CHRIST & THE CULTURE, Part 4 (Money & Possessions)

Perhaps you have been in one of these scenarios before. As you drive down the freeway you see the car dealership and you think about that particular car you have been wanting. You are shopping in Costco and all those nifty little kitchen appliances catch your eye. When you receive a Christmas card you open it, eager to see if money is in it.

There is no getting away from the fact that our culture pushes the drive to have more money and stuff. And often times, our heart is captured by it.  So, how as Christian are we do approach money and stuff?

 

1) Treasure Christ more than money. 

 

In a world that constantly battles for our affections and desires, we must evaluate what we treasure most. Do we treasure, love, enjoy, find satisfaction in the stuff of this world, or God himself? Money and material stuff is not bad in itself, and we there is a place to enjoy things in this world. The question is a question of worship.

Romans 1 tells us that humans have a fundamental problem, and that is we worship created things rather than the creator (Romans 1:18-32). It’s not money and stuff that is evil, it is the love of money that is the root of evil ( 1 Tim 6:10). It is what are hearts long for, and too often our hearts long for stuff more than the one who created it.

Matthew 6:24 creates a choice for people. It is a question of worship, it is a question of what we will chose to be mastered by.

Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The call of the gospel is to trust and put our lives into submission to Christ and be mastered by him alone. It is to treasure him alone.  Far to often however, we are mastered, ruled, and controlled by our stuff.  Another helpful passage is the parable of the hidden treasure in Matthew 13:44  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

This parable is a picture of a person who finds treasure in a field and sells everything to own the field in which the treasure is found. The treasure is Jesus Christ. This person sees and understands the worth of the treasure. As such, we should see the unparalleled worth of Jesus Christ to anything else in this world. Christ is eternal material stuff is fleeting. Christ is all glorious, material stuff breaks.  Christ brings joy; money and material stuff leaves us empty and wanting more.

So, the question for you is this: What do you treasure? What rules your heart? The gospel calls us to treasure and enjoy Jesus Christ above all else.

 

2) Be content with what you have. 

 

There really is no end to the amount of stuff and money a person can have. You can spend your entire life buying, hoarding, investing, receiving paychecks, shopping deals, and still never be satisfied. Which is why God wants us to be content with what we have.  The words of Ecclesiastes are ever so true in light of our desire to have more.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”

So, if the possession of stuff is going to leave us wanting and unsatisfied, what will give us ultimate satisfaction?

Look at 1 Tim 6:6-8. “But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

We may spend our life trying to gain everything this world has to offer. However, Paul affirms that it is godliness with contentment that is great gain. The word “content” has the idea of having what is sufficient. As Christians, we posses what is sufficient, or in other words, we posses all we need by being In Christ.

2 Cor 9:8 declares this wonderful promise. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

It is God and his grace which gives us all that we need. Ultimately, as Christians, when we think about the promises of the gospel we should be ever satisfied with what God has given us; namely himself!

Dwell on these promises of the gospel revealed in Ephesians 1 for a moment: You as a believer have been Blessed with every Spiritual blessing, chosen by God,  adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and we have obtained an inheritance in him! That should be enough to give us satisfaction and be content in God and his grace towards us!

 

3) Give generously. 

 

I am truly convinced that if we understand that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven and not this earth, our mindset will be that of generosity. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Randy Alcorn uses this helpful little illustration when it comes to giving.

“Suppose your home is in France and you’re visiting America for three months, living in a hotel. You’re told that you can’t bring anything back to France on your flight home. But you can earn money and make mail deposits to your bank in France. Would you fill your hotel room with expensive furniture and wall hangings?
Of course not. send your money where your home is spending only what you needed on the temporary residence, sending your treasures so they be waiting for you back home.”

2 Corinthians 8:2 tells of churches that were extremely generous.  “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—”

From this passage, Paul characterizes their giving in three ways.

1) These churches gave out of their poverty. Vs. 2 says they gave when they were in a “severe test of affliction…and in their extreme poverty.” And yet, they were genourous. How many times have we said, “When we have a little more, we will give” Or “When we just get back on our feet we will give again.” This church is a model church of people who gave when they had little.

2) They gave freely.  Vs. 2 says they gave out of an “abundance of joy.” Vs 3, states they gave of “their own accord.” No one was forcing these churches to give, they did it out of joy for what Christ had done for them.

3) They gave beyond their means. Vs. 3 declares that they gave “according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means.” Some might object at this point and say that it is unwise to do anything beyond your means. And it is true, that we should not be unwise with our money. But the point here, is to give in a way that is sacrificial, in a way that makes us uncomfortable. And I would ask this: How many times have we spent money beyond our means? How many times have we spent money when we did not actually have it? If anything, we should default to giving and generosity.