Last week I was in Abu Dhabi–The company I work for has provided services to FIFA Club football matches there and a good friend of mine has been running the ticketing.
After I dealt with exchanging U.S. dollars for UAE dirhams (and back), saw all the expensive cars zipping down the road (a bit disconcerting as they shook my rental car when they passed me the first night I arrived), saw the most prolific items in the skyline — cranes, made sure I’d have enough UAE coins for all the kids here…
The subject for this week’s sermon came to mind.
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
What the world says about money…
I’m sure for all of us…almost from first memory…money has been a part of our life. Whether it was penny candy for some of the more mature members, 10 cent comic books for folks like me, or the latest toys for the kids today…we learn pretty early how integral money is to modern life.
Perhaps a song best describes the attitude we often have about money. Although it was first sung in 1959 by Barret Strong (the first Mowtown hit), the Beatles were most responsible for making “Money (That’s What I want)” so famous (they released it in November of 1963 on their second UK album, “With The Beatles”).
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_(That’s_What_I_Want) ]
Anyone remember how it went? [ Wait for answers ]
The best things in life are free
But you can keep ’em for the birds and bees
Now give me money (that’s what I want)
That’s what I want (that’s what I want)
That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah
That’s what I want
Your lovin’ gives me a thrill
But your lovin’ don’t pay my bills
Money don’t get everything, it’s true
What it don’t get, I can’t use
A pretty sad commentary on life…but a popular one. As Wikipedia notes:
The song has been covered by a plethora of artists, including Buddy Guy, The Beatles, John Lennon during his solo career, The Trashmen, Dave Matthews Band, The Kingsmen (US pop #16), The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Ike & Tina Turner, Bern Elliott and the Fenmen, Pearl Jam, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Flying Lizards, Shonen Knife, The Pretenders, Scissor Sisters, Secret Machines, The Sonics, The Smashing Pumpkins, Hanson, The B-52’s, Cheap Trick, Josie and the Pussycats, Great White, RC Succession, The Blues Brothers, The Avengers; plus Motown labelmates The Supremes, Jr. Walker & the All Stars, The Miracles, Etta James, Jimmy Barnes, Waylon Jennings and Boyz II Men.
And that list isn’t inclusive…for instance, I have a greatest hits album of the Baby’s that has a version too…
Money has also led to some pretty great quotes.
[ Ask folks if they have any favorite quotes about money ]
From the Merriam Webster Dictionary of Quotations:
I’m tired of Love: I’m still more tired of Rhyme.
But Money gives me pleasure all the time.
–Hilaire Belloc, “Fatigued”
Those who have some means think that the most important thing in the world is love. The poor know that it is money. –Gerald Brenan, Thoughts in a Dry Season
A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking big money. –Everett M. Dirksen, widely attributed [Written evidence for this often-repeated comment, attributed to Senator Dirksen, has not been found.]
Money is a singular thing. It ranks with love as man’s greatest source of joy. And with death as his greatest source of anxiety. –John Kenneth Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty
The Almighty Dollar, that great object of universal devotion throughout our land. –Washington Irving, “The Creole Village”
Money couldn’t buy friends but you got a better class of enemy. –Spike Milligan, Puckoon
[This quotation is possibly not original with Milligan, for it has been attributed to other sources as well.]
[ Merriam-Webster, I. (1992). The Merriam-Webster dictionary of quotations. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster. ]
And this one from Great Quotations:
Charles Farrar Browne: Always live within your income, even if you have to borrow money to do it.
[ Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch. ]
After I decided to do a sermon, this poem came through on Twitter from Pastor John Piper (who I “follow”):
The love of money will destroy / An old man or a little boy. / The devil deals in avarice / And lures with gold to the abyss.
And that’s a good segue from what the world says about money to what God, through the Bible, does…
Money in the Bible
With money an riches being such a fascination of man…you can imagine the Bible mentions it quite a bit. Sometimes it is a key player in stories that teach:
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them,“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And theyleft him and went away.
[ Show them the replica coin with an emperor’s picture…ask the point of the story. ]
I’d say the main point of that one is that when it doesn’t conflict with our duty to God, we have to follow the authorities He has established.
41 And he sat down oppositethe treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in twosmall copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you,this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
[ Show the widow’s mite…ask for the point of the story. ]
It’s not the amount you give that matters…
And perhaps one of my favorite money stories…just because a fish paid taxes ☺:
24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying,“What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
[ Ask what the tax was. (Only half shekel…for two people.) Show half shekel. Ask what the point is. ]
I think there are a few things that can be learned from this one…but the one I liked most was Jesus’ kindness in saving face for Peter by not giving offense.
What the Bible says about money
Those lessons involving money are handy, but the Bible also speaks directly to money…and sadly it isn’t terribly positive.
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said,“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
13 No servant 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.” 14 The Pharisees, who werelovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
shall be able to deliver them
on the day of the wrath of the Lord.
1 Tim 3:1-3
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach,the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
2 Tim 3:1-9
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will belovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
Not looking so good for money…especially in context of the list of other reprehensible characteristics in 2 Timothy 3:1-9.
So far we’ve seen…
- Keep your life free from love of money
- You cannot serve God and money
- Money will not satisfy
- Money will not deliver you from God’s wrath
- Don’t be a lover of money
Any other biblical quotes about money that come to mind? [ Listen for answers. ] Perhaps this is one of the most famous:
1 Tim 6:6-10
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 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. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
The love of money is the root of all kinds of evils
As I noted before…not looking so good for money…
2,000 Years Ago
As I put this sermon’s notes together…I realized I wasn’t adding a whole bunch of commentary on the verses–it seems to me the Bible itself speaks pretty clearly about money and I don’t have much to fill in.
Love of money–not so good.
So, what’s the biblical alternative?
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
In less than a week we will celebrate the fact that 2,000 years ago God sent a treasure greater than all the money that has ever existed on earth. That “treasure” tells us not to fear…that our Father wants to give us the kingdom…and if we serve God instead of money we’ll have a treasure in the heavens. Not only that, but…
[ To man lame from birth begging for money at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. ]
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
Not only that but God has given us the joy of being able to share that gift that is so much more than silver and gold with our friends, neighbors, and family…
Let’s all do that as we remind people what the “reason for the season” is and wish people a very Merry Christmas.
And a very Merry Christmas to you all!