Cultivating a Heart of Contentment

Intro

It’s easy to be upset about religious fundraisers

They talk  about giving to God by writing out a check to them

But, Jesus talked more about money than He did about heaven

 

“Giving” and “missions” go together

 

Material things:

We always want more…

 

Here, we’ll look at two things; load limits and money matters

 

I. LOAD LIMITS

 Samuel Plimsoll: a man with a burden for all the sailors who lost their lives at sea because of too heavily loaded ships.

In 1873, 411 ships sank, killing lots of people.

The law supported the ship owners. It was a crime to “jump ship”. In the early 1870’s, 1/3 of the prisoners in the SW of  England was a sailor who refused to sail on what has become known as “coffin ships”.

Plimsoll elected for parliament in 1868.

The Unseaworthy Vessels Bill passed in 1975.

Next year: Plimsoll wrote a bill for a loading line on ships.

Parliament compromised, and allowed for ship owners to put the line wherever they wanted to.

Plimsoll fought another 14 years to have the line put on a safe level for the sailors and the ships.

This resulted in the Plimsoll line, still existing today.

 

Life would be a lot easier if we had a Plimsoll line.

Navigating through life requires safeguards. The Bible is full of insights and load limits. We will not arrive safely to our destination unless we understand God’s Plimsoll line.

In a society built on chronic and compulsive consumerism, how do we set the load limits?

We are told twice in the NT that greed, or covetousness, is idolatry.

Ephesians 5:5

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Colossians 3:5

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”

The issues of contentment and covetousness are amongst the most pressing in our Christian lives.

Also, read Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6:3-16.

 

A story was told of a young girl whose father who was a chronic complainer. One day at the dinner table, she proudly announced: “I know what everyone in our family likes!” She didn’t need any coaxing to reveal her information. “Johnny likes hamburgers, Janie loves ice cream, Jimmy loves pizza, and Mommy likes chicken.” Her father waited for his turn, but there was no information forthcoming. “Well, what about me?” he asked. “What does daddy like?” With the innocence and painful insight of a child, the little one answered “Daddy, you like everything we haven’t got!”

 

Someone in our society has convinced us that we need to acquire, consume, upgrade and enlarge. In such a context, the word “enough” is seldom heard. No one advertises the virtues of contentment, but the Holy Spirit uses exactly that word to put His finger on one of the most significant and sensitive issues of life. In the Timothy passage, three main ideas point us to the need for a Plimsoll line in our lives if we hope to navigate a materialistic culture successfully. Those ideas revolve around the words covetousness, contentment and character.

 

A. We must sensitize ourselves to the dangers of covetousness

Pastors hear all kinds of dark secrets and sins.

Charles H. Spurgeon: had heard virtually every possible sin confessed, except the sin of covetousness.

This is still the case today. However, this is often the diagnosis that has been made by the pastor in charge.

We might all struggle with this at times. Paul points out that money is not the problem, but the love of money

     1 Timothy 6:9

     “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

Paul talks of those who wants to be rich, who have their hearts set on wealth. They may not be rich, but they long for it. Do not misquote 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Some people in the Bible had great wealth, i.e. Job, Abraham, David, Solomon and Nehemiah. Some were prominent, like Joseph, Moses and Daniel. None of these were condemned because of their great possessions.

Abraham was able to handle his wealth, but Lot was seduced by it. It’s a question of the heart.

      Ecclesiastes 5:10-11

      “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

       When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?”

      In the end, it normally boils down to money. That is how we measure our success in the secular world. How much money do wee need before we stop worrying?

Ill. What do you give someone who has everything?

Answer: A better burglar alarm!

We NEVER stop worrying, it’s a way of life! Most of us never get enough. The more we have, the more we want. But wealth is uncertain; just read what Paul says in

      1 Timothy 6:17

      “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”

The Greek word for “covetousness” literarily means “a desire to have more”. A deadly enemy of the soul tempts us to ignore our Plimsoll line and dangerously overload our lives.

 

The Love of money has corrupting power in at least four ways:

1. Covetousness corrupts our view of God’s truth

Paul was in conflict with false teachers through Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:3-5.

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

           4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

           5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. “

Please note here that Paul writes about false teachers who teach “prosperity theology” in that they are

“supposing that gain (or wealth) is (the same as) godliness. This is false doctrine, and Paul says that Timothy should “withdraw himself” from these people.

