An Overseers Attitude Toward Money

July 7, 2019 | Speaker: Pastor Jurem Ramos

1 Timothy 3:3b

 not a lover of money.

  In the 1920s, an Italian named Charles Ponzi who moved to the U.S., tricked thousands of people into investing in a postage stamp scheme. At the time of his scheme, the annual interest rate for bank accounts was 5%. Ponzi promised investors a high return in a very short amount of time--50% in just 45 days and 100% in 90 days. However, there were no real investments, nor were there products or services being exchanged or offered. Ponzi used incoming funds from new investors to pay the returns to the earlier investors. In time, Ponzi was arrested for this scam and put in prison for 14 years.   Ponzi’s name became forever linked to the thousands of fraud investment strategies which are called “Ponzi scheme.”   What are the characteristics of the Ponzi scheme:  
  1. Typically, Ponzi schemes lure new investors by offering unusually high returns or payouts.
  Ponzi schemes use vague [terms] such a "high-yield investment programs" or "offshore investment" to describe their income strategy. It is common for the operator to take advantage of a lack of investor knowledge or competence, or sometimes claim to use a proprietary, secret investment strategy to avoid giving information about the scheme.  
  1. Older investors get payouts from new investors rather than profits earned.
  The basic premise of a Ponzi scheme is "to rob Peter to pay Paul." The schemer pays a "return" to older investors from the investments of new investors, rather than from genuine profits.    
  1. Investors receive payouts and encourage other investors to invest or they themselves invest more.
  When other investors begin to participate, a bandwagon effect happens. Often, high returns encourage investors to leave their money in the scheme, so that the operator does not actually have to pay very much to investors. The operator simply sends statements showing how much they have earned, which maintains the deception that the scheme is an investment with high returns. Operators try to minimize withdrawals by offering new plans to investors where money cannot be withdrawn for a certain period of time in exchange for higher returns. If a few investors do wish to withdraw their money in accordance with the terms allowed, their requests are usually promptly processed, which gives the illusion to all other investors that the fund is solvent and financially sound.  
  1. Soon, the scheme collapses and everyone loses their money when it becomes difficult to lure new investors, a number of investors cash out or the promoter runs of with the money.
  Often the reasoning behind a promoter creating a Ponzi scheme is greed, as with most frauds. Sooner or later payouts become more difficult, rumor spreads that this is a scam, government intervenes, current investors demand to get their money but they don’t get any because new investors are fewer, and before you know it, the promoter disappears with the entire pool of cash.   If you go to the website of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) you will find the latest News and Advisories. You will find so many warnings to the public regarding individuals or groups using investment strategies that are actually Ponzi Schemes or the similar to the Pyramiding scams.   According to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website, many Ponzi schemes share similar characteristics that should be "red flags" for investors. The warning signs include:  
  1. Their entities are not SEC-registered;
  2. Their investment offers are not SEC-registered;
  3. They claim having investments in cryptocurrencies to earn profits;
  4. They offer or guarantee a huge profit in a very short period; ‘
 
