Money, Money, Money…
Greetings church! I missed you, last Sunday. An empty auditorium is kind of a sad place. I hope we will not have to continue meeting like this… for much longer. But who knows? There is something special; something magical; something, I guess, spiritual when the body of Christ meets together. When the church comes together, Christ meets with us. The bonds of connection which are formed as we worship together are addictive. I miss the assembly of Christ.
I guess it works virtually, too, but not as well. Watching this video and listening to music, even knowing you are doing it too, doesn’t quite feel the same. So, hang in there with me, again this week as we do virtual Los Alamos Church of Christ.
I am thankful that we have the technology to be able to connect this way. In the old days, I would have to send you a letter with my sermon written down.
Wait, that is what Paul did in 57 AD. Paul wanted to connect with the church in Rome. He didn’t have an iPad to send out his message. So, he did it by mail. I kind of know how he felt when he wrote…
Romans 15:30-33I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf… so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Let’s get to our lesson this morning from Romans. We are going backwards again to the middle section of chapter 13.
Remember, we are in the section of external situations that can upset church harmony. There are three mentioned here in chapter 13. They are… Politics, Money and Sex. All of these can mess with the fellowship in the church. Last week, we looked at sex.
--Sin in general harms the church.
--Sin across the board hinders the spread of the light.
--Sin, sexual sin for sure, damages the churches ability to bring the Day.
--Intentional sin hurts the church!
--Giving into sexual sin rips the guts out of the Gospel.
--Outbursts of anger damages the love we use to power the Gospel
--Our purity is the power of our message to drive back the darkness.
Last week, we made this point.
Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
We are to put on the cloak of Christ to be able to drive back the darkness. In order for us to spread the Gospel to the world we need to wear the armor of light which is the cloak of Christ!
Let’s check our tires from last week. Rubber meets the road assignment…
When tempted this week by intentional sin or tempted sin or outburst sin say, “I’m wearing the Cloak of Christ!” If you can take a moment before deciding to intentionally or when tempted or in the heat of the anger… Remember the Cloak of Christ.
But sin is not the only thing that can disturb the fellowship in the church. Money; the love of it, the mismanagement of it, the fighting over it can cause all kinds of problems in the church.
As Paul told Timothy…
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.
Listen to the words of Paul about money in this middle section of Romans 13…
Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
If we were going forward in the book of Romans, we would have just finished verse 7 where Paul tells the Christians in Rome to pay their taxes. We will look at taxes and politics next time. Here in verse 8 Paul expands the concept of not owing taxes to not owing anyone, anything but the debt of love.
Let’s dig into these 3 verses. I believe, in these three short verses, we have Three financial principles of the Christian life.
Financial Principles of the Christian Life #1 Owe no one anything.
In 1976 Tanya and I lived in Whitesboro Texas. I preached for the church there. I didn’t make a lot of money. We needed a refrigerator. I got a Sears credit card. (insert history of credit cards) I didn’t know anything about credit cards, except that I could walk into the Sears store and walk out with a refrigerator. From 1976 until 1986 I paid for that refrigerator at least 5 times.
It was shortly after this that I began to say, “Credit Cards are the work of the devil.” The average credit card interest is 17% this means, if you don’t pay it off immediately, you could end up paying for whatever you bought multiple times.
Leon Clendenen said many times, “If you can’t afford it now. You can’t afford it later.”
I am not a financial expert. I am not a financial adviser. I am not a financial anything. But I know that if you max out a bunch of credit cards. It will ruin your life. If you owe everyone, everything it will hurt. Financial problems are one of the leading causes for divorce. It can ruin your ability to do good! Financial recklessness can keep your light from shinning. It can limit your ability to do good!
Paul says, “Owe no one anything.” I understand you don’t technically owe a debt until it is due. Certainly, we should pay our bills on time. That is good! I also know it is hard to provide for you family. I know it is easy to get into debt and hard to get out. From the time I bought that refrigerator until last year I was like the dwarfs… “I owe. I owe. So off to work I go.”
I think Paul was on to something when he encouraged us to “Owe no one anything.”
Let me insert the Rubber meets the road challenge here, before we look at the other financial principles… If you are in a hole, stop digging. Work on a plan to be debt free. There are lots of resources. Work on it.
Financial Principle of the Christian Life #2 Owe love to each other.
NLT Romans 13:8 Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others.
Jesus told the parable of the debtor…
Matthew 18:23-33 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So, the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So, his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'"
Jesus’s blood opened the New Covenant. Those, whom he invites into the covenant, have all their sins covered; erased; forgiven. In fact, forgive is a financial metaphor. In the New Covenant, in the Kingdom of God your sins are erased from the ledger. “How much does Timothy Donald Stidham owe? His balance is zero. Because he is in the Covenant!” Therefore, because our debt has been released, we have obtained the continuing debt of love for others.
NJB 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ overwhelms us when we consider that if one man died for all, then all have died; his purpose in dying for all humanity was that those who live should live not any more for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life.
When we think about our money; when we are considering how to spend our money; when we are thinking about using that credit card… remember we owe everything to Christ who compels us to love others!
Principle #1 – Owe no one anything
Principle #2 – Owe everyone love
Financial Principle of the Christian Life #3 Live the Law of Love
NJB Romans 13:8-10 The only thing you should owe to anyone is love for one another, for to love the other person is to fulfil the law. All these: You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and all the other commandments that there are, are summed up in this single phrase: You must love your neighbor as yourself. Love can cause no harm to your neighbor, and so love is the fulfilment of the Law.
As we live our lives, the only “law” we need is the law of love. The Christian life is not a bunch of do’s and don’ts. It is not lived in legalism. We don’t look for loopholes or pronounce judgments on those who violate the law. Rather, we operate under the principle of, “What is the loving thing to do?”
Paul lists for examples which are pretty obvious.
--Adultery is not the loving thing to do. It destroys marriages. Adultery is Not loving others.
--Murder is not the loving thing to do. It kills people.
--Stealing is not very loving. It takes from another.
--Coveting leads to all kinds of hatred for others. Not loving.
It is important to understand that love is not a gushy feeling toward something, like I love Green Chili Cheese burgers. Rather, Love is an action based upon what God would have you do for the other. In any situation we simply ask…
--What is the loving thing to do?
--Who are we loving with this action?
--Is there another more loving action we could take?
Let me give another Rubber Meets the Road assignment. This one more immediate. Those of us who continue to make our salaries through the Covid-19 crisis need to “pay” those who would have worked for you.
Tanya has paid both her hair dresser and her Pilates instructor and her masseuse, whether or not they worked for her. Think of the people you would have paid, but aren’t and pay them anyway.
Paul gives us three financial principles to help us stay in harmony and spread the light.
Principle #1 – Owe no one anything
Principle #2 – Owe everyone love
Principle #3 – Live the Law of Love
Banner…Keep your promises
--money can stress you, your family and our church. Be faithful in keeping your promise to financial responsibility.
--We advance the kingdom by wearing the light of financial responsibility.
--Bless those financially around us.
Jesus says it this way…
Mark 12:28-34 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
We have two assignments this week…
Assignment 1 - consider a plan to be debt free.
Assignment 2 – Be generous with those who serve you.
Los Alamos Church of Christ
March 29, 2019