June 2, 2017 | by: Scott Denny | 0 comments
We live in an area of great wealth, and there is great temptation all around us to set our hearts and minds upon the abundance of what surrounds us, and to shift our gaze away from Christ and onto the passing pleasures of this world.
The scriptures warn us about the lure wealth has to pull our hearts away from true riches, true joy, true hope. In those warnings, we need to be reminded about how the gospel provides us with an expulsive power of a new affection.
An affection that compels us to resist holding on with white knuckles to our stuff or even our desire for stuff and with open hands and willing hearts recognize that our greatest joy, hope and confidence is not found in our stuff, but in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I want us to consider briefly from the Scriptures how our own misguided hearts can lure us toward a desire for wealth that can lead to misplaced joy and misplaced hope.
“ Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,  but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!  No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” - Matthew 6:19-24
In verse 21, Christ warns us that by placing our hearts upon the things of this world, those cravings and desires will eventually lure our hearts away from Christ – away from true treasure.
Why the concern for our hearts? Because we were made to worship, to desire, to want, to know and be known. And from the beginning all of those desires, all of that worship was to be fulfilled in and directed to God himself.
But when Adam sinned and rebelled against God, sin entered into the world and now for all of humanity our hearts are distorted and twisted [Jeremiah 17:9]. Like Adam, we all reject God, and while we continue to worship, to desire, and to want, we no longer seek to have those desires satisfied by God [Isaiah 53:3], rather we seek to have our own desires satisfied by whatever makes us happy [Ephesians 2:1-3].
But, for the believer, the hope of the gospel is that the Son of God entered into the world, took on flesh, lived a perfect life, died the death that you and I deserve as rebels against God. God accepted His sacrifice and now He sits enthroned in heaven having conquered the power of sin and the sting of death, where He now rules and reigns [Philippians 2:6-10].
The gospel declares that those who believe in the Son are born again [John 3:3, 5:24], they have new hearts [Ezekiel 36:26], new desires, with new inclinations towards loving and serving God [Philippians 2:5]. They have the Spirit of God who compels them toward walking in a manner that is worthy of the gospel [2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 1:27].
Yet, while all this is true and the believer is set free from the power and penalty of sin [Romans 6:5-7, 8:1], we are not set free from its presence. Sin remains and it wars against the Spirit who lives in us, which causes a constant tugging to turn away from loving and serving God with all our hearts [Galatians 5:17].
So Christ warns us, don’t be deceived. This world is temporary. It will fade. It will rot. Fight to set your passions upon what is eternal, where there are true riches, true glory, true joy.
Well, these battles can cause our hearts to be misguided and at times can lead us to pursue after joy and hope that is misplaced in the things of this world.
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” - 1 Timothy 6:9
Paul warns that those who deliberately and decisively pursue after wealth, inevitably are ensnared, they are caught in a bear trap, which leads to foolish and destructive desires.
King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and whose net worth today some have estimated would be $2.2 trillion dollars. In Ecclesiastes 2:1, he wrote that he sought to find joy in the pleasures of this world. Inevitably, he used his wealth to satisfy every desire of his heart.
In Ecclesiastes 2:10, he says he withheld nothing from his heart, and at the end of this experiment he realized the pursuit for finding joy in his stuff was vanity. It was empty. It did nothing for him.
At times we can be like Solomon, we may not have the wealth at our disposal, but we can become ensnared by the desire to find joy in places that money can’t buy. You can’t find joy, true joy, in a new car, a new gadget, or a bigger paycheck. Because true joy, lasting joy is only found in the presence of God [Psalm 16:11].
Or maybe you don’t find yourself seeking after better things. Perhaps you simply grumble about what you do have.
In your grumbling there is a lack of joy in what God has given you, with what He has entrusted to you. For all that you have in your possession is a gift from God. He has given you exactly what you need and in the exact measure that you need it. In the end your grumbling is against God, as you grumble about what He has given you.
When the people of God do that, we sound just like the Israelites who God graciously and freely fed in the desert by His own hand. They eventually tired of God’s grace and became ensnared by their desire for the food of their slavery [Numbers 11:4-6].
Are you lacking joy in what you possess? Are you looking for joy in things of this world?
Psalm 16:11 says there is no greater joy than to know God and to be known by Him. Fight for that joy to fill your heart and rest in the joy of the Lord.
Misguided hearts can lead to misplaced joy and also to misplaced hope.
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God.” - 1 Timothy 6:17
In Paul’s exhortation to the wealthy, he notes that in their boasting they presume wrongly that their wealth actually provides them with hope, which in the Greek means something that is sure, certain and trustworthy. It has the idea of saving hope, and Paul says those riches are uncertain, they are fading, they aren’t reliable. Ultimately, they exchanged the hope of God for the hope of what is passing away.
Where do you stand? Have you placed your hope in wealth as a means of deliverance from your troubles? Have you sought to use the gift of wealth for your own gain, comfort or security?
Brothers and sisters, the word of God says don’t place your hope in the uncertainty of riches. Hope in God. He provides.
Perhaps you have found yourself recently walking down either one of these misguided paths.
First, be encouraged! You are not alone. These kinds of temptations are common to man but the promise of God is that he will provide a way through them [1 Corinthians 10:13].
Second, come humbly into his presence and confess whatever you treasure most that has supplanted God. He is faithful to forgive [1 John 1:9].
Third, set your heart and affections upon True Treasure, upon true riches, upon a better inheritance that is preserved and kept for you by the power of God [1 Peter 1:4, 5]. It is there that your hearts will be comforted. It is there that you will find true joy and true hope.
This is an excerpt from the sermon Entrusted with Wealth, Part One. You can listen to or watch the full sermon by going to graceforus.org.
Scott Denny is an Elder at Grace Bible Church
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