  • KAPA COMMUNITY MINISTRY INTERNATIONAL enticed the public to “donate” at least P10,000 promising a 30% monthly “blessing” or “love gift” for life.
  • MUNIFICENCE MINISTRY, operating under INTERDENOMINATIONAL EVANGELICAL CHURCH MINISTRIES, INC. in General Santos and Tagum, offers investment to the public with 45% monthly payout.
  • ADA FARM entices the public to invest by purchasing a minimum of ten (10) chicks worth Php500.00 with a guaranteed profit of 80% in 60 days.
  • BROILERPRENUER CORPORATION is also engaged in the poultry business and promises 100% guaranteed return of investment.
  • RIGEN Marketing promises to the public a guaranteed return of 400% in just 30 days less or more.
  • EVER ARM ANY MARKETING offers 500% return of investment in less than a month.
  • Orro Platta Manna Corporation are enticing the public to invest with this promise:
  • Upon investing Php 300,000, a client will be given a brand new Toyota Vios as well as a promise of receiving the principal investment within two (2) months at 10% weekly interest;
  • Upon investing Php200,000, a client will be given a second-hand Vios as well as promise of receiving the principal investment within two (2) months at 20% weekly interest.
Note: Investment values tend to go up and down over time, especially those offering potentially high returns. An investment that continues to generate regular positive returns regardless of overall market conditions is considered suspicious.  
  1. They often utilize a binary network (i.e. upline and downline) to earn commissions;
  2. They operate without paper trails (i.e. contracts, receipts);
  3. They promise little or no financial risk;
  4. They impose provisions for a lock-up period where an investor cannot touch the investment (i.e. 60 days);
  5. They assure pay-off of investments in a short time;
  6. They use high-pressure methods to convince investors to reinvest their earnings;
Note: If you have trouble withdrawing your money or are encouraged to rollover your investment with a promise of an even higher return, it may be because there is not enough money coming in from new investors to cover earlier investors’ withdrawal requests.  
  1. Information about their principal office, address, founders, directors or officers are unknown; and
  2. Their orientation seminars are conducted informally.
Note: Investors are increasingly turning to social media including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online networks for information about investing.   It is tragic that those who are involved in Ponzi schemes are not just unbelievers but pastors and Christian leaders who even involved their members. Many of their members followed because they thought that if the pastor is involved, it must be all right. Perhaps some of these church leaders were sincere in their intentions thinking that this was the quickest way to help their church finance their building projects, acquire sound system and musical instruments, or help needy members. This led some pastors to even invest a large portion of the church funds. Sadly, the announcement of the president on June 8, 2019 to shutdown KAPA-Community Ministry International over allegations it is involved in an investment scam has destroyed all hopes for a large return. The Securities Exchange Commission in March said the cease and desist order it issued against Kapa "remains effective and still valid," amid reports it has secured a temporary restraining order.   The Department of Justice recently warned Kapa officials and members could face arrest without warrant if they continue to sell investments without a license. I heard over the radio, one commentator say that Tagum is the scam capital of the Philippines.   These recent developments have brought great embarrassment to the church of Jesus Christ and dishonor to the name of Christ. This has prompted some denominational heads to take immediate action when they discovered many of their members are involved Ponzi scheme. In June 28, 2019, CAMACOP President released an announcement to all CAMACOP pastors, workers, members and Bible school heads to stop, withdraw, leave and discontinue engagement, membership and relationship with all fraudulent financial ventures.  “You are hereby PROHIBITED, REPRIMANDED and FORBIDDEN to promote, endorse and encourage other pastors and members of all local church of CAMACOP to join such fraudulent financial schemes.” (Signed by Bishop Eduardo C. Cajes).   This brings us to the last message on the topic the Overseer must be above reproach in his moral character. 1Timothy chapter 3 verse 2 lists a series of positive qualities that an overseer should have while verse 3 gives us a series of negative qualities to avoid. In our last study we looked at three negative qualities to avoid: According to verse 3, an overseer must “not [be] a drunkard, not violent but gracious, not quarrelsome. Today, we will look at the fourth negative quality to avoid which is “not a lover of money.”   One's attitude toward money is an important factor in choosing pastors or elders. The love of money is one of the greatest dangers confronting every Christian worker.   The Greek word “aphilarguros” means:
  • not loving money, not fond of money, not greedy for money; not covetous, liberal, generous
  Paul includes this characteristic consistently in connection with leadership:
  • 1Ti 3:2-3 The overseer must … not a lover of money
  • Tit 1:7 An overseer… must not be … greedy for gain
  • 1Ti 3:8 Deacons likewise must … not greedy for dishonest gain.
  • 1Pe 5:2 shepherd the flock of God … not for shameful gain.
  The apostle Peter also has a similar counsel to Elders.
  • 1Pe 5:2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
  This negative quality, "not a lover of money," gives us a hint of the nature of the Ephesian problem. The false teachers in Ephesus were teaching not for the sake of the gospel but in order to make money.  
  • In 1Timothy 6:5 Paul says that false teachers have depraved minds and are deprived of the truth who imagine that godliness is a means to financial gain. This final description seems to reveal what these false teachers have been up to all along. These men were teaching because for them it was a means of profit.
 
  • Paul must still be thinking about these false teachers when he wrote in 6:10 that “It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
 
  • In Titus 1:11 Paul says that false teachers “must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.”
      Lust for money characterized the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. The Pharisees, for example, were lovers of money (Luke 16:14) and  devoured widow’s houses (Mk 12:40). Scribes who devoured widow’ houses were condemned for their greed and receive greater condemnation. The chief religious leaders of Jesus’ day turned the temple into a market for their own profit.   Mk 11:15-18 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him.   Teaching philosophy “to cover up greed” (1 Thess. 2:5) was a common accusation in antiquity against false teachers. Paul sometimes referred to this quality to defend himself against his accusers:  
  • Ac 20:33-35 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
 
