August 8-10, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19
“WHEN THE LORD IS YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISER…”
1. You know how to value your wealth.
2. You know what to do with your wealth.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (EHV) “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they are storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
So, who are the rich? That’s an important question. We have a presidential election coming up and as platforms are laid out and ideas floated one that I have heard is to raise more government revenue by increasing taxes for the rich which might sound appealing to some unless of course you are rich. Now I’ve lived long enough to realize that people’s perception of who is rich and who is not can be a little skewed. According to the Census Bureau the median household income for the state of Wisconsin is $59,000. That means half of the households make more than $59,000 and half less. So I’m guessing half the people in Wisconsin would say if you make $59,000 or more you are rich. But I’ve talked with people who make much more than $59,000 and they do not consider themselves rich. Some would say if you make 6 figures, $100,000 or more you are rich. But I know people who have that kind of income and they do not consider themselves rich. I know of some folks who bring in over $300,000 a year in income and they fully support the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy. You know why? They don’t consider themselves rich. Just comfortable. So it seems to me people in America would only agree with this definition of rich: “Everyone who has more money than I do!”
But if you ask someone in a third world country what would it mean to be rich they would simply say “to have more than I need.” And so with that definition if after you have paid for your needs you have enough money to have a Netflix subscription, you are rich. If you enough left over so you can buy Starbucks, or energy drinks at the gas station, or eat out regularly, or… your get the idea. Because of where and when God has chosen for us to live, pretty much all of us are rich. And it is important to know that not because of an idea of raising taxes on the wealthy but because in God’s Word before us today He speaks directly to the rich. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age.”
Knowing how to handle wealth is very important. Either you educate yourself or you get some kind of a financial adviser. The Good News for us who believe in Jesus is He has not left us hanging when it comes to how to handle wealth. His word in the Bible instructs us first of all on how to value our wealth. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment.” How do you value wealth? Our adviser tells us to value it as a gift from God. He says, “Don’t be arrogant that you are rich.” Don’t think you are rich because you are so great but because God is so great. Who is it that had you born when you were born and where you were born and to whom you were born? God. Who gave you your gifts and abilities? God. Did you have to use them wisely? Of course but you can’t use what you do not have to begin with. Do you remember what God told the people of Israel when He was about to give them the Promised Land? “You might say in your heart, “My ability and the power of my hand have earned this wealth for me.” 18 But then you are to remember that the Lord your God is the one who gives you the ability to produce wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18a)
Value wealth then as a gift from God. It is not bad. Money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is. So when the Lord is your financial adviser you are careful not to value it more than God, and not to love or put your trust in it. “Instruct those who are rich… not to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God.” God gives daily bread. He can do so in all kinds of ways. One way is by giving us wealth. Trust and love the giver, not the gift. It was no accident the founding father put this on our money and yet how easy to forget. How easy to value our check books and paychecks and retirement accounts more highly than we should. How easy to trust them even though we know that markets go up and markets go down. Economies boom and economies recess. They are uncertain. But God is not. His love and mercy are new for us every day and He always keeps His promises. So we view wealth as a gift but not the most valuable gift.
That was the point of Jesus’ parables of the hidden treasure and the fine pearls. Being a believer is so valuable it would be worth paying everything you have for it. And yet we don’t have to pay. Jesus paid and gives us a loving relationship with God, forgiveness of sins, a mansion in heaven and a spot at the heavenly banquet as a gift. That’s a treasure. Solomon demonstrated too that the gift of wisdom, the ability to be a blessing to other people, that was far more valuable than wealth. Sad side note. By all modern parallel accounts Solomon was the wealthiest man who ever lived. Bezos has a ways to go. Did love of wealth lead him away from God into idolatry, adultery and other shameful sins? My fellow richies, listen to the Lord and value your wealth as just another gift from God among many gifts He has given you and certainly not the most important.
And when we have our values straight then we are ready to know what to do with our wealth. Listen again to the Lord, the financial adviser we can trust. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment.” What should we do with our wealth? Enjoy it. Paul told us that God has supplied us with all things for our enjoyment. When you are relaxing on your patio, what a wonderful opportunity to have peace and contentment in your heart and a feeling of gratitude to God for what He has blessed you with. How nice to take a vacation and see God’s beautiful creation and feel peace and contentment that God has enabled you to enjoy such things. Go ahead and take pride in taking care of the nice car or truck God has given you. He’s provided all things for your enjoyment.
Our adviser also encourages us to do some investing of our wealth. “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share. In this way they are storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” Do good. Be generous. Share with others in need. Parents have been teaching those lessons to kids forever. Why bring it up here? Our adviser is opening our eyes to the way God’s kingdom works. He knows we have sinful natures that trick us into thinking our real joy and blessing comes when we use our wealth for ourselves. That’s like investing only for today. But when we let our faith show by doing good with our wealth, being generous and sharing we are investing for eternity. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me,” Jesus will say on the last day. For me. For Jesus! What a great reason to use our wealth to help those in need. And when we use our wealth to share the Gospel with others we make heavenly friends, treasures for the future. What a great reason to use our wealth to support St Jacobi’s mission and the mission work of our schools and synod. With the Lord as our financial adviser we know what to do with our wealth.
Some of you will remember a financial firm that was huge at one time. EF Hutton. They had a memorable series of commercials that ended with the tag line, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.” EF Hutton isn’t talking any more. But your Lord is. And you can trust Him. Why? He knows how to handle wealth. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.” When Jesus talks, God’s people listen. And you are God’s people. Amen.