The Discipline Of GenerosityDr. Erwin W. Lutzer | January 15, 1995
Selected highlights from this sermon
Money always tests God’s people. Paul warned Timothy about it. To the poor, they needed to know that longing and seeking for money wouldn’t grant contentment. To the rich, they must remember that their stability is not found in their wealth.
How shall we live? We must turn over ownership of our money, whether we have little or much, to God. We are stewards of what God gives, and generously sharing for the sake of God’s kingdom will lead to eternal rewards.
You have frequently heard the expression that money talks. Well, it does talk.
Dug from the mountainside or washed in the glen,
Servant am I or master of men.
Earn me, I bless you; steal me, I curse you.
Grasp me and hold me, a fiend shall possess you.
Lie for me, die for me, covet me, take me.
Angel or devil, I’m just what you make me.
Most of you will know that this is the third in a series of messages entitled Disciplines of the Christian Life. The first was the Discipline of Worship. The second was The Discipline of Meditation, and today we come to The Discipline of Generosity.
Everything that God gives us is a test of our loyalty, but money is a particularly accurate barometer of our relationship with God. In fact, the Bible is very clear that if you love money, you do not love God. Or to put it even more clearly, if you love money, you hate God. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Oh, how I wish I could convey to you, and I will try to do so with words, but to communicate with you and to let you know that what the Bible has to say about money it says to us for our own good. You see, God does not want us to be deceived, and as we are going to see today, money can be very deceptive. And so, God puts on the spotlight, as it were, and He shows us what money is really like to help us. The Bible is not opposed to riches. As a matter of fact, we’re going to be talking about your need to make investments that get a high rate of return, and yet have incredible security. That’s what the Bible is interested in – investments at a good rate of return and security. And as we shall see in a moment, we’ll have some instruction on how that can be done.
The other thing that we need to keep in mind is some of the things I’m going to say today are so contrary to the omnipresent lies of society, and the natural lies that grow within our own hearts, that some of you are going to be startled at what I have to say. Some of you are going to say that what he’s saying sounds as if it has come from another planet. And as I stop to think of it, I realize that since the Bible comes from somewhere else other than this world, it comes from another planet. It’s looking at money from God’s perspective, so I want you to enjoy this. I want you to fasten your seatbelts, and I want us to have a soft landing in about 25 or 30 minutes.
First of all, let me say that I’m going to speak to those of you who are poor, and then later on I’m going to talk to the rich. And I’m going to give you the honor of deciding which part of the message you are going to listen to. Now, I hope to God that because of your proximity to this P.A. system that you have to listen to the whole thing, but you make the decision as to whether you are rich or poor. It makes no difference. I want you to listen very carefully.
First of all to the poor, and the text is 1 Timothy 6. If you are new to The Moody Church, we want you to know that we always encourage people to bring their Bibles. As a matter of fact, that is oftentimes a sign of our own commitment to learning. It is important that you see in the text what it is that I am saying so that you know that I am not making it up, and that the words of God will be imprinted upon your mind and heart.
Timothy is a little difficult to find. It comes after 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Then you have 1 and 2 Timothy, and it’s the sixth chapter. And for the poor now, if you are listening, I want you to notice that the Bible is very clear. “Do not desire to become rich.” Don’t love money, you poor people.
Notice what the text says. Verse 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. 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.”
We should not desire to become rich. We should not love money. A young man about 20 years old, who was drop-dead good looking, said to me one time, “I want to be a millionaire at the age of 30.” Let me ask you something: Is there something fundamentally wrong with a young man who says, “I want to be a millionaire by the age of 30?” The answer is yes. Notice what the text says: “Do not desire to become rich. It is a root of many different kinds of evil.”
Now I need to say to you that if you love money, you have paid your ticket and you have to take the train all the way to the end of the station. Once you are on an expressway that says, “To Milwaukee,” you are no longer on an expressway that says, “To Indianapolis.” It is impossible for you to say, “I’m going to love money, and I also am going to sidestep the snares that the Bible warns about those who love money will fall into.” It is not possible to do that.