  • 1 Thes 2:5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.
  An ancient church manual of discipline called the Didache, had some words to say how one could identify a false prophet.   Didache 11:4-6 Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. 5 He will remain one day, and if it be necessary, a second; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet. 6 And let the apostle when departing take nothing but bread until he arrive at his resting-place; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.   11:12 But whoever shall say in the spirit, Give me money, or things of that kind, listen not to him; but if he tell you concerning others that are in need that ye should give unto them, let no one judge him.   Therefore Didache 15:1 says, Appoint for yourselves therefore bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are meek and not lovers of money."     Signs of a minister who is a lover of money. What does a minister who is a lover of money look like?  
  1. A lover of money will enter the ministry with financial gain in mind.
For example, a man may choose to serve at one church over another simply because they offered him more money. This sort of man should not be an Elder. An Elder should be one who seeks the work of the ministry, the shepherding of the Lord’s flock, not how he can gain from it.  
  1. A lover of money may always be complaining he is not receiving enough compensation.
 
  1. A lover of money may always be into financial debt.
    1. He spends more money than he makes.
    2. He is undisciplined in the credit spending.
    3. He is undisciplined as seen in spur-of-the-moment purchases.
 
  1. A lover of money will mishandle congregational finances.
He wants to be in full control of church finances. He and his wife will count the money and will not be accountable to the church. They will get angry when somebody asks that the church finances be audited.  
  1. A lover of money is envious and covets the prosperity of others.
  • Acts 20:33-36 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
 
  1. A lover of money will show favoritism.
He will show partiality towards the rich. He will visit them and give priority in his ministry.
  • James 2:1-4 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
 
  1. A lover of money will be a flatterer.
He is a smooth-talking preacher who tries to make favorable impressions in order to milk his hearers of their money. A “flatterer” is one who compliments others to win favor, to influence them, to gain power over them.  
  • 1Th 2:5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.
  • 2Co 2:17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
  • 2Pe 2:3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
 
  1. A lover of money will to enrich himself by dishonest means.
 
  • Bible Speaks Today Commentary: Throughout history bad men have tried to make money out of ministry. In the ancient world there were quacks who made a good living by posing as itinerant teachers. In the Old Testament Micah fulminated against Jerusalem because her judges took bribes, her priests taught for a price and her prophets told fortunes for cash. In our day there are still some disreputable evangelists who make themselves wealthy by financial appeals.
 
  • “It is not uncommon to see televangelists selling sweat rags and “holy” water, promising cures and miracles for those who buy from them. They are all charlatans and for any Elder to act in such a manner, is to bring reproach on Christ, and judgment on his own head.”
 
