Helping you grow closer to God
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About this series
“He who is blessed and the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion forever.” And then almost like an afterthought, because he said, “Okay, Timothy, you understand? Right? Remember my coaching tip, Timothy.” You need to understand your opponent.
I was a pastor ten years when I thought there was God against Satan. That’s not what the Bible teaches. According to Jesus, there are two gods: Me and mammon. Materialism, wealth, money. And Satan uses that to say, “Money will make you secure, money will make you famous, money will give you happiness, money will make you significant.”
And what he’s saying to Timothy is, boy, there’s a trap, because the other god – money – is always screaming. Money changes how you view and think about life, the future, and yourself, and especially other people. And money can give you this sense that there are other people and then there’s you.
We all want to be really, really pretty. We all really want to be rich. And we all really want to be famous. So why are the prettiest people and the richest people and the most famous people, by and large, they can’t have a happy, sustained relationship. They find themselves putting white powder up their nose and living for a group of people and fans that tomorrow it’ll just be someone else and they don’t care.
But he doesn’t throw wealthy people under the bus. What he does is address the desires behind unhealthy wealth that pierces and ruins your life. So, he ends it in such a positive way. He says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” I mean, if there weren’t wealthy people in the world, we would not be sitting in this room, who underwrite tremendous amounts of things for ministries, who employ hundreds of thousands and millions of people because of their business acumen and their hard work and the companies and the things that have come with that is wealth. They just have a level challenge and temptation and responsibility that most of us don’t have.
And just like God holds me accountable for my teaching, God holds you accountable for your life and your… God holds them accountable for – the judgment seat looks like this. It’s just you and Jesus. “What did you do with the time I gave you? What did you do with the money I gave you? What did you do with the opportunity that I gave you?” Life is a stewardship. And when we stand before God it won’t be, I mean, thank heavens you don’t get compared to other people and He doesn’t grade on the curve. He’s the revealer of hearts. He knows the spiritual gifts and the passions and the abilities and the intelligence.
He wired you in a certain way and the judgment seat of Christ for believers will not be for our sin – Jesus took that judgment for us – it’ll be for: What did you do with what I gave you? And so he says to rich people, “Just instruct them, don’t be proud,” in other words, don’t trust in your riches, but on God, and don’t trust in your riches because they’re unreliable.
But he says, instead, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up,” I love this, “for themselves treasure of a good foundation for the future,” purpose clause, “so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” I love the translation, “The life that is really life.”
“Timothy, protect what has been entrusted to you, avoid worldly chatter, the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ – which some have professed and thereby have gone astray from the faith.” He started there; he ends there. And I think the truth that just screams, coaching nugget is: “Keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the proper time.” He is coming back.
“He who is blessed, the King of kings, the Lord of lords who alone possesses immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light.” Live your life in a way that pleases Him. And a way that pleases Him, in one word if you trace it through this whole book is: Be godly. Right?
And our response is, “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. And some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” You might just circle all the negative things in there.
And so, what do you do? “Flee from these things, you man of God.” Put a box around, “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” Then put another box around, “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Boy, those are strong, strong words. Pursue. Fight. Take hold.
Well, Paul is coaching the subject is God and money. False, [and] true teaching.
The issue is, at the core is motives and loyalty to Christ to the very end.
He has raised the issue of the other god and his tactics – money, mammon – who promise all the things that God says: “You’re secure in me. Your future is with me. You are significant because of who I made you and your position with me.”
And the underlying question is: Am I willing to be content with what I have at any given time and to make decisions based on God’s will, not the world’s values?
And I think the apostle Paul was right. He had learned it’s a process. It’s a learning to be content with little or much.
The action here is to: Step Away. And let me get really practical as we wrap things up.
I don’t know that there’s anything more helpful, because your money always reveals your heart. Do a personal inventory of your finances. I mean, just get clear. This is exactly how much comes in. This is what goes out. This is my level of debt. This is how much, if I have anything on credit cards. This is how much equity I have in my house, if I have a house.
I mean, just do an absolute personal inventory of your current finances. Read or take a course on biblical finances, whether it’s Crown or Dave Ramsey or, but, get where – there are some excellent, excellent books and courses you can take where: How does God view money? And then align your money with God’s principles. That’s sort of the general game plan.
The unspoken need, I think, is to develop a spiritual, financial game plan.
So, that’s why, for me, I think it’s important to have someone who is helping me with my finances that has the freedom to speak into my life and has also the same biblical worldview that I seek to have.
Know what the Scripture teaches about money. Let’s read, just follow along. This is Jesus, because it’s so important. Matthew chapter 6, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” why? “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” This isn’t a prohibition about money, it’s about being smart. If you store stuff up where someone can get it or destroy it, it’s not good.
“But store up for,” if you have, if you’re watching, “for yourself.” See, I don’t think most people believe in heaven or a new heaven or a new earth or all that is coming, you can actually store up for yourself treasures in heaven, “…where neither moth nor rust destroy or where thieves can break in and steal. For,” here’s the principle, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s just axiomatic.
In fact, I have often flipped it the other way. When I wanted my heart to be somewhere and I know it wasn’t in a good place, I started giving money to that. And over time, my heart caught up. I was reading through the psalms and reading through the psalms, and Proverbs, it keeps talking about the poor, the poor, the poor, and the orphan, the orphan, the poor, and the poor. And I just realized, in a moment of truth, I don’t think I care about orphans. And I just thought, God cares about orphans.
