South Sydney Anglican Church

DENARIUS DAY

Speaker: Matt Johnson

Bible Passage: 1 Timothy 6:2-19

Big Idea:       The Love of Money is a Chief Danger for us All

Point 1:         Paul tells Timothy Money is a Real Danger to Christianity

1Tim.6:2 These are the things you are to teach and insist onIf anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

But 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 will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Point 2:           Paul tells Timothy of the things He should Pursue more than Money

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Point 3:         Paul tells Timothy to Command Rich Christians to be Generous

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 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.

Big Idea:       The Love of Money is a Chief Danger for us All

Intro:              Well Morning Friends and visitors and those joining us online. My name is Pastor Matt Johnson and today we are doing a one-off topical sermon on money. Each year we hold a special church service to support a wonderful Christian missionary in Greece – named Viorica Tartaru. So today, I am talking about money and generosity because I want you to consider supporting her ministry.

PRAYER:

Well friends, this is a genuine DENARIUS made during the reign of the Roman Emperor – Tiberius between 14-37AD. We call today – our Denarius Day Offertory – because in Jesus’ day – a Denarius was about one day’s wage. So, what I’m asking you to do – is consider giving up the equivalent of one day’s wage to support Viorica.

(Slide 2) This is a picture of Viorica Tartaru with her husband Dominic Viorica works with a Christian Organization called Nea Zoi. (Slide 3) In Greek, NEA ZOI means new life and this is a picture of their website. The website states (Slide 3-4).

Now as I understand it Viorica comes from MOLDOVA (Slide 5). Moldova is a poor country in eastern Europe. When Viorica moved to Athens (ENTER) she discovered many poor women from Moldova were being tricked into prostitution. They would be offered a decent job in Greece. But when they arrived, their work visa, passports etc would be taken away and they would be forced to work as prostitutes. Then if they didn’t comply – death threats would be made against their famiy.

It was modern day slavery. So NeaZoi takes a team through the red light district of Athens (each week) giving opportunities for the girls (and increasingly young men) to tell their stories. Those who report they are held in this sort of slavery – are then told about Jesus and offered help.

Some years ago – our church helped NeaZoi – build a safe room – where women can basically hide – while new papers, visas and asylum is worked out.

While NeaZoi does all this they share the gospel of Jesus and over the years we have heard of many women coming to faith in Jesus. But many of these women – coming out of slavery – suffer from depression and PTSD. So a few years ago Viorica ended up getting a Masters degree in counselling to help these women in recovery.

Today Nea Zoi is still primarily focussed on people in slavery. But Viorica’s ministry has broadened. (ENTER) These days more women from North Africa are being tricked into slavery. (ENTER) Recently, Viorica has also been doing more work with women – who are effectively refugees out of Iran and (ENTER) Afghanistan. But in every case Viorica is a committed evangelist sharing Jesus with those she helps. This is the ministry we are asking you to support today.

So I’m going to speak about the love of money from 1 Timothy 6 and I’m going to shoot some of our sacred Chriistian cows – that often prevent us being generous

Point 1:         Paul tells Timothy Wealth is a Danger to the Christian Faith

Show:                        1Tim.6:5-10 (READ)

Explain:         Well as you can see Paul tells Timothy – that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Overall this passage tells us that money and affluence is actually a spiritual health hazzard for Christians.

Now I grew up in a reasonably affluent church and I regularly heard 1 Timothy 6:10 – quoted in such a way that it toned down Paul’s warning. On numerous occassions I heard people say “money is not the root of all kinds of evil”. No. No. No. It’s “the LOVE of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.”  Andf of course, none of us, love money.

Even as a kid (I remember) – feeling like these rich Christians were trying to justify their very comfortable lifestyles. I mean Paul actually says we should be content with food and clothing. But I’m yet to meet a western Christian who is content with food and clothing. What’s more, Paul doesn’t ONLY condemn the love of money. He also rebvukes those who want to get rich and those who are eager for money. Simply wanting to get rich (which in my experience is the aspiration of most westerners) is lumped together with the love of money. So saying I want to be rich, but I don’t love money, is splitting hairs.

