Monday, March 18, 2019

The Christian Wealth Ethic

Spent 2 weeks on WORK ETHIC  (moral views of work)

This week = WEALTH ETHIC  (moral view of wealth, money, possessions

Are many scriptures that address this:
The Bible devotes approximately 500 verses to prayer, BUT over 2,000 verses to money & possessions

One of every 10 verses in the Gospels deals with money (in some form) and over half the parables have money as their theme.

The recorded sayings of Jesus deal with money more than any other subject except the Kingdom of God.
Question:  Is money that important to God??  Answer:  No.  BUT, (a) it's important to us (materialism)
                                                                                           and     (b)  WE are important to God!!

  • The Bible deals with the proper attitude toward money and the proper acquisition OF money.
  • It instructs us concerning borrowing, lending, signing for other people's debts, charging interest and paying taxes
  • It talks about financial planning; saving, investing and sharing our money.
  • It addresses earning an honest wage and paying and honest wage.
  • It instructs us to honor our personal debts, to give assistance to the poor and pay a tithe to God in support of His work.
  • It applauds the wise use of money and condemns the foolish use of money.
  • Scripture contains financial advice for the rich, the poor, the middle class.
  • It talks of wealth being both a blessing and a curse.  (depending on how you handle it...)
  • And says the way we use our money can lead to eternal rewards ... or eternal losses.
That = reason enough to give the subject consideration!!

Old Testament View = mostly positive  examples:  Job, Abraham, King Solomon  Prov. 10:22

New Testament View = never condemns but .. are many warnings!!!
Examples:  Rich Fool, Rich Young Ruler - Matt. 19:22-23, Luke 16:13  -  Doesn't mean can't have money

So.... views vary!!
#1.  "Wealth is bad" - it seduces  1 Tim. 6:9-10 - "love of" not $$ itself.
hence, Vow of poverty/ monasticism

#2.  "Wealth is good" = example:  health and wealth message - Matt. 7:7-11
This rose at a time when we are most blessed, wealthiest, mainly in US

#3.  Wealth is neutral - amoral - neither good or bad - it's a tool.
Can be a blessing, can be a curse 
Reformers - "a wonderful servant, a terrible master"

So... how should we approach wealth??
Answer:  there is a Biblical Principle to cover all views... ie:  Stewardship 
Definition = manager - comes from two Greek words meaning house law, house rule, govern household
English equivalent = "economy"  New Testament Greek = Stewardship!

Concept is ancient - introduced in Garden of Eden  Gen. 2:15, 1:28

Implies:  (1)  WORK  (labor, effort, diligence)
              (2)  RULE  (have dominion, take charge, manage - take care of, not abuse)
              (3)  RESPONSIBILITY - (comes with privilege) but when they violated trust - removed
              (4)  PRIVILEGE - the manager benefits from the estate
              (5)  PRODUCTION - fruitfulness.  Example:  parable of talents

            #1.  You have been given a garden - an estate - a house to rule (govern) a stewardship position
God has granted you great blessings.

           #2.  It is sizable  Example:  household income stats:
Your household (annual) income ______
compared to:  Russia   $11,700
                    Mexico   $11,700
                    Brazil      $ 7,500
                    China      $ 6,100
                    Egypt      $ 3,100
                  Philippines $ 2,400
                  Kenya        $ 1,900
                  Rwanda    $ 1,100
                  Liberia        $   781
                  Burundi       $  673
Poverty level - USA - 2018 = family of 4 - $25,100
Worldwide median household income = approximately $10,000

          #3.  it consists of more than money
talents, abilities, opportunities, children

          #4.  You are to MANAGE it - 
                A.  according to His directives
                B.  whether large or small -
Example:  contrast lottery winners, etc.
Oddly, the more you win (lottery), the more likely to end up bankrupt
Study from 3 Universities (Vanderbilt, U. of Kentucky, U. of Pittsburgh)

If won less than $10,000, no issue
if won $50K to 150K, bankrupt within 5 years!

Compare National Endowment of Financial Education estimates:
70% of people who come into large sums of money unexpectedly = broke within 7 years
70% of NFL players broke within 5 years
60% of NBA players broke within 5 years
Bigger the pot?  More likely to bankrupt!!