You say, “Well, what are some of the results of those who love money? What is it that they really do find out either in this life or in the life to come? First of all, they discover a dissatisfied heart. They are dissatisfied, dissatisfied if they don’t reach their goal. That’s obvious. They are full of envy, full of strife. A funeral director here in the city of Chicago told me that one time at the graveyard, as the casket had just been lowered, and the service was over, there were people out in the graveyard – these relatives – who were actually pulling out guns, threatening each other as to who was going to get the inheritance. Now that’s what I would call a dissatisfied heart.
And the love of money has a tendency for us to become like that. One day someone came to Jesus and said, “You know, my brother isn’t giving me the share of my inheritance.” Jesus said, “I’m not going to get involved in those kinds of brawls,” but then Jesus said, “Covetousness is idolatry. Beware of it. You will have a dissatisfied heart if you don’t make your million. And if you make your million you are also going to be dissatisfied.” I have a friend who says to me, “Lutzer, I know that riches do not satisfy, but I would like to prove that by personal experience.” (laughter)
Now the fact is, the reason that riches don’t satisfy is because God has created us for Himself, and therefore money cannot produce contentment. It cannot produce contentment. Notice in verse 5 in this passage it talks about constant friction between men of depraved minds and deprived of the truth who suppose that godliness is a means to gain. Some people say, “Well, we’ll get into the church, and we’ll get into this religious racket so that we can make some money.” That’s not unlike what we sometimes have happening today. “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
Number one, it always produces a dissatisfied heart. Chris Everett, famous tennis star, in an interview in 1986, with one home in California, one home in England, and another being built in Florida, said, “I have been enormously successful.” But then she went on to say, “But you have to find your own happiness and peace. I am still searching.”
“Oh Lord, Thou has made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their all in Thee,” and money cannot do it. The Bible says in the book of Proverbs, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver.” A dissatisfied heart!
Secondly, a deceived heart! We read the text in verse 7: “We brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” It’s that old line that says, “Nobody has ever seen a U-Haul trailer at the back of a hearse.” When the question is asked, “How much did he leave?” the answer is very easily given, namely, “Everything.”
Now I want you to imagine that you are in a jet plane flying over Indiana, and you are among 67 people aboard, and suddenly the jet plane begins to plunge towards the earth, and it crashes at 300 miles an hour, and everything is burned, and the bodies are burned beyond recognition. And suddenly you have 60 some odd people standing before God. And there they stand. What have they brought with them? No American Express cards! No mutual funds! No bank accounts! No cars! No homes! Nothing except what they have in their hearts! That’s it! Where is the money that would buy them an attorney so that they could get out of the difficulty of finding themselves at odds with God? There is none! There they stand in the presence of the Almighty.
You see, money is very deceitful. It is, if I might say, overpriced because actually, when you stop to think of it, it cannot help you at the very crucial moment when you stand in God’s presence.
Many of us have often preached on Luke 16, which you need not turn to, but you can read this afternoon, where Jesus talks about the rich man in Hades who was in torment, and then Lazarus who was in Abraham’s bosom. And we’ve often used that as an illustration of Sheol. And I’ve preached it that way, and that’s fine. That’s one of the lessons that we learn about it. Many people, though, have no clue as to why Jesus told that story.
Just a few verses before He told it the Bible says that the Pharisees were lovers of money, and Jesus said to them these words: “That which is greatly esteemed among men (namely money) is detestable to God.” And then to illustrate how the fortunes of a rich man and a poor man can be reversed in the age to come, that’s why He told the story of the rich man who was clothed in linen and ate such beautiful meals and was served, and the poor man who ate with the dogs, and how that in the life to come their fortunes were indeed totally reversed.
If you love money you will have a dissatisfied heart. You will have a deceived heart, and finally you will have a desiring heart. That’s what the text says. It says: “But those that want to get rich fall into temptations and a snare and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Harmful desires! Why? It’s because money gives you so many different options. You see, when you are wealthy and when you love money, there are so many new ways of sinning. There are so many different things you can do to fill up the deadness and the pain of an empty life. It actually takes the desires of the body and it increases them.
