~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is a summary a sermon by Brad Ettore. You can read the whole sermon, Financial Principles of the Bible (part 8), by clicking here.
We see an exchange between Jesus and a rich man in Mark 10 after which Jesus said “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” His disciples were astonished! “Lord, what are you saying!?!” Jesus answered their concern and confusion with clarification: But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!” The issue isn’t money. It’s trust; WHERE is your and my trust?
We actually live out of the deepest part of our heart. Our actions are based on what we REALLY believe. God, in His most beautiful way peals back the layers as we walk with Him . . . beautifully getting to the real issues of our heart in order to set us free. There is a mindset – a mental construct – that every child of God must have in order to have a successful life – a life that is ever increasing in wisdom, knowledge, understanding, joy, peace, and the the power of God! That mindset is: “I know I have layers on my heart, so I must see what’s actually in my heart. I cannot live by just the layers – I must rend my heart before Him.” But, how can we peel back the layers of our hearts? We do it solely by letting the Word of God shine on our hearts, letting it reveal what’s in our heart . . . and then the brave will adjust accordingly! If repentance is in order, the wise will repent, but the fool goes on without changing.
Life is busy, but this process is not going to happen amongst our business. We all must slow down – yes, even STOP – on a regular basis. Pull aside. Get off the highway of life! Stop. Consider our heart. We must be attentive to our heart. For example, you can ask yourself “what do I really think about my spouse?” It’s scary. We don’t want to go there! But, when you find that reaction, do you know what you have? Layers! When a person has done the work of being attentive to their heart, they are not afraid of that question AT ALL! They’ve previously and recently plumbed the depths of their own heart on that issue.
You have to be brave and courageous to ask yourself these questions – because if you are not being brutally honest with yourself it becomes an exercise in delusion. We sometimes don’t want to “go there” in our self-talk and personal, honest thoughts because we know that God is listening to our thoughts. Newsflash: God already knows what you think about your spouse! God not only knows what you think about your spouse, but He also knows what you think about your kids, your pastor, all the people in your church family, and what you think about Him! We are afraid that God is going to hear our thoughts. The beauty of it is, God already knows – He knows everything you think about your kids, your pastor, your church family, etc. . . AND He has not squashed you like a bug! He’s awesome! Not only that, He has completely 100% accepted you and me and loves you and me right where we are! We’re safe. We can go “there” with Him! We can go as deep as we want – only to find out what He already knows so that we can find God there – ready to help! God is there, at the deepest depths of our hearts, ready to undo and straighten out anything that needs undone or straightened out! He has just been waiting for you and me to show up – to meet Him there – so that He can do the work! His work in our hearts simply requires our permission!
The wise in heart are living with eternity in mind at all times. The foolish have only this world in focus. Our hearts will be revealed to us in the last days! We can either wait until then and see what was really in our hearts and have no opportunity left to make adjustments as necessary. Take your heart before the Lord NOW and make any adjustments necessary NOW so that you can live a life that produces more and more beautiful fruit so that in the last day you can hear from the Lord “well done My good and faithful servant!” We make adjustments in our hearts by meditating in God’s Word! When we read in the Word what doesn’t mesh with our hearts, let the Word burn it out of you! Stop! Go back to that verse! Read it again! Stay in the ring with that verse! God’s boxing gloves are velvet covered! There is a softness to them. The Word cleanses you and you will find yourself changed! The fruit of that transformative time in the Word is both sweet and precious, but it doesn’t just happen! The man in Mark 10, if he had been exercising this principle in his life, he would have known his heart was not good about money. If he had already been real with himself, he would have clearly realized that his possessions possessed him! And God would have met him there. God knows whatever it will take to set us free! We cannot do this on our own; that’s why we have to go to Him! We need God and we need His Word and He beckons us to do this now – while we can still change things! We see in the Psalms that David was a man that constantly was peeling back the layers of his heart before the Lord! He was constantly saying “God, look at my heart! Show me anything that needs to be changed!” God says “I love this guy!” And as a result, David did great exploits with God and God was able to entrust him with great riches!
What does it mean to meditate? It means to muse, to chew on, to think about, to pound in. You use your imagination; think and think deeply about what He is saying. Our imagination allows us to experience God’s Word in a very real way – without needing to go through all the experiences in our day-to-day lives! Not understanding this, some people come up with the sovereignty doctrine because “they learned so much” from the process of healing in the hospital over 6 months after a catastrophic car wreck. Not God’s plan! Did He work in the midst of that tragedy? Of course – He’s a loving Father! But that was not God’ best. That person could have learned the same things sitting comfortably and healthfully in their chair in the living room meditating on the Word of God!
It is true that at times God will orchestrate difficult situations to teach us things. But, be careful about your interpretation about whether a difficult thing was from God or not. Certain things like sickness, disease, and ALL sin is never from God! James 1:13 settles this exact issue: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” But, will God leave you in a job that you hate? O yea – until you learn whatever it is that you need to learn! You don’t have to go around that mountain for 40 years – it is up to you! Will He bring difficult situations into your life to teach you things? Yes. BUT never will it be evil! God calls sickness and disease evil! Anything that you see that was nailed to the cross is evil and not of God Griefs and sorrows (sickness and disease in the Hebrew) were placed on the cross because they are evil! When you have anxiety, it is never from God! Peace is from God! Sickness and disease were nailed to the cross because they are evil and not of God! He never brings sickness to teach us ANYTHING! He does not cause the break-up of households! That’s the devil who has come to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus has come that we may have life and have it abundantly! (Jn. 10:10) Let that verse clarify your doctrine!
Here’s where this applies to money. “What do I actually think about money? Really.” Don’t sprinkle religious, sugary language all over it. “What do I really think about money?”
In 1 Tim 6:17 Paul says “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” For example, can money buy back the purity of a marriage? Or, for another example, if you had cancer, can you order a new, healthy body online with all the money that you have? Will all the money in the world buy you even one more day with your family?
Money is a liar. It has a voice and it lies to us. That voice is the spirit of Mammon that Jesus talks about when He says “you cannot serve God and Mammon.” Money promises to take care of everything – to make you happy. YET it can do NOTHING in any of the things that truly matter in life. Like the psalmist says in Psalm 62, “if riches increase, don’t place your heart in them because power belongs to God!” Only God can heal your body, your marriage, or your heart! In the difficult situations of life, you need to be able to go into those situations saying “I TRUST IN GOD!” That comes from staying with God and not allowing your heart to be take away by money.
There is NO problem AT ALL in having money. The problem is in letting money have you. Fight against it. Peel back the layers of your heart. Ask yourself the hard questions. And if there is a problem about money in your heart, don’t be afraid of it, but instead take it to God and let God work the solution in your heart. He is faithful to do it! We don’t have to know how to change our hearts! That’s God’s job! He’s just waiting for you and me to give Him permission! Go there and let God heal your heart, change your heart – and watch the beautiful fruit that comes out of it! May we have an increased courage and boldness to go before God and to rend our hearts before Him! That we might invite Him in and give Him permission to change our heart!