Friday, October 14, 2011

The Christian and His Possessions

When I finished preaching Matthew 6:19-34 a few weeks ago, I decided to put down some of the basic biblical principles for handling possessions and money. These are not comprehensive, but give a basic biblical framework for how we should think about our money and possessions. Most of the principles come from Matthew 6:19-34 and I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19. I would encourage you to read the passages before looking at the points below.

1. God is our Father. He loves us and will care for us. Therefore we should not worry. If he chooses to remove some of our possessions, it is for our good. This should also lead us to pray for our needs.

2. We will die. Therefore we need to make sure our possessions are being used to store up treasure in heaven.

 3. We should earn our money through honest, hard work that does not take advantage of the poor and weak.

4. Our possessions are gifts from God, even those possessions we have worked hard for. Possessions and work are part of God’s grace to us.

5. We are stewards of our possessions. A steward was someone left in charge of a house while the master was away. Jesus uses this model in Matthew 25:14-30. Paul also uses a similar idea in passages like Colossians 3:23-25. We will answer to our master with how we use our time, money and possessions.

 6. Wealth is not a vice or a virtue.

7. Poverty is not a vice or a virtue.

8. Both wealth and poverty come with temptations. When one is rich they tend to forget God and become proud. When one is poor they tend to doubt Him and grumble against him, often taking matters into their own hands. (See Proverbs 30:7-9) God is to be honored with our possessions, whether we are rich or poor. We are to trust in him and be generous with what he has given to us.

9. God wants us to enjoy our possessions. We should not feel guilty about what we own or about enjoying it. This does not mean we are selfish gluttons or live in luxury. It does mean we are to eat our food, drink our beer, sleep in our beds, read our books, play in our yards, and drive our cars with thankfulness and joy.

10. Those who are rich in this world are expected to be rich in good works. To whom much is given, much is required. The wealthiest Christians should be the ones doing the most good deeds. But these good deeds should be hidden, not paraded before men. (See Matthew 6:1-4)

11. Christians should be known for their contentment. We should not be proud when we have a lot. Nor should we disturbed when God removes some of our possessions from us. We should be content in all circumstances. (Philippians 4:11-13) In a world that always wants more, contentment is great witness.

12. The desire to be wealthy is sin. We should work hard, plan wisely and let God build our bank account as he sees fit. Proverbs 27:20 says, “The eyes are never satisfied.” You will not be satisfied when you get what you want, so be content with what you have.

13. A love of money can destroy someone’s faith and plunge them to ruin. (See I Timothy 6:9-10) We often joke about greed, but in the Scriptures it is a terrible sin. Greed can choke the spiritual life out of a man and send him to Hell.

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8