Dr. Ed Young - Money Makes us Fools
Proverbs 25:11, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold inbaskets of silver". Beautiful, flowing Verse, isn't it? A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in baskets of silver. The picture here we receive in Proverbs is one that King Solomon must have been familiar with. When a potentate or a wealthy king would have a celebration and invite all of his peers to come-other kings, other leaders to sit around his table, many times, they would take silver and they would have their craftsmen to make them into baskets of silver. And in those baskets of silver, they would take gold and melt it, and they would shape it in the form of apples, and they would put those baskets of silver-in those baskets, they would put golden apples, real gold.
And the king, when they got through the meal, would sort of say with the back of his hand, "If anyone would like to take an apple home with you, it's sort of a souvenir, a memento of this occasion". They never had any apples left! Hhm-hhm! And the writer of Proverbs is saying here a word rightly crafted at the right time, with the right unction, with the right sincerity, properly spoken is like an apple of gold. We know the pen is mightier than the sword. Words are powerful things, but someone has spoken a word in the life of I dare say, every one of us here, and they affirm something. They encourage something. They applauded something. They spoke truth into you, encouragement into you, a belief into you, and a belief into me, and at that moment in your life, that was a life-changing moment. That was like an apple of gold, right?
I can remember a coach I had in junior high school, and they were giving out the letterman awards, and I was the youngest person on the team in a class below all the other players, and when I got my reward, he said, "Edwin's going to be a player because he hustles". That's all I had was hustle. No talent, no athleticism; but I hustled. Do you realize what that meant to me? Just a little thing way back in junior high school here I remembered. It was an apple of gold! An apple of gold... How we need to be individual who give out those apples, do we not? Sincere, not just bombastically, "Oh, you're the greatest, finest in the whole wide world! You're my best friend..." Oh no, no, no, no, no! From the heart!
When I first started speaking, I was absolutely petrified because all the way through school, I made my lowest grades when I had to publicly respond. I did! And when I had to give a book report or something, my knees would knock together, but I'm grateful that they did, because had they missed, I would have broken both legs. But somewhere along the way, there was that word of encouragement; that word of admonition, that word of saying, "Hey, maybe you can do it..." and I learned something about public communication. Let me share it with you briefly. Keep it simple! Say it clearly, and let it sing. Want to communicate? Keep it simple! Don't try to impress anybody. It doesn't make any difference-hey. Keep it simple. Say it clearly, as clearly as you can communicate it, and just let it flow-let it sing!
Boy, Jesus did that, didn't He? Did you read His words? Most of our little words, someone said, are like lightening bugs, you know-psht! Little-psht! Little-psht bit of light just... That's my words and your words, but the Words of Jesus are like lightening-shooom! Zig-zag lightening! And we encounter those lightening words in our Scripture. I hope you listen to them carefully because it's a word about materialism. Materialism... And we, to understand our Scripture, we have to see the setting. You have to see the context. When you're reading the Bible, you have to see what's going on around, what's the setting.
For example, the Sermon on the Mount, when you understand; it was delivered from a mountain. That helps, right? Or when Jesus was in the middle of a storm, it helps to know that He was in a boat, right? That helps... And here we see the context of these words of our Scripture as we're going to look back. Look at the first part of Chapter 12. We read, beginning with the 13th Verse, but look at the context of this: "Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together, that they were stepping on one another". This is the environment Jesus was in. This was the circumstances. He was teaching His disciples, those who were following Him. But thousands came to try to get close to hear what He was teaching His disciples. Isn't that interesting?
And they were stepping on one another. They were pushing and shoving. They wanted to hear His Words that were directed to His disciples; but sometimes, look at the 41st Verse of the 12th Chapter: "...that the disciples didn't know. Peter said, 'Are these words for us, or are they for all the other thousands who are gathered around? Are these exclusive words for those who've already sold out, or are following You? Or, are these words for the thousands that are pushing in to hear what You're teaching us?'" See it? See, that's the context of it. And Jesus, if you read the first part of, of this Chapter, Chapter 12, Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, profound doctrine. He was talking about "...if you confess Me before men, that I will confess you before the angels in Heaven..."