And I had a buddy that I had done - He started these orphanages throughout Zimbabwe and I had to teach in South Africa and I said, “Glen, could I come and visit?” And we did a little pastors conference and I went to all these orphanages. And this little girl, her actual name was Blessed. She would not leave and I walked with her on my hip. And they heard about Jesus and they had little chickens and we went home and we started giving a little and then a little bit more, then a little bit more, then some big chunks.
And then I had a big contract income from a book and we gave a really big chunk. Guess what, I really care about orphans. Once my treasure started caring about orphans, then my heart got moved.
Second is start with the ten-ten-eighty principle. Give the first ten percent of what comes in, to the Lord. Save the next ten percent, and live on the eighty percent. “Oh, I could never do that.” Yeah, no, yes you could. You’re going to have to have a budget and you’re going to need help and you’ll have to make hard decisions.
But don’t get thinking that now that I have given ten percent, God has got His and I’ve got mine. He owns everything. I’m going to give an account for the ten or twenty or thirty or forty or whatever percent I ever get to. And all the rest that He lets me keep to do other things with. But you’ve got to start somewhere. And what happens is giving forces you to live by faith.
Remember the manna? Do you ever understand, like, the very first thing God did with the Israelites was manna and it was daily? Why? He wanted – the goal wasn’t food. The food was: Will you trust Me one day at a time? And so, that’s just a great way to start. And Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over back into your lap. For whatever measure you give,” this, by the way, is a non-financial passage. It applies to finances, but this is life.
If you are miserly with your time, miserly with your money, miserly with your gifts, you will be, as that word fully comes out, you will be miserable. And if you are generous with your time and generous with your gifts and generous with your money, you will find great joy. It’s axiomatic.
And then, finally, share your entire financial plan with a mentor. Matthew 13:22 is the parable of the seeds and the sowers and it’s the third seed that falls into the earth. It grows up and the thorns are the desires for other things and the deceitfulness of wealth that chokes out the Word of God in our life. And so, this is a journey. I’m – my experience and the research says that most of us as men, most of us as Christians, our finances are not in good shape. And if your finances are not in good shape, you may not know it, but your soul is not in good shape.
There was a man, and some of you that are older, could I encourage you maybe to do this for your pastor or do it for maybe one of your sons or grandsons? A guy named Jack Cauwels came to me, he was in the church, I didn’t know him very well. And he said, “Chip, I’d like to do something for you.” And I said, “Well, that’s, what’s that?” He goes, “I’d like to pay for the first year of a financial planner.”
I said, “Oh, Jack, I don’t need a financial planner.” I said, “I don’t have any money.” So, he said, “Well, you know, even if you don’t have money, having a plan is really important.
I know this group, it’s called Ronald Blue and Company and they do a great job and they are biblical and they would really help you. Please let me pay for that.”
And I said, “Well, I mean, if you want to. I mean, gosh, thanks! But I don’t think I really need it.” And then he said, “Well, I learned that you’ve got a book coming out soon. I said, “Yeah.” He said, “So, what are you going to do with the money?” And this is probably why he met with me. “I don’t know. I don’t even know if there will be any money to tell you the truth. I don’t if any…I’m not an author. I’m just Chip.”
He said, “Why don’t you and your wife pray and come before God and decide in advance what you’re going to give out of that? Because right now it’s really easy. You don’t have anything. Right? You can be as spiritual as you want; you don’t have anything.”
You know, it kind of reminded me: Know your weaknesses better. Oh man, I’m that guy that likes to gamble. I’m that guy that likes to…This is from God. So, my wife and I prayed and we were probably a little more spiritual than we would have been.
So, we designated this big, big, big chunk of anything that ever comes in to the Lord. You know, wow. Well, You do it, great. We’ll just give it away! And I’m not sure I could have ever done that if I would have known someday I might write, like, twenty books.
And we started with a tip. The tip is: Know your opponent well. You do not have a more formidable opponent in your life than the temptation and the deception around wealth and money and stuff.
Second, know yourself better. How do you structure your life around the areas of money to protect your heart from being deceived? Because this sounds really funny, and it’ll, every, even when I say it I almost laugh, you do understand that when you are deceived, the person that doesn’t know it is you.
I meet with a lot of pastors and I’ll talk like this to them and, “Oh, well, you know, I work so hard at the church and, yeah, I do have some debt and this and that. I don’t really give because…” And I’m thinking: You are deceived my brother. Lots of debt, lots of stress, lots of pressure.
If you continue in the truth, the truth will set you free. And money is a hard one to get our arms around. It may take a few years to get out of debt. It may be an incremental journey to begin to find the joy, but I will tell you what, man, you know why I got to write really big checks to orphans? Because when it came in, it already gets set aside over here. God, what do You want to do with it?
You know, we have a ministry and we have lots of people of all levels that give. And some people just give horrendously generously that allows us to do things all around the world.
I mean, we have got a couple, three million books that we have been able to put in China, translated, with training. I mean, it’s millions and millions of dollars. I mean, I was just the little donkey that went in and did the teaching and the training. But I could never afford to do any of that. I would have never dreamed that I could get to be a part of that.
You know what that is? “He who is faithful in a very little thing, be faithful also in much. And he that is unrighteous in a very little thing will be unrighteous also in much.” And Jesus was talking about money in that passage in Luke 16. Guys, God loves you so much. Father, thank You for the privilege of being with Your sons, these good men. Will You protect them? Help them be godly. In Jesus’ name, amen.