"Keep your lives (character, lifestyle) free from the love of money (from covetousness) and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never (never, certainly not, not at all, by no means) will I leave you (not to uphold, to let sink); never will I forsake you." (abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless; totally abandoned, utterly forsaken). So we say with confidence (we say boldly), "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can (man) mere mortals do to me?" (See Psalm 118:6) Here these Jewish believers and all believers hear God's promise for His Presence and Provision and earlier we saw His promise for Paradise – Mt. Zion (Heb. 12:22-24)
How can we be content and be free of the love of money? By knowing that Jesus is always with us, that He cares for us and meets all of our needs, relationally, spiritually and materially. How do we know He will care for us? Because He said He would: "For He Himself has said: "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU." (See Deut. 31:6; Joshua 1:5) The basis of real contentment is a response of faith to the Word of God (or to the God Who keeps His Word).
Both here and other verses emphasize that money or possessions are not evil but the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. "Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. "For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains." (1 Timothy 6:9-10). "The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money, he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income. This also is futile." (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
A note from an unsuccessfully successful prospector on display at a Wild West museum in South Dakota says: "I lost my gun. I lost my horse. I am out of food. The Indians are after me. But I've got all the gold I can carry." And many a man has lost his wife, family, friends and health all for the "deceitfulness of riches". (Matthew 13:22) History and our present times are filled with the laments of rich and powerful men, yet miserable men. "I have made millions, but they have brought me no happiness," said John D. Rockefeller. We hear similar comments from Andrew Carnegie, John Jacob Astor, Elvis Presley, Howard Hughes and King Solomon. With such bad advertisement, why do so many still chase after the bucks? Jesus had a way of getting to the bottom line when He spoke and He said it was because of the "deceitfulness of riches". People think that accumulating money will bring them peace, contentment, joy, etc., all the things God wants to give us for seeking Him. "Godliness with contentment is great gain." (1Timothy 6:6) Paul had learned the secret of contentment by learning the sufficiency of Christ's power and provision to accomplish God's will and purposes through him "whether he had plenty or was in want." (See Philippians 4:10-13) The Lord will always provide all we need to do His will and often give us more than we need. Willfulness, pride and lack of trust on the other hand will drive us to seek and accumulate money.
So on the negative side money is a poor master but can be a good servant (if properly stewarded). Money (all gifts from God) is a responsibility first and foremost but can be a blessing to God, others and ourselves if used wisely. But more importantly the key issue with materialism is an issue of our affections. "No servant 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" (Luke 16:13). It's a question of desire not rules. If we desire to please the Lover of our soul, we simply seek His desire on how to use the money He has given us. (John 10:27) The Bible says we did not earn it and we do not own it; God owns us and everything He gives us. (1 Cor. 4:7; 1 Chron. 29:10-13; Psalm 24:10)
But it is also an issue of faith because as we invest God's money in spiritual and eternal investments our heart is drawn closer and closer to the Lord and as we invest it in this world our heart is knit more and more to the world. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt. 6:19-21) And contrary to the prosperity gospel, you don't give to get (more money now on earth) but we are to give to please the Lord and receive His peace and contentment in this life and eternal rewards in heaven that are far greater than material riches. Scripture says that God may give more material resources to a person He knows will use it wisely and generously for His Kingdom. "For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous." (2 Cor. 9:10-11)
His precious Presence – "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." It is true that the Lord never forsakes any born-again believer in the sense of losing their salvation (John 10:28-29) but it is also true that His manifest Presence is promised and experienced by those who obey Him in all matters and certainly as it regards money and possessions. (There are approximately 2300 verses in the Bible on money and possessions compared to approximately 500 on faith and 500 on prayer.) "The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.] Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him." (John 14:21, 23)
The prophet Habakkuk is a great example of loving a Person more than his possessions as the Lord revealed to him how He was about to use an evil nation (the Chaldeans/Babylonians) to destroy the Jews. After questioning God for some time God led him to a place of faith where he could be joyful for God's Presence even in the midst of the devastating judgment about to come. "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior." (Habakkuk 3:17-19) The psalmist says the same: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Psalm 73:25) Even all the wealth of Solomon. O Lord please continue your work in us so that we can say the same. Amen.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1.What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life?
2. At the end of your life what would you like to be able to say about your use of income/wealth?
3. How can you know if you are serving God or money?
4. How can you exercise faith by investing earthly treasure in heaven (in the work of God on earth) and thus be drawn closer to the Lord? (See Matt. 6:19-21)
5.How "valuable" is the manifest Presence of the Lord to you? (See John 14:21.23) How does this relate to stewardship?
6. Do you desire to have the affections for God that Habakkuk and the psalmists do? (See Hab. 3:17-19; Psalm 73:25)