  1. A lover of money will inevitably fall into unethical financial dealings that will publicly disgrace the Lord’s name.
  We hear of pastors who no longer teach salvation from sin but salvation from poverty. They lead their churches into get-rich-quick scheme that leads to disaster both to the church and the community.   They cause the church to fall into idolatry.
  • Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
  Christians who fall into the idolatry of covetousness turn away from doing the call of Christ. Instead, they have sleepless nights computing the money they will receive and the things will be able to buy with their expected pay out. This is all they talk about in church.   Their love for money breeds greed, arrogance, self-indulgence, self-centeredness among themselves and their members.   They purchase motorcycles, cars anticipating they could pay the monthly amortization because of the payout they will receive regularly.   They loan from banks so that they could invest a larger amount. But there are times that they are taken advantage of by loan sharks. They will lend you some money but with collateral.   Many don’t realize also the negative effect of the Ponzi scheme in the community. Investors get a big return for their investment but how will they use their money when everyone is involved in it. Normally, the poor who have been working hard in whatever job they have are no longer that motivated to work as they await the next payout.   For example, one supervisor in the grocery complained that on payout day, all of their baggers are absent, not just for one day but for three days. On the first day, they line up to collect their money; on the second day they spend all their money with their friends in drinking or some other vice; on the third day, they rest and recover. On the fourth day they go back to work so that they have been absent from for three day.   Others who work in the marketplace go and start selling their stuff at 10:00 am because they have the money they find no reason to work early.   In some places, people are complaining because there are fewer tricycles, jeepneys and taxis to ride because the drivers have more money and they see no need to drive.   When farmers are into these investments and get rich, they will see no reason why they should stay under the sun the whole day to till their land and plant seeds.   Owners are complaining because their nurses are going AWOL because they would rather be agents because they get more money when they recruit investors and turn into cashiers disbursing the monies. Some had to close down some wings or floors of their hospitals because although they have available beds, they have no nurses and less doctors.   If your maids get involved in the Ponzi scheme, your maids will leave you. There will no longer be “tinderas” and “cashiers.” You will no longer have your “maglalakos” peddling their products along your streets in the morning. There will no longer be teachers in small private schools.   Soon, vices will proliferate. Drunkards and drug addicts will multiply. Gambling will rise and Casinos will be filled with more people.   Soon prices of products and services will soar. The tricycle drivers, if there are any left, will charge higher fare because there are only a few them available. That’s just the principle of supply and demand. Labor will be more expensive. Carpenters and plumbers and house help will no longer be affordable. Construction will halt. Banks and other legitimate investments will close down. The economy will be paralyzed.   And once the Ponzi scheme fails because it inevitably since there will come a point when investors will no longer be given their returns and then new investors will stop coming, crime will increase, families will be broken, the poor will become poorer, depression and suicide cases will rise, people will be angry and violence on the streets will be common, the ransacking of abandoned houses of fleeing Ponzi scheme promoters will be justified crime, churches will shut down, pastors will flee as in what happened lately to so-called LK group. (This is a group formed by pastors who left KAPA and it comes from Luke 6:38, give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. From what I heard, the leader left the group with the investors’ money. The other pastors are also into hiding.) Members of the church are devastated. Some are undoubtedly angry at God and blaming Him for causing their lives to become more miserable.   No, it’s not God’s fault! It’s the fault of people and leaders who love money and turned Money into an idol.   We should be thankful for His providence. He caused our President to call the authorities to shut down KAPA and other similar Ponzi schemes before things get worse. Whatever caused our president to do that—whether it is true that Mr. Quiboloy had a hand in this because he was the one who brought to Duterte’s attention what supporters of KAPA are saying, that even the president can’t shut down KAPA and this provoked the president to shut down KAPA—whether this is true or not, the thing is, God moved upon the heart of our president so that he put a stop to Ponzi schemes at this time and this is a manifestation of God’s mercy.   Instead of people getting angry at our president, instead going to the streets to rally so that the president will allow KAPA and other similar scams to continue, people, churches and church leaders who have been cheated and who lost their money should have prayer meetings and repent for their idolatry and confess their sins of greed and of violating God’s principles for work and provision and ask for God’s forgiveness. Those who received money should ask for forgiveness because they have actually stolen from the new investors even though they did not realize it first. What would one expect from a church leader who does not love money?  
  1. The minister must not covet worldly wealth.
He is not to seek luxury. He is to live in simplicity, giving beyond his own needs to meet the needs of others.
  • 1Ti 6:8-10 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 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. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  A minister must not accumulate estates through the ministry. He must not covet the following:
  • Money
  • Property
  • Stocks
  • Stylish clothes
  • Transportation
  • Bonds
The craving of the minister must be for something far more important:
  • The kingdom of God and His righteousness
  • Meeting the desperate needs of the world.
  • Delivery men out of the slavery of sin and death.
  • Sharing the gospel of eternal life.
 
  1. The minister must be willing to work at secular employment if needed in order to spread the gospel.
Paul was usually supported in his ministry and did not have to work at secular work. But not this verse, Paul did not hesitate to work with his hands in order to get the gospel out to the people. He would do whatever was necessary to reach people and meet their desperate need for Christ and the glorious life of joy and eternity that Christ gives.  
  • Acts 18:3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them (i.e., Aquila and his wife Priscilla) and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
  • Acts 20:34-35 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
 
  1. The minister must trust God to meet his financial needs.
 
  • Ps 37:3-4 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 
  • Mt 6:31-34 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
 
