“BLESSINGS OF HAVING LESS” By Pastor YAU
Text: I Timothy 6:6-10. November 9, 2008.
1) When the economy collapses: Here are some of the headlines on the economy today, October 15, 2008: Stocks plunge anew as data points to recession; Economy shows its pain, rebound will take time; Fed: Country sank into deeper economic rut; Retails plunge 1.2 percent in September; EU and US call for a global summit to reshape banking; just to list a few. Last Thursday, October 9, 2008, the DOW index hit its lowest point in the past 5 years to reach below 8,000. Ironically, just a year ago on that same day, October 9, 2007, the DOW hit the highest in history passed 14,000.
2) When everybody suffers loss: Besides the huge losses posted by financial giants such as Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, AIG, Wachovia Bank and many others, everyone who has a retirement account, those who have savings and invested in stocks and mutual funds have lost all the growth in the past 5 years. New unemployment rates grow to over 6 and ½ percents and many more job cuts are expected in the near future. Many nation-wide franchised businesses are closing hundreds of their stores and will lay off tens of thousands of workers. The list seems growing everyday.
PROBLEMS OF HAVING MORE:
1) More has no end: “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) King Solomon was known for his wisdom and wealth. But after he had accumulated all that his heart desired, he found out that his heart was never satisfied. This is true through out history. No rich man will say he is rich enough so he will stop getting richer. The more he has, the more he still wants to have. The vicious cycle of greed pushes many rich people to the brink of down fall.
2) More has a price: “The sleep of a laborer is sweet whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.” (Eccl. 5:12) No one knows how many rich people have lost how many sleepless nights in recent weeks when the market plunged into 5-years low. The more one has the less sweet sleep he may have. People who have more have less peace of mind or sweet sleep at night.
3) More is uncertain: “Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19) These are the words of the Lord Jesus. King Solomon had said something similar to the uncertainty of wealth in Proverbs 23:5, “Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly away to the sky like an eagle.” Many who had more today turned out to have less the next day. Wachovia Bank, one of the largest banks on the east coast, lost $10B at closed on a Friday that forced it to be sold the following Monday.
4) More is dangerous: “When your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied then your heart will become proud and you will forget the lord your God.” (Deut. 8:13-14)Moses warned the Israelis on the danger of pride when they have more in the Promised Land. This is true in many cases even today. Many have become so proud when they have more that they forget the blessings of God and the helps of others.
THE BLESSINGS OF HAVING LESS:
1) God blesses those who have less: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) “Poor” also means “empty.” Those who are empty in their hearts and possession on earth are the ones God has a special place for them in His kingdom. These people may have little of no place in this world but they certainly have much in God and His blessing.
2) We travel with less: “No one serving as a soldier gets tangled up with civilian affairs---he wants to please his commanding officer.” (II Timothy 2:5) Smart travelers always travel light knowing that excessive baggage can only slow down their progress or hinder their journey. We are travelers in this world and our destination is heaven. We certainly don’t want to get tangled up and slow down our progress to heaven by carrying too much baggage. Many Christians travel to heaven with too much unnecessary baggage which can only slow down their progress and make them ineffective on the way.
3) His less is our more: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor so that you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)Paul pointed out that when Jesus became poor or less, we may become rich or more. This is about self sacrifice. Many Christians have followed the example of Jesus to become less rich, taking less glamorous jobs, serve in less powerful positions in this world and in the church, making less salary, live in less expensive homes so others may know the Lord and be saved and become rich in His grace.
4) Become less for Him: “He must become greater and I must become less.” (John 3:30)These are the words of John Baptist when he introduced Jesus to his disciples. The attitude of up lifting Jesus in front of people is what we need to learn and do. All servants of Jesus, regardless of all the success and credits people may ascribe to them, need to do what John in exalting Jesus and decreasing self. No servant of Jesus could try to steal the glory and honor of Jesus no matter how much they have done or how successful they may become. Jesus is always greater and we must always be lesser.
HOW TO HANDLE HAVING LESS: (I Timothy 6:6-10)
1) Focus on the real gain: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (6:6) Paul encouraged Christian to pursue godliness and contentment as great gain. Godliness is a spiritual quality and contentment is an attitude quality, both are important in Christian living.
2) Taking proper perspective: “For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.” (6:7)Paul was talking about the relationship of material things to life: we do not own anything and we cannot keep anything forever. All the things we may have while we are here on earth are never ours from beginning to end. To live and die for material thing is never a proper Christian attitude.
3) Nothing beyond the basics: “If we have food and clothing we will be content with that.” (6:8) Food and clothing represent basic needs of life. God wants us to be content with having the basics for our lives. Anything beyond that is luxury and we need to be thankful for that.
4) Beware of the trap: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.” (6:9)We have seen people ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones because of their insatiable desire of riches. Negligence of their family and risky steps of getting rich have destroyed countless otherwise good marriages and sweet homes.
5) Rid the roots of all evil: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (6:10)Making money and use money is never evil but love of money is. Love here means luster after money, never have enough and will never stop pursuing it. While we all need money to support the basics of life. We are to rid all kinds of temptation that may draw us into love of money which will certainly bring all kinds of trouble to life.
6) Keep a strong faith in God: “(They) have wandered away from their faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (6:10b)The strongest protection from falling into money loving traps and all the harmful and foolish desires is holding a strong faith in God. When we are sure of God’s grace and power of supplying our needs, we don’t need to pursue those harmful and foolish desires and will not fall into their traps.
1) Time to face the truth: The uncertainty of the economy in general and the uncertainty of personal finance in particular is never a surprise. The Bible has given us ample warning on this subject. To mourn the loss or to become panic will never change things for the better. Life is much more than what to eat, to drink and to wear. Difficult time is the best time to realign our priority and attitude of worldly riches.
2) Time to change life style: Since we don’t bring anything into this world and the world doesn’t owe us anything, we have no right to ask for everything our hearts desire. To have a more balanced life style, we need to settle with the basics of life and be content with what God allows us to have. To risk our life and the well being of our loved ones for riches we don’t deserve or need is a path of self inflicted destruction.
3) Time to thank God: Whatever we may have, family, money, property, jobs, friends, church and everything else are all God’s provisional grace and we need to be thankful all the time. We also need to be thankful for the price he has paid for our since through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. With our faith in Jesus, we may receive eternal life from God which is far above all the things in the world we may have. Be thankful for the sacrifice Jesus has given us and be obedient to His Lordship in our life.