Bling: Defeating the Greedy Monster
Here is the word used when the graph of fulfillment and the accumulation of things comes together. It’s one simple word, ENOUGH. It may be different areas of our lives for all of us but we’ve got to learn to say the word ENOUGH. When is it enough for you? I finally had to look at my television set and say, “It’s enough. I don’t need another one. I don’t need to borrow money to get another one. I don’t have to have the ultimate brand new off the shelf high def experience. ” Most days I believe that. It’s enough. Just to say that can be so liberating. We went through our whole house the last two weeks. We cleaned out nine to ten years worth of junk in our house – clothes, furniture, we donated all of it to Goodwill. It was so liberating to say, “That’s enough.” What we have is enough. Just be thankful for that.
The Bible talks about this word ENOUGH in an interesting passage. Ecclesiastes 5:10, “Whoever loves money, never has money enough.” If you really love it you will never have enough of it. “Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” If we are ever going to really experience contentment it’s not going to be related to how much money you have. Because if you love it and have ten million in the bank, it won’t be enough. It will never be enough until we get to that place where we learn to say, “ENOUGH.”
Paul writes in Philippians 4 that if we are going to have it all with out all the stuff then we have to learn to avoid comparisons. Nothing will lead to discontentment faster than comparisons. In fact, Philippians 4:11 says, “I’ve learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Whatever is coming into my life I have learned to be content.
Let’s say you are thankful for your car. It may not be brand new or the greatest car on the market but it’s a good car. The car runs, it has air in the summer. It has heat in the winter. Those are good things. You are grateful to have a ride. You drive up to church. It’s all good. You are thankful. You are filled with joy. You are going to worship all that. You pull in and park next to a brand new BMW. You get out of your car and shut the door. You look at the piece of junk you drove in parked right next to it – isn’t that how it works in our lives? That piece of junk. I need to get a new car. If I had that car I wouldn’t be late to work. Things would be good. We start justifying it in our minds. That car paid for itself. It wouldn’t lose any value. When you get the NEW car, you are just on to the next thing.
Paul is saying, “I’ve learned that no matter what is going on around me, no matter what other people have, I can be content.” I can learn the value of contentment by avoiding comparisons.
He talks about the whole value of money in 1 Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we can be content with that.” What a statement! How many of us can read that and say, “That’s me. If I had food and clothing I’d be content with that.” Right! Paul is acknowledging that the most important things in life, the things that really bring contentment is not related to all this external stuff. There is a place where you need food and clothing. Then that place overlies with our life and it’s enough. We need to learn to say enough.
If you make $47,500.00 then you make more than ninety-nine percent of people on planet Earth. We can lose perspective in our country of how much we really have and how much God has given us. We start looking at all the things we don’t have. We forget to look at all the things that we do have. Contentment begins when we stop comparing our selves with what we don’t have and start being grateful for what we do have. In that gratitude it’s a big mental shift, isn’t it? It really changes your heart as it comes to stuff.
Now Paul goes on in 1 Timothy 6. He’s going to say some pretty strong words about money and wealth. Let’s dive into it and then we’ll work through it. “People who want to get rich fall into a temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Money itself is not bad. Money is a blessing that God brings into our lives. When you look through the Bible some of the greatest people of faith where people of extreme wealth.
Abraham had bling. He had money, possessions, cattle, and servants. He had the whole deal. But he also had faith and kept it in perspective. What Paul is writing about in 1 Timothy 6 is what happens when we get this inappropriate desire in our hearts and lives for more. It’s an inappropriate love for money can do damage in our lives. It’s a fishing term like baiting a hook and dropping it in the water. The fish swims along and takes that bait. He takes it hook, line, and sinker. Paul is saying we’re the fish. It’s the temptation to have an inappropriate love of money that’s the bait. If we bite into it, it can destroy us.
Paul says that people have actually wandered from the faith for the love of money. They’ve subtly begun to place money and possessions in that place that only God wants to be in our lives. God is very concerned that he comes first in our lives. As you look at the Bible, the Ten Commandments say you should have no other idols before me. No other gods before me. I’m number one. I come first. We subtly and slowly begin to trust money over God. We begin to trust what money can do for us over the things that God can do for us. That shift in our hearts can make us wander from the faith.
Paul says people who get caught up in this whole materialistic trap pierce themselves with many griefs. That word PIERCE is a word used of a person who cuts his finger on a thorn bush. Paul is saying when we allow money to take that much dominance in hearts and lives, to make it that much of a focus of our thoughts and dreams, we can get into a place where it is devastating to us. It’s like we are plunging our hands in and out of a thorn bush. We’re piercing ourselves with many griefs.
What kind of griefs? Many of them – just look around. Relational griefs. How many marriages and families have been devastated over an inappropriate love of money? How many trusts have been fought over and scrapped over by families that once loved each other. When the money got involved everything got complex. Now they no longer talk and they no longer relate.
How many marriages have been devastated? Think about the people you know that you work and interact with? How many people have been ripped off for the love of money? Burned for the love of money? Taken for all they are worth for the love of money? How many corporate scandals do we have to see before we realize that the love of money, if it really gets to your heart, can do dangerous things?
We have to be cautious. It’s not that money is bad; it can be a huge blessing. It’s not that lots of money is bad. God may bless you with all kinds of money and resources. That’s great. Just keep it in perspective and avoid comparisons with others so you don’t get into that trap where you have to have more.