June 26, 2011
Managing Your Money – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Proverbs 3:9-10

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The series That Makes Good Sense teaches from the book of Proverbs on the essential nature of godly wisdom to live life well. The series reminds believers that wisdom is about choosing to live rightly, righteously, and timely so that God is honored in all areas of life.

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I want to come again to a look at a book that makes good sense and helps us make sense of our lives, and a book that deals with life in all its practicalities that’s certainly going to deal with money, and the Book of Proverbs does that. This morning, I want to take you to Proverbs chapter three and verse nine and 10. I’m going to use these verses as a launching pad to consider with you managing your money. I make no apologies this morning for speaking on money because God speaks to that subject often. In fact, did you know that if you took your Bible, 500 verses deal with the issue of prayer, less then 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. God says more to Christians on the use of their pocketbooks than most any other subject, and therefore I do not apologize for speaking on it.
It’s not my intention to make you feel guilty. It’s simply my intention to expose the corpus of God’s word so that you and I might live more rightly and live more righteously. In fact, in Proverbs, this is a major theme, and therefore I felt it was inescapable for me not to deal with this. Of the 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, 24 say something about money, 68 verses in all. This is a major theme and it’s a major issue in our life, so let’s take the wisdom of God’s word and bring it to bear upon our pocketbooks, our checkbooks and all that concerns us in terms of our material possessions. Managing your money. Listen to God as he speaks to us directly from his word. Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of all your increase so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.
Dr. Haden Robinson tells this story that appeared in the New York Harold Tribune some years back about a man who after 40 years of marriage was about to throw in the towel. While he was in his office one evening putting the finishing touches to the paper for the divorce hearing, he stumbled across a book of canceled checks. They dated back to the beginning of his marriage, and he started leafing through these check stubs. He was taken by the fact that the first check he ever wrote was made out to the minister who officiated at the wedding. The second was in the name of the hotel where he and his wife had spent a very happy honeymoon. The third was a check covering a large amount which was for the down payment of their first home.
He continued to leaf through the checks, another he find covered the hospital fees for the birth of their first child. As the man leafed through these check stubs, warm and happy memories and emotions began to flood the chamber of his heart. He had second thoughts about the divorce. In fact, he lifted the phone and called his wife asking to meet with her. She agreed, and they met with her to tell her that he didn’t intend to divorce her because you see, upon reflection he realized that he had invested too much in her emotionally and financially and had enjoyed so many happy returns upon his investment that there was no way he could or should let her go. It’s a great story.
They say that money talks and this story about money tells us that money spills the beans in what is precious to us. It tells us a lot about ourselves and how we view others. In fact, the man in our story, as he followed the trail of his financial dealings was taken on a tour of the high spots of his life, the most happy moments of his experience, and he was brought to see through the use of his money what was important to him, what his core commitments were. Jesus, did he not say in Matthew 6:21, “Where a man’s treasure is, there shall his heart also be.” This man proves this verse. He found his heart again for his wife where he found his treasure. Folks, this tells us, pin back your ears, this tells us that money is not simply a medium of exchange. It’s not a means of simple transaction. It’s more than that. How we use our money, underuse our money or abuse our money is an index to the commitments of our heart and the window into our character.
I want you to think about this by way of introduction. Every time you and I open our wallet, it’s a very revealing moment in our life. Every time we open our purse, we are unzipping our heart for all to see because where our treasure goes, our heart follows. Where our treasure is, our heart will be found. A man’s checkbook will tell you one of two things. According to first Timothy six verse 17, it will tell you either he’s trusting in God or that he’s trusting in the security or the insecurity of uncertain riches. A man’s checkbook will tell you one of two things. He’s either qualified for spiritual leadership or he’s unqualified for spiritual leadership, because according to Jesus in Luke chapter 16: 10 to 11, how a man orders his financial dealings is an indication as to whether God can entrust him spiritual riches.
A man’s checkbook will tell you one of two things. It will tell you either he’s a servant of God or he’s a slave to materialism, because in Matthew chapter 6:24, Jesus said, “You can’t serve God and mammon all at the same time.” Oswald Chambers said this, money is one of the acid tests of character and a surprising amount of space is given to it in the scriptures. Rather man is rich or poor, observe his reaction to his possessions and you will find the index to his heart. Which by the way, reminds you and I when we think of this connection between character and cash that materialism has nothing to do with how much you own or how much you make. Don’t be falling foul to the thought that because someone’s rich, they’re materialistic. The Bible doesn’t [inaudible 00:06:58] that perspective at all.
