What Do You Value Above All Else?

Bible Book: 1 Timothy  6 : 11-16
Subject: Money; Stewardship; Christian Living
Introduction

The little girl bowed to pray and said, “O God, don’t let me buy junk with my money.” Why did she pray that prayer? She had received money for her birthday and she wanted to buy everything she saw with it. Her father advised her, “Honey, buy something nice with your money, don’t buy junk.” The little girl realized the power of the money to drive her toward something that would not be best and thus she prayed, “O God, don’t let me buy junk.”

Many people are spending their money and their energy on junk. How carefully we ought to pray, “O God, don’t let me spend my life, my energy, my talents and resources on things that are worthless.”

It is amazing to see what some people do with their money. Even the most ordinary items can become extremely valuable if they belong or belonged to somebody famous. Can you imagine paying $21,000 for somebody's old used toothbrush? That's what Napoleon's toothbrush sold for. Hitler's car was sold for more than $150,000. People will pay thousands to become the owners of a pipe that C. S. Lewis smoked, for Winston Churchill's desk, for a piece of sheet music written in Beethoven's own hand, or a house that Ernest Hemingway once owned. When Sotheby's auctioned off Jackie Kennedy Onassis' personal belongings, somebody shelled out $211,500 for her fake pearls and a set of JFK's golf clubs were sold for $772,500.

It is just as interesting to see whom people admire. World Almanac and Book of Facts surveyed eight graders regarding the people they most admired. Thirty-one names came out on top of the list. All of them were either movie stars or athletes. Not one of them was a religious leader, statesman, author, painter, doctor, astronaut or educator.

I would suggest to you that the things we treasure and the people we admire says a lot about us. In fact, what we love and those we admire can make a great difference in time and eternity. We must ask the question, “What Do You Value Most?” That is the issue Paul was addressing in our text for today. In order to value that which is best for us and for others, we need to see three points which Paul made when writing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-16

1 Timothy 6:6-16: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time -- God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”

Paul was writing to tell Timothy and those who read this letter how they are to live, what they are to value, and how to be ready when the time comes that one must face God.

First, he points out the action of ...

I. Fleeing

Paul declares that there is something we must flee. The word “flee” means to run for your life, to escape before destruction falls. Paul warned that there are things that can destroy us. Paul deals with the subject of material things, a love for the world and specifically, money.

Don’t be alarmed by the mention of money in church. You should be reminded that 2/3 of all the parables Jesus told dealt with money. John MacArthur states that Jesus said five times as much about money in the New Testament as he did about prayer, heaven or hell. Over 2,000 verses deal with the subject of money. What is that Paul is saying to Timothy and to us about this subject?

Let me say cleary that there is nothing wrong with having money that is honestly gained and properly used. In fact, God specifically blesses some people with money so they can have the gift of extraordinary giving. I know a few people like that, and what they give is staggering and does so much for the kingdom of God. When the Bible speaks about money in a negative way it is to warn us about the danger of lusting after money or trusting money as our source of joy, peace or satisfaction. Note some importants thoughts at this point regarding money as addressed by Paul.

Paul said that we are to ...

A. Flee the Passion of Riches

1 Timothy 6:10 is one of the most often misquoted verses in the Bible. Many people say that money is the root of all evil but that is wrong on at least two accounts. First, it is the love of money that is the root of evil and not itself. Secondly, this verse states in essence that the love of money is the root of ALL or MANY KINDS or TYPES of evil.

A pastor once received a call in the middle of the night. He was asked to visit someone who was dying and who wanted to know how to be sure of Heaven. Arriving at the house located in a squalid court, he found a man about 40 years of age with the pale look of death already appearing in his face. The preacher leaned over the bed and told him about the Savior. As he spoke, he noted a sudden gleam come into the man's eye, and he mistook it for a response to the Gospel. But the man was paying no attention to the pastor's earnest pleadings. Finally, the minister knelt by his bedside and prayed for his conversion. When he arose, the man was dead, but his fast-stiffening fingers were clasping the chain on the pastor's pocket watch. He had been a notorious burglar, and the sight of that gold treasure so occupied his attention that he couldn't concentrate upon the way of salvation. Instead, he had picked the preacher's pocket.

The love of money can turn a man or woman from God forever. Only a change of heart can give you change of attitude toward material things.

 Next Paul shares that we are to ...

B. Flee the Plunge of Riches

Look at verse 9; here Paul mentions the plunge of riches. Many people think that the wealth of this world will lift them up, but actually it can pull you down. Now don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with having wealth or material things. God never says that. In fact, ambition kept under God’s control is permissible and can be applauded; however, great care must be taken or the material things become a god in themselves and a man or woman may be pulled down by them. Let me tell you a story.

In `Success, Motivation, and the Scriptures,' William Cook describes a meeting in 1923 of a group of business tycoons. Together these men controlled unthinkable sums of wealth, and for years the media had trumpeted their success stories. On this day in Chicago they assembled to enjoy their mutual success. Dr. Cook relates what happened to these men in the years that followed:

"Charles Schwab, the president of the largest independent steel company, lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life and died penniless.

"Richard Whitney, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, served time in Sing Sing Prison.

Albert Fall, a former member of the President's cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.

Jesse Livermore, the greatest bear on Wall Street, committed suicide.

Leon Fraser, the president of the Bank of International Settlement, committed suicide.

Ivar Krueger, head of the world's greatest monopoly, committed suicide.

The success they celebrated proved illusory." [Leadership, Fall 1991. Page 45.]

You must be careful or you to may find your life not enhanced but ruined by material things.

