Money & Possessions

Downers Grove Men’s Bible Discussion Group
Topic: Money & Possessions
Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Intro: With a new millennium what kind of goals/resolutions are you making for the next year(s)? 

One of Satan’s most effective delusions is the idea that happiness consists in the things that we possess. Christians are not automatically exempt from Satan’s schemes nor inoculated against infection from the deadening disease of materialism. Like a plague, it stalks us from every corner, on television, the printed page, the display window, the showroom, the Jones’ driveway. Everywhere the seductions of materialism fill the air and seek to come into our lives through both conspicuous and subliminal messages.

Read: Luke 12:15-21

What are some of the possessions that give you a lot of enjoyment?
Is it okay to enjoy these things?  What is the danger?
Do you think the rich man was a planner?  What was wrong with his plans?

Scripture has a tremendous amount to say about money or material possessions. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables of Jesus deal with money. One out of every ten verses in the New Testament deal with this subject. Scripture has 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but over 2,000 verses on the subject of money. Money is an extremely important issue because a person’s attitude toward it is so determinate of his relationship with God, on fulfilling his purpose in this life, and on his character. Jesus Christ made it clear that a mark of true spirituality was a right attitude toward wealth. The mark of a godly and righteous man is his preoccupation with God and heavenly treasure.

The Responsibility for Planning

Without planning based on biblical values, goals, and priorities, money becomes a hard taskmaster and, like a leaf caught up in a whirlwind, we get swept into the world’s pursuit of earthly treasures (Luke 12:13-23; 1 Timothy 6:6-10).

Financial planning is biblical and is a means to good stewardship, to freedom from the god of materialism, and a means of protection against the waste of the resources God has entrusted to our care (Proverbs 27:23-24; Luke 14:28; 1 Corinthians 14:40).

Financial planning should be done in dependence on God’s direction and in faith while we rest in Him for security and happiness rather than in our own strategies (Proverbs 16:1-9, Psalm 37:1-10; 1 Timothy 6:17; Philippians 4:19).

The Responsibility for Discipline 

If our financial planning is to work, it will require discipline and commitment so our plans are translated into actions. We must follow through on our good intentions (Proverbs 14:23). Financial faithfulness is an important aspect of complete, well-rounded spiritual growth and godliness (2 Corinthians. 8:7). But godliness requires discipline (1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:3-8).

Good intentions are useless without plans that translate them into actions. The Corinthians had indicated their desire and willingness to give and had even been instructed on planned giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), yet they had failed to follow through on their good intentions (2 Corinthians 8:10-11).

The Responsibility for Stewardship

Financial faithfulness ultimately flows out of the recognition that everything we are and have belongs to the Lord (1 Chronicles 29:11-16; Romans 14:7-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Life is a temporary sojourn in which Christians are to see themselves as aliens, temporary residents, who are here as stewards of God’s manifold grace. All we are and have, our talents, time, and treasures, are trusts given to us by God which we are to invest for God’s kingdom and glory (1 Peter 1:17; 2:11; 4:10-11; Luke 19:11-26).

The Responsibility for Working

One of God’s basic ways to provide for our needs is through work, an occupation through which we earn a living so we can provide for ourselves and our families. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12; Proverbs 25:27)

The money we earn is also to be used as a means of supporting God’s work and helping those in need, first in God’s family and then for those outside the household of faith. (Galatians 6:6-10; Ephesians 4:28; 3 John 5-8)

Guidelines Regarding Savings

Biblical Support:

(1) God directed Joseph to save for the future (Genesis 41:35).
(2) Saving for the future shows wisdom and is demonstrated in God’s creation (Proverbs 21:20; 30:24-25; 6:6-8).
(3) Saving for the future is responsible stewardship when designed to meet both the predictable and unpredictable needs of the family. (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Corinthians 12:14)

Biblical Guidelines:

(1) Maintain a proper view of ownership. Remember, all our wealth ultimately belongs to God. We are managers, not owners (1 Chronicles 29:11-16; Luke 16:12).
(2) Maintain a proper view of our security. We are to put our trust in the Lord and not in our investments (1 Timothy 6:17).
(3) Beware of impure and unbiblical motives, priorities, and reasons for saving such as anxiety and hoarding as a result of insecurity or covetousness (Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 12:13-31).
(4) Decisions concerning future investments are to be made prayerfully in view of the Lord’s will (James 4:13-15).
(5) Don’t use money in saving/investment programs that God desires be used for giving. This occurs when savings or investments become extreme and for the wrong reasons as seen above (Luke 12:16-21; 1 Timothy 6:18-19; 1 John 3:17).
(6) Avoid high-risk investments or get-rich-quick schemes (Proverbs 21:5; 28:20, 22; 1 Timothy 6:9).
(7) Watch those priorities. Make the kingdom of God your number one investment (Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31; 1 Timothy 6:18-19).