Now, materialism has nothing to do with how much you have or how much you make. It has everything to do with how you regard what you own and how you use what you make. You can be poor and materialistic. You can be rich and godly in your stewardship of material blessings. Listen to the words of Howard Hendricks. He puts it so poignantly. “Materialism has nothing to do with the amount. It has everything to do with the attitude.” I like that quote. Nothing to do with the amount. It has everything to do with the perspective, the desires, the attitude. Well, considering then as we’ve just indicated by way of introduction and illustration that money is tied to our spirituality, money gives us a sense of our eternal perspective on things, considering the spiritual nature and the eternal significance of our handling of our money. You and I would do well to learn fiscal fitness from a biblical perspective.
Listen to Proverbs 16:16, 16:16. How much better to get wisdom than gold and to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver? That verse reminds us that wealth must be accompanied by wisdom. You and I have got to exercise fiscal fitness from a perspective of biblical wisdom. If not, we will use our wealth wistfully, unwantedly, and if not, wickedly. You and I need to tie wisdom and wealth together. You see, many people work hard for their money, but if they lack wisdom, they don’t know how to put their money to work for them. They know how to make a living, but they don’t know how to make a life. Wisdom alone helps a man make a life. You see, many people work hard, but without wisdom they don’t live smart, and therefore their hard work doesn’t pay off. That’s why it’s critical to be wise when it comes to your wealth. That’s why you and I need to put an antenna up and listen this morning and next Sunday morning to what the Book of Proverbs wants to tell us concerning the management of our money.
Now, the first thing I want us to think about within the instruction of the Book of Proverbs is the possession of money. We’re going to look at five things, probably two of them this morning. The possession of money. One of the fundamental tenants of wise fiscal management is to remember, listen, write it down, what you own, you don’t own. What you own, you don’t own. What you have has been given. You remember how Paul put it in First Corinthians 4:7? What do you have that you did not receive. Brings us the thing about the possession of money. The Bible wants us to understand this, that what we possess we really don’t possess because what we possess is being provided to us by another. What we own, we don’t own.
You know the verse. Psalm 24:1, the earth is the lord’s and the fullness thereof. By implication, that verse alone reminds us that none of us are self-made men and none of us this morning are self-made millionaires. Whatever we have, wherever we live, whatever we enjoy, God has given it to us out of sheer grace and out of wise providence. That’s why Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions.” Pray, tell me why. Because they’re not yours. They’re his. Honor him with what he has given you. Do you get it? Of course you do, but we forget it. I forget it. You forget it. When I sit in a chair, when I ride in my car, when I eat my food, I need to constantly remind myself what I own, what I enjoy, what I have is not my own. It’s been given, and it’s been given to me to honor God with. That’s the possession of money.
In fact, look at Proverbs 10:22 to reinforce this thought, the blessing of the Lord makes one rich. Going to be any clearer? And it adds no trouble with it or no sorrow with it. The blessing of the Lord makes a man rich. To ever degree you and I enjoy God’s riches, it is because of God’s goodness. You and I need to remind ourselves of that fact. Go back to Proverbs 3:9 and 10. That’s why we’re told in chapter 3:9, “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of all your increase so your barns will be filled with plenty.”
Here, Solomon is reminding us of the feast of first fruits, which was part of the Jewish festival calendar. When the harvest time came, the farmers would cut down their harvest and the best bushels would be gathered. The first part of the harvest would be gathered and taken to the temple, dedicated to God as an act of worship and as a memorial of thanksgiving for God’s goodness and grace. You see, they cut the first part of the harvest dine and they took it to God. Why? Because, it came from God and it first belonged to God. Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of all your increase.
By the way, I want you to think about something here unless you misunderstand the purpose of the feast of first fruits. Don’t be thinking that when they give that first fruits, the rest was theirs. That’s not what the feast of first fruits teach. It’s not saying, “Okay. Give that tenth to the Lord and the nine tenth is yours.” What it is saying is it all is the lord’s. Give a portion to the temple as a manifestation of the fact that you understand that it all is God’s, it all belongs to him, and that you use it to honor him. I think sometimes we forget that. We fall foul to the kind of slicing up of the pie idea of life.
I think sometimes we look at our lives like a pie, and many Christians are satisfied with this idea. You know what? These Christians have gone beyond where some are to their credit. These Christians say, “You know what? Let’s look at the pie of the week, the seven days in the week. I’m going to give one day to God. I’m going to dedicate Sunday to God. I’m going to make sure my family’s in church morning and evening. We’re going to make that day special.” I say, “Amen. Great job.” But that is not sufficient if you think that the other six days are yours. That’s not how it works. The reason that you and I set a day aside is a reminder that the whole week is God’s, and we can especially manifest and evidence that on one day of the week. Same with our giving. Some Christians have gone beyond where many Christians are and they give a 10th, but some of them give a 10th and think, “Well, the nine tenths that are left now are mine. I’ve given God what’s his.”