Note that Paul also says that we are to ...

C. Flee the Pain of Riches

Paul speaks of the pain and sorrow that riches can bring. Abraham was rich. David was rich. Joseph of Aramethea was rich. Their riches never hurt them, because they did not love the world but loved God.

  • Balaam was ruined by money
  • Ahab killed a man to o train his vineyard
  • Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver
  • Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit and the church about money
  • All of these people were ruined by material things.

Riches can bring pain and that is why Paul was inspired to warn us to flee these things. John said that we must not love the world or the things in the world. He went on to say that one cannot love God and the world at the same time.

Some years ago, women working for the U.S. Treasury Department became ill. They were ladies who counted money in at the Treasury. Their illness puzzled doctors for days but the they discovered the cause. The women had high levels of arsenic in their bodies. The arsenic used to print the money in those days was seeping into their blood stream as they handled the money day in and day out. Friend, you and I can be made sick by the improper handling of money and possessions.

Not only did Paul tell us to flee the misuse of money but he used the idea of ...

II. Following

Paul said that the proper way to ensure the correct use of material things was for us to pursue or follow proper goals when it comes to possessions. What should those goals be?

The goals begin with ...

A. Actions

Righteousness ...  dikaiosunai ... correctness of feeling, action, or innocence

We must have as a goal a right kind of living. We should make it our daily goal to please the Lord, and this includes the obtaining and use of money and material things.

B. Attitude

Godliness ... eusebeian ... adoring the good, virtuous, or a devoted worshipper

Godliness speaks of attitude. I may do right without feeling right about it but I must never do wrong and not feel wrong about it. Godliness means my attitude matches my actions. This should be a goal in my life. Thus, material things are simply another way that I honor God and do what He teaches.

Following also speaks of ...

C. Agreement or Affirmation

Faith ...pistin ... the act of believing and agreeing with what God and accepting the consequences and decisions that agreement demands.

Faith means to affirm of agree with what God says about a matter. This is just as important with money and possessions as with anything else. We must have faith in God that leads us to act as He instructs is with money and things - it is a simple matter of faith in God, and in His Word.

Following also speaks of ...

D. Affection

Love ... agapeen ... love, benevolence

I must have a heart for God and for others. My love of money must never take the place of my love for God, for others, for souls  for missions or for His Church.

Following means ...

E. Adherence

hupomone ... patient continuance, stickability.

This speaks of our willingness to stick steadfastly to God’s plan for me, disregarding allurements to money, things or in any other direction contrary to His will.

Then we note that following speaks of ...

F. Assurance

Meekness ... prosdokao ... to watch in fear and hope, woth expectation

I must have the peace and gentleness of knowing that my plans are in God’s hands. He can open doors no one can shut and shut doors that no one can open.

There are some standard things regarding money that should be mentioned though they are not in our text. Tithe, pay your bills, stay out of debt as much as possible, live below your means, pray about everything you purchase, never defraud another person to make a bigger profit are some of the Biblical principles found in other places. Even if you have to change your line of work, make sure you observe these rules, otherwise you will live to regret it.

Paul spoke this entire process regarding wealth and things as ...

III. Fighting

Why did Paul call this a fight? Because the devil will see to it that you have plenty of temptation about money in your path. After all, he took Jesus up on a high place and showed Him all the kingdoms of this world. He told the Lord to bow down and worship him and all that He saw would be His. Jesus would not fall for that silly line, but know this, if Satan tempted the Lord Jesus in this manner, don’t you know he is going to tempt you and me even more?

Paul also calls this a good fight, why?

A. Good Cause - Your Good, For His Glory
B. Good Conflict - With the Evil One and Evil World
C. Good Captain - Christ, the One before whom we will give an account of all things that pass through our hands

A little girl called out, "Mommy, you know that vase in the china cabinet - the one that's been handed down from generation to generation?"

"Yes, dear, I know which one you mean. What about it?"

"Well, Mommy, I'm sorry, but this generation just dropped it!"

Friend, we are in danger of dropping the most precious of all gifts. Our generation is in danger of leaving the morals, the beliefs, and the standards that have blessed our nation, our families and the people of the world over for generations. We are in danger of turning our back on God and His Son. We need to come once again to the Lord and tell Him that it is not the gift we prize, but the Gift-giver that we worship. We must commit ourselves to love and adore the Lord above all else. We must fight the good fight of faith and pursue those things that are best for us and for our children.

Conclusion

A New York State woman unknowingly allowed her family jewels to be sold for 10 cents at a friend's garage sale. It happened after she took the jewels out of a bank safety deposit box to wear to a wedding. The bank was closed when she got home, so she put the jewels in an old shaving case and stuffed it in another box. In time, she forgot about the jewels, and later she gave the shaving case to a friend who was collecting items for a garage sale. By the time the woman realized what she had done, the precious gems had been sold to an unknown buyer for a dime.

In a sense, her pain is similar to Esau's. He too discovered what it's like to realize suddenly that he had lost something of great value. Although Esau was described as a "profane person," one who was not interested in the things of God, his wrong decision and subsequent sorrow can be a lesson for Christians. For instance, Hebrews 12 teaches that if we become bitter over the correction that comes our way because of our sin, we will lose the benefits of God's disciplining hand (v. 5). And that kind of loss is far greater than trading expensive jewels for almost nothing.

The most valuable thing in life is the human soul. Christ died and rose to redeem you and give something eternal – eternal life! Make sure that you have made that commitment to Him. Then, we need to put Him first by laying up treasures in heaven rather than merely do so on earth. Having money or material things is not necessarily evil, but putting them before God is idolatry.