Have you ever wondered why people who are famous who have a lot of money and fame in Hollywood are constantly being married and remarried and on drugs and all of the other things that go with that lifestyle? It’s because they are faced with a dilemma. On the one hand they have money that is supposed to satisfy. On the other hand they have a heart that is not satisfied. At the same time, time is running along and they know that sometime this life will be over. The only thing that they can possibly do is to grab for some more gusto – to have this experience and that experience, and to take all the experiences that they can afford and to enjoy them all if possible. Yet the more they enjoy them, the emptier they become and they discover that the money that was to bring the happiness is the one that is piercing them through, to use Paul’s word, “with many a pang.” Watch it! Do not love money. If you love money, you hate God.
You say, “Well, what are the poor supposed to do then?” Well, the answer of Scripture is this: They are supposed to pursue riches but of a different sort. I shall read verse 5 again. “Constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who do not rejoice in the truth, by the way, but who rejoice in tax evasion, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” Verse 6: “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” You are supposed to seek God, thereby seeking contentment, and having food and raiment, let us thereby be content. And what is contentment? Contentment is when your earning power is the same as your yearning power. It means that I am satisfied with what I have.
Now don’t you see how contrary this is to the world? Don’t you see that the whole advertising industry by and large - excluding those in our congregations who are involved in advertising, of course (chuckles) - is designed to make people discontent? Isn’t that the whole point of the television ads? Heaven help us if we are content with Sprite, which I usually have with a meal, because I’m not supposed to be content with Sprite, because if I’m content with Sprite, oh terrible, I’m not going to be ordering Coke. So the Coke ads try to make me discontent with Sprite. And on and on it goes. And during the summer we are told that we should fly to places where it is winter. And during the winter we are told that we should fly to places where it is summer.
Have you ever thought of what would happen if all Americans woke up some morning and everybody said, “I am content?” The whole economy would come to a halt. The whole point is to generate, irritate and exploit discontentment. And here the text says, “Having food and raiment, therewith we should be content.” And I’ve seen people content in Morocco. And I’ve seen people content in Mexico, and also in Eastern Europe, who do not have much beyond the food and the raiment. And they don’t have what we do, and they are content because godliness with contentment is great gain. What do you do if you are poor? Do not desire to be rich. Do not love money but pursue God that you might be content.
Well, that’s to the poor. Now a word to the rich! I can imagine you are saying, “Wow! If he said that to the poor, what are the rich going to get?” Well, I don’t have to make it up. It’s all here in the text. Notice in verse 17 it gives instruction to the rich: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
What are the rich supposed to do? They are to stay away from the snares that very easily entrap the rich. The rich have a whole set of temptations and snares, land mines that are willing to blow up in their face, and to take the riches that should have been a means of blessing, and to make those riches a curse.
What are they to do? First of all, they are to stay away, and if necessary repent of these landmines. Pride! “I instruct the rich not to be conceited.” You see, wealth brings conceit. Wealth says, “I don’t need you. I can live without you because I can afford whatever I want.” Wealth says, “I have a cut above you because think of all the places that I could go, all the people that I could meet, all of the politicians whose coffers I could help fill.” Wealth says, “I can do all those things, you see.”
You know, one of the things that has really been a puzzle to me is why it is that there are people who have millions of dollars who, nevertheless, will cheat and manipulate to get more millions. And I’m saying they’ve already got more than they can spend. My sinful nature says, “You know, if I had more than I could spend, I’d just start spending it. I wouldn’t care to try to make more.”
And then somebody who is in the know told me, “You don’t understand.” He said, “Money is like a narcotic.” He said, “There are some people who get high on drugs. There are some people who get high on the art of the deal. That’s the point.” And, you see, this narcotic overtakes them, and it is part of the power game. And that’s why no matter how much he has he always wants more. Even if he can’t spend it, he has to control and to manipulate, and the Bible says, “Beware of conceit.” Oh, you who are rich, I plead with you to beware of the independence that comes with wealth.
Secondly, notice instability. He says, “Beware that you not fix your hope on the uncertainty of riches,” because we’ve already learned that riches do not have the security that you think they do. Riches do not bring about the kind of self-confidence that many people might feel that it should. And as a result of that there is uncertainty, and especially if you have money in the stock market, your spiritual temperature is taken day by day by how the Dow Jones Industrial Average is doing, and you have fixed your hope on that which is uncertain instead of fixing your hope on God. What a diversion money can be! Oh how that beast worms its way into our souls and says, “I will not move.”