No, you haven’t. You’ve given God a 10th of what’s his in a very evident manifest way and that’s good, very tangible. You’re honoring him in the public arena before the people of God. But you know what? The other nine tenths are still his. The earth is the Lord’s in all the fullness thereof. All our days belong to God and so do our dollars. We need to understand that our possessions are a sacred trust. We are stewards, we are managers. What is a steward? It is someone who has been given a responsibility to manage the affairs of his master in the absence of the master. Our master has gone. He’s coming back, and in the in-between he has given us many things, natural and spiritual, material and eternal, and he wants us to be good stewards of those gifts, of those graces. He wants us to manage those well as a sacred trust.
He wants us to understand that everything we enjoy physically, emotionally, spiritually, materially are gifts from his, and he has given them for express purposes which we’ll get to in a moment. In fact, if you think about this, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve been with this message for three days. You’re just being introduced to it. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. In a sense, when I give and our family gives, when you give and our family give, we’re not really giving to God anything that he hasn’t given to us in the first place. In that sense, we don’t really give to God. God gives to us. That’s the emphasis of the word of God. It’s not really our giving to God. It’s his giving to us and his desire that we use what he has given to us for his glory, for the meaning of our needs and for the benefit of those who God wants us to touch with his love.
Let me show you this. First Chronicles chapter 29. First Chronicles chapter 29, you’re in the context of offerings being taken for the temple. God’s people have stepped up to the plate. They have blessed the work of God generously. Now David is praising God for the generosity of God’s people, but here’s what’s interesting. Here’s what we read. Both riches and honor come from you and you reign over all. In your hand is power and might. In your hand, it is to me grit and the gift strength to all. First Chronicles 29:12 and 13. Neither for our God we thank you. It’s not God [inaudible 00:16:59], “Oh, thank you David for giving to me.” It’s David looking to heaven and saying, “Lord, thank you for giving to us. We give it back to you.” It is in your power to give riches and honor, and we want to praise your glorious name.
Look at verse 14. But who am I and who are my people? God has evidently been at work here, but they’re not standing on their own polishing their medals. We are great. Look at how much we have given. No. They understand where this is all headed and where it’s all come from. Who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer so willingly as this for all things come from you and of your own have we given you? Did you catch that at the end? What you’ve given us, we’ve just given to you. You see the possession of money? God possesses it. We don’t possess anything that we possess because what we possess is being given and provided to us by God, and we better use it well and wisely. We better honor the Lord with our possessions. They are not ours.
Who am I? Who are we as a people? We’re a people touched by the grace of God. We are the people who enjoy the goodness of God, and we of all people should be generous, gracious, willing to give because it’s not ours to keep. It’s not ours to keep. We don’t give God 10%, keep the rest for ourselves. We don’t give him one tenth, keep the rest for ourselves. That’s not how it works. It’s all his. The seven days he give us for him, the whole wage packet he give us for the purposes for which he designs us to use that money. That’s a tremendous challenge because I think you and I can fall foul to the idea that money is ours and we can use it for our personal comfort and for our personal convenience, but God has given us it for a greater purpose than that. It includes that.
We must serve God with our money. We must not take God’s money and serve ourselves. You get the point? When it comes to spending money, what’s the question that you and I should ask ourselves before we purchase something? It’s not, “Have I got the money to purchase this?” Often, that’s what we’re thinking. Well, you know what? I like that. I would desire that. You know what? I’ve got the money. I can have that right now. Just because money is available and accessible doesn’t make the purchase right because if that alone is the question that you need to have answered before you buy something, that means that money is directing your purchasing. The accessibility of it, the availability of it is the thing that directs your purchasing, but that’s not the question that Christians should ask. The Christians should ask, “Does God want me to have it? Is this what God wants me to do with his money?”
I think that’s what Jesus is driving out here in Matthew 6:24. You can serve mammon or you can serve God. Mammon was a Canaanite daddy of wealth. Jesus said you can make a idol out of things and you can make a God out of your appetite, and you can take the money that God has given you and you can worship yourself in serving the Canaanite God of affluence and wealth, or you can take what God has given you and serve him with it. Listen to these words from Richard Foster. We are using mammon when we allow God to determine our economic decisions. We are serving mammon when we allow mammon to determine our economic decisions. Do we buy a new car because we can afford it or because God instructed us to buy a new car?
