False teaching motivated by financial greed.
Everyone has a right to start off suspicious when a preacher speaks on money.
Not because Jesus doesn’t talk about money, he does and a lot of the time.But because financial greed in the church is not a new problem Today we see tele-evangelists who bleed victims of their life savings on the false promise of guaranteed health and wealth.
The context of this passage in 1 Timothy 6 are false teachers who are motivated by financial greed.
Paul says of false teachers they “… have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” (1Tim 6:5) So I need to speak to the doubt within you.
Here are 9 principles at MBM;
- 1. You have the right to ask any question about any part of our finances, and salaries and that includes any first time guests.
- 2. Every wage is determined by the Anglican Denomination not us at MBM
- 3. We always take the minimum wage offered
- 4. Every time a full-time staff member speaks at another church, writes a book,or records a church album the income goes back to MBM and not the staff member.
- 5. Some of our staff willingly choose to not take a wage like Sandy and Theresa and Mark Bonnici. Reason is they want to free that wage so that another worker of the gospel is funded.
- 6. We don’t appoint Staff or Deacons who do not already give at least 10% to their local church.
- 7. Our Staff and Deacons have already pledged 10% of budget for 2018.We expect leaders to lead with their wallets.
- 8. 10% of our church budget goes to world mission
- 9. No Staff touches money at church.
Why am I telling you all this? I don’t want you to talk yourself out of being content and generous.
So let’s turn to God word. There is a special word to those who have less and a special word to those who have more and both words are for all us. Because fhere are millions of people who have more than us and there are billions of people who have much less than us.
A command to those who have less.
Be content with what you have.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Tim 6:6.
The consistent call in the bible is to be content. The opposite to contentment is coveting. At the heart of coveting is a discontent with what God has already given you at whatever stage of life your in right now. The way to stay content is to see the big picture.
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Tim 6:7
You start your life with zero dollars and you end your life with zero dollars You left your mum`s womb butt naked, and you leave this earth butt naked no matter how well they dress you in your coffin
Your stuff is not going to follow you into heaven. There will be no removalist truck following your hearse
It’s not going with you!
God has a low bar for us to be content. “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Tim 6:8
So when I see a friend with a better car, a new house, latest phone, stylish shoes, a wealthy spouse or a healthy child and I`m feeling jealous, frustrated, resentful or angry. I am to tell myself:
Did I eat today? Yes
Do I have a bed to sleep on? Yes
Have I got a roof over my head? Yes
Then that is enough…thank you Jesus.
I heard one British movie director who said he was on a luxury liner with four billionaires.
He asked them “What do you want in life?” They all said at the same time, “MORE”
Someone wise said, “my ability to give does not hang on what I earn, it hangs on how content I am.”
Let me stop and say, if you find yourself in desperate financial need then contact the church office and talk to a pastor. The hope of this talk for you is to ask for help.
There is a command here to be content, and a warning if your not.
A warning for those who want to be rich.
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Tim 6:9
This warning seems ridiculous. God is saying when you experience a promotion, a massive pay rise, a great investment return, an unexpected inheritance understand this gift comes with a ticking time bomb. The wealth may incite twisted desires you never knew you had, and plunge you into a nightmare you cant imagine.
Slightly dated but in the USA there was a rise in professional murders.
1980 = 1000
1997 = 5000
FBI put it down to tougher divorce laws forcing guilty parties to pay more.
So people out of greed were hiring assassins to kill their ex. But its not just killing people, it’s about killing ones faith.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Tim 6:10
Let’s be clear it’s not money but the love of money that is the issue.
How does a love of money cause people to lose their faith?
I knew one couple who were active Christians. They were given a large unexpected inheritance
They sold up and bought an expensive RV. They spent their days on endless travel and slowly lost their faith and then lost their marriage. It would have been better if they died then get that inheritance.
A young couple buys a house they could not afford. To pay it off they ended up having to work 2 jobs to cover interest. There was no time for Growth group, too tired for church, too tight to give and off they went slip sliding away.
People who fall into the trap of retail therapy or gambling end up drowning in sea of credit debt and with it depression. If that is you please know there is hope. We can direct you to good financial counsellors.
