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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Moving From Materialism to Contentment

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Materialism to Contentment


Robert Jeffress - Moving From Materialism to Contentment
TOPICS: Invincible, Materialism, Contentment

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Materialism is characterized by the continual pursuit of more with no end in sight. Although this craving is part of our DNA, it's another mountain, an obstacle that blocks us from the blessed life God wants us to experience. Today, as we continue our series, Invincible, I'm going to show you how to overcome the insatiable desire for earthly treasures. My message is titled "Moving from Materialism to Contentment". On today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

The Royal Charter was one of the fastest ships ever built in the United Kingdom. In October of 1859, she was returning from Australia with her cargo hold filled with boxes of gold, but that wasn't the only gold on board. Over 377 passengers, many carried gold coins in their luggage, or had sewn gold coins into their clothing. Captain Thomas Taylor was determined to get his passengers and crew back to Liverpool, England, despite the threatening deceives. As the Royal Charter came inside of Holyhead, the skies grew ominous. The ships struggled around the island. Then the hurricane struck and drove the ship backward. All efforts to steer proved hopeless. Captain Taylor ordered the anchors to be dropped to stop the drift as the Royal Charter was battered by gale force winds. Distress signals were sent to no avail. No rescue ship could be safely launched. Only 40 of the 377 passengers and crew made it to shore alive. Why? Many people drowned because they refused to remove their gold laden clothing.

As one writer said, "Humans have a particularly strong and at times irrational obsession with their possessions. Every year car owners are killed or seriously injured in their attempts to stop the theft of their vehicles. A choice that few would make in the cold light of the day. It's as if there is a demon in our minds that compels us to fret over the stuff we own and make risky lifestyle choices in the pursuit of material wealth. I think we are possessed". I think the author is right. Many of us are possessed by our possessions and the result can be a disaster because these passengers on the Royal Charter were unwilling to separate themselves from their possessions, they ended up perishing. But those people ultimately who refuse to separate themselves, see themselves apart from what they own face spiritual death as well.

In our series, Invincible, we're talking about conquering the 10 challenges, the 10 mountains that separate us from the life God wants us to experience. And today we're going to talk about conquering the mountain of materialism. A challenge that robs us not only of the abundant life, God wants us to experience now, but the abundant life he wants us to experience for all eternity. First of all, I think we need to define what materialism is. When you think of somebody who is a materialist, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of billionaires vacationing on the French Riviera or driving around in their Lamborghini or lounging around in their penthouses in New York City.

We tend to think of a materialist as somebody who doesn't have any interest in spiritual things. In fact, I looked up the dictionary definition of materialism and found this quote, "The tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values". But did you know that's not really true? A materialistic person is not an unspiritual person. We all have a spiritual side to us. We all have a spiritual longing for fulfillment, for peace, for security. The materialist doesn't give up his spiritual pursuits, he just finds them, satisfies them in a different way. Instead of looking to the God of the Bible to satisfy that spiritual hunger, he looks to the God of money, of materialism to satisfy those hungers. And that's why really a materialist is a spiritual person, but he's looking to idols rather than the real God to satisfy those needs.

Paul makes that point in Colossians 3:5. He writes, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and notice this the last one, greed, which amounts to idolatry". Idolatry is worshiping anything, anyone other than the true God. Looking to them to provide your ultimate needs. And Paul is saying, greed is really a form of idolatry. It's looking to money rather than to God to fulfill that spiritual desire you have. Jesus made the same point in Matthew 6:24. He said, "No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other". You cannot serve, you cannot worship both God and money. Money is a God that people chase after to satisfy their needs. And it's understandable why some people would choose to worship money. The fact is money makes many of the same promises that the true God makes.

