Men of Right Priorities
This lesson will be couched around the idea that our
culture holds up money as that which is of the greatest
value. People who are so obsessed with making money. We say
we disapprove of their priorities, and yet inwardly there's
something about us that tends to admire their drive and
Sixty-four percent of American men define themselves as
workaholics. They openly admit: I work too long, too hard
in order to get the things that I want. The bad thing is,
we live in a culture which endorses this addiction, unlike
addictions to chemicals or other substances.
Underlying reasons why are we driven to embrace the very
priorities we say that we don't agree with.
For years and years, men worked themselves into an early
grave out of economic necessity. Some of you, or your
parents, got up and worked from dawn to dusk just to put
bread on the table to feed the kids. But millions of men
are working themselves into an early grave today and it's
not really out of economic necessity. It is not as was the
case with our forefathers for stark survival. Oftentimes,
it's for the purpose of establishing identity.
It wasn't always that way. Just about a quarter of a
century ago, the job that had the highest prestige in all
the jobs that when asked on a survey: Parents, what would
you like your children most to be? Second on the list was
being a teacher. It doesn't appear in the top 20 now.
Believe it or not, there was a time about half a century
ago when the number one answer was: I'd like to see my
child become a minister. Today, that doesn't make the top
25. Nowadays, we want our children to follow a career path
that leads to the big bucks. Why? Because we associate that
money with identity.
Our language even betrays us. Have you ever heard somebody
say about the fellow who just passed away over across town?
He was worth $4,000,000. Now listen to that statement.
Think about that. That is about as unbiblical a statement
as you can utter. A man is worth ________, and fill in that
blank with a price tag? Do you know what that does? That
unmasks a major motivation in our quest for prosperity.
We've come to seek prosperity to make our mark on the
world. Identity is a critical issue in how we establish
Having money, making money, makes us feel like we're in
control. Men who have little have to trust in God for their
future, but men who have a lot just call the trust
department. When Jesus said, "It's harder for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to
enter the kingdom of God," he meant what he said. And I've
seen us play all kinds of mental gymnastics with that, but
the truth is, Jesus said it and he meant it, and the reason
is simple. The prerequisite for entering the kingdom of God
is relinquishing control of your life and turning that over
to God and trusting in nothing else for your future. While
most of us say that's what we want to do, sometimes we like
to keep a backup in the bank, don't we? Security.
3. Authority and
Money brings power. If you have money, the system we live
in treats you differently. The world's version of the
golden rule kicks in i.e.; The one who has the gold makes
the rules. Look around, in politics, 90+ percent of the
time, the candidate who wins the election is the candidate
who spends the most on his campaign. And sadly, we're
living in a time where Abraham Lincoln couldn't run for
office anymore, he would be way too poor. You've got to be
wealthy to have a chance.
In our legal system today, the rich man will get a better
defense with all the lawyers that he can afford, that will
string out the courts into a mistrial if need be. And the
poor man can't afford to do that, The idea of authority
resting with power, is even true in churches. Before a
major decision was made by church leaders, somebody would
go to the people who had the bucks to make sure they were
generally comfortable with the decision.
Now I'm not even bringing this up to debate the rightness
or the wrongness of those situations, I'm just exposing the
basic reality that money brings authority, and that's
another reason that men are driven to prosperity. Because
there are few addictions in life are as powerful to men as
the addiction of power.
This lesson is not to indict hard working men, nor to
impute motives of those who have gained a great deal of
wealth. Understand this, the Bible commends hard work. I
applaud and think it's great if God has blessed you
financially as he did Abraham, as he did Moses, as he did
Job, all were godly men. But listen, as Christian men, we
need to regularly and ruthlessly examine our drive and our
motivation to make sure it's consistent with our faith.
That's important. The fact is, many men are trying to find
in their work and in their earnings, a sense of fulfillment
that will always remain illusive. But, it's not to be found
Jesus set the principal - "Someone in the crowd said to
him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance
with me.' Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or
an arbiter between you?' Then he said to them, 'Watch out!
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life
does not consist in the abundance of his
possessions.'"(Luke 12:13) Jesus just flatly says,
prosperity can't provide the things that matter most in
life. If you believe that they can, then Satan has sold you
a pack of lies and the gold that you're chasing is fool's
gold. Jesus said your life is bigger than how rich you are,
it goes far beyond what you can amass and control.
Following this statement He illustrated it with the
"The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He
thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to
store my crops.' 'Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I
will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I
will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to
myself, 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many
years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.' But God
said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be
demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared
for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores
up things for himself but is not rich toward God.'" (Luke
12:16) Now examine this parable in relation to the desire
for identity, security and authority.
1. Did prosperity
bring this man bring him authority?
The answer is yes and no. It brought him authority over the
barn builders. He said, I want you to build a barn, I've
got money, let's get it done. They got it done. But, it
didn't give him any authority over where his final resting
place would be, or the place of his eternal destiny, did
2. Did the
prosperity give the man identity?
Did it let him be known for who he was? The answer is still
yes and no. The people in town called him the rich man,
there's some identity. But God called him the fool, that's
identity, too. Whose opinion mattered more?
3. Did the
prosperity that the man security?
The fact is, his wealth didn't delay his death one second.
Regardless how rich you are, you're just one blocked
artery, one