He was giving profound, doctrinal truths to primarily His followers, His disciples, when in the middle of that, He was interrupted. And, a man broken in and interrupted Him, not from His disciples, but from the crowd. And then Jesus answered that interruption with a question, and then Jesus put up an SOS sign, a word of warning and said, "Beware..." I read the interruption. Jesus was teaching, and a man said, "Master, teacher! Make my brother share the family inheritance with me! He's cheating me out of money, and stuff, and property that belongs to me". Now I imagine that his brother was in the audience. Here's one brother over here; here's another brother over here. Here's Jesus teaching His followers, and suddenly, the brother says, "Hey! Make my brother over there be honest with me"! Interesting, isn't it?
We have to ask the question, "Why in the world did he interrupt Jesus' profound teaching about the Holy Spirit-great doctrinal truths with a pragmatic thing about embarrassing his brother"? "Hey, my brother over there-he, he, he's short-circuited me! He's a con-artist! He hadn't followed the inheritance of our family! Make him set that right". Why in the world did that man ask Jesus-interrupt the whole audience of thousands of people to ask that question? Why do you think? It's because Jesus was always talking about material things. Did you know that? He was always talking about money. Stuff. You say, "Well, why did He deal with materialism like this"? Because that is the only way to really check to determine where you and I are sincere about our following of Jesus Christ.
We can check on ourselves. Others can check on us if we allow them to do that. That's a measure there. What are the three cardinal virtues? I think most people would say it's faith, and hope, that's confidence we've discovered, right? And love! I can stand up here and say, "Boy, I've got a lot of faith in Jesus"! You know, "I am confident. I have hope for the future. I'm not worried about that. I have great confidence... and I love people. I love the body of Christ. I love what this church does in so many ways, and so many shapes, and forms; how it fixes the automobiles; the single adults who can't afford it. How we give benevolently around the world. How we spent twenty six million dollars since 2003 to 2009 in missions. I love the fact we feed, we clothe, we house, we give to charities, we roll up our sleeves. We share our faith! I love", man, I could just go on, and on about this church! I really love this church!
But how do you know that? How do you know that I have faith? How do you know that I have hope? How do you know that I have love? It's how I handle stuff, and how you handle stuff. You can measure it. I've got faith that God is doing great things and wants to accomplish great things in this world in His Name. I've got faith. How do you know? How I handle materialism; how I handle, how generous I am in that area of my life. Check my check stubs. That's how you can tell. What about hope and confidence? Check my check stubs... that's how you can tell if I'm the real deal; if you're the real deal. "Oh, I love people! I want to help people! I want to see people come to Christ! I want to be a world changer. Check my check stubs to see whether or not I love".
You see, Jesus was talking about material things because so many times, possessions end up possessing you and possessing me before we know it. And then, this man said, "Hey! Tell my brother to get right about the inheritance". And look how Jesus answered this, with a question. Isn't that interesting? He was interrupted. Here's his question that he asked. He said, "Man, who appointed Me a judge, or an arbiter over you"? Jesus was saying, "I'm not, I'm not to judge you". Does that surprise you Jesus said He's not a judge? Why all the way through the Scripture, we talk about Jesus being a judge. We've already talked about the final judgment, the sheep and the goats. He's going to be a judge, right? He's always drawing lines and separating people.
"If you're not for Me, you're against Me..." He's been judging, judging, judging throughout His ministry, and this guy says, "Hey, tell my brother to get right with me..." He said, "I'm not a judge or an arbiter over you". And in the same 12th Chapter, Jesus says He is a judge. I want you to look at this. Evidently He's contradicting Himself at first glance. Look at Verse 49, Chapter 12, Luke. "I've come to cast fire upon the Earth, and how I wish it were already kindled; but I have a baptism to undergo", that was the Cross, "How distressed I am until it is accomplished. Do you suppose that I came to grant peace"? Peace on Earth, good will toward men?