 

2. Covetousness contaminates our values

1 Timothy 6:9

         But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

We are all tempted, but Paul suggests that there are special sins that are particularly attractive for those who seek to get wealthy. The word for “gain” (meaning financial gain or profit) in 1 Timothy 6:5 is “porismos”. It means to acquire something, or furnish something. However, this leads to temptation, the Greek word “peirasmos”, (1 Timothy 6:9 ) meaning “a putting to proof” that can be good or evil.

The desire for wealth breeds other desires and causes things to spiral downward.

 

3. Covetousness capsizes our lives

1 Timothy 6:9

        “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

        The word for “drown” in this verse is translated “sink” in Luke 5:7.

And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.”

Newer translations say “plunge” which does not seem to be a proper translation. In Luke, they could have needed a Plimsoll line, but they didn’t have one. Just like their boats started to sink, our lives can start to sink if we don’t consider our covetousness line as our Plimsoll line. We want to avoid “destruction and perdition” in our lives. We can not serve God and money at the same time. Luke 16:13 says:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Those that love money do not know Christ!

Money is the god of this world

 

4. Covetousness chokes our faith

1 Timothy 6:10

         For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Jesus saw greed as a deadly enemy to the soul, and He had a warning for all (Luke 12:15):

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Life is not about possessions. God alone is the source of life. God alone is in control of life. God alone gives life. Money’s got nothing to do with it.

We need good and proper load limits to be able to navigate through this life where consuming is so important. Materialism presents an equal hazard to the Christian as the iceberg did to the Titanic. We don’t hesitate to criticize the captain of that ship going full steam into the icebergs, but we surely are no better.

 

B. We must cultivate a heart of contentment character

The antidote to covetousness is contentment, a quality that is an indispensable part of true spirituality.

Paul said that “godliness with contentment is great gain

(1 Timothy 6:6).

Godliness was one of the key words in 1 Timothy. He used it 8 times (4 in this passage) to describe what we call “authentic spirituality”. The term describes an inner attitude of reverence and respect that is expressed in outer acts. It begins with “the fear of the Lord”. It is a God-centered life, a passion for God that translates into worship and appropriate conduct.

True Godliness always travels with “contentment”.

Just remember what Paul wrote to the Philippians from his prison cell:

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

     12  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

     13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.

(Philippians 4:11-13)

 

The contentment of aspiration (my character, relationships, values…)

The contentment of acquisition (what I possess).

Godliness involves choosing satisfaction with acquisition and dissatisfaction with aspiration.

(Wanting  to become wiser, deeper, more loving, more Christlike.)

 

 

Contentment is also the product of an eternal, kingdom perspective.

Paul said:

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:7) and…

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

     (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Present things have no lasting value.

They are ours to enjoy, but not to keep.

Ex. Life is like a Monopoly game; no matter how much you acquire, in the end it all goes back into the box.

Don’t forget the story about the rich man in Luke 12.

Matthew 6:20-21 says:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    

C. We must focus on the centrality of character

     False teachers are pursuing riches. We should pursue a godly character.

     In Ephesus many were pursuing financial wealth, but Paul said to Timothy: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1 Timothy 6:11)

Money is a great resource, but a dangerous goal.

The seduction of “prosperity theology” attempts to sanctify what God has called us to flee.

Furthermore, we need to “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

(6:12). This is in context!!!

1. Develop a lifestyle of limits, not luxury

Chose to make do with less than you can afford.

Remember the Plimsoll line.

 

2. Cultivate generosity, not greed

Compassion and generosity are the drain plugs for covetousness. Give more than you can to whatever the Lord has put on your heart.

 

3. Emphasize personal worth rather than not worth

Determine to spend more time thinking and working on your future character than on your financial future.

What is your spiritual retirement plan?

 

4. Invest in the eternal, not just the temporal

Pray for a kingdom project. Let it capture your passion, challenge your giftedness, and inspire the investment of your treasure.

 

II. MONEY MATTERS

In the 21.st century, we are sailing into a brand new world unlike anything humanity has ever faced before.

We need to learn new navigational skills as we tread through hazardous waters.

The development of the Plimsoll line in the 1890 brought more safety for cargo and crew.