If God determines what we do or do not do, then money is our boss. If God determines what we do or do not do, then God is our boss. Most of us allow money to dictate our decisions, what kind of house we live in, what vacation we take, what job we hold. Money decides, but money should never decide. Just because it’s accessible or available doesn’t mean that we should just go ahead and take it and have what we think we need or should have because the possession of money reminds us that it’s God’s, and maybe God would have us buy a new car, but maybe God would have us keep the old one. It’s only got 60,000 miles and God would have us invest that money in his work, support a missionary, bless an orphanage across the world. It’s not, can I purchase this because I’ve got the money, but is this how God would want me to use this money?
I would love along with you the cultivate in my life the passion and the perspective of John Wesley. When he heard that his house had been burned down, he was an itinerant Methodist evangelist and he had a particular home, was a kid of a [inaudible 00:22:03], so he was away from it. When he was out doing the Lord’s work, a friend of him caught up with him and said, “John, you need to know. Your house has been burned down.” Do you know what his reaction was? Here’s what John Wesley said. “It is the Lord’s house. Let him deal with it.” Wow. First of all, that’s faith. That’s trusting God with your possessions, and that’s freedom. That’s realizing that your possessions are God’s business. He gives and takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
You’re not out feverously trying to find security in your possessions. God has given you them freely. You use them as a good steward, and if he lets you keep them, you use them for his glory. If he takes them away, you bless them. They’re his anyway. We need to hear this. Do you know why? Because the church of Jesus Christ in America is living in the most affluent culture on planet earth. If anybody has to listen to the wisdom of the book of Proverbs, it’s American Christians who are being badgered from the pages of magazines, from popup images on the internet, from the television screen to buy something that is presented as indispensable to their happiness and their health and say, “You know what? You can have this. You’ve got the money to enjoy this.” But the question isn’t that. The question is does God want you to have this? In the light of so many needs across the world, in the light of kingdom work and the light of future investment, does God want me to have it?”
Which brings me secondly to what I call the purpose of money. The purpose of money. I’ve kind of touched on this, but I’m going to explain it and develop it. The purpose of money is to honor the Lord, right? We’ve got that one done. That’s where it begins. That’s first base. That’s bootcamp. It’s God’s and God wants us to use it to honor him. Hi, may I use my money honorably? What is the purpose of money? I need to be thoughtful and I need to be theological when it comes to the management of my money. That’s what the book of Proverbs is telling me. It challenges me not to buy impulsively, impetuously. The Book of Proverbs challenges me to honor the Lord primarily with my money. How would I honor him? Well, I’ve got two suggestions which I think are biblical. I’ll root them in the book of Proverbs.
He wants you to honor him by enjoying your money and he wants you to honor him by employing your money. Let’s think about that. See, God intents to bless his people, and then he intents those who he blesses, that they will bless others because of that blessing, or as I’ve said, enjoy it and then employ it. Let’s look at the first thought. God wants us to enjoy it. The whole point of this point is this. I don’t want you thinking with all the qualifications and warnings that you’ll get about material possessions during this sermon and next week’s sermon, I don’t want you thinking a material wealth is wrong. I don’t want you to think that if you’re rich that there’s something unspiritual about that. I want you to realize that as far as the word of God is concerned, that you and I can enjoy material possessions and material possessions in their proper place and in their proper proportion.
There’s no compelling virtue in poverty. There is no necessary vice in wealth. God has given us all things to enjoy. That’s first Timothy 6:7. Not just precedes a whole discussion that Paul’s going to have with the church at Ephesus concerning wealth. It is going to challenge the Christians at Ephesus not to desire to be rich because some have strayed from the faith because of that desire. They’ve been bitten by materialism. They’ve lost sight of things unseen and things eternal. There are some rich people in the church at Ephesus, and Paul says to the rich not to trust in their riches as if that is where their security lies because their riches are so uncertain, they’re vipers, they’re temporary, but they’re to use that wealth to bless the church and the needy. But before he gets to that, Paul again wants us to realize that this call to prudence in regards to our possessions is not a call to a sadism or frugality, or it is not to cause guilt-ridden enjoyment of God’s appointed pleasures in our life.
God has given us all things to enjoy. This is a material world. We are material beings, and through material possessions we can enjoy material pleasures. There is nothing wrong with that in their appointed place in their right proportion. There is great food to be enjoyed in wonderful restaurants. There are beautiful spots to visit in this world during times of vacation. There are things to enjoy, and Christians can enjoy them without feeling guilty.