Did you... Jesus was saying He didn't come to grant peace? Boy, a lot of contradictory things here... "I... Peace on Earth. I tell you no, but rather division". Division. Meristo (Merismos). Same word up here. He said, "I didn't come to Meristo". He said, "Here I came to provide Meristo. I didn't come to divide or judge. Oh yes, I came to divide and judge". What does this mean? When the man asked for justice in the inheritance, Jesus said, "I didn't come here to judge or to be an arbiter with you". What was he saying to that man? What He is saying to all of us, ladies and gentlemen: God isn't interested in anybody giving anything to Him until first of all, you've given yourself.
That's what the Lord is interested in. God is not going to help you with anything or me with anything until we've given Him our everything. Relationship with God in Christ is primary. That's what Jesus came to establish. And this man was saying, "Jesus, help me with my agenda. Man, I want the wealth and the property I was left". Jesus said, "I didn't come here to judge, to be an arbiter between you and your brother, to help you with your agenda. I came here to take your agenda and make it My agenda". See the difference? See the difference? And, and that's what He's saying to this man. Take your agenda-oh no! So if you go to God and say, "Lord, I did this for You, and I gave over here..."
The worst thing anybody can do who is an unbeliever is to give anything and any money to the body of Christ. You want to end up on a dead-end street, you give as an unbeliever saying, "Well, I gave this to the church, and I arr, arrr, arr....." That's the worst thing... Man, God doesn't want your money! The church doesn't want your money! The only thing we're interested in, we give ourselves! That's what it's all about. That's what Jesus was saying to this guy. "Man, I'm here. You have to give yourself. You have to join these group of disciples over here before you get in the giving business". I'd say that to anybody here today. We're not interested, and I'm not here saying, "Oh, the church here just gets the money"! Absolutely not! Our Heavenly Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. In fact, He even owns the hills. He's interested in you and me giving everything to Him, and then everything is open to you and me.
So He answers this accusation, this challenge with a question, and then there's a big warning sign up here. Look at this. Uh, I wish I could sound off some kind of foghorn now, "Aahoooooooo! Aahoooooooo! Aahoooooooo"! Everybody wake up! Wake up! Sheewww! Man! Jesus says, "Beware..." When Jesus said "beware," I would advise you and me to beware, wouldn't you? That's pretty big thing! He said to them, "Beware! Be on your guard against every", watch this, "form of greed; for not even when one has abundance does his life consist of his possessions". Every form-greed has so many forms. You can be rich and be greedy; you can be poor and be greedy.
And so, Jesus here then comes and tells us a story. It is a devastating story. Let me read it to you: "The land of a rich man was very productive, and he began reasoning to himself saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'This is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I'll store all my grain, and all my goods, and I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come! Take your ease! Eat, drink, and be merry!'"
Let me paraphrase that. Here's a man who's an entrepreneur. Everything he invests in just, he makes money. Anything he expands, it fills up. All of a sudden, he's just a little over 40, and he's worth millions and millions and millions of dollars. He's poured himself into the economic stream, and he's been successful, successful. He's built a giant company that is expanding, and finally he says, "I've got enough! I'm gonna turn all of this over to all the employees and assistants that I have trained, and I'm outta here. I'm gonna take the profits, and man! I've worked so hard, I don't even know my wife. I've been married to her 25 years. I'm leaving her. My kids-they didn't turn out too well, I don't care about my family. I am starting over! I am going to get a bigger yacht; I'm gonna get a faster and bigger plane, and I'm gonna tour this world, and I'm gonna bring all the beautiful women that'll go with me, and all those who are in the jet-set climate to go with me, and I'll tell you-I'm gonna eat, and drink, and be merry, and Hugh Hefner will have nothing on me! Let the good times roll, baby"!