Guidelines Regarding Spending 

We need to learn to be content (spiritually independent on the details of life for our happiness and security) with what we have (Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6, 17:19; Hebrews 13:5). When we are content with what we have, we are free from servitude to materialism. This means freedom to follow the Lord; freedom to pursue His values and objectives. How does one acquire contentment? Contentment is the product of possessing heavenly treasure and casting the whole of one’s care on the sovereign God as our loving heavenly Father. (Matthew 6:19-33; 1 Peter 5:6-7)

Temptation

Be on guard to the temptations and messages of the world (Romans 12:1-2; 13:11-14; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 5:8). There are thousands of messages every day that clamor for our attention through the press, television, radio, billboards, salespeople, and store displays, all designed to get us to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t know, and to find happiness where it simply cannot be found.

Evaluate Purchases According to Biblical Principles

(1) Can we pay cash or will the purchase put us in debt?
(2) Do we have complete peace about it with no doubt? (Romans 14:23; Colossians 3:15) We need to watch our tendency to rationalize, giving ourselves deceptive answers to do a bad thing.
(3) Is it a real need or a matter of greed? (1 Timothy 6:9; 1 John 2:15) Will it be profitable to our family, our spiritual growth, our health, our ministry, the Lord’s reputation, and will it increase our love for the Lord or could it hinder it? (1 Timothy 3:4, 5:8; 1 Corinthians 6:12)
(4) Is our lifestyle adequate or more than adequate? Do we need to reduce our spending by lowering our expected standard of comfort? (Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:15, 23; Proverbs 15:16-17; 16:8; Ecclesiastes 5:10-11).

Guidelines Regarding Credit

(1) God favors lending (investing) over borrowing because it promotes freedom and wise stewardship (Deuteronomy 15:5-6).
(2) Unwise borrowing can put us in a position of servitude (Proverbs 22:7).
(3) Use credit wisely and avoid it whenever possible. Though not prohibited by Scripture, credit is generally mentioned in a negative sense. Romans 13:8 is often used as an absolute prohibition against borrowing, but it does not necessarily forbid the use of credit. It may simply teach the necessity to pay one’s obligations whether physical or spiritual as they come due.
(4) Concerning credit there are two basic alternatives: (a) Buy now on credit and pay the installments with interest. (b) Save now and buy later with cash and save the interest.

Keep Borrowing to a Minimum

(1) Interest adds to the cost of living and thereby reduces our capacity for wise stewardship. If we must borrow, we should seek low interest for short terms.
(2) Credit can be risky because it can place people in bondage to creditors and to their own desires rather than to God’s will. It makes impulsive buying too easy. The world system depends heavily on impulsive buying as a balm for being bored and frustrated with life.
(3) Credit can be used as a substitute for trusting God or to get what we want in place of waiting on Him. We use it to buffer ourselves from having to depend on the Lord. Why? Because we are often afraid He won’t give us what we want when we want it (Psalm 37:7-9, 34; 147:11; Matthew 6:30-34; Philippians 4:19).
(4) Credit reduces our ability to give to God and to those in need.
(5) The use of credit is often nothing more than a failure to be content with what we have (the sin of dissatisfaction) (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:6-8; Hebrews 13:5). The materialist is never content, but the godly learns contentment.

Dont’s for Borrowing 

(1) Don’t purchase something on credit if it will jeopardize your financial freedom.
(2) Don’t go into debt today based upon a future event (such as a raise or a potential sale). This is presuming upon the Lord and His sovereignty.
(3) Don’t go into debt for a house before you have secured a source of income (Proverbs 24:27).
(4) Don’t finance daily needs, living expenses, or pleasure items.
(5) Don’t finance items that depreciate quickly, except on very short terms (i.e., 30-90 days).
(6) On appreciating items, such as a house or for business investments, don’t borrow beyond your ability to cash out of the obligation through sufficient collateral plus the value of the item, should it be necessary to sell.
(7) Don’t allow debts (excluding mortgage) to exceed 20 percent of your take-home pay. Shoot for ten percent or less.
(8) Don’t allow a mortgage payment (including insurance and taxes) to exceed 25 or 30 percent of your take-home pay.