Beware! Beware of pride. Beware of instability. Beware of thanklessness. Notice it says that we should fix our hope on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. In other words, money is a gift of God. It’s a gift of God! It has come from Him. That’s why the Bible warns the rich. It says in the book of Deuteronomy, “Beware, lest when you enter into the land that you say that it is the strength of my arm that has begotten this, for it is the Lord that enables you to beget wealth.” Beware!
You say, “Well, what are the rich supposed to do?” Once again, it’s found in the Bible, and you know the Bible is a book with so much wisdom. The Bible doesn’t come along and say, “Well, you know, give everything away so that you are as poor as everybody else.” It does not condemn the riches and that’s very, very important. Since I’ve been here at The Moody Church, on a few occasions we have had some very large gifts. And there are some things that we have been able to do as a church that we would not be able to do were it not for the fact that there have been at least a few wealthy people who have given us sizable sums. In fact, just a couple of summers ago we received unexpectedly a rather large gift and that became the down payment for the property that we are purchasing next door. So the Bible does not condemn the rich. We need to affirm them. We need to warn them. And then we need to instruct them as to what to do, as the text of Scripture says. But we do not condemn the rich because God uses them to enable ministries to do things that those ministries could never do were it not for some wealthy people who give money.
Notice in verse 18 it says: “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works (which incidentally is interesting and means that any one of us could be rich because we can all be rich in good works no matter how poor we may be) and to be generous (There’s the word now and the title of this message is The Discipline of Generosity) and to be ready to share (Why?), storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” That’s the way that you use money when God brings it your way.
Now what does the Bible teach us about this? In ancient times there were three ways in which wealth was often kept. One was clothes. The other was grain, and the third was gold. That was about it, and Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount refers to all three when He says, “Don’t lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth (The moths would eat the clothes.) and rust (That would be blight that would ruin the grain.) and where thieves break through and steal (That is the gold.).”
Do not lay up treasures on earth here because it’s not that there’s anything wrong with treasure. It’s the fact that you have chosen a treasure that isn’t going to last. That’s the difficulty. The desire for riches and treasures is ingrained within us, and God says, “Go for it. Go for the larger treasure. Don’t be satisfied with the clothes and the wealth of gold and of grain because that is going to pass away. Take those things and transform them into the heavenly Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market where you have stability, you have security, and you have a high rate of interest.”
How does that work? The Scripture says that when we give to those who have need, when we give to help missionaries spread the Gospel throughout the world, we are actually enabling others to work in such a way that when we get to heaven there are going to be people who will meet us who had an impact in their lives because we gave on earth. Jesus told a whole parable to illustrate that. In fact, He says you should use the mammon of unrighteousness (That’s what He’s calling money.) that you may have others welcome you into the eternal kingdom. And we do that through our giving. That’s why every Sunday we give you an opportunity to give. We have missionaries that have to be supported. Some of us support missionaries over and above those that attend Moody Church. Many of you, I’m sure, do that, and I would like to think that my wife and I would find people in heaven, not just because somebody found Christ as Savior through my preaching or perhaps through my writing or whatever, but because we gave money to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we laid hold of that which is life indeed. That’s one way to have people who will meet you in heaven.
The other is to be given responsibility in heaven. Jesus told a parable one day and He said, “If God cannot entrust to you this mammon of unrighteousness (this stuff we call money) and you are not faithful with it, how then is He going to make you faithful over the cities of the Kingdom? And the answer is that your extent of rule in the coming Kingdom is going to be dependent on your faithfulness here.
You know, people say, “Well, they aren’t going to miss my dime or quarter.” At Moody Church it’s a big church and you know the budget is so high, and maybe you don’t have any work and about all that you could give is ten dollars or even less than that, and nobody’s going to miss that. Well, first of all, let me say that here at The Moody Church our budget is made up by the faithfulness of many, many people. It is a working together. We do not have large gifts often – occasionally but not often, and it is dependent on every one of us. But secondly you are reasoning beside the point. The issue is not whether Moody Church can make it. We might be able to make it with God’s grace, but the question is how will you do when you enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, into everlasting habitations? That’s the question that you and I must face individually and personally before God. So that’s what He says that the rich should do.