Stewards are expected to be:
(1)  hard working
(2)  trust worthy  - 1 Cor. 4:1-2
(3)  productive  (parable of talents)
(4)  SAVVY  ( parable of 'unjust steward')  commended for his SAVVY, practical knowledge, ability to handle situation - Luke 16:8

Christian Stewardship requires you:
I.  Know the Master - His directives work for all, however, Matt. 7:21

II.  Know the Master's Will - ie:  manage according to His Word(s) - not world's!!

III.  Respond as He directs
(example:  Tithing.   Make good economic sense???  We don't work on immediate economy or immediate return

IV.  Don't forget who owns the estate  (parables of the 'absent master')

On one hand, He'll not ask you to serve beyond your ability, means
However, Luke 12:48

Summary Application:  (1)  Accept the Savior - you can't work, buy, manage your way into heaven.

                                  (2)  Surrender to the Master
                                 (3)  Manage HIS estate (as a steward)

                                 (4)  (Periodically( revisit, re-access  this issue

                                 (5)  Remember - earthly wealth is temporal,
                                                         heavenly wealth is eternal!!

Closing Scripture:  Matt. 6:31-33

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Christian Work Ethic - Pt. 2

Last week = 2 Thess. + the Christian Work Ethic
Def. - Work Ethic = a moral view of work (right/wrong)
Adjectives = strong, positive, solid, poor, faulty, insufficient

For Christians should be - "Biblical (Scriptural, Christian) Work Ethic".
We will spend roughly 1/3 of our life on work.
ie:  God sets the standard for us.
     God reveals the standard to us!! - Heb. 1:1-2

BUT the Biblical Work Ethic is more than "work hard"
It includes:  honesty, integrity, quality, productivity
Also addresses frugality, management, stewardship, which is the absolute center of the work concept.- because is related to money!  Could be borrowing, lending, saving, investing, etc.

QUESTION:  Why adopt a Biblical Work Ethic?  (over other Work Ethics?)
Examples = work to get by, because have to, to get stuff, to get rich.  OR don't work if don't have to..

ANSWER:  .IF this = God's standard (will)
                    THEN this = (1) morally right - work is not an amoral condition
                                        (2)  practically best
ie:  most likely to produce what God desires FOR you and,
most likely to result in what God expects FROM you.

IF the Christian Work Ethic = morally right and practically best, let's look for some specifics!
Why embrace this Work Ethic?  What is it designed to do?
Should be able to see a moral reason why to embrace Christian Work Ethic in following verses.

#1.  To Provide for Family - 1 Tim. 5:8 - talking about people who are capable
Obviously about $$, material things..... but is MORE than money!!!
example:  term "home MAKER" = (1) WORK  (2) with a Product
Prov. 31:10-31 = stay at home mom with a Biblical Work Ethic!!

#2. to Provide beyond the family  Acts 20:33-35 -   Eph. 4:28
Examples:  Old Testament - "poor tithe" - additional 10% given every 3rd. and 6th. year to provide for the poor.
                field gleaning - only go over field once when harvesting.  anything left behind was for the poor to gather.  Someone worked hard to make that crop, but leavings for the poor.

#3.  to benefit society - especially own community.  Prov. 19:17

#4.  for personal satisfaction/ fulfillment
Work is NOT the curse!!!  Gen. 2:15, 3:17-19 - curse affected our work

Christian Work Ethic does not remove the toil from work.  BUT can certainly add a level of satisfaction!!
Eccles. 2:24, 3:12-13

#5.  to honor God by obedience, by job well done.  Matt. 25:21, John 17:4, Col. 3:23-24
"God called/gifted/enabled me.... therefore I honor Him with this..."

#6.  to expand His Kingdom - (here/now "on earth")
Example:  1 Thess. 4:11-12
ie:  earn respect --> gain favor --> gain a hearing! --> win a soul  (or at least "make Him known")

#7.  to lay up treasure! - Matt. 6:19-21

We (Christians) are called to:
(1) adopt a Biblical Work Ethic  (embrace, pursue)
(2)  develop that Work Ethic - which requires knowledge of God's Word.
(3)  Practice a Biblical Work Ethic - ie:  act on it/ live it out
(4)  model a Christian Work Ethic - 2 Thess. 3:7-9
(5)  teach a Biblical Work Ethic  (a) especially to young ones (children and grandchildren)                                    in more than Sunday School lesson

IF you have a degree of success, should talk to your kids about HOW it's done!!

