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

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