In fact, we read, didn’t we in Proverbs 10:22 that the blessing of the Lord makes one rich. We see this back in the creation story in Genesis 1:21. We read that God saw all that he had made, and behold it was very good. The rivers were good, the mountains were good. The fruit and the food was good. The animals were good, man was good. Man could climb those mountains, canoe those rivers, kill those animals, enjoy that food, and God said it was good. Which reminds you and me that there is no inherent badness in material things. There are religions in this world that propagate the idea that material is things are bad and fleshly and spiritual things, unseen things alone are good. That’s an unbiblical philosophy of life. In fact, according to Genesis 2:9, God goes on to say, and the Lord caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food. You can take your money and you can go and see some really good things in this world pleasing to the sight.
You can take your money and you’re going to enjoy really good food in different countries in the world. That is not unspiritual, that is not being materialistic. Enjoying material things is not the same as being materialistic. Enjoying material things becomes materialistic when you lose sight of who owns it all and what he wants you to do with it, but part of what he wants you to do with it is enjoy it. Enjoy it. You know what? It is not a Christian’s calling to eat tasteless food. It is not a Christian’s duty to sleep in hard mattresses and make their home in the caves of the mountains. It is not a Christian philosophy to deny bodily pleasure. Sadly, some Christians spend their whole lives not committing one pleasure. No. One of the purposes of money, one of the purposes of material possessions is to enjoy them and the fruits of God’s creation.
I remember reading about a woman who asked if she wanted to become a Christian, she said no because she was depressed enough as it was. Well, there’s something wrong with that picture, isn’t there? God has given us all things to enjoy, and you will find that if a Christian’s living a God honoring life, sometimes you’ll see them just enjoying things, not loving those things above the love of the Father, not building their nest completely in this world, but just enjoying the good things of God. Let me tell you just by way of qualification how to enjoy those good things. If I’m calling you to enjoy these good things, here’s how you’re to do it. You’re to do it with thankfulness directed to God, and you’re to do it in the company of others. God has given us all things to enjoy, and you cannot enjoy what God has given if you seek to enjoy them apart from God.
That’s always the danger, isn’t it? Getting so taken up in the gifts, we lose sight of the giver. Don’t do that. You won’t enjoy the gifts if you ignore the giver. Read the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon cut himself off from God. He lived under the sun. His faith in God was eclipsed. You know what? Everything was vanity, vanity. Everything was dry as dust in his mouth. When he got to the bottom of his glass, his heart was still empty. You can’t enjoy life apart from God and you can’t enjoy the things of this life without reflecting and thanking the one who gives them. That’s one way to enjoy it. Always make sure that when you’re enjoying a nice day at the lake or you’re sitting down in a nice restaurant with friends, that you know what? That and they know that God is the one who’s given this and you’re enjoying his presence and his goodness and he is the center of the conversation. That’s a good way to enjoy what God wants you to enjoy.
Secondly, God wants you to enjoy your material possessions in the company of other people. He didn’t give you these things for yourself. He is more blessed to give than to receive, says the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a philosophy of life. See, what do we have that we haven’t been given? God loves to share what he has, and he loves to share what he has with us so that we might enjoy it, but you know what? He shares what he has with us so that we might enjoy it in the company of others as we give to them what God has given to us. That’s the way you’ll enjoy it. If you’re going to be selfish and individualistic, you will not enjoy the things that God wants you to enjoy.
Listen to Proverbs chapter 21:26. You’ll see the heart of the believer. Back up in the verse 25, the desire of the lazy man kills him for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare. You find a man and a woman who’s enjoying life. I’ll tell you what. They’re enjoying the goodness of God. They’re living a life rooted in worship and thankfulness towards God, and over the overspill of God’s goodness to them, they invite others into the circle and say, “Hey, come on. Let’s enjoy what God is doing in my life.” I want to bless you with what God is blessing me. That’s the way to enjoy life. I think you and I need to remember that money’s best use, listen to me, money’s best use is in conjunction with experiencing God’s goodness to you and reflecting upon that and inviting others into the circle and enjoying God’s goodness in the company of other people, family, friends, neighbors, and the church of Jesus Christ.
Listen to me. Creating memories through the use of your money to God’s goodness and to the benefit of friends and family and neighbors, it’s priceless. It’s priceless. You hoard your money, you spend it on yourself, you will not enjoy material possessions as God intends you to enjoy them, but if you will reflect in God’s goodness and use your money to bless others, you will enjoy the blessing of God. Buying things never brings joy. I can’t love a plasma screen. I can’t love a Porsche sports car. It’s a thing. It’s cold metal. It’s chemical fluids. I might enjoy some of the fruits of that, but that thing cannot meet me the depth of my soul and personality. Only people can do that, and we’re better spending our money not on things that are cold and lifeless, but on people that we can laugh with, live with and love and rejoice in God’s goodness with.
