Moments in the life of a Pastor

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39. The Myth of More – Part 3

Philippians 4:10-20

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

Instead of a coveting heart God wants us to have a:

  1. Controlled Heart

In Luke 12:15 a man told Jesus to tell his brother to divide up their inheritance, seeing what was really going on Jesus called him out for coveting: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”It is here that we see Jesus confronting the covetous heart and clearly contradicting the values of our American consumer culture based on coveting. When we have a covetous character, no matter what we have, it is never enough. The key to killing coveting is to cultivate:

A. Contentment

It’s here in Philippians 4:10-20 that we discover how to cultivate contentment and live in a coveting culture without giving in to the destructive desire for more. Paul learned and teaches us that contentment is not found in our circumstance but in Christ. Here in America we have amassed more materially than most, controlling much of the world’s wealth and yet it has not made us more contented, only more covetous. Peace is not found in a covetous heart but a contented heart. So how do we cultivate contentment in a culture that constantly demands bigger and better, more and more? First realize that:

  • Contentment comes from resting in Christ’s provision not constant consuming.

Philippians 4:19 says: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”When we rely on self instead of the Savior, we fall into the trap of continual trying. We need to rest in Christ and then resist the urge to compare ourselves to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”We compare careers, clothes, cars, just about anything and everything. Why do we compare, because that’s the way our society keeps score. We count points by possessions, but your possessions have nothing to do with your significance or importance. In Luke 12:15 Jesus reminds us how covetousness can consume us, taking over to the point where our real trust lies in our treasurers:“And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”You can have all the possessions and amass all the points and still live a pointless life. You can be a millionaire and be miserable or you can be poor and live a purposeful life. It’s not about what you have but who you have in Christ. We need to learn to admire without having to acquire. Next find your:

  • Satisfaction in the Savior not stuff

Success doesn’t come through acquiring stuff but through serving the Savior. Many of us are trying to find our joy in junk instead of in Jesus. While the world finds its power in possessions, we find it in a person, Jesus. It’s not what we possess but who we possess. Are you looking to substitutes or the Savior to fill your heart?

  • Rejoice in what you do have

Notice that Paul’s rejoicing in verse 10 revolved around who he had not what he had. His praise was focused on the people in his life not the possessions of this life. If we are not careful, we will base our praise on riches instead of relationships. We will make it about money instead of what matters. So, let me ask you, are you problem focused or praise focused? If we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of “When and Then” thinking: When I get married, then I’ll be happy or when I get divorced, then I’ll be happy. When we have kids, then we’ll be happy or when I get another job, then I’ll be happy. We need to remember that happiness is not getting whatever you want it’s enjoying whatever you have. The problem is that many of us are so busy buying into the belief that we have to have more that we never enjoy what we have. There is a story about a rich man that finds a man lazily man sitting by his boat. “Why aren’t you fishing?” asks the rich man. “Because I’ve caught enough fish for today.” “Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” the rich man asks. “What would I do with them?” replied the fisherman. “You could sell them for money, buy a better boat, go into deeper water, catch even more fish and make lots more money. Soon you could have a fleet of fishing boats and be rich like me.” So, the fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?” “You could sit down and enjoy life.” To which he replied, “What do you think I’m doing now?”

  • Learn to base your contentment on Christ not your circumstances

Paul says in VS 11-12 for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.”Satisfaction is not based on our stuff or our situation but on the Savior.

  • Look to give not to get

In verse 17 we see that Paul wanted to be a blessing not a burden. Are you focused on your burden or on being a blessing?

  • Give glory to God not greed

In verse 20 Paul gives the glory to God. Do you spend more time talking about stuff or the Savior? If you were to look at where you spend your time, treasures and talents would it point to glorifying God or getting things. Your credit card, checkbook and calendar reveal what you celebrate, is it Christ or consuming? The story is told of young Charles Darwin that one day he was eagerly holding one rare beetle in his right fist, another in his left and then suddenly he caught sight of a third beetle that he simply knew he must have for his collection. What to do? In a flash he put one of the beetles in his mouth for safekeeping and reached for the third beetle with his now free hand. But the mouth-imprisoned beetle squirted acid down Darwin’s throat, so that in a fit of coughing he lost all the beetles.Contentment kills coveting in the same way coveting kills contentment!Are you trying to find your contentment in Christ or in the culture?

 

 

 

 

 


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38. The Myth of More – Part 2

Exodus 20:17-18

“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” 18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.”