What he’s saying is, “Take your wealth. Bypass those snares.” And thank God that there are many, many rich people that do. Could I also give a word of warning though? There are many, many rich people who don’t. Why is it that God sometimes has blessed Christian people with an awful lot of money, and yet they do not give and they are not generous? It is because the snares on the way to wealth are everywhere, and it is so easy to be deceived and to be tripped up. It’s very easy. That’s why this warning is here.
Now I’ve spoken to the poor. Now I’ve spoken to the rich. And now a word for all of us! How do we bring this down to where you and I live?
First of all, there must be in our hearts what I call a change of heart. Let me ask you something. Have you ever met somebody who is really stingy? I mean really stingy! Some of you say, “Oh yes, Pastor Lutzer! As a matter of fact, I had breakfast with him,” you could say. My wife can’t say that because she and I did not have breakfast together. I had an earlier breakfast so no comment from over here. How do you get somebody who is really stingy to become generous? Can you reason them into it? Can you read the Bible to them and show them? Probably not! The greed that is so deep within the human heart is not easily uprooted. Only God ultimately usually can do that. And what people need to do is to recognize that because of God’s generosity (He’s been so good to us.) when they understand what Christ did and God’s goodness to us, that motivates them to begin to give. In fact that’s exactly the motivation that the Apostle Paul used in 2 Corinthians.
It says, “Christ, who though He was rich, yet for your sakes became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich.” “Now,” Paul says, “that’s your motivation for giving. You’ve been redeemed not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” God has redeemed you at high cost, and He has done so generously and joyfully, and freely. Can’t you see that being generous is just a response to His mercy? And that’s why it’s so important that those of you who have never accepted Christ as your Savior, by the way, not even give. Don’t give to this church. Don’t give to any church for a number of reasons. Number one, so that you understand that salvation cannot be bought by money, but number two because you don’t really have the right motivation anyway. It is only a response to God’s love and a response to all that God has done for us in Christ. That’s why we should really give. It is our thank you for His mercy.
So, first of all, there has to be a change of heart. Secondly, and this is very important now and very difficult to do. You say, “Oh no, it’s not difficult to do.” You try it this afternoon. Take out a half an hour and do this. There has to be a change of ownership. You must take everything that you have, you rich people, you poor people, you people in between, and you must give it all consciously, deliberately, directly to God. Absolutely everything because we must move from ownership to stewardship. It all belongs to God anyway. He has given it to us, and so it is simply a recognition that “God, I have taken and I have absorbed into my hands (I’ve grasped from your hand) what belongs to You. And now I simply recognize that my home and my car and my bank accounts and “my whatever” are all yours. I give them to You one by one. Oh, the struggle in the human heart to do that! But I want to tell you from personal experience that you will not be content until you do.
People say, “Well, you know, I know Christ as my Savior. I’ve been walking with Him for a number of years and I’m still not content.” Well, Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am therein to be content.” Some wag says, “Well, he never lived in Illinois.” But the point is that the Apostle Paul says, “I have learned to be content.” It is learned, but secondly, it will never happen as long as you own something. No owner can be content. It is when you transfer that ownership, then suddenly things become different. Then you don’t use your credit card to buy an item that is going to depreciate. And the reason is because now you realize that since you are God’s, it is His responsibility to supply that to you without indebtedness if He wants you to have it because now the decisions are no longer yours. You are a steward. You are not just somebody who does whatever you want to do just because you have the money to do it. This is God’s money – not just the money that is given in the offering plate but the money that isn’t given in the offering plate that goes for food and clothing and to pay the rent and the utilities and whatever.
So there has to be a change of heart. There has to be a change of ownership. And then there has to be a change of perspective. Now you begin to view needs through entirely different eyes because now you begin to give joyfully. You give because this is God’s work. You begin to give proportionately as the Scripture tells us. You begin to give regularly, and you begin to give imaginatively. It’s not just giving into the offering plate, though that should be done regularly and proportionately. It means that now you are looking for needs that you can meet. And you are looking for those who have special needs and surprising them with gifts because suddenly it has taken on a brand new perspective. You are now using your money so that people will greet you in heaven and that you will be found faithful with what God gave you.
