(091) The Idol of Money

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Topical: The Idol of $$$

1 Timothy 6:6-10

October 18, 2009

Main Point(s) of sermon:

·         Money is one of the biggest idols in our lives.

·         The desire to be rich (for its own sake) is a sin.

·         Giving is a spiritual discipline just like prayer or Bible reading.

·         Giving is a vital investment in the work of the church.

Objectives of sermon:

·         To help us remove the idol of money through the grace of giving.



·         027, 077, HP 06, 090,

·         Luke 16, 1 Tim 6,

·         Listen to Stewardship Sermon

·         “Preach for Commitment”, Leftovers

Scripture reading: 1 timothy 6:6-10


An idol is anything we worship above God. Worship does not necessarily mean building temples, but rather honoring something, making sacrifices for it. It means to love and adore.

·         Money is one of the biggest idols in America, arguably the biggest.

When I spoke of being shaped unknowingly by the world, nowhere is this truer than our view of money. If we are honest, we (me included) simply don’t believe what the Bible says about money.

·         We are that immersed in the world.

When Peter preached about giving, he joked about our habit of saying “If you are visiting...” But the idolatry and giving part does apply to all of us. The specifics of where to give change.

·         I hope to offend all of us a little.


Our world is run on money, and all our life we are taught to view success on money and the things it buys. Help us to see how temporary it is, and set our minds on eternal things.

defined by money

The Bible talks a lot about money (there are many statistics, not sure which are accurate). That’s because it’s such as huge part of our existence. One third of our life is spent earning it, another third spending it, and the rest is sleeping.

·         Our life is defined by money, if we make a lot we are successful, if we don’t we aren’t.

·         We make constant comparisons.

We never have enough or make enough – when I graduated from college, I didn’t make very much, and wanted to make just a little more. I have gotten several raises since then, but still want a little more.

·         Somehow my spending has managed to keep up.

More stuff won’t make you happier. We know this because we now have what we thought would make us happy 4 years ago, but we are not happier. Ecclesiastes is a prime example.

·         Ad agencies work on creating discontentment.

·         Contrast that to what Paul says:


1 Timothy 6:6-10  6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,  7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 

Given that we are not traveling preachers, I think we can reasonably add “shelter” to that list. Given that list, I think all of us have reason to be content. But we are not.

·         Here is the part we don’t believe:

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.  10 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.

Do you catch that? Paul is warning against wanting to be rich. That’s crazy and totally counter-culture. That’s un-American!

Being rich is not a sin (as we will see in a minute), but pursuing wealth is dangerous to our souls.

Q   Do you hear this verse quoted at Amway conventions!

I remember being invited to an Amway meeting and had a rare moment of clarity, that the huge emphasis on getting more money, it was taking advantage of their greed.

·         It’s easy to poke fun at Amway and other “MLM” groups, but any pursuit of money is dangerous.

A cruel god

So why is this such as big deal? Because sin is that which separates us from God.

Matthew 6:24  No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Money is a cruel master – it demands all of your time, energy, and allegiance, all for temporal things that will not last. God also requires all of your time, energy, and allegiance, but in order to give us what we really want.

·         Money fails us, God doesn’t.

Is it a sin to be rich?

Some passages make it sound that way, such as James (speaking to non-Christians) and statement to Rich Young Ruler.

1 Timothy 6:17-19  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.  18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,  19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Riches are dangerous, but not evil. In fact, they are a powerful tool. It is not a sin to be rich, but those who are blessed have obligations.

Notice the three things Paul says to the rich (BTW: Paul would have considered pretty almost all of us rich):

1. Don’t be proud of your riches.

2. Don’t place your security in them.

3. Use them for God’s glory.


God’s view of riches is again in direct contrast to ours: We are blessed to be blessing. Nothing belongs to us, it is all God’s. We may think that we earn it, but:

NIV Deuteronomy 8:17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth...

The theological term is “stewardship.” It means we’re managers, not owners, like a Costco manager can’t take or give away stuff.

·         We are God’s portfolio manager, are we managing God’s money well, or do we have a Madoff scheme going? 

·         If we are a bad investment, he will not give more to us. When he gives us more, it is to be used to bless others.

God blessed us so that we can be a blessing and the question is not how much do I have to give away but “how much of God’s stuff can I keep?”

·         Driscoll: Put Jesus’ name on your credit card.

Conflict of interest

Admittedly, there seems to be a bit of a conflict of interest here: Money is dangerous so give it all to me, I mean my church!

·         But this is something I both believe in and practice.

How many jobs require giving back part of your income to the company? But Marilyn and I willing do it because we believe it glorifies God, builds his kingdom, and benefits our souls.

·         We just lost a portion of income and we’re scrambling, but not giving isn’t even an option.

I would do this for free if I could. Micah and Cecil do – they pour themselves out for the love of God and the body. All of the leadership give a significant portion of their income.

·         Tithing (or something like it) is a requirement for eldership and deaconship.

