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In this episode, we are going to begin to lay out for you what we believe the Bible tells us about the fifth sequential principle of money management…and that is LUXURIES.  For over 30 years we have passionately taught that after we give to the Lord, save for our family, spend wisely to pay our bills on time, and look for the needs of others through offerings, THEN, we can choose to spend “surplus” income on some “luxuries” of life. 

 

There seems to be two different extremes into which Christians fall with regard to luxuries. 

  1. Prosperity Gospel: Luxuries = Good. Sign of God’s blessing and favor. 
      • Worldview influenced by materialism. 
      • This world is all there is, so maximize pleasure.

2. Poverty Gospel: Luxuries = Bad. Selfish misuse of God’s money.

      • Gnostic Worldview – Physical is bad, spiritual is good. 
      • Personal joy in this life is bad. Only spiritual matters. 
      • The truth is more complicated than either extreme. 

3. Truth: Luxuries = Good and dangerous.

      • Maybe a sign of God’s blessing… or maybe not.
      • The ultimate goal of luxuries is the worship of the Giver of all good gifts – God.

 

We need to lay down a Biblical foundation, and process luxuries through the lens of Scripture. A good place to start is in the following points:

All Of Our Blessings Flow from God:

The Bible Loves to Mess with Your Categories

While we rightly reject the “health and wealth” gospel we should not ignore or dismiss the realities of the blessings of God that flow to those who obey Him. 

  • Joshua 1:8 – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (ESV).
  • Psalm 1:1-4Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away” (ESV).
  • 2 Chronicles 26:4-5“And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper” (ESV).

 

Notice that in these passages, the goal of the people/person is not wealth or prosperity, but it is God. Having more things was not the highest goal but it was to desire more of God, to please Him, to obey Him. Only after God was made the highest goal did success and prosperity follow. Prosperity is not the goal, godliness and holiness are the goals. 

As you look at these three verses, there is a clear “cause and effect,” for the one who:

  • Meditates on God’s Word
  • Is careful to do what it says…(e.g. live it out)
  • Does not walk with the wicked
  • Does not stand with sinners
  • Does not sit with scoffers
  • Delights in God’s word
  • Their life yields fruit

All three verses conclude that those who walk and live in this manner will prosper!

So, what does it mean to “prosper”?  First, let us briefly define what it is not. Wikipedia defines the prosperity gospel as, It a religious belief that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.

That last phrase in the definition characterizes this belief.  It is about OUR faith, what WE do, what WE give. When we use our words God is then obligated to make us healthy and wealthy! One shining example against this view is the Apostle Paul!  He learned to be content in all situations. He was beaten, tortured, and faced much suffering all for Christ!

Sanity Check: You, in your sinful, fallen state deserve nothing but God’s wrath and displeasure. We have all sinned (cosmic treason) against the God of the universe. Yet, God in His richness and grace, calls us to Himself, forgives our sin, unites us with Christ, and gives to us the Holy Spirit. God delights to bless His children as they seek Him with all their heart. How should we understand this blessing? His blessings come in two forms:

  1. Spiritual Blessings: Ephesians 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

A brief study of Ephesians 1 reveals that these spiritual blessings include being chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world, being predestined unto adoption of children, being accepted in the beloved, being redeemed and all sins forgiven, being given an inheritance, and being sealed with the Holy SpiritWhen I think about these blessings, they fill my heart with joy and awe of God.  

      2. Material Blessings:

    • Proverbs 11:24 – “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” 
      • Prosperity and blessings for generosity. That is what I see here in this passage! For the one that lives generously and gives generously will have this “cause and effect” where they will “grow all the richer”.  
      • Their growth not only blesses them, but it also blesses others.
      • In our last episode we quoted pastor and author, Randy Alcorn who stated:
        • “God does not prosper me to raise my standard of living…but to raise my standard of giving!”
        • “God’s blessing to us monetarily is not just to bless us..but also to be an even greater blessing to others!”
    • Proverbs 21:5 – “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
      • Two key words are to be noted here in this verse – diligent and hasty.  These words characterize the “plans” or lack thereof of the individual.  The one that is diligent, thoughtful, and determined will receive increase for their labors, whereas the one that operates with haste and eagerness will diminish their assets, potentially down to little or nothing. As the Psalmist says, their actions lead them to poverty.

 

APPLICATION:

    1. What is a luxury?
      • When we think of luxuries, we might think of the nice car, nice house, designer clothing or the over-the-top vacation. But luxuries can also be things such as eating out, cable TV, sports and entertainment tickets, travel, various TV subscriptions, pets, and impulse purchases. A luxury is anything that is non-essential for life.
      • There is nothing wrong with living in a nice house, driving a nice car, or having nice things, provided we are living within the Five Biblical Sequential Priority framework.
        • If you are not giving to your church, you can not afford TV subscriptions.
        • If you are not saving to protect your family, you can not afford to eat out.
        • If you are not paying your bills on time, you can not afford season sports tickets.
        • If you are not generous to others, you can not afford a trip to Disney.

                2. Are luxuries okay and good?  Can we have them and enjoy them?  

      • Well yes and no. 
      • Yes – First, notice what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17b, “God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” God actually cares about your joy and enjoyment!
        • God wants us to enjoy and to find pleasure in those things that HE PROVIDES for us because of our love, faithfulness and obedience to Him and His Word!
        • God is not a cosmic killjoy. Look at what Jesus says in John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Life, “to the full,” does not sound like a gift from a killjoy.
      • No – Second, a closer look at Scripture reveals a grave danger of the love for money, possessions, and worldly pleasures as an end in themselves. 
        • Worship God, not the gifts of God. Luxuries should point us back to the source of the blessing – God. All pleasures on this side of eternity are, at best, dim shadows of the glories that God will reveal in heaven. We must not glory in the created thing (the luxury) more than we glory in God. Our enjoyment of luxuries should be an act of worship of God, not of things. Romans 1:22–23 says, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
        • Our heart is too easily satisfied by lesser pleasures. As the old song goes, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
        • Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
        • 1 Timothy 6:6–10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  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. 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.” 
        • Ecclesiastes 5:10 – “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” 
        • Luke 12:15 – “And He (Jesus) said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
        • Mark 4:19 – “But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
        • Matthew 6:19–21 – “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.”

 

                 3. Concluding Thoughts on Luxuries:

      • Do not judge others based on their luxuries. We tend to measure the success of others based on the quality of their possessions. This is dangerous and should be avoided.  Neither poverty nor wealth is a sign of holiness.
      • As believers in Christ, we must understand that wealth and possessions can destroy our desire for God and our ability to serve others.
      • We must not seek our value and meaning in life in our possessions.
      • Having luxuries is not bad in and of themselves, for God has richly provided us with everything to enjoy. However, we are to enjoy them only when it is in the right sequential order within your personal finances!  
      • Everything is an act of worship, even the enjoyment of luxuries. We can worship pleasures and possessions, or we can worship the God who gives glimpses of the glories and pleasures that are to come.

 

 

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