For example, money promises security. Don't we all long for security? There are many things money cannot protect you against. And there's a great illustration of that in Luke chapter 12. Turn over there for a moment. In verse 15, Jesus sounded this warning. He said, "Be on your guard against materialism, literally be on your guard against greed, every form of it for not even when a man has an abundance, does his life consist of his possessions"? "You are more than what you own," Jesus says. Don't define your life by what you own, why? Well, he told a parable, he said, and Jesus told them a parable saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. And the rich man began reasoning to himself saying, 'what shall I do since I have no place to store my crops'"? In an agricultural society, the way you measured wealth was by of the crops your land would produce. And he said, "I've got so much excess, I don't know what to do with it". And then he said to himself, "I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my current barns and build larger ones. And there I will store all my grain and all my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'soul you have many goods laid up for you for many years to come take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry'".

Notice the two things, this farmer's money was going to provide him. First of all, security, "I got enough money stacked away, stashed away to take care of me for many years, I don't ever have to work again". And then he said, "I can enjoy a life of luxury," luxury, a luxurious life, "Eat, drink, and be merry". That's what he was looking for. He thought money had provided both of those things, security and luxury. But there is one contingency this rich man had never planned for. Look at verse 21. As he was having this conversation with himself, God said to him. But God said to him, he intervened in his life and he said, "You fool this very night your soul is required of you, and now who will own what you have prepared"? That word required in Greek is a banking term, that means to call in alone. God said, "You had made all of your plans for the future, but you forgot your life is just on loan to you and I can call in the loan anytime I want. You fool tonight, your soul is required of you and now who will own all that stuff you have packed into the barns"?

So is the man who stores up pressure for himself and is not rich toward God. Any security you think that money or your possessions will provide you is just an illusion. Money can never protect you from having a stranger steal the affections of your mate. It can never protect you from a car crash. It can never protect you from a metastasizing cancer cell. And it certainly can never protect you from death. Secondly, people worship money because money promises peace. People think, well, when I get a certain amount of money, my life will be a lot easier. It will bring peace out of chaos. The fact is wealth, money can bring many stresses into your life.

You say, "Well, I'd like to have some of that stress". Well, think about it before you say that. In Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon who was the wealthiest man of his day said, "When goods increase those who consume them increase". So what advantage is it to their owners, except to look on? The sleep of the working man is pleasant. Whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep. In other words, a wealthy person stays up at night, worrying about his money, taxes to pay, more employees to manage, government regulations to deal with. There are stress not peace many times that comes with wealth.

Finally, people worship money because it promises fulfillment. It promises and what it buys, fulfill that hole that is in all of our hearts. We think if only I had a certain income or had a certain amount of money, finally, I could build my dream house or I could drive my dream car or I could take my dream vacation. The truth is dream houses still get backed up toilets, dream cars still get scratches and dings on them. Dream vacations, no matter how exotic finally come to an end. That's why 1 Timothy 6:10 says, "The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil and some by longing forward, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many a grief". Money doesn't provide fulfillment.

Well, what should be our attitude, if we're Christians about money and materialism? It's not exactly what you think. The Bible doesn't say money is evil. The love of money is evil, but money isn't evil. We need to keep money in perspective according to God's word. Three admonitions, the Bible gives us about money. Number one, appreciate money without worshiping it. Appreciate it without worshiping it. I mean, the fact is on one hand, it was money that caused the rich young ruler to turn away from Christ. It caused the rich fool in Luke 12 to think all was well with his soul. It was money that caused Judas to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It was money that caused Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit and be struck dead. But on the other hand, it was money that allowed Solomon's Temple to be built and people to worship God. It was money that paid for the last supper in the upper room, the Passover meal that Jesus had with his followers. It was money that funded Paul's three missionary journeys to take the Gospel everywhere. Don't hate money, but be aware of the dangers of it. Secondly, the Bible says when it comes to money, we ought to save money without hoarding it.

In Ecclesiastes 5:13 Solomon wrote, "There is a grievous evil, which I have seen under the sun riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt". You know what hoarding is? It's just trying to stockpile money, build as big of a pile of it as you can. You get to where you just do it for the sake of doing it, thinking that's where your security is. "Don't hoard money", Solomon said, but the Bible says do save money. What are the principles about money? Thirdly, use money without trusting it. Use it without trusting it. In Proverbs 10:15 Solomon says, "The rich man's wealth is his fortress". But then he added some balancing word in chapter 18, verse 11, "A rich man's wealth is his strong city and like a high wall in his own imagination".

