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We’re called to make a difference, and that’s what our new series is all about. Today is part one of this four-part series called, “Be Rich.” Before we get into what it means to be rich, we first need to get something else taken care of.
You see, if you want to fix your behaviors and make something better in your life, you can’t start with changing your behavior. You actually have to start with how your brain thinks. You have to upgrade your thinking.
So that is where we are going to start in this series. Today’s message is called, “Think Right, Do Right” because we first need to change our thinking if we really want to live a life that makes a difference. Let me show it to you in scripture:
Proverbs 23:7 NKJV – For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
In other words, whatever you are thinking, those ideas and the way you perceive the world, is who you are. You can’t think one way and then be someone else. Your thinking creates your behavior.
Here’s another way to say it:
Romans 12:2 NLT – Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Notice it didn’t say that God changes your behavior. No, He changes the way you think which in turn creates right behavior.
We all want to attack others bad behaviors and we go on a quest to conquer our own bad behaviors. Yet, it never works. And the reason it doesn’t work is because you are attacking the symptom, not the cause of the issue.
The cause of bad behavior is wrong thinking.
God transforms us into a new person not by taking away our bad behaviors, but by changing the way we think. And that’s exactly why we come to church on Sundays: to upgrade our thinking. That’s why we read the Bible every day.
And that’s how we are going to start this new series. We’re going to upgrade our thinking. Because when we think right, we can do right.
Let me show you our theme verse for this series. And what’s interesting about this verse is, it was actually written to a pastor. This was a letter from the Apostle Paul to a pastor named Timothy:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain,
So, this wasn’t just a passive request. He wasn’t saying, “Hey, if it’s convenient, go ahead and tell the rich people about this.” No, this was a command. Like, “Go and tell the rich people, right now, these two things:
Don’t be arrogant about your wealth. And don’t trust your wealth.
In other words, when you become rich, there’s going to be this gravitational pull to think you are better than everyone else. And you are also going to start thinking you’re untouchable.
So, how do you make sure this wrong thinking doesn’t happen to you?
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV – but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
There are three things I want you to get here.
First, when you catch yourself feeling secure because of your bank account, it’s time to have a conversation with yourself. Remind yourself that it could be gone tomorrow so you best keep you trust in God.
Secondly, I want you to see that God is okay with you enjoying what He’s given you. There’s this idea out there that if someone lives in a nice house or goes on a nice vacation that they are spending money that should have been used for a greater purpose.
This should never be a part of your thinking. God is never going to ask you about how someone else spent their money. But He does care about what you do with yours and that you even enjoy it along the way.
Which leads us into the third thing we see in this verse. There is a command to use what we have to do good, and not just a little bit of good, but to be RICH in good deeds. Let’s sum it up like this:
Enjoy what God has given you while taking every opportunity to be generous.
That was a loaded scripture. Now let’s keep reading:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV – In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
When you live this way, when you are rich in good deeds, your heavenly bank account just keeps growing and growing. This is way better than the stock market.
A generous life is not only going to impact your heavenly experience, but it is also going to make your earthly life totally awesome. It’s how you take hold of the life that is truly life. We’re talking about your best life.
Maybe you read this scripture and wonder, “Why is there a whole section in the Bible about teaching rich people how to be rich?” Well, the reason is, they’re not very good at it.
And this isn’t just opinion, it’s a fact. Here’s how we know this is true in our culture:
The more Americans make, the less they give.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of time convincing myself that I would give more when I make more. Or, that I would act on the generosity that God put on my heart when I had a little more in my savings account first.
Well, if that’s our strategy, we better upgrade our thinking. Because the statistics show that on average, the more we make, the less we give. So, making more is not the answer to being more generous.
And really, it all comes down to how we think. The reason rich people are not good at being rich is because they need to upgrade their thinking. Let me show you three of the things I am talking about.
Rich people don’t like to admit they are rich.
This is really interesting because tall people don’t mind admitting that they’re tall. Guys who hit the gym every day don’t mind admitting that their buff. Heck, they’ll show it to you if you’ll let ‘em.
OSU fans don’t mind representing Oklahoma State… even though that’s something you should probably hide.
Yet, rich people don’t like to admit they are rich. I could ask you right now to raise your hand if you are rich and ain’t nobody going to hoop and holler, “It’s me, it’s me!”
The truth is, most of us probably should identify with being rich. Let me show you what I mean.
A survey was sent out asked people how much they would have to make each year to consider themselves rich. The answer?
Rich = $150,000
Some of you are thinking, “That’s right. Because I don’t make near that and boy would I be rolling in the dough if I brought that in every year.”