There are more warnings in the Bible about greed and money – than there are about sexual immorality, drunkeness or lying. And yet, our most prestigious Anglican churches in Sydney are full of very, very rich people. What’s more, looking at total church giving against congregation size – I can quickly do the math and work out most of these Christians are giving less than a 3% tithe. So lets not kid ourselves – that greed is a serious problem. Lying to the Holy Spirit about how generous they were – cost Ananias and Saphira their lives. So lets not lie to ourselves…

Now of course, some wealthy Christians are very, very generous and I thank you. But remember generoisty is not measured in dollars given, but percentage of income. I also know average giving in our little church per person, is actually as good or better than some of the richest churches (and that’s with half our congregation living on a pension). So I sincerely thank you – because I know our little church is more generous per capita than many churches. But I’d still say that one of our most acceptable sins – is still greed and materialism.

 For the last few years – I’ve found myself being more and more challenged in this area of wealth. When will I conclude I have enough wealth AND start sowing like 50% of my income into Gods kingdom, rather than 10%. Will I do it when I’ve paid off one house? Or maybe when I have two houses and $500,000 in super. But each time we delay being generous – we are committing numerous SINS OF OMISSION. If God asks us to be generous and we choose not to be generous that is a sin of omission. And I’d say – some of the biggest crimes in the last 100 years – have perhaps been committed by western evangelical Christians – failing to be generous.

Illustrate:       They say Hitler killed about 5 million Jews in the Holocaust over 2-3 years. But this year alone3.2 million children under the age of 5 starved to death in sub-Saharan Africa. 3.2 million chikldren each year. Now it only costs $15/mth to keep a child alive in Africa. So,- how much do you spend on coffee or take away food or alcohol each year? I suspect most Christians in Australia would spend an easy $20/week or $1000/yr on these indulgences. So with that $1000 you could save 5 kids per year – from starving. Now I know coffee is important. But at what point is it a sin of omission to choose coffee over 5 kids lives? Now let’s say 2.5% of Australians are actually regular church attending Bible believ ing Christians. 2.5% is a good estimate which equals about 650,000 real Christians in Australia. So, if all real Christians in Australia, gave up coffees, take away food and alcohol – we’d have enough money to save all 3.2 million starving children, every single year.

Apply:            Now that’s just Australian Christians – giving up $1000 worth of unnecessary pleasures each year – to save all children in Sub Saharan Africa (under 5) starving to death.

The problem is – as Christians in the west – we have justified a certain level of wealth to ourselves. A house, a car, a new phone and new computer every 3 years, regular meals out and a subscription to Netflix and Disney – are all considered basic necessities. But one day we are going to give an account for WHY COFFEE was more important than a childs life OR WHY A NETFLIX subscription each month – was more important than giving someone in the third world a Bible.

Now I’m not trying to riddle you with WOKE white privilege guilt. We shouldn’t feel guilty for simply being affluent westerners. But we should feel guilty if we are not doing good or being generous with our wealth.

Point 2:         Paul tells Timothy of the things He should Pursue more than Money

Show:                        1 Tim.6:11-12 (READ)

Explain:         Well notice that Paul tells Timothy – to flee from all this. The immediate context tells us Timothy is meant to flee the desire to get rich, the love of money and eagerness for money. INSTEAD – Paul tells Timothy – to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. There are a lot of things more important than money.

Now next week I’m heading to Kenya to teach the Bible to about 150 pastors in a place called BUNGOMA. I’m teaching an OVERVIEW OF THE BIBLE during the mornings and then I’m preaching through 1 Timothy during afternoons. Now my intention is to get the pastors to prepare a sermon on 1 Timothy 6 because the prosperity gospel has run riot in Africa. There are lots of pastors in Africa (who are con men) telling poor people if they give lots of money to the church – God will make them rich. They then use this message to make themselves rich. Now I’m hoping that by working closely with 1 Timohty 6 – the pastors will see for themselves that the prosperity gospel is just plain wrong.

