The Almighty Dollar
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 20, 2003
Matthew 6:19-33 (NLT)
Play Song –
Yourself by Guy Lombardo & His Royal
Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)
Words & Music by Carl Sigman
& Herb Magidson
Recorded by Guy Lombardo, 1950
You work and work for years and years, you're always on the go;
You never take a minute off, too busy makin' dough.
Someday, you say, you'll have your fun when you're a millionaire --
Imagine all the fun you'll have in your old rockin' chair.
Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think;
Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink.
The years go by as quickly as a wink --
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.
You're gonna take that ocean trip, no matter, come what may;
You've got your reservations but you just can't get away.
Next year, for sure, you'll see the world, you'll really get around --
But how far can you travel when you're six-feet under ground?
Your heart of hearts, your dream of dreams, your ravishing brunette;
She's left you and she's now become somebody else's pet.
Lay down that gun, don't try, my friend, to reach the great beyond;
You'll have more fun by reachin' for a redhead or a blonde.
You never go to nightclubs and you just don't care to dance;
You don't have time for silly things like moonlight and romance.
You only think of dollar bills tied neatly in a stack;
But when you kiss a dollar bill, it doesn't kiss you back.
This is week four in our
Canadian Idols series. So far we’ve talked about the idols of career,
family, and self. We’ve seen how none of these things are evil in and
of themselves, but they become a problem for us when we start to
worship them as an idol. What’s an idol? An idol is anything or anyone
that takes the place of God and pushes Him out of the place of priority
in our lives.
Today we’re going to talk about another idol: the idol of money. That’s
what that whole song was about… people who make an idol out of money
and make the accumulation of more money their top priority.
Is the idol of money really a problem here in Atlantic Canada? You bet
it is. If it wasn’t, Atlantic Lotto and all its compatriots would all
be money losing operations. People wouldn’t be taking trips to Halifax
just to visit the casinos along the waterfront. You don’t have to look
very far to see how deeply the desire for stuff has infiltrated our
culture, and how strongly we desire the money to get more stuff.
Money is without a doubt an idol and perhaps THE Idol of North American
culture. And we want more of it. As Woody Allen says;
“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”
~ Woody Allen
So what I want to do this morning is talk about five fallacies about
money, and then give you five facts about money.
Five Fallacies about Money
A. Money means
There’s a tendency to
think: the more money we have the more successful we are. We even
created labels to describe how financially successful we are: Upper
class and lower class. Of course, those terms weren’t specific enough,
so we added the terms middle class, upper middle class, and lower
middle class. All to perpetuate the fallacy that the more money we
have, the more successful we are and the more we’ve achieved in life.
But money does not equal achievement. A lot of people have accumulated
great wealth but have accomplished very little of any significance.
Help me out. If making money isn’t really significant in life, what is?
What are the things that really matter?
B. Money means
Ever feel like all the
pressures you face would disappear if only you could come into a wad of
cash? You’ve got bills, taxes, babysitting, birthdays, credit cards,
student loans, mortgages, car payments all demanding a piece of the
pie, which leaves a pretty small slice for you. If only you were rich,
these things wouldn’t be a problem.
But the recurring pattern in our culture says that money doesn’t bring
you freedom from these pressures. It may change the dynamics of those
pressures, but they’re still there. Your lifestyle adjusts to the
excess cash, and before long you’re living above your means again and
the pressures and demands of everyday life are still there.
C. Money means
This is the fallacy that
tells you that your value in life is directly proportional to your pile
of cash. Instead of spending the time and energy to build strong,
healthy relationships you count on money to make up for the lack of
affection from other people. But because you associate your self-worth
with your bank account, you expect others to do the same.