One of the mistakes we often make with the 10 commandments is to look at them as just a list. When we do, we see them in a descending scale from greatest to least and so we see the last command, not to covet, as less dangerous or destructive. But the scary truth is that coveting leads to breaking all of God’s commands, how you might ask? Remember last time as we looked at King David and saw the start to his sin by breaking the tenth commandment, coveting his neighbor’s wife. That led to adultery, which broke the seventh commandment. Then in order to steal Bathsheba, breaking the eighth commandment, he committed murder and broke the sixth commandment. He broke the ninth commandment by lying about it, which brought dishonor to his parents, breaking the fifth commandment. He didn’t put God first, breaking the first and second commandments, which dishonored God’s name, breaking the third commandment. Just because coveting is last on the list doesn’t mean its least, it has an effect on all the other commandments. But David is not the only one in danger of sliding down the slippery slope of sin. When it comes to coveting and the commandments we have to ask: Commandment 1, how many of us have put money and possessions ahead of God? Commandment 2, how many have readily bowed at the altars of materialism and greed instead of bowing to God? Commandment 3, how many have blasphemed the name of the Lord in an effort to acquire things? Remember that disregarding God’s Word to obtain what you want in life is blaspheming. Commandment 4, how many have desecrated the Sabbath, refusing to rest because we have made it about money? Commandment 5, how many parents are dismissed, cast aside and dishonored by children too busy chasing careers to care for them?  Commandment 6, how many people have been killed because somebody wanted something that belonged to them? Commandment 7, how many marriages have been torn apart because we have become so caught up in earning our salt, that we have neglected our sugar? By the way coveting and lust are in the same family, they are first cousins. Commandment 8, how many have seen their covetous spirit go from attitude to action through stealing? Commandment 9, how many have tried to cover up their covetous spirit by lying, or because they are envious of others have given in to gossip and lie about them? Coveting corrupts us, causing us to rely on self instead of the Savior, instead of turning to God we turn to greed. But coveting doesn’t just corrupt it also causes us to become:

  1. Callous

David became so focused on getting that his heart became callous to the things of God. What a contrast between David’s calloused heart and Uriah’s caring heart. Uriah was focused on God and the field of battle, because he had a faithful heart. David was focused on himself and his flesh because he had a fickle heart. Coveting doesn’t just affect us it infects those around us. Coveting doesn’t just corrupt us it brings catastropheon the whole community and even the country. God told David that his choice to covert came with consequences. The firstcost was the life of the baby, but it also brought chaos to his kingdom and the whole country. Coveting cause a fracture in his family that led to his son fighting him for control. But it doesn’t just infect it makes us ineffective.It was coveting that brought catastrophe for both the nation of Israel and Achan when he chose greed over God, Joshua 7:19-21 says: “19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”After the resounding success when the walls of Jericho come crashing down now God’s people are defeated at the small town of Ai because one man chose coveting over God’s commands. Is there any covetousness hiding in your heart? What is it that you long to possess is it priceless and eternal or petty and temporal? How can you know if you have a coveting character, how do we diagnose discontentmentin our lives? Do you ever find yourself saying, or thinking “If only I had…”? Do you do a lot of grumbling and complaining, like the people 1 Corinthians 10:10 speaks about? Do you pout or withdraw when things don’t go your way? Left unchecked coveting can lead to depression as our focus on what we don’t have overshadows what we do. Do you struggle with pessimistic attitude, those who covet tend to be negative about most things, because they are focused on what they don’t have rather than on what they do have. They see the glass as always half empty instead of half full. Are you jealous and envious of what others have like those in 2 Corinthians 12:20 were? Fault finding can be a sign, the need to invent reasons for their lack and others gain in order to placate the emptiness of their own heart and life.Are you preoccupiedwith your possessions, like the rich man in Luke 12:16-21? Do you find yourself filled with anxiety and fear, Philippians 4:6-7? Coveting fills us with worrying about what we don’t have instead of worshipping who we do have. Misery can be a sign, people who will tell you how miserable their lives are tendto be full of coveting. They always want what others seem to have; they look for happiness in getting instead of giving. They think stuff will satisfy but the truth is satisfaction comes through serving not selfishness. Are you stingy with what God has given you, Proverbs 28:22? Does God get your leftovers, Malachi 1:6-14? Do you love things and use people rather than using things and loving people, Romans 13:8-10? Unthankfulness can be a sign. We need to realize that coveting will rob and ruin our relationships, that the conclusion to coveting is always chaos. Coveting causes us to trade peace for problems. So, what about you is there any coveting lurking in your heart?