Pearl of Great Value - Matt. 13:45-46

Sermons and Stuff

My Sermons, Richard Kirby

An Abundance for Every Good Work, by Richard Kirby

 

The Bible is a marvelously practical book.  Though it is full of sound theology, the inspired writers always apply theology to practice. Theoretical knowledge that is never applied to reality is of little use. For any knowledge to do any good it needs to solve real life problems. In this lesson I want to talk about what Biblical Wisdom says about the very practical subject of money, about God's provision, and about the way Christians should think about and treat money. 

 

How-To books are immensely popular nowadays. And the most popular of all are books on how to make money. People’s eyes light up and their ears perk up when someone promises to show them how to get rich. In most cases the only people who get rich from these books are the people who write them. I’m sure you’ve noticed that those TV preachers who talk most about money, who assure us that God wants us to be rich, are all quite rich themselves. Many live in shameful luxury. This isn’t a demonstration that the principles they preach are working; it’s a demonstration of how gullible and foolish our brothers and sister in Christ can be. Everybody wants money; everyone wants to be rich. And the fastest growing churches in America are those whose ministers teach that God wants His people to be rich. That’s also why so many people lose their money to con artists. They want to get rich the easy way. They become victims and lose what money they have by trying to get easy money in questionable ways. Nearly everyone wants to be rich. The French writer Voltaire once wrote:  "When it comes to the question of money, everybody is of the same religion."  But some of us agree with the opinion of the American writer, Emerson, that "money often costs too much."

 

But let us see what the Bible has to say about those who want to be rich. Turn to I Timothy chapter 6.  Begin with verse 5, where Paul speaks of those who make merchandise of religion for the sake of money: "[Those] who suppose that godliness is a means of gain." There must have been spiritual hustlers and hucksters in Paul's day as there are in ours; maybe they were like some preachers today, who talk of nothing but money. I heard one preacher, who called himself a prophet, say: "The Kingdom of God is run on money."  Nothing could be further from the truth! But the foolish sheep sat there and nodded their approval and later ran to the altar to give him money. But I say, if he was a prophet, he was a false prophet. Hear what Peter says about such people. Keep your place in I Timothy and turn to II Peter.

 

II Peter 2:1-3. “BUT there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”

 

I don’t need to name names here. But just go down the list of the most popular TV preachers on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar, and Inspiration networks, and among them will be men and women who fit Peter’s description perfectly, for they “exploit you with deceptive words,” for the sake of money.

 

Back in I Timothy chapter 6 Paul answers those “who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” Paul goes on to say in verse 6:  Now godliness with contentment is great gain…"  Contentment is the operative word here; contentment with having our basic needs met.  Contentment stands in contrast to the "desire to be rich."

 

Paul continues: "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either." Paul's statement reminds me of the two men who were discussing the death of a very rich man.  One asked, "How much did he leave behind anyway"?  The other answered, "He left it all."

 

Paul returns to the subject of contentment:  "If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content."  One secret of happiness is not to want more than you can have, to be content. God has promised to supply all our needs; therefore, if we are content to have our needs met, and don't long for luxuries and all the extras, we need never worry, strain, fret, scratch and claw for money.

 

This is not to say that we don’t have to work and support ourselves and our family. Anyone who is not willing to work and support his family, Paul says, “is worse than an unbeliever.” In fact, as Samuel Johnson pointed out, "There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in making money." Money is not evil in itself, but handling money is like handling dynamite. One needs to take care.

 

Under the preaching of John Wesley and the early Methodists many very poor people received the Gospel and were converted. Following Wesley’s teaching they became honest, industrious and hard-working, and soon became prosperous. Knowing the corrupting influence of money, Wesley worried that their newfound prosperity would lead them to turn away from God to the world. Yet he knew that he had to instruct his followers to make money and save money. So Wesley advised his followers: "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can." The point of all this is that there’s nothing wrong with making money or wanting money. It’s quite proper to make all the money you can make by industry and honest labor. Furthermore, it’s prudent to save all you can and not be wasteful. But the only way to keep the money you possess from possessing you, Wesley reasoned, is to give all you can. Thus you make heavenly friends for yourself by means of “the mammon of unrighteousness” and you lay up treasures in heaven, where thieves cannot steal, moths cannot destroy, and inflation cannot weaken it.

 

John Wesley himself made a great deal of money on the books that he wrote, yet he died with only a few shillings in his pocket because he gave all the rest away. At one point Wesley gave up drinking tea so that he would have more money to give to the poor. Here’s what Wesley thought of money: he said, “I count it dung and dross; I trample it under my feet; I (yet not I, but the grace of God in me) esteem it just as the mire of the streets. I desire it not; I seek it not.”

 

How could Wesley have such contempt for money? Because he saw how love of it defiled so many and led to all kinds of evils. Because He believed the words of Jesus, “Your Father in heaven knows that you have need of these things.” And “Don’t be anxious about what you shall eat of drink, or wear; your heavenly Father will take care of you”. Wesley knew that “where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.” And Wesley’s heart was totally given to God’s will. He therefore believed that by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all that he needed would be given to him.

 

My point is that most people are never content with their basic needs, but strive after more, and envy the rich.  This greedy desire for gain, Paul says, is the root of many evils. Let us read the rest of this passage (verses 9-11):

 

"But people who want to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful desires, such as plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  But you, O man of God, run away from these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."

 

Let us also remember that God can provide with or without money. God took care of the Israelites for forty years without money. God can supply through ravens, through a miraculous catch of fish, through manna or by multiplying loaves and fishes. With or without money God has promised to supply our needs. The promise is that God will supply our needs, and not necessarily by means of money.

 

It’s often pointed out that God promises to supply all of our needs, not all of our wants. But God is not stingy. He loves to shower blessings on us. He does not expect his servants to merely get by, to eke out painfully a mere subsistence. In this same chapter, in speaking of the rich, Paul said that “God gives us richly all things to enjoy.” Our problem is that we often “trust in uncertain riches” and not “in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” But God loves to “give good things to His children.” Paul said: “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Phil.4:12-13). Any testing of our faith is designed by the gracious Father to bring us to the place where we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.

 

I will read the NASV translation of this scripture, which is quite clear and forceful.

 

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Phil. 4:12-13 NASV)

 

If God allows us to “suffer need” for a time, it is either to test our faith, to purify our motives, or to teach us to learn the lesson Paul learned: “to know how to be full and how to be hungry.” Once he finds that we are following after “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,” He will supply abundantly for every good work. When He can trust that money will not corrupt us, He may cause large amounts to pass through out hands. Once He knows that we are faithful stewards, who seek only the good of the Master and His Work, He gives us AN ABUNDANCE FOR EVERY GOOD WORK. This is the promise of II Cor. 9:8:

 

II Corinthians 9:8:And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

 

There are three outstanding points in this passage:

 

 1) It is very comprehensive; this short verse contains 2 alls, 1 always, 1 everything, and 1 every--quite comprehensive. Though the context is money, it includes everything, not just money. We will have all grace, all sufficiency in all things.

 

 2) God is willing to bless us beyond our basic needs—“All sufficiency is not mere sufficiency." You will have enough for your own needs and an abundance for the work.

 

3) The reason He wants us to abound, to be blessed abundantly, is not for our own luxury and self-indulgence, which is corrupting, but "for every good work."

 

So, if we are busy doing the good works which He prepared beforehand for us to walk in, we may confidently expect from God enough and more than enough, an abundance.  Amen