Questions to Ask Before Borrowing

(1) Do I really need it?
(2) Have I asked God for it and waited long enough for Him to supply?
(3) Am I impatient and seeking immediate gratification?
(4) Is God testing my faith, my values, my motives, etc.?
(5) Did I wrongly spend the money God provided for this item or have I violated God’s financial principles?
(6) Am I guilty of.

Stinginess: “There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want” (Proverbs 11:24; 11:25-27).

Hastiness: “A faithful man will abound with blessings: but he who makes haste to be rich shall not go unpunished” (Proverbs 28:20).

Laziness: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber, and your want like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:34).

Luke 21 talks about riches toward God! How do you get those riches? Can you make plans for such?

Where Is Our Treasure? 

Basic Principle: What we treasure is determined by our perspective or insight to the real values of life (Matthew 6:22-23).

Biblical Reasons:  

(1) Our treasures in heaven are permanent (Matthew 6:20; 1 Peter 1:4).
(2) Our treasures on earth are temporary and can be lost. We can’t take earthly treasures with us (Luke 12:20-21; 1 Timothy 6:7).
(3) Our treasures on earth are really unfulfilling in that they cannot buy true happiness or significance (Luke 12:15, 23; Ecclesiastes 5:10).
(4) Our treasures on earth cannot prolong life or give security (Luke 12:16-21).
(5) Our treasures determine our pursuits and priorities. Without the right treasures, we will pursue the wrong things and waste our lives (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34; 1 Timothy 6:9-10; Luke 19:23-26).
(6) Our greatest treasure is godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:11-12; Proverbs 15:17; 16:8; 17:1).

Biblical Explanation:

Heavenly treasures consist of crowns, rewards, and responsibilities given to believers at the judgment seat of Christ for faithful stewardship (Luke 19:16-19; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 9:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8). The ultimate treasure is glory to God (1 Peter 4:11; Revelations 4:9-11).

How do the following verses fit into our making plans for the future? 

2 Corinthians 5:6-10  “Goal is to please Him”
Galatians 3:1-5 “Human effort or reliance on the Holy Spirit”

Who Is Our Master?

A servant cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve God and mammon (materialism) (Luke 16:1-13, Matthew 6:24).

Biblical Reason:

It is impossible to hold allegiance to two masters at the same time. “For either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other” (Luke 16:13).

(1) Luke 16:1-2: Life is a stewardship and we are each servants of God who will be held accountable for the way we have used our stewardship. Stop thinking like an owner. Start thinking like a manager.
(2) Luke 16:1, 11-12: Are we squandering God’s investment in our lives or investing it wisely for His glory?
(3) Luke 16:10: Money, in terms of true value, is a “little” thing, however, faithfulness in little things (money) is an indicator of our faithfulness in big things (eternal values).
(4) Luke 16:11: The use of money is a test of our faithfulness.
(5) Luke 16:11: Money does not constitute true riches.
(6) Luke 16:12: Money is to be used wisely and faithfully as part of our stewardship from God.
(7) Luke 16:12: Money and its acquisition, if we are not careful, can become our master.

Biblical Challenge:

(1) Am I a slave to money and earthly treasures? Is it possible that I am and do not even know it?  We must choose between serving money and serving God!
(2) Do I sacrifice Christ like qualities and responsibilities in my pursuits for earthly treasures? (a) Clear conscience; (b) Honesty, moral character; (c) Friendships; (d) Family (wife, husband, children, in-laws); (e) Reputation; (f) God’s glory, etc.
(3) Do I care more about earthly treasures and money matters than I do about my relationship with the Lord and the pursuit of the kingdom of heaven? (a) Priorities; (b) Use of my time, how and where is it spent; (c) What do I think about most—money and what I think it will purchase or God and my trust in Him?
(4) Do I seek from money and earthly treasures (prestige, power, position, pleasure, possessions, etc.) those things that God alone can give? (a) Happiness, real joy; (b) Contentment; (c) Peace of mind; (d) Security; (e) Purpose or meaning in life.

If you answer is yes to any of the above questions, money has become your master to some degree!

Conclusion:

Having studied these principles, let’s ask ourselves a question: Am I willing to commit myself to these concepts as a way of life in order to become a good steward of the grace of God? May God keep us from the altar of the golden calf of materialism.

And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-19).

Application: How is God fitting into your plans and goals concerning money and possessions for the New Year?

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