Now I presume you all know what I’m talking about – when I say PROSPERITY GOSPEL. You’ve all seen these FALSE PASTORS on Christian TV in America and Australia – telling people to give and then God will give them even more. But please understand – this message has been so successful in the west (among nominal Christians) because our flesh wants material gain, more than spiritual gain.

Now maybe the few Bible believing Christian churches (that still exist in the west) know this is a false gospel. But please understand that we are ALL swimming in the exact same cultural pond – that gave rise to this rubbish. So the problem now is – (even in Biblical churches) I know that if I push you too hard about materialism and greed – I’ll probably upset you – more than any other subject I can speak about. Or worst yet, I’ll just look like a HYPOCRITE – because I’m not really practicing what I preach.

We’ve all come to accept that affluent, materialistic Christianity is ok (and no one dares rock the boat). In such a context its hard to gauge how bad our greed, materialism and love of money has really become? I guess a good litmus test is do you aspire and plan for a little more righteousness, and a little more godliness – as much as you aspire and plan for a little more money?

Apply:            Now thankfully the main denomination I’m helping in Kenya is very strongly against the prosperity gospel. Similarly, most of us would say we are against the prosperity gospel – but our actions say otherwise. For instance – what sort of legacy do you want to leave to your children when you die – a financial legacy or a spiritual legacy. What does God want to give them and what are you planning to give them? Most of us intend to bless our children with a version of the prosperity gospel. HERE’S MY BLESSING TO YOU KIDS – stacks of money. What makes you think that this sudden INFLUX of prosperity is good for them or glorifying to God? Fact is – we don’t think. We just do it – because this is what prosperous wealthy westerners do.  What’s more, most of us in the west now live into our 80’s or 90s – so what makes you think your kids need a huge injectrion of money in their 60’s (as they approach retirement). You think that will be good for their godliness. FACT IS – unless they are really mature Christians most of your money will be just wasted on rubbish, rather than used wisely for God’s kingdom? Don’t preach the prosperity gospel to your kids as you die. Don’ty become a false teacher on your death bed. Rather, invest in the Kingdom of God – and let your actions preach the true gospel.

Point 3:         Paul tells Timothy to Command Rich Christians to be Generous

Show:            1Tim.6:17-19 (READ)

Explain:         Please notice – Paul tells Timothy – “Command those who are rich – to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and be willing to share.” Paul doesn’t say – SUGGEST it to them. He says COMMAND them

In verse 17 – Paul tells the rich not to be ARROGANT or put their HOPE in wealth. The problem is the more money I get – the more proud and arrogant people tend to become. Yet, pride is one of the biggest dangers in life. Pride comes before a fall. What’s more, the more money I get – the more I put my hope in money. I hope and trust that money will protect me in old age and money will protect me from misfortune.

And welcome to the world of insurance. Only the affluent west can afford to insure our assets, investments and health. So we do – because everyone does it. Its just the done thing. As Christians we say God is Sovereign and works all things for the good of those who love him AND then we insure ourselves against acts of God (because maybe he doesn’t work all things for the good of those who love Him). I hope you realise there is a certain inconsistency in such cionduct. This is because our hope is not really in God, but in money. When bad things happen, insurance gives us money – which is our hope to get through…

Now again, I’m not saying all INSURANCE is bad. But I am saying most of us have not thought about this theologically. We just do it because we’re affluent. Now I think Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourself means there is wisdom, in getting insurance when we are engaged in an activity where we put other people at risk (like driving a car). If you’re doing something that puts other people at risk – you should have sufficient means to cover any damage you might cause.

But lets face it – most of our insurance is NOT about protecting others, it is about protecting ourserlves and our assets. Now again, I’m not saying all insurance is bad.

But I am saying that being overinsured and trying to eliminate all risk is a lack of Christian faith and it is probably very poor stewardship. We are wasting a lot of money every year – trying to protect ourselves, our assets and health from every bad thing that could possibly happen. We call this good stewardship. But at some point, we have to realise it is profoundly selfish. We prioritise thousand and thousands of dollars every year on protecting ourselves while other people in the world do not have the gospel, do not have a roof over their head and do not have enough food on their plate. Yet Jesus was willing to give up even his life so that we might be saved. Do you see any inconsistency?

