I Timothy 6:6-10; 17-19: Financial Stewardship
I have made serious financial mistakes. You almost certainly have as well. What is the one item that comes to your mind that you wish you hadn’t sunk so much money in to? When I was a teenager, I spent all the money I had saved working on the farm for the last five years on a computer. I wanted a computer primarily so I could use it to play computer games. I had begged my dad to let me buy one for two years in a row and he finally decided to just let me do it. I learnt a ton from this experience. I think I looked at every computer there was on TradeMe. And then finally I choose one. Unfortunately, within six months I was over computer games. And worse than that a year after I brought it, it had depreciated to be only worth half its original value. Today, ten years or so down the line, it is worth maybe five dollars at a garage sale. That was a serious financial mistake, and it reveals the priorities of my heart while I was in high school.
We make often make terrible financial decisions because the priorities of our hearts are in the wrong place. Money is like a stethoscope that allows a doctor to hear how our hearts are beating. The way you handle your money reveals your heart. Even if you are very conservative with your purchases. Greed is a sin doesn’t necessarily involve any spending at all. Covetousness is a sin that usually involves giving everything you have to get the next greatest item. But both of these sins come from a heart that thinks money or the things you can get from money ultimately satisfy. Money is an idol in both situations. Idolatrous hearts love money and will do all kinds of evil to get it. The things you spend your money on and don’t spend your money on show what your heart values.
Some critics have accused Paul of being bipolar. This is one passage that could serve as ammunition for this kind of argument. If you read this passage carefully it does seem that Paul is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He says that “if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content,” in verse 8, but then in verse 17 he says, “as for the rich in this present age, charge them not to set there hope on riches but on God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” So, what are we to do with money: enjoy it or despise it? I originally thought I was going to have to sort of pick or choose one half of Paul’s instructions and leave the others for another sermon. However, I found Joe Rigney’s book The Things of Earth incredibly helpful. Thinking about this passage, he suggests that the key to understanding it is to recognise that Paul is viewing money in two different relationships to God. He has two sets of goggles that he looks through. The rest of the bible also uses these two perspectives. In verses 6-10 he asks us to look at God and money in opposition to each other. When you put money beside God it looks like rubbish in comparison and begins to seem useless. In verse 17-19 he asks us to consider God and money as complementary to each other. Your money is complementary to you in your relationship to God when you use it as a tool to serve and enjoy Him.
We are going to look through both of these lenses today so that we can get a grasp of how God would have us orientate our hearts and organise our wallets in relation to our money. The greatest cause of our foolish use of money is that we have prioritised the wrong things in our heart, and in this passage Paul wants to re-orientate the way that we think about money in relation to God. “Because God is a greater possession than anything money can buy, we should use our money in ways that help us enjoy God better.” That I think is the main thrust of what Paul is saying. It is his main idea.
I am going to structure this sermon around the two little sections on money in this passage. The first section from 6-10 outlines God and not money should be the greatest treasure of our hearts. The second section in verses 17-19 highlights that we must use our money in ways that help us better enjoy God.