Yes, money can protect you against some things, but there are other things it can never protect you against that's the balancing, use money, set it aside, but don't put your ultimate trust in it whatsoever. How do you conquer the mountain of materialism? If you've built your life around money and what it purchases, how do you conquer that desire? Philippians 4:11, "For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know how to get along with humble means, I know how to live in prosperity and in and every circumstances I've learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Paul said, "Yes, we Christians have to look inwardly not to ourselves, but to our relationship with Jesus Christ". That's the secret to contentment. But notice he says, "I learned how to be content". This contentment isn't a natural part of our DNA. We're not born with it. Even as Christians, we have to learn how to conquer that desire for more by being content. What are the secrets to learning contentment?

Let me mention in closing today, three secrets for contentment that comes straight from this passage in 1 Timothy chapter six. First of all, contentment comes when we learn to thank God for what we already have. Greed and gratitude can not exist in the same heart. Did you know that? You're either searching for more or you're grateful for what you have. And Paul said in verse eight, in 1 Timothy 6, "If we have food and covering with these we shall be content". How many times do you really sincerely thank God for the meal that is before you? I don't mean the ritual of saying grace. I mean, how many times are you grateful for the fact that you don't have to worry about your next meal? Before you go to sleep at night, how many of you really thank God for the covering over your head?

The fact that you're sleeping indoors and not outdoors. When you get up tomorrow morning, and pull yourself out of bed to go to work, do you find yourself thanking God for that job you have an opportunity to go to? That in turn earns the income to provide for yourself and your family. Deuteronomy 8:18, Moses said, "You shall remember the Lord, your God for it is he who gives you the power to make wealth, to make money". God's the one who gives you a job. He's the one who gives you the breadth of life in order to function at that job. Again, it is impossible for gratitude and discontent to reside in the same heart. Thank God for what you already have.

Secondly, contentment comes from recognizing the dangers of materialism. I wish I had time to talk about this, but notice the dangers of materialism. Paul mentions in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, "Those who want to get rich. Those who are thirsting for more, fall into temptation and a snare". The first danger of desiring more is you can fall into a snare. The Greek word here means a trap that has been bedded for an animal. When you want to get rich, you have that insatiable desire. You become easy prey for people who would take your money from you for get rich quick schemes. Be careful, you can fall into a snare. Not only that you can fall into foolish and harmful desires.

I know people who've come into a lot of money and they've just been foolish in what they've done with it. Join country clubs and golf lessons and vacations. And pretty soon they were completely out of money once again, not only foolish desires, but harmful desires. Other people have allowed money to give them too much independence and they've fallen into illicit relationships and lost their marriages and families. And then he talks about eventually materialism can plunge you into ruin and destruction. Here he's talking about apostasy, falling away from God. You see that in the next verse. Verse 10, "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many a pang".

Finally, how do you learn contentment? Contentment comes from remembering how temporary our possessions are. In verse seven of 1 Timothy 6, Paul says, "Remember, you have brought nothing into this world and you will take nothing out of it either". Translation, you came into this world empty handed, not with a thing, and guess what? You're going to leave this world in the very same way. John stott says, "Possessions are only the traveling luggage of time. One day, you're going to set that luggage down". I've never seen a hearse pulling a u-haul, not ever, doesn't happen. You leave it all behind.

You remember that story I told you about the 377 passengers aboard the Royal Charter ship, how all of them, except for 40 lost their lives, many of them, because they refused to take off their clothing that was weighted down by gold, that had been sewn into it. You know what the ultimate irony is? Just a few moments after they made that decision, not to take off their clothing, not to separate themselves from their riches, a few moments after they made that disastrous decision, they perished and they were immediately separated from all of their possessions.

That's what death is. It is a separation from everything. The word vanitas, death means to separate. Death is the separation of our spirit from our body. But it's also the separation of us from every thing that we own. And that's why the ultimate misuse of your life is to spend it pursuing things that you're going to ultimately leave behind or as God said the fool, "You fool tonight your soul is required of you and who will own what you have accumulated"? So is the man who is storing up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.
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