That’s the best way to spend your money. That’s why an old geezer said one day, “Make sure the last check your right bounces.” It’s a way to live. Make sure your last check bounces. Enjoy it and enjoy it with those that God has given you responsibility for and those that he wants you to bless who are outside your circle but need to be invited inside your circle. Look, I’m not saying that money can buy love and I’m not saying that money can purchase life, but I am saying that the gifts of God wisely used and widely assured will show love and bring blessing to others which enhances life. It’s easy to lose sight of that. We can be chasing the mighty dollar and in the process forget to love God, forget to enjoy what he has given us right now because he doesn’t promise tomorrow.
We’re always waiting until we get to that point before we’ll enjoy life. That’s a huge mistake, and we forget along the way to bless our children, bless our neighbors, help the poor. This summer I enjoyed a wonderful trip back to my homeland with Dr. MacArthur. We were there for some ministry and we were also there to play a bit of golf. He had planned this for some time. He had brought his son who is an avid golfer and his grandson Johnny Jr. He’s a tremendous golfer. This young man has the potential actually to play this game professionally. He shows that kind of potential, so John wanted him to enjoy some of the best courses in Scotland and Northern Ireland, so for a week they went through eight courses in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. They went through them in seven days. Eight courses in seven days, and these are expensive courses.
We were playing one of them in Northern Ireland that was quite expensive. I think it was $200 a game. There was four of them. You do the math. I walk along the fairway and I said, “John, this trip has cost you a pretty penny,” because he was pecking up a good part of it. He says it has, but he says, “You see Matt and Johnny up there?” He says, “I’m spending their inheritance and I’m enjoying it.” I want to tell you something. Matt and Johnny Jr. were enjoying it too. I think they would rather have that money spent on them in the company of their father and grandfather than them inherit it in some day in his absence. They were enjoying it. It was a lifetime of dreaming and desires that had come to fruition. Enjoy it in its proper place, in its proper proportion, and enjoy it in the reflecting upon God’s goodness across your life, and enjoy it in the company of those you love and those that God wants you to love.
It brings us secondly to employ it. If you’re going to enjoy it, you got to employ it. You got to invest it where God wants you to invest it, and that will include benefiting others. God wants his people to be givers not takers, channels not reservoirs for the time that remains. Can I tell you quite clearly from the word of God where God wants you to spend your money? If you’re not spending it this way, you better change. This is God’s inherent authoritative word for our life concerning the managing of our money. It’s not me. [inaudible 00:37:15] the tax right and you can challenge me that I’ve done that, then this is how God wants you to invest, employ and spend your money.
Number one, he wants you to invest and employ your money to the benefit of his kingdom and the advance of the gospel. Absolutely. A great portion of your income ought to be going to the Lord’s work. Look at Proverbs 3:9 and 10 again. We saw it. Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of your increase. They brought the feast of the first fruits to the temple. They honored God, they worshiped God. They recognized his central place in their life, what they hardly had given. Therefore, they were given back what they had been given as a token of the fact that they understood they were stewards. They were not here to serve themselves with God’s money. They were here to serve others with God’s money. They brought that first fruits to the temple.
Not as a theme, not only in the old covenant but the new covenant. You know that Paul was collecting money for the poor church in Jerusalem, and the church in Corinth had decided to be part of that plan and that project. And the First Corinthians chapter 16, Paul tells them about how they ought to collect this collection and how it will be sent to Jerusalem. Listen, now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so must you do also. On the first day of the week, let each of you last something aside, storing up as he may prosper that there may be no collection when I come. When I come, whoever you appoint by letters, I will send [inaudible 00:38:52] the gift to Jerusalem.
There’s an example of the New Testament church gathering on a Sunday and the fruits of God’s goodness to them, the prosperity with which he has blessed them, out of that prosperity they have set something aside to give to the Lord’s work. In this case, it’s a gift to the church in Jerusalem. The apostles wanted that, the local elders in the church had appointed that. That’s a theme throughout the word of God. In Galatians 6:6, we have a similar thought giving us a window into the giving of the New Testament church. Let him who has taught the word [inaudible 00:39:32] in all good things with him who teaches.