I have a word of encouragement for MBM
NCLS survey results for MBM
2011 31% gave 10% or more of their income
2016 41% gave 10% or more of their income
(Sydney Diocese average 26%)
2011 22% gave 5-9% of their income
2016 27% gave 5-9% of their income.
I think we need to stop and say, God is doing a wonderful work among us. One of our goals is to grow in faithfulness, not just fruitfulness. – Wow. I am so thankful, dare I say so proud to pastor MBM. When Bruce sent me these figures I wanted to cry tears of joy because I know our Lord loves a cheerful giver.
Commands to those who have more.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Tim 6:1
Since there are Billions of people who have less you this is God`s word to all of us. The command of Christ is don’t be arrogant. Everything you have has been given you … What a concept.
No matter how clever,
How hard you worked,
No matter what your parents gave you.
Everything you have has been given on loan to you to steward.
Which means everything you have can be taken from you. It took just one global financial crisis and billionaires went bankrupt. Just one heart attack and your bank balance is immediately reduced to nothing. It does us good to think big picture. So trust God, don’t trust in your wealth
Notice our God, richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. So I`m not just to be content with gritted teeth. I trust God for my needs and he provide us with everything for our enjoyment.
Luther wisely said, “the problem with greed it breeds discontent and we end up NOT enjoying what we do have.
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” 1 Tim 6:18
John Grisham the Novelist who is a Christian said, “I judge a good year, not by how much I get, but by how much I Give”
5 groups we are to bless with our income.
- We are to bless ourselves
- We are to bless our family
- We are to bless the poor
- We are to bless local church -(1 Tim 5:18 –The church worker is worth his wage.)
- We are to bless of our missionaries
The pledges we give cover last two.
What does it mean to be generous? Tim Keller writes,
‘I’ll tell you why you don’t see the tithing (10%) requirement laid out clearly in the New Testament. Think. Have we received more of God’s revelation, truth, and grace than the Old Testament believers, or less?’ … ‘Are we more ‘debtors to grace’ than they were, or less? ..Tithing is a minimum standard for Christian believers. We certainly wouldn’t want to be in a position of giving away less of our income than those who had so much less of an understanding of what God did to save them.”
So you cant take it with you… YES AND NO.
“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Tim 6:19
C.T. Studd, “Only one life it’ll soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Let be very clear, you can’t buy your seat in heaven, that was purchased by Jesus` blood alone. But as a citizen of heaven you can invest in it.
John Wesley said, “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, so you can give as much as you can.”
You cant be neutral when it comes to the love of money and greed. It’s a war.
Fight the Good Fight.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith…1 Tim 6:11-12
Greed is the hardest sin to diagnose. This issue is as old as Adam
Ambrose once said the story of Adam is not original sin, its about original greed
In my prayer diary each Thursday under the topic of confession I meditate on 2 questions.
- How much of my treasures am I storing in heaven?
- Am I excelling in the grace of giving?
– It’s a fight!
We are like fish swimming against a currents of consumerism. I don’t mind realityTV shows like “The Block” but understand, it is making you discontent. You don’t watch the show and then look at your own house and say, I am so thankful for what I live in.
We so saturated with advertising 24/7. Its like we keep being offered sea water to quench our thirst but we are only getting more thirsty.
Who is this God that commands?
“I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” 1 Tim 6:14-16
The charge is made in the sight of God who sees everything and who remembers and rewards every dollar I give to kingdom of God.
The good God who gives us everything to enjoy.
The God who alone rules as King of King and Lord of Lord. There is no point trying to outsmart him.
He is the God who is truly blessed –which means he is eternally happy and wants us to find our contentment in his happiness.
The God who alone is immortal-death has no hold on him, but then gives us immortality that we may share eternity with him.
This God who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see but one day when Jesus returns we will see his face and we will see how our generosity put smile on the face of God as big as Sydney Harbour bridge.
And as Jesus shows us around the new creation and points out how much treasure we laid down in heaven by the grace of God we will so glad that we gave and pledged.
It’s time to lay some serious treasure in heaven with your income.
We praise you Lord that you are the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.
To you Lord be honor and might forever.
Help us be content for we come into this world with nothing and we leave it with nothing
Help us heed the warning on the love of money and its many traps
Help us give generously and thank you for the many at MBM who lay their treasure in heaven
We so look forward to seeing the smile it brings to your face.
In Jesus name.