Sailors also recognized the need to stabilize their ships, and the gyroscope came into existence.

In 1852, a French scientist, Leon Foucault, discovered the principle and invented the first gyroscope. It remained a scientific toy until 1911 when an American scientist,

Elmer Sperry, patented the gyrocompass, an instrument of great importance in a variety of great navigational applications, not the least of which are automatic pilots and guidance systems in ships, aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. His company also developed massive rolling motion of the ship in the ocean.

If we are going to navigate the changing, tumultuous ocean of modern life successfully, we need a stabilizer, and I want to suggest that generosity is intended by God to serve as a personal gyroscope in the pitch and roll of modern materialism.

Look again on these verses of 1 Timothy 6:17-19:

17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

      18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

      19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Truth is that my checkbook, my credit card statements, and my savings account reveal my deepest beliefs, values, and priorities.

That is why God’s Word addresses the issue so often and why Paul returned to the subject at the end of his first letter to Timothy.

In 1 Timothy 6:3-16 his concerns have been captured by the words covetousness (“flee it”), contentment (“cultivate it”),  and character (“major on it”).

Now, in verses 17-19, he speaks directly to the issue of generosity.

 

A. Money is a paradox and must be handled with care

Paul warned against the passionate pursuit of money and wealth, but money is also a tool that can be used for the glory of God.

Paul’s message was to “those who are rich in this present world”, but this does not only apply to the top 10% rich people in this world.

Ex. Ted Turner (10 billion) vs. Bill Gates (100 billion)

Remember: 1.3 billion people make less than one dollar a day.

Remember: 100 million children are homeless

Remember: Millions die of starvation

Many animals have better homes than millions of humans!!!

In Acts 2:45 we read:

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Christian love is seen in action.

God’s laws tell us to give tithes and offerings to Him.

In the prophets, rich men are often sinful and corrupted

However, “the living God…giveth us richly all things to enjoy”, so we are allowed to enjoy our money.

It is “the love of money” that is the problem.

In Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 we read:

18 ¶ Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

      19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.

However, money can become a substitute for God and must be kept in it’s place.

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches

(1 Timothy 6:17a)

      We should not use money or wealth as the scorecard of our lives.

It should be “in God we trust”, not “in money we trust”

Trusting in money is foolish…See Proverbs 23:4-5.

 

B. Money gives the potential to make a difference, not just to make a living

1 Timothy 6:18 says:

That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

The God who provides for us richly expects us to respond richly by practicing good works.

Look a these scriptures:

* Matthew 5:16

* Ephesians 2:10

* Titus 2:13-14

* Titus 3:8

* Titus 3:14

* Hebrews 10:24

* Hebrews 13:15-16

* 1 Peter 2:12

Paul did not specify what these good deeds are.

Clearly, he had in mind acts of caring and compassion which meet the needs of people.

Those with money often find it easier to give money than time.

Note Matthew 10:8 that says:

freely ye have received, freely give.

And in Acts 20:35 we read:

have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Then finally in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 we find

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

      Generous giving is proportional giving

      Generous giving is joyful giving

      Generosity serves as a drain plug for greed in our lives

      Generosity is like a commanded lifestyle for God’s people

      -we are to be generous because God has been richly generous to us

-generosity is also a chosen lifestyle

 

C. Money needs the perspective of the eternal

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:19)

Wise stewardship accumulates eternal reward.

Giving and good works are an investment in eternity.

Remember the very words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21:

      Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

D.L. Moody: “It doesn’t take long to tell where a person’s treasure is. In 15 minutes, with most people, you can tell whether their treasure are on earth or in heaven.”

The richest times in our lives comes when we use our money to further God’s kingdom.

Ex: Oseola McCarthy died in 1999, doing laundry for 50 cents a load, using an old-fashioned washboard.

Surprisingly, she donated 150.000 dollars to the

University of Southern Mississippi. Where did she make that kind of money? She had lived carefully, and invested wisely.

“I had more money in the bank that I could use,” she said. “I can’t carry anything away from here with me, so I thought it best to give it to some child to get an education.”

She was embarrassed by all the attention, but when she was asked why she did it, she said“it is more blessed to give than to receive – I have tried it”

 

Generosity is a God-given gyroscope that brings stability to our lives.

 

5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

(Hebrews 13:5-6)

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