who do you think I am?”

And he said, “We already established that. We’re only negotiating the price.”

At what point will you sell out?  Who are you?  I hope there's no price.  I hope there's no point at which you sell out.  You'd better know where that price is because if you haven't been there you will be there.  The enemy of our soul will get you there.  Money, love of money, provides a very unstable foundation for your life, Proverbs 23:4 and 5, "Do not weary yourself to gain riches.  Leave from your consideration of it.  When you set your eyes on it it's gone. Wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens."

You know if you love money you've made some serious, serious blows against your future well-being.  You've forgotten God, failed to trust God, put yourself in the position to sell out, you have built your life on an unstable foundation.  Inevitably you will be ungrateful.  Deuteronomy 8 says this:  "God says now when you get in the land to which I am sending you and which I have given you, do not forget Me.”

Do not forget to be grateful that I was the one who brought you here.  I was the one...and there's a whole thing in Deuteronomy 8:12, all the way down to verse 18, I brought you out of Egypt, I did this, I did that, don't forget.  Don't lose your gratitude.  When you have so much you'll forget to be thankful.  Loving money will make you ungrateful because no matter what you have you're not thankful because you want more.  Loving money will make you proud.  That same passage...Deuteronomy 8, I won't go to it, Deuteronomy 8, he says you're going to become conceited, like 1 Timothy 6. You're going to become proud.  That's such an ugly thing, but people who love money are proud.  They flaunt it, they parade it. It is a dead giveaway.

Proverbs 28:11 says rich men are conceited.  It's so hard to be humble.  Jeremiah 12:2, the prophet said, "You planted them, they've taken root, they grow. They've even produced fruit.  You're near to their lips, far from their mind."  You have everything that you have because God gave it to you, but if you love money you will not be thankful.  You will be proud. You will build your life on an unstable foundation. You will forget God.  You will also rob God, Malachi 3:8, "Will a man rob Me? But you rob me in tithes and offering."  You're going to hold back what's His, and you'll rob others.  First John 3:17, "Whoever has this world's goods sees his brother has need, shuts up his compassion from him.  How dwells the love of God in him?  This is what the love of money does.  It makes you forget God and it makes you indifferent to others.  It makes you rob God and rob others.  Puts your life on a wrong foundation, makes you ungrateful, makes you proud, and we're right back where we started.  Love God, not money.  Be faithful in little.  It's a stewardship from God and you'll enjoy in eternity much.  And use your money to purchase friends for eternity.  Let's pray.

Father, we thank you again for Your word to us this morning.  We ask that You would seal its truths to our hearts, convicting to all of us and yet encouraging as well.  You're so gracious, so generous, and may we be good stewards of what is yours.  And we thank you in Christ's name.  Amen.

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