NOTE:  Success doesn't necessarily mean rich!!
             May be survival!!

AGAIN:  Work (alone) does not commend you to God, does not give you salvation!!

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 15:56-58

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Christian Work Ethic

2 Thess. 3:1-5 - Paul  1) requests their prayers
                                  2)  expresses confidence in their walk

THEN - abruptly changes tone!!  2 Thess. 3:6-15
(talking about people who are capable and competent to hold down a job)

This = briefly addressed in the 1st. letter - 1 Thess. 4:11-12

Question:  Is this an ongoing problem in the Thessalonian church?  Is it related to Christ's return?  (they expected Christ would return immediately, so why work?)

Answer:  don't know.  But, DO know ...
(1)  Paul is intense in addressing this  (forceful language)
(2)  Paul addresses this as a significant MORAL issue!!

(1)  The language of 2 Thess. 3:6 and 2 Thess. 3:12 - "in the name of ..... command"
(2)  the charge to the church - 2 Thess. 3:13 - "you do what's right"  (by contrast)
(3)  the reference to church discipline - 2 Thess. 3:14

All adds up to this being a Serious issue!!!

This passage = a small part of Scripture used to define and describe - the Christian Work Ethic or the Biblical Work Ethic.
Which is largely ignored or misunderstood today, AND which needs to be taught and promoted!!

The phrase is self-defining:
WORK ETHIC = a moral view of work!  (the rights/wrongs)  Very seldom referred to as a Biblical Work Ethic.  No reference to Scripture.

The English phrase 1st. used in 1945, however the concept is as old as Adam.

Hebrew understanding = spend 1/3_ of life @ work (in many cases more than that)
So.... how to do it Right?

Their answer:  (1)  God sets the standard for us
                      (2)  God reveals the standard to us

Brief look at the Hebrew view in Proverbs:
          Prov. 10:4-5 -  disgraceful
          Prov. 10:26 -  irritating
          Prov. 12:11 - 'get rich quick' schemes
          Prov. 18:9 -  example from 'The Message' - "slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism"
          Prov. 20:4 - sluggard - lazy
          Prov. 22:29 - quality work = recognized and rewarded
Summary:  Prov. 24:30-34 -

This Old Testament view carried over into New Testament Christians, New Testament Church
With Additional word(s) from Christ & Apostles
1 Example:  Matt. 25:26 - "wicked, lazy servant" - harsh words

This comes to us in 21st. Century America by way of:
#1.  The Protestant Work Ethic  (Reformation, Luther, Calvin)
Example 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' - Max Weber - 1905
Led to:
#2. The Puritan Work Ethic  (focus = godliness.  outcome = success!!) - part of the reformed movement
Led to:
#3.  The American Work Ethic - came directly out of the Puritan W.E. which came directly out of the Protestant W.E. which came directly out of the Scripture
ie:  became part of our social and cultural identity   Example:  "The American Dream"

Problem today = (1)  Biblical roots are unknown, forgotten, misunderstood
(2)  "work ethic" appears on the wane (declining)
IF roots = forgotten/denied...
Attitude = THEN  why embrace a former generation's "Work Ethic"???

BUT - for Christians!!! this should be no dilemma!  Should be Biblical/Scriptural Work Ethic.  Honor God by work habits.  Are obligated to God's revelation, God's plan.

2 Notes:  #1.  Biblical Work Ethic addresses far more than work hard!!
              #2.  Labor (alone) does not commend you to God!!

Distinguish:  (1)  How you come to God - Eph. 2:8-9
           with  (2)  How you live after coming to Christ - Eph. 2:10

Biblical Work Ethic addresses more than "work hard".
Related issues:
honesty, integrity, dependability
giving your employer an honest day's work
giving your employees a fair day's wage
quality workmanship, productivity
self-discipline, personal responsibility
community obligations - building wealth, sharing wealth, handling wealth  (stewardship)

Personal satisfaction with work
Rest from work!!
laying up wealth (treasures) in Heaven
Building up the Kingdom on earth!

And:  Work Ethic goes beyond vocation, paying job.  Includes how you work at marriage, childraising, in home - Prob. 31   "wife of noble character" - model Work Ethic!!

Your work/labor (in Christ) is very important, BUT your coming to God THROUGH Christ is essential!!

Closing Scripture:
Col. 3:23-24