I’m just asking a QUESTION. If you trusted God to look after you a little more and trusted money a little bit less – how much richer could you be in good deeds? My point is – Christians should not face risk, in the same way the world faces risk, because our hope is meant to be in God. Seriously, even HEALTH INSURANCE. We already have the best health care system in the world. The absolute best. Yet, lots of Christians – spend an extra – $2-3000 a year on private insurance to get the crème de la crème of health care. Now maybe one day I’ll be old and I’ll have a serious illness and I’ll wish I had private health insurance. But if I spent $5-6000-/yr insuring my family – that would be $5-6000 less I can afford  put in the church plate each year. Now you may think that makes me an irrespoonsible father. But I’ve prayed about it and realised there are some things I just have to trust God with. If I try to insure every part of my life I’m not really trusting God with very much and I’m not going to have any money to invest in God’s kingdom. So what is good stewardship?

Apply:            The reality is Jesus gave up his life for our sins as he died on the cross – and I don’t think he had health insurance or life insurance. No. Jesus was willing to sacrifice certain things – so that you and I could know Gods love. The good news is – that as Jesus died on the cross he was taking the penalty for all your sin. Jesus was paying for your wrongdoing – so you could be forgiven and go to heaven.

The Bible says – if you say sorry to God for your sins and you ask Jesus for forgiveness – then God will take you to heaven when you die. This is the true gospel. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved. But for us to have this message and know this truth cost Jesus his life.

Apply:             Today, I’m simply challenging our western affluent materistic thinking. So much of what we do with our money as Christians is not shaped by the Bible at all. We simply do the same things with our money as non-Christians do with their money and we think that is good stewardship. But God commands us to cointent with food and clothing. God tells us not to LOVE money or put our HOPE in money. Rather we are commanded 1) to do good, 2) to be rich in good deeds, and 3) to be generous and willing to share. But it seems like Christians are spending more and more money looking after ourselves and protecting ourselves from everyv risk imaginable.

But I think EVERY YEAR you’ve been a Christian – you should be a little bit more generous – than the year before. Every year you’ve been a Christian is about trusting God with a little more AND trsuting money with a little less. In order for Viorica to continue her work helping women and sharing the gospel – she needs us to provide money to pay her rent and put food on the table. OTHERWISE, she has to go out and get a job and then she has less time to help women in slavery. Now I can assure you Viorica and Dominic do not live a lavish lifestyle. They live very simply. But through our generosity some of these women are becoming Christians and so through our generosity (as verse 19 says) we are storing up for ourselves treasure in heaven.

Now how this works (I believe) is that one day – Jesus will tell these women – you were set free from slavery – partially A) because of the work of Viorica and partially B) because of the generosity of Polin, and Louie, Vinita and Paul in Redfern. They were the ones who funded Vioricas work and prayed for you – week in and week out.

And those women will then come up to you in heaven saying – thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your money changed my life. Your generosity set me free. THANK YOU. People will add persoanl and sincere thank you’s to Jesus words “Well done good and faithful servant.And in that moment (Jesus will share his glory with you) – and you will know that in investing in Viorica was far better than a coffee, take away or trying to eliminate all risk in your life through insurance. In fact, invest wisely and you will get far more thank yous in heaven, than your children ever give you – for leaving them everything in the will. So be wise. TRUST GOD A BIT MORE AND MONEY A BIT LESS – and give a Denarius (or whatever you can afford today) – to a ministry that is making an eternal difference.

If your watching at home or online – go to the NeaZoi website and make a donation. Or alternatively, if you have a PayPal account – go to;  viorica.greece@gmail.com   and make a donation. Then, write “SSAC – Love Gift” in the description – so Viorica knows it came from us. A sermon on giving is only a good sermon if it leads you to give something to God’s kingdom. If you hear this sermon and it changes nothing in the way you handle money – you’ve just totally wasted the last half an hour. So what does God want you to do with this sermon? Which sacred cow may you need to dethrone or even shoot. God says; “Command those who are rich to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generouis and willing to share” – and friends we are those who are rich Amen.

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