But if you ask someone who is currently making $150,000 if they are rich, they’d say, “Oh no. That’s barely enough to make all of my payments.”
They did another survey for the subscribers of Money Magazine. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have enough money to sit and read a magazine about what to do with all my money. But, apparently these people exist.
And here’s what the survey asked them, “How much would you have to have in liquid assets to be considered rich?” Their answer?
Rich = $5 Million
You probably scoff at the number and think, “Wow. Must be nice to have that kind of money.” Yet, you ask the people who have $5 million dollars if they consider themselves rich and they say, “No.”
So here’s the bottom line:
Nobody is rich, but everybody knows somebody who is.
So, step number one in this idea of being rich is to admit the fact that you already are. Let me prove it to you.
According to the Global Rich List, a $32,400 annual income places you among the top 1% of earners in the world.
And that’s the response I thought I would get… I mean, nobody went, “Praise God! I’m rich and didn’t even know it! I mean I went to church miserable today and then I found out by my pastor, I’m rich!”
The reason you’re not excited about this is because you don’t feel rich. And that is something I am going to help you with today.
Why are we even talking about this? Because the Bible does:
2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT – You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
Jesus didn’t become poor to give you an example of living poor. No, Jesus became poor so that he could make you rich!
Come on now. Someone just upgraded their thinking with that one.
Why does Jesus want us to be rich?
2 Corinthians 9:11 NLT – Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.
Jesus didn’t make you rich so you could say, “Hey, look at me!” He doesn’t even want to make you rich so that you feel more secure. No, He wants you rich so that you can always be generous.
Here’s the second reason rich people aren’t very good at being rich:
Rich people are plagued by discontentment.
In other words, the more stuff you have, the more stuff you want. Has anyone noticed that to be true in their life besides me?
I mean, if I have just a few more shirts that I love, then I will be happy getting dressed every morning. And then I get those three or four shirts and decide I need even more.
Or, I need just five more dollars per hour at work and then I will be content with my salary. And then you find a way to spend all that extra money and decide that you actually need more.
If you are trying to find contentment by making more money or getting more stuff, you’re never going to be content. You’re always going to be striving for more and more.
And it will steal your time and energy from the most important things. You’ll end your life discontent because you’ll finally realize that you should have never been chasing more stuff, you should have been pursuing God.
The Bible actually talks about this:
Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 NLT – Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
Getting more stuff isn’t going to fulfill you. It’s just going to create more stress in your life. And it can even get to a point where you’re so worried about your stuff that you can’t get a good night’s sleep!
I mean, we do this at Christmas every year. We think, “It was pretty good last year, but this year it is going to be bigger and better.” And then each year, you spend more and more money and go deeper and deeper in debt.
And then in the end, your kids still play in a cardboard box. Go figure.
I know this probably isn’t you, but you probably know some people who act this way. I mean, rich people act a little weird.
They’ll drive their fully functioning car to the dealership, leave it there, and pay the guy quite a bit of extra money to drive off in another car that basically does the same thing. It’s weird, isn’t it?
Or, they’ll take their fully functioning kitchen with beautiful cabinets and countertops and pay someone to come in and rip it apart and then replace it just like it was, only it looks a little different this time.
I mean, I don’t get it. Was this practice for the contractor so he would do a better job on the next house that actually needed a kitchen?
Or, how about this one. They go wait in line at an Apple store to get an iPhone while they sit there and text on the iPhone that they already have, “Hey, I’m waiting in line to get an iPhone.”
I know, none of this is you guys. But, you’ve heard of people who do this, right?
So, I think sometimes we just need to be reminded that we actually have a lot of stuff. And getting more stuff is not going to bring contentment.
Let me go ahead and give you the last thing that shows us rich people aren’t very good at being rich:
Rich people live with a false sense of security.
They believe that they can save their way to safety. Like, if their bank account is big enough, then they will always be taken care of. There’s a term for this that you’ve probably heard, “I want to be financially secure.”
I hate to break your bubble, but there is no such thing as financial security. Seriously, you could have millions of dollars in your bank account and it still isn’t going to keep bad things from happening.
There’s actually a verse in the Bible that talks about this:
Proverbs 18:11 NIV – The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
I highlighted the key word in that verse. In other words, thinking that wealth is going to keep you safe is a dream. It’s something that we all like to imagine, but it simply isn’t true.
I actually watched a new TV show this past week called “Back in the Game”. It turns out that most professional athletes who make a crazy amount of money end up going broke after they retire. And this show follows a guy who helps them get their life and finances back on track.
The episode I watched was about a famous boxer, Evander Holyfield. He earned over $200 million dollars during is career as a professional boxer. He retired in 2014, and here we are 5 years later and his money is gone.