  • Heb 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;   I will not fear;   what can man do to me?” (Ps 117:6 in LXX)    
  1. The minister must be content with what God provides.
  Phil 4:11-13 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.   Here’s a little testimony. When I was pastor in Surigao city from 1986 to 1989, I did not realize that I was poor. I did not have the basic necessities of a home. I did not a gas range, a refrigerator, washing machine, stereo, computer, sala set,  etc. All I had was a wooden bed, an electric fan, a small library, a study table and a lamp.  I thank God for all of those who supported by inviting me to their homes for lunch and dinner. One was an owner of a restaurant and the other was the mother of Ging. I did not have my own car and not even motorcycle or a bicycle because I couldn’t afford it and I had no complaints. In 1989, I was transferred to Davao City. In 1991 I rented an apartment and I said to myself that if I receive P1000 love gift every week then I’d take that as a sign that I could marry. Soon I did receive about P4000 a month and used the P1000 to pay for the rent and P3000 for my other needs and for the need of my wife. Then God touched the heart of a couple in our church and they gave me a second hand car, which they later changed with a new one and then changed it with another one in the years after. Then God touched another to help provide for my two sons so that they were able to go the U.S. to study. And of course God touched so many others so that I could say that I have received plenty. Sometimes, I even had the chance to go abroad in business class in both domestic and international flights because of the generosity of some brethren. I have received plenty which I and my family did not deserve.  
  1. The minister must give to God and to those in need.
  • Pr 3:9-10 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce 10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
  God is honored when we give Him the first of our income, not the “leftovers.”   When we plan our budgets, we should decide what we want to give the Lord. Then we should write the Lord’ check first, and trust God to meet our other needs. He will provide abundantly.
  • Phil 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
  • 2Co 9:6-8 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
  The Bible commends the one who is generous to the poor and the needs:
  • Pr 28:27 Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
  • Pr 19:17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
  • Pr 22:9 Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.
  • Luke 14:13-14 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
  When I was pastor in Surigao city, one day, a person knocked at the door of the Fellowship center where I lived, asking for help. I pitied the person and so I gave all of the money I received that Sunday which was for my provision for the whole week. With no money I was forced to fast for one week and I could afford to do that, of course, because I was single. But the point is God gave me the grace to be generous. I have determined to give to God beyond the tithe. I set aside a fund for the poor so that when someone is in need I have money to give them. When God gives me a surplus, I would ask my wife, what are our payables and I pay them immediately because if I don't, and if I have money in my wallet, it will go to the person in need. I try to have savings, but I know it’s not my money. When there is a need, I get from it. So I never could save. But God has continued to prove Himself to be the supplier of my needs.   In his book, Brothers, we are not professionals, and in a chapter entitled, “Brother, Tell Them Copper Will Do, John Piper writes: We will never persuade our people that the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21 applies to them unless we apply it to ourselves. God called the man a fool because, when his field produced a surplus, he built bigger barns and took his ease. Fool is what God calls a person who uses his excess money to increase his own comfort. And Luke adds, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (v. 21). Being “rich toward God” means looking Godward for heavenly wealth. It means “taking your ease” in Him, finding your security in Him. And it means using your money In a way that enlarges the barn of your joy in heaven, not the barn of your comfort on earth God gives us money on earth in order that we may invest it for dividends in heaven. The person who thinks the money he makes is meant mainly to increase his comforts on earth is a fool, Jesus says. Wise people know that all their money belongs to God and should be used to show that God, and not money, is their treasure, their comfort, their joy and their security.   How do we use our money to show that God is our treasure? How do we show that we are “rich toward God”? Luke 12:21 says it is by not laying up treasures for ourselves. And verse 33 says it is by giving alms. But does not the OT promise that God will prosper the faithful? Indeed! God increases our yield so that by giving we can prove that our yield is not our God. God does not prosper a man’s business so that man can move from a Buick to a BMW. God prospers a business so that hundreds of unreached people can be reached with the gospel. Brothers, many of our people have barely begun to grasp this. Too many are more shaped by the consumer culture than by the economics of Christ. They still operate on the simple rule: If you earned it, you deserve it. It’s yours; use it for your own material comfort. God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves (no matter how thankfully) what we ought to be using to alleviate the misery of unevangelized and uneducated and unhoused and unfed millions. The evidence that many of our people are not rich toward God is how little they give and how much they own. Over the years God has prospered them. And by an almost irresistible law of consumer culture, they have bought bigger (and more) houses, newer (and more) cars, fancier (and more) clothes, and all manner of trinkets and gadgets and containers and devices and equipment to make life more fun. Very few of our people have said to themselves: we will live at a level of joyful, wartime simplicity and use the rest of what we can to alleviate misery. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” So there are three levels of how to live with things: (1) you can steal to get, (2) or you can work to get, (3) or you can work to get in order to give. Many of us live on level two. Almost all of the forces of our culture urge us to live on level two. But the Bible is unrelenting in pushing us to level three. As Paul said, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2Co 9:8). So why does God bless our people with abundance? So they can have enough to live on and then use the rest for all manner of good works that alleviate spiritual and physical misery. Enough for us; abundance for others.   In his book, Desiring God, Piper has these concluding words:   “The issue is not how much a person makes. Big industry and big salaries are a fact of our times, and they are not necessarily evil. The evil is in being deceived into thinking a $100,000 salary must be accompanied by a $100,000 lifestyle. God has made us to be conduits of his grace. The danger is in thinking the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do.”