D. Money means
This fallacy suggests
that having financial control is the same thing as having control over
people and circumstances. But the truth is, you don’t have control. God
the Creator is the one who is in control. And if you are seeking power,
you should know that the Bible teaches that real power is not found in
ruling over other people and controlling them, it’s found in serving
them. Jesus, who has all power and authority at His disposal, chose to
E. Money means
Pay attention to the ads
on T.V. If you really pay attention, you’ll notice that commercials
rarely try to sell a product… they try to sell happiness. And they try
to convince you that the product in the commercial will bring you that
happiness. If you wear the right clothes or drive the right car or use
the right deodorant, you’ll be amazingly happy. Of course, we all claim
that money can’t buy happiness. But we could check our bank statements
to see how many of us really believe that. King Solomon in the Old
Testament had everything he could ever desire, but near the end of his
life he concluded that his wealth was a source of harm rather than
Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 (NLT)
Those who love money will never have enough.
How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you
have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the
advantage of wealth--except perhaps to watch it run through your
I came across some information this week that I thought was
interesting. Way back in 1923 there was a meeting held at the Edgewater
Beach Hotel in Chicago. In attendance were nine of the world’s most
successful financiers… men who had found the secret of making money.
Here we are eight decades later, so let’s take a look back at what
happened to these 9 men.
The president of the largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab,
died bankrupt and lived on borrowed money for five years before his
The president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died a
fugitive from justice and penniless in a foreign land.
The president of the largest gas company, Howard Hopson, went insane.
The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cotton, died overseas died unable
to pay his debts.
The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, spent
time in the famous Sing-Sing penitentiary.
The member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from
prison so he could die at home.
The greatest “bear” on Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, die a suicide.
The head of the greatest monopoly, Ivan Krueger, died a suicide.
The president of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser,
died a suicide.
All of these men learned well the art of making money, but not one of
them learned to how to live. Money obviously did not mean happiness for
(from Insights from Bill Bright: Nine Wealthy Financiers – May 20,
2002, and from Billy Rose’s Pitching Horse Shoes, 1948)
So if those are the
fallacies about money, what are the facts?
Five Facts about Money
1. Money is
meant to serve us; we are not to serve money.
A little over a decade
ago, James Patterson and Peter Kim conducted a massive survey and
compiled the results in this book: The Day America Told the Truth. Yes,
it’s a book about the U.S. But I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to
include Canada in these statistics.
In the survey, they asked the question: What would you be willing to do
for Ten Million Dollars?
Abandon family 25%
Abandon church 25%
Become a prostitute for a week or more 23%
Give up citizenship 16%
Leave spouse 16%
Withhold testimony and let a murderer go free 10%
Kill a stranger 7%
Change race 6%
Have sex-change operation 4%
Put children up for adoption 3%
(The Day America Told the Truth page 66)
They conducted a follow-up survey, and asked the same question for $5
million, $4 million, and $3 million. It wasn’t until they asked about
what people would be willing to do for $2 million that they saw a
fall-off in the response. So I guess the conclusion is that we do have
a price, and it’s $2 million.
Don’t become enslaved to money. Don’t allow money to become your
motivation for everything you do. Jesus said in Matthew 6…
Matthew 6:24 (NLT)
"No one can serve two masters. For you will
hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the
other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
“When you kiss a dollar bill, it doesn't kiss you back.”
~ from Enjoy Yourself, performed by Guy Lombardo
On the Information Table this morning you can find a copy of an article
on what’s called John Wesley’s Trilateral. It’s a pretty good article,
so I’d encourage you to pick up a copy and read through it. But just to
highlight it for you, it discusses how John Wesley thought money should
be used. He thought it should be used in three ways:
John Wesley’s Trilateral:
a. Gain all you can.
b. Save all you can.
c. Give all you can.
devoted followers handle their money the way God intends.
Let me ask you: What are
some ways we can use our money which honours God?
Money God’s Way:
There’s a concept.
Don’t spend more than you make. Don’t live on credit.
Romans 13:7-8 (NLT)
Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay
your taxes and import duties, and give respect and honour to all to
whom it is due.
Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never
finish paying that! If you love your neighbour, you will fulfill all
the requirements of God's law.