So, there you have it. Even if you had $200 million dollars, it’s still not enough to secure your future from the things that can happen.
I know, we were having fun until now. But you guys have to get this. Or you are going to waste your entire life looking for security in the wrong thing. Let me put it to you in a question.
How much money would you need to secure your future against anything bad that could happen?
The answer: More than you currently have.
I’m not saying that a savings account is a bad idea. I have a savings account with six-months worth of expenses so that if my income dried up, I would have six months to figure it out before my family went hungry.
So, saving money isn’t a bad thing. But we can’t trust in our savings account or else we just continue to hoard more and more money seeking more security.
And that’s exactly why, as Americans make more money, they give less. As their income goes up, so do their expenses, which makes them more insecure because they have more to take care of. So, they give less and hoard more.
We’ve got to upgrade our thinking and put our hope in God. He’s the one who takes care of our needs. He’s the one watching out for us and taking the bad things that happen and turning them into good.
Don’t look to money to give you something that it can never give you. Look to God to sustain you and give you peace and contentment and equip you to be rich in good deeds.
We just talked through the bad thinking around money so we can get it out. But now I need to give you some right thoughts to replace them.
Maybe you’ve been to a church where they try to guilt you into giving. Or maybe even someone outside the church has told you that you should have given to the poor instead of buying the car you’re driving around.
Well, I’m not going to do any of that. The Bible doesn’t even do any of that. It simply shows us the truth so that we can upgrade our thinking. And when our thinking is right, then we will be able to do right.
Remember, our thoughts determine our actions. Our thoughts produce our behaviors. So, let me give you three right thoughts to help you put money in the right place in your life. These are the thoughts that lead you to be rich God’s way.
If you struggle to live a generous life, this message might make you feel a little guilty. But, shake that off because guilt is not a productive emotion.
God doesn’t want you to be guilty. He wants you to be grateful.
#1 I will be grateful.
I mean, of all the places God could have put us, He put us here. Like, we live in Oklahoma in America where we enjoy abundance and health and nice things and we even get to be around great people who love God.
We live in one of the few states that are still trying to hold on to the values we find in the Word of God. Y’all, we are blessed to be here. And it has nothing to do with us.
God created us in our mother’s womb. He placed us here in the place in this time. He gave us our gifts and abilities which allow us to create wealth. He created the food we enjoy and all the materials it took to build our house and cars.
It’s all God! If you think it’s because of your hard work or your education or whatever, it’s time to update your thinking! Every good thing that is in your life is because God provided it for you.
Then, why is it so hard to be grateful? Why are we all walking around and griping about what we don’t have?
I remember going to a pastor’s prayer meeting not too long ago. You’d think this would be the most grateful group of people out there, but turns out, all anyone wanted to talk about was their struggles.
One would ask the other pastor, “How’s it going?” And he’d respond, “Well, you know, we’ve been going through so trials.” And everyone else’s response was just, “Praise God, we all struggle. Hang in there!”
And because everyone else is talking like this, we tend to follow suit and look for the things in our life we can complain about. But let’s turn that around! How about we be the ones who set the tone of the conversation?
“We’re doing great. Our church is more united than it’s ever been. We’re making an impact in Mexico and the Philippines. We even had a lady in our church a few weeks ago who was healed from something that looked to be breast cancer.
On top of these amazing things happening at my church, I love my job. I love my family. And I’m blessed to have a roof over my head and food to eat. God has truly provided everything that I need.”
We think we’re going to offend people by talking about all the good things happening in our lives, but how many of you were just offended? No one. How many of you were encouraged by what I just said? Exactly.
You see, the reason we can talk about the good things in our life is because we didn’t do it. God did! When we proclaim the good in our lives, we’re elevating God. We’re not bragging. We’re elevating God.
They may look at you weird at first. But, keep it up and they’ll be asking you, “What is your deal?” And then you can lead them to Jesus!
Our culture wants us to think that you display holiness when you’re kind of down in the dumps and poor and living a somewhat miserable life. STOP IT! If I catch you doing this, I’m going to call you out on it.
Living and talking about your poor life is not what God wants us to do. Take a look at this scripture:
1 Chronicles 29:10-13 NLT – Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!”
This is what it is supposed to be like. We all need to take time to think of the good in our lives and then give God all the credit for it.
Don’t waste any more time thinking and talking about the things that you don’t like. When those around you engage in those depressing conversations, turn them around and start praising God like David did.