In a book by Willard Camden, he tells a very interesting story. It was 1948 in Germany. Now the war ended in 1945. Three years after that what you had is the German mark was totally cancelled. But he tells the story about wanting to begin a Bible school in Frankfurt, and word had gone out that this Bible Institute was going to be begun. And a dear German woman, bless her heart, who loved Jesus with all that she was, came and gave him ten thousand marks. She said, “I want it to be your first gift in your Bible school. And this represents years of savings.” He didn’t have the heart to tell her that he needed to remind her that apparently she had not read the newspaper the preceding day because the headline was Mark Cancelled.
She didn’t know it. All of that energy, and all of that work and all of that effort unusable and wasted, though her motive was good, but wasted because the mark had been cancelled.
Well, someday we’re going to wake up and we’re going to find out you young good looking men who want to be millionaires by the age of 30 – dollar cancelled! It’s all gone. What’s going to last? What’s going to last whether we go down in a plane ride or a car crash, or die of cancer? What is going to last? It is that which we did for God. And by the way, when I asked you to categorize yourself as rich or poor, you know that 95% of us should have said that we are rich. If you’ve ever seen the other side of the world you’d agree with that. And notice the text says, “Instruct them to do good and to be rich in good works, to be generous (Why?), storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” That’s what we should be doing before the dollar is cancelled.
One day in Christ’s ministry there was a young man who came to Him who was rich. He was probably another one of these good-looking guys. Wow! And he said, “What may I do that I should inherit eternal life?” He was a typical rich good-looking guy. Inherit eternal life! “What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said, “Well, keep the commandments. There are two ways of salvation. One way is to believe in Jesus Christ and the other way is to live an absolutely totally spotless, sinless life. So if you don’t want to do this over here, keep the commandments. You’ll live.” He said, “I’ve kept them from my youth.” Talk about denial! But anyway, Jesus said, “Well, if you’ve kept them from your youth, you should have no problem with the last one which says, ‘Thou shall not covet.’ Sell everything that you have and follow Me.” And the Bible says that he walked away very sorrowful for he had great possessions.
Jesus said on another occasion, “How hard it is for those who are rich to enter into the Kingdom of God.” Why? Riches means independence and self-sufficiency! It means that I’m fixing myself on something that I think is going to see me through in any eventuality, not knowing that someday it’s all going to be cancelled. What was Jesus trying to teach? Was He trying to say that the way to get saved is by selling everything that you have and following Him? No! People have done that and have been lost forever.
But what Jesus was trying to do was to help this guy with a reality check. Jesus was trying to say, “You think that you don’t need a Savior, and that you can inherit eternal life because of all your good deeds. I’m going to prove to you that you can’t do good deeds because you are too selfish to do good deeds.” And that’s true of you and me if we are honest with ourselves.
And so my last appeal to you is that those of you who do not know Christ as Savior, I do not want you to get the impression it is done by suddenly becoming generous. Generosity flows from the gift of Christ, and that’s the sequence that we must keep in mind because when it comes to the gift of salvation it says, “Ho everyone that thirsts, come ye to the waters. Come and buy wine and milk and meat without money and without price, and he who is athirst, let him come and drink of the water of life freely.” It’s not earned. Salvation is free. But once it is yours and you understand the magnitude of it, you want to say, “Lord, I give you my heart (without all of the covetousness which the Bible says is idolatry). Root out all of the covetousness, all the desire to be rich. May I be rich in faith.” Godliness with contentment is of great, great gain. And if God should bless me with riches I will do exactly what the text says. I will lay myself up rewards for future habitation, to lay hold of that which is life indeed.
The discipline of generosity! It can only happen when we give our selfishness away. Let us pray.
Father, we do thank You today for this great warning, and we thank You that the warning is given for good because riches are so deceitful. And Father, if the truth were really known, we’d have to admit that we enjoy being deceived. In fact, we want to be deceived really. And we pray today that here at The Moody Church there might be a breaking in our hearts that is brought about by the Holy Spirit. We think of those who struggle with this issue. We pray that this afternoon they will go home and yield themselves to You piece by piece, and finally reach contentment because they are no longer owners but stewards. Father, don’t do a shallow work in our hearts, but do something deep and lasting. Make us a generous people that we might be looking for opportunities to invest your wealth in that which will last. And for those who do not know Christ as Savior, who still think that maybe even because of their wealth they can get some good kind of benefits from You, bring them to the end of that foolishness. And may they trust the only One who can give them, as a gift, eternal life. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.