·         They have to pay us to work for free!

The Gospel of Joy

Ä  I under-preach on the topic.

I have said many times that anything God tell us to do will leave us happier, that in the end we will realize that we gained everything we really want and lost nothing we will really miss.

·         Money easily becomes an idol which steels away from us what we really want: God himself.

So when God calls us to use our money “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share...” it will bring us greater joy, in at least two ways:

1. When we give, we are acting more like our Father and that brings us joy.

Jesus was and is a generous giver, and it is a joyful response to be the same.

It is also built into the very fabric of who we are: “It is more blessed to give than receive.” (Act 20:35) What we really want (though we don’t believe it yet) is to give.

Spiritual discipline

Giving is a spiritual discipline, just as much praying or reading the Bible.

2 Corinthians 8:7   7 But as you excel in everything- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you- see that you excel in this act of grace also.

When I look at signs of maturity, giving is a key one. When I find that a person has started tithing, it excites me as a sign of spiritual health and commitment to the church.

2. When we give, we knock down the idol of money and put God in his rightful place.

Money tries to God’s place in many ways. In theory, money is simply a way of exchanging our time and talents for someone else’s time and talents. In reality, it’s much more than that.

Think what you want in wishing for $1,000,000. What is behind that desire? Security that comes from God? Happiness that can’t be found in things? Beauty of a good view?

·         Money as control – of our life, circumstances or others, but only God is sovereign.  

·         Money as status – God should be our identity.

·         Money as security – God is the one who provides.

·         Money as enjoyment – but the joys it brings are temporary, God’s glory is permanent.

If we seek God at each of these points, he gives us these things far better than money.

Ä  Up to this point, all of this applies to anyone who is a Christian. If Jesus is really Lord then he must be Lord of your checkbook. Everything you have is his.

Ä  Now specifics for congregation.

God’s appointed provision

There’s an unconscious misperception that “no matter what I give to the church, God will provide.” He could provide, but He often doesn’t. He also could have angles preach the Gospel.

·         We are his provision.

In the OT, the temple and the priests were solely supported by the people. In NT as well as OT, tithes and offerings were how God provided for the spiritual care of His people.

·         If we don’t give to the church, there is no one else.

·         God wants His work to be supported by His people.

Some giving stats

I asked Peter for some financial info. This may come across as a little depressing, but it’s the facts of where we are:

As the bulletin shows, giving falls short every month. Thanks to a large gift, we aren’t in debt, but that gift is running out and (at current rate) will last to the end of the year.

·         I know that times are tough for everyone, but I think there has been a failure on our part (as elders) to teach on giving.

Of the 50 or so households who attend the church, Only 10 or so give on a regular, substantial basis, 4 of whom are leaders.

If half of those who attended the church were to tithe on an average income of $40,000, the church would be running completely in the black and would have some room to work with.

·         I don’t know where you are at, and how much you give specifically is between and God.

·         Giving is as much a part of your faith as prayer, and I can challenge you to be giving.

Should Christians tithe?

Of course this brings up the question: “How much should I give?”

The word “tithe” means “ten percent.” Some believe it is an OT rule made obsolete by the NT, while others regard it as a sound Biblical guideline.

·         OT: Closer to 25% when everything is factored in.

Paul gave four basic principles that we should pursue: give consistently, give proportionally, give sacrificially, and give cheerfully.


Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income... 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 NIV

For I testify that [the Philippians] gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. 2 Corinthians 8:3 NIV

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV 

I can’t tell you how much to give, as much as I would like say “10%,” but I can tell you God expects his children to give consistently, proportionally, sacrificially, and cheerfully.

·         When Jesus moved the focus from outward to inward, the result was harder requirements, requiring a work of grace to follow.

Investing in your church

Q   Where should you give?

Give to what you think is a good investment. If you believe in what TGCC is doing and want to be a vital part, then serve in the church, pray for the church, and give to the church.

·         I have known many people who are more inclined to give to various causes than their church because it’s more sexy.

But if you don’t think that this church is a worthy investment of your money, should you really be investing your time here?

Another way to look at it (from Driscoll): We treat our house way better than a hotel room because we are invested in it. Do you treat the church like a hotel or home?

Putting it all together

Q   Have I made anyone mad yet?

Q   Am I meddling in things you want me to leave alone?

Q   Does it bother you that I am talking about this stuff, connecting money to spirituality?

Because I believe that God is good, and all of his ways are pleasing, I genuinely believe that I am giving you good news, a way to have more what you really want – God himself.

In the words of Paul:

“...thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

Q & A

During worship:

·         Do you worship money?

·         Are you giving joyfully, sacrificially, and consistently?

·         Are you, as a part of this church, making a substantial investment in the church?

·         If not, why not?

1. Don’t want to give up things – do they mean more to us that our own soul?

2. finances are is shambles?

·         Talk to your spouse and start somewhere.

Prayer: Help us desire you above all else.  

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