Now, I need you to see what David said next in this scripture:
1 Chronicles 29:14 NLT – But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!
This is the attitude I want our church to have. We don’t give because we feel guilty. We don’t even give out of obligation. We give because what we have came from God in the first place. And generosity is how we elevate God.
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t want to be more generous. And that’s why gratitude is so important. Because:
Gratitude makes me more generous.
Simply being thankful can flip the whole perspective of your life. It takes you from being discontent to being fulfilled which equips you to be more generous.
Here’s the next way be rich like Jesus intended for us to be:
#2 I will lead with generosity.
In other words, before I do anything with my income, I give. And listen to me, it’s okay to spend and enjoy what you have. Just don’t do it first. Follow the Biblical example and give first.
Because if giving isn’t first on your list, it’s not on your list. You’ll get to the end of your paycheck with nothing left over even though you intended to be generous.
This is why I encourage you to tithe, which is a Biblical principle where you give the first 10% of your income to God through the church.
Listen to me. This is not a law. This is not something you have to do. This is not God’s tax on His people to where He’s going to send his version of the IRS to punish you and send you to jail if you don’t pay.
The tithe is simply God giving us this practical way to make sure money doesn’t become our master. When we give the first 10% of our income to God, we’re showing our money who’s boss. I’m in charge, not you.
That’s an amazing benefit on it’s own, but tithing comes with even more promises. God promised that when we tithe, He’ll pour out even greater blessing than we had before. As if we deserved it, yet He still does it.
I’ve been giving the first 10% of my income since I started making money when I was 15 years old. At first, I did it because my parents made me. Now, I do it because I want to. And the benefits have been ridiculous.
I don’t know about you, but I want my heart to always be in the right place. I don’t ever want to love something else more than I love God. And Jesus gives us a very practical way to keep our heart in the right place:
Matthew 6:21 NLT – Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
In other words, here is what Jesus is saying:
Generosity leads, heart follows.
To keep your heart focused on what really matters, be intentional about generosity. Give to God first before you do anything else.
There’s one more thing I want to give you. There’s this idea out there that the more money you have, the more secure you are. You may remember the scripture we read in 1 Timothy earlier that blew this idea to smithereens.
Don’t put your hope in wealth. Instead:
#3 I will put my hope in God.
Take a look at this beautiful Proverb:
Proverbs 30:8-9 NLT – Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
Wow, isn’t this an amazing perspective to have about money? This was a prayer by a guy named Solomon and he’s basically saying, “Lord, help me to see money like I see water. Don’t let me drown and don’t let me get dehydrated.”
You know, I get some interesting comments almost every time I deliver a message on money. But, you know why I talk about it so much? Because Jesus did. He talked more about money than He did prayer, or even Heaven.
Why? Why did Jesus talk about it so much? Because He knew that the biggest competitor for your soul wouldn’t be satanism. Like you don’t sit at home and think, “Should I be a satanist or a Christian… I just don’t know.”
You’re not doing that. But Jesus knew that the chief competitor for your soul would be your stuff.
He knew you’d be tempted to work all the time so you would have more stuff. He knew you’d be tempted to take advantage of others so you could be the one to end up with more money.
Jesus even warned us that you can’t serve God and money. Like, you may think that you can serve money a little over here on the side as long as you make church a priority. But that will never work.
You choose. You either serve God or you serve money. And why would we choose to put our hope in the provision when we could put our hope in the provider? That’s why we must adopt this mindset:
I will not trust in riches but in Him who richly provides.
It’s very easy to allow ourselves to migrate away from God and begin to think we can manage our life without Him. And today, you may have realized this is exactly what you’ve been doing. And you discovered you’re really not that good at it.
You keep pushing and trying and working more hours, and none of it seems to help. There’s just more debt, more discontentment and it’s all starting to get so heavy you don’t know if you can take it anymore.
The answer is not in working harder or making more money. The answer is putting your hope in God and trusting His Word. So I invite you today to step out in faith and try something different. Give God control of your life.
This is true regardless of if you feel close to God or if you feel far from God. It’s time to give Him control of every area of your life.
And maybe you’re one who feels far from God. Like, maybe you’ve been close to Him before and drifted away, or maybe you’ve never drawn close to God. Well, that’s what salvation is all about. And it’s not complicated.
Salvation is as simple as believing that Jesus died to set you free from all that bondage. There’s nothing you can do to earn it. It’s all Jesus. And all you have to do is recognize that and receive the gift of new life in Jesus.
If this is you, I encourage you to say the following prayer out loud:
Jesus, I’ve been living without you and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I need your forgiveness. I accept Your love and grace for me and ask that You would be my Lord. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for washing away my past. I hand my life over to you and ask that you’d help me walk out your plan for my life.