Why do you as a church give your pastors salaries? Because this Bible says those who teach you the word and are over you, they should enjoy all the good things that God has blessed you with as they teach you. Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he will reap. If he sows to the flesh, he will of the flesh reap corruption. If he sows to the spread of the spirit, he’ll reap everlasting life. One last verse, First Timothy five. Again, reminding us of our duty to spend our money in the support of the gospel, the preachers of God’s word, and the advance of world missions. First Timothy 5:17. Let the elders who rule well be counter worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
What does it mean to honor them doubly? The honor is financial. You say, how do you know? [inaudible 00:40:27]. The scriptures say you shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain, and the labor is worthy of his wages. The church ought to bless those who preach God’s word. They ought to bless those who do it well doubly. They ought to bring offerings into the church so that the church might meet the needs of the church across the world like Corinth blessed Jerusalem. Those who preach the word are not just locally best pastors. Those are people like Jeff who are going to go across the world to train another pastors to preach the word. This is a mighty mission God has given us and he intends us to fulfill it. One of the ways he’ll do it is he’ll put money in our pocket so that moved by his spirit in obedience to his word will put our hand in our pocket, find the money that God has given us and we’ll give it to his work. That’s the way it should be. Sadly, that’s not the way it is.
I want to tell you this morning that it is a fact, a sad fact perhaps indicating the financial apostacy of the American church. Here we are, living in the most generous and blessed culture in the world and the average Christian gives 3% of their income to the Lord’s work. Is that not a shame and disgrace? Does that not tell us that we are not living according to the Book of Proverbs, we’re not living wisely, we’re not living well? Maybe we are enjoying ourselves too much. We’re taking those things that God has for others and we are enjoying more than God intends us to enjoy because one of our first responsibilities is to honor the Lord with our possessions and it is the blessed [inaudible 00:42:05] duty of the Christians to support God’s work, his workers generously, weekly, cheerfully and purposefully.
In fact, only 8% of Christians tithe. Something wrong with that, isn’t there? Do you know that Christians spend seven times more of their income on entertainment, which would mean food and going out, than they do on the Lord’s work? I just ask you a simple question. I ask it to myself. Believe me, this message is for me as much as it’s for you. Is that the way we ought to be living?
I like what one preacher said, it’s challenging, but it needs to be said and heard. Our churches are filled with people who drink the milk of God’s blessing, eat the steak of God’s goodness, and enjoy the dessert of God’s love and won’t even tip him 10%. How should we spend our money, employ our money? First of all, it should be directed to kingdom work. Secondly, it should be directed to helping the needy and alleviating the plight of the poor. This is a big theme in the Book of Proverbs. In fact, the Book of Proverbs warns us. There’s actually a warning here and we need to hear it. When you and I shut up the door to our heart to the poor and the needy around us, God will shut the windows of heaven to bless us.
You say, “Pastor, where do you get that?” Well, go with me to Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21:13. Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard. Proverbs 20:27. He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses. God blesses us so that we may bless others. If we don’t bless others with the blessing with which God has blessed us, that means the church and the poor, God will curse us, curse us. I want to hear the warning [inaudible 00:44:13] the admonition of God’s word. This is a tremendous theme. Proverbs 14:31. You’ll see this. He who oppresses the poor approaches his maker, but he who honors him has mercy on the needy. Proverbs 19:17, he who has pity on the poor lands to the Lord and he will pay back what he has given.
Look at Ephesians 4:20. It’s just so that you understand this is a New Testament principle also. Let him who steals, steal no longer but rather let him labor working with his hands what is good that he may have something to give him who has need. Why do I work? Why does God send you down to [inaudible 00:44:59] or why you work at the Kroger’s cashier desk? Because God wants you to labor with your hands so that you may have something to give to him who is in need, the needs of the church. We’ve already dealt with that, but there’s those all around us in need. There are people this morning starving across the world. We throw out more food on a given day than most people get to eat. Let’s be realistic about it. That should send us on a guilt trip just to make sure that we are good stewards of God’s goodness to us.
In the West, more money is spent on pet food than would feed the world entirely if that money was invested. Therefore, we need to heed the warning of God’s word, to enjoy the blessing of God without showing mercy to those less fortunate as to invite his displeasure. Christians should give to charities, social programs. In fact, if you studied the genesis of the Red Cross [inaudible 00:46:01] Britain, many of the social programs they were started by Christians. Brings me to the third thought. Time’s gone. We should direct our money, invest it, employ it for kingdom purposes, for the blessing of those less fortunate, and thirdly, to meet our family’s needs. To meet our family’s needs. We won’t go through the verses, but read Proverbs 31:13. Following, you’ll see the virtuous woman and she’s described as a merchant’s ship. She goes out into the community. She sells some of the things. She has mead at home. She invests in little parcels of land and whatever she reaps in, she makes sure that her family’s clothed, her husband is blessed all the days of his life. This is a very industrious wise woman financially, and she uses her wealth to bless her family and to bless her husband.