That's it, isn't it? Let's, let's go on record before we lacerate this guy, that what he did was right. The bigger barns, the expansion, the vision, the success. Nothing wrong with that. Where did he mess up? Where did he mess up his life? Where did he fail? Let's look at that. The first place he failed was, he thought life was primarily about the body. Ah! Hedonism! Pleasure! Satisfy the flesh! Boy, that's what life is all about! If I could get more flesh, I'm in my early 40's... I got another 30 or 40 years to live, and man, I'm gonna enjoy it and enjoy it, and I'm gonna drink all the pleasure I can find in every activity on the planet; every athletic event; every Super Bowl; every fair, I'm going to go out there and enjoy all the cotton-candy of the world!
The body, he thought this was all there is. That was primary with him. The other problem he had was, he didn't think about anybody else. It was all about me. He really had an "I" problem. Look at this passage here. There are 11 personal pronouns there, "I, me, myself, mine, my soul..." By the way, do you think your soul belongs to you? Where did you get it? Where did it come from? That eternal spark of life when we were created in the image of God. You think your soul is your... "My soul! I'll tell my soul..." No thought of others... Finally, he had no thought of God. That's for sure! I wonder who gave the sunshine for his crops that were bount... I wonder, you know, where the rain came? I wonder how the market was timed perfectly. I wonder, you know, where'd all that come from?
"Oh, oh, just uh..." No concept of divine intervention, divine leadership, divine blessing, see? That was his problem. That was his problem... And then in the middle of this life of celebration; a life of moving out, moving away, drinking all of life in, you've got two little words here in Scripture. Look at them. They're just dynamite. It says, Verse 20: "But God said to him, 'You fool!'" Not an intellectual fool, but a moral and spiritual fool. He had the idea that life was just all stuff. He did know that when you leave this life, what do you have over there? If you just died right now-bang! How much would you be worth? "Well, I don't know, uh..." No, no, no... in that other place, in that spiritual, permanent, supernatural dimension. How much would you be worth? But God, tonight, "Your soul required of you"! "But I'm a young man"!
Have you noticed God, we just don't die in chronological order? Anybody notice that? I'm amazed how many people younger and younger are being taken out of this life for so many reasons. I'm amazed at that... It staggers me. Unexpected-oh! But it's becoming commonplace. But God-tonight, your soul required of you. He died tonight. And then look what happened: "...so is the man who stores up treasure in, for himself and is not rich toward God. This night your soul is required of you and now, who will own what you have possessed"?
The question here that Jesus is asking you and me is, we're rich with ourselves as we can be, right? Are we rich with God? How can you determine whether you, and whether I am rich with God? You're rich with God if you make much and you give much. You make some, you give some. Very fair. You plan forever. You invest in this life, and things that are going to be there after you take your last "ah"! Breath. That's how you do it. That's how it works... What else happens when we're rich with God? We hold this stuff loosely, you know? It doesn't take much for your possessions to possess you. For your possession, your position to say, "Well, I'm secure, you know, I've got plans. I have worked this out..." We get life out of balance.
There's another factor to giving. Remember I said Jesus teaches that generosity is the basic determining factor of what a Christian is, and what a Christian does? It really does. So we breathe in-whoow! We take in stuff-Whoooooow! I'm taking in stuff. Whoooooow! I'm expanding. I'm having more and more... but then you have to breathe out. We receive-Whoooooow! We take in; but you can't just keep receiving. Huh, huh, huh! You'll explode! There's a whole balance of nature. We breathe in oxygen; we breathe out carbon dioxide. The animals, the plants breathe out carbon dio-bre, they breathe in what? Carbon dioxide. They breathe out oxygen.
If you only breathe in-huh, huh, huh-BOOM! That's the way a lot of people live their lives-whooow! I just... Like John D. Rockefeller was asked, remember, "How much money does it take to satisfy somebody, John D."? He said, "Just a little more..." Whooow, whooow, whooow! You see, we empty our barns-Whooooo! God fills ém; we have to build bigger barns. We empty them-whooooo. God fills ém with bigger barns. That's the genius of divine, Biblical stewardship. What, ladies and gentlemen, does it profit a man or a woman who gains the whole world and loses their soul?