Yeah, I know the grass
is always greener. I look around and I see all these people with better
toys than I have, and I want them. But if they don’t fit in our budget,
I need to discipline myself to be content with what I’ve already got or
with what I can afford. The saying is, “The one who dies with the most
toys wins.” But the reality is; the one who dies with the most toys…
Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)
Stay away from the love of money; be
satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you.
I will never forsake you."
1 Corinthians 16:1-2
Now about the money being collected for
the Christians in Jerusalem: You should follow the same procedures I
gave to the churches in Galatia. On every Lord's Day, each of you
should put aside some amount of money in relation to what you have
earned and save it for this offering. Don't wait until I get there and
then try to collect it all at once.
Malachi 3:8-10 (NLT)
"Should people cheat God? Yet you have
"But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’
"You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are
under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all
the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my
Temple. If you do," says the LORD Almighty, “I will open the windows of
heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have
enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!”
Giving your tithes and offerings to God through the church isn’t
something churches invented in order to make money. It’s something that
God instructed us to do in His Word and is an issue of obedience and
worship. And really it’s a privilege God has given to us to invest our
resources into the ministry of His Kingdom.
Psalm 37:21 (NLT)
The wicked borrow and never repay, but the
godly are generous givers.
I talked about John Wesley earlier. In his opinion, money is for
giving. And you know what? I agree with him. Be careful not to be
taken, but at the same time be generous when a real need arises.
Colossians 3:2 (NLT)
Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not
think only about things down here on earth.
You focus on what is your idol. If money is your idol, you’ll focus on
it. But if God is in His proper place as first and foremost in your
life, you’ll focus on knowing Him, loving Him and serving Him.
3. God can be
trusted to meet our needs.
God always keeps His
promises. He has never failed… not even once. If God promises He’ll do
something, it’s money in the bank (so to speak). So what He promises to
you through His Word, you can believe. Listen to these verses…
Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)
"So don't worry about having enough food or
drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned
about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs,
and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him
and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”
Philippians 4:19 (NLT)
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.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT)
You must each make up your own mind as to
how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to
pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will
generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything
you need and plenty left over to share with others.
helps keep our hearts right with God.
2 Corinthians 9:11-13
Yes, you will be enriched so that you can
give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who
need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God. So two good
things will happen--the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem will be
met, and they will joyfully express their thanksgiving to God. You will
be glorifying God through your generous gifts. For your generosity to
them will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.
When you willingly and cheerfully give out of your own pocket to the
people and ministries that need those funds, you acknowledge the place
of priority God has in your life. You reinforce that God is your first
love, and the role of greed and selfishness in your life is weakened.
1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NLT)
Tell those who are rich in this world not to
be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But
their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we
need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They
should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in
need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given
5. Money is not
a measure of greatness or spirituality.
If you check out enough
churches, you’re going to find some real kooks who believe one extreme
or the other. You’ll find some that believe if you’re a good Christian
you’re going to give away all your belongings and live in poverty the
rest of your life. And you’ll find others who believe that if you’re a
good Christian God will bless you and you’ll become rich, and if that
doesn’t happen it’s because you lack faith or because of some secret
sin in your life.
The first group would say that possessions are a curse. The second
group would say that possessions are a right. The truth is, they are a
privilege. God does call some people to give all their belongings to
the poor. And He does bless some people and make them rich. But that
has no bearing on their spirituality… it’s simply a reflection of God’s
will for those people individually.
The apostle Paul wrote:
Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
Not that I was ever in need, for I have
learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. 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. For I can do everything with the help
of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
Our responsibility is to take whatever God blesses us with and use it
wisely. Because ultimately, it all belongs to God anyway. He has simply
entrusted us to manage what belongs to Him.
Just as we finish up here, let me read a quote for you:
“Money can buy acquaintances, but there is not enough money in the
world to buy a single friend. Money can buy facts, but money can’t buy
wisdom. Money can buy social acceptance, but money can’t buy virtue.
Money can buy a reputation, but money cannot buy character. Money can
buy objects, but money can’t buy objectives. We exist in the things
that money can buy. We live on the things it can’t.”