Now, you’d have to cross reference that with other passages of scripture. She’s not taking the place of her husband because the Bible teaches that the man is the primary bread winner. In fact, First Timothy 5:8 reminds us of that that if man doesn’t provide for his home, he’s worse than a non-believer. Charity begins at home, and so our responsibilities are as God blesses us with the fruit of our labors, we meet the needs of our home, we meet the needs of the church, and we meet the needs of those whom God has given us to love. By the way, I think this needs to be said by way of qualification. Providing for your family is not the same as indulging your children, and providing for your family doesn’t mean that you finance their foolishness.
Listen to Proverbs 19:10. Proverbs 19:10. Luxury is not fitting for a fool, much less for a servant to rule over prince. Wealth befits only the wise, and so while you and I have primary care for our family, we must not use our money to indulge our children’s wants and desires beyond that which is biblical contentment, and we ought not to finance their foolishness if they have made bad investments one after another, if they have not heeded counsel, you do not have to give them money to finance their foolishness. Wealth does not befit a fool Blessing is wasted on such people.
In fact, I was astounded to find out this week that the World War II generation will be handing off to the next generation approximately seven trillion dollars worth of possessions and wealth. It will be the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the world from the second World War generation to the next. But you know what’s interesting? According to this researcher, many of the second World War generation are not passing that wealth under their children. You say pray, tell me why Pastor. Because their children are wanting and wistful, and a wise generation who toughed it out, who invested well, who lived in contentment, who bought what they could afford. They are not going to give that wealth to be wasted by fools because luxury does not befit fools. It’s interesting. That generation’s actually giving more to education and benevolent foundations than they are to their own children. Interesting thought.
A man ought to leave an inheritance for his children. That’s for sure. Proverbs 13:22 makes that clear. A man, a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. Let me finish with a story. My dad left me a book when he went back to Northern Ireland this week. It’s a book on the Scott’s Irish. I was interested to read something of the life of Sam Houston the Texan, this red-blooded colorful Scott’s Irish soldier and politician. He was a rough writer. He basically took taxes from the Mexicans, and that’s why it’s part of America today. The city of Houston’s named after him. A very colorful character. He did come to know Christ at a later point in his life. By reading another book just recently, I was able to put these elements together that after his baptism, Sam Houston said that he wanted to pay half of the local Baptist minister’s salary.
When somebody asked him why, he responded, “After his baptism, my billfold was baptized too.” In fact, that’s literally true because I read the account in a Southern Baptist book just recently because Sam Houston was tied to the early Texan Baptists that when he was invited to be baptized in a creek, somebody said to him, “Sam, do you want me to hold your wallet?” He had this very nice fine leather wallet, and he said, “No. Just leave it there because it needs to be baptized too.” Baptists believe, don’t we, in baptizing billfolds? I hope so. I hope God’s baptized yours and baptized mine because it’s his. Every dollar in the bank, every dollar in my wallet, every stack of furniture in my home, whatever wheels are sitting in my driveway, they’re his. I’m enjoying them, but I want to be a good steward of them. They’re his. They’re not mine. I want to spend what he has given me wisely.
I’ve been challenged this week. What about you? Is your billfold baptized? Are you giving to the Lord’s work weekly, generously, faithfully, or is the Lord actually getting the crumbs from a table he spread, but a table you’re indulging yourself at? We spend seven times more in entertainment than we do in kingdom commitments. Sounds like a cause for repentance to me. What about the poor? What about the needy? As you look at your billfold, have you taken dollars out any time lately and given it to the pregnancy center, given it to the missions feeding the hungry and the disadvantaged?
You say, “Hey Pastor, they deserve what they’re getting. They’ve made mistakes.” Maybe some of them if their neck is hard, but I want to tell you something. I’ve made mistakes, and apart from the grace of God, I wouldn’t be where I am. I’m not going to judge people on skid row. Maybe you’ve got a neighbor on your street, you know they’ve got a problem. Would God not [inaudible 00:52:43] on your heart to give to the needy as a witness to him? Are you enjoying your money with your family? Are you being wise stewards? Are you preparing an inheritance for your children? Are you preparing your children for that inheritance by not indulging their wants, teaching them the worth of money and the use of money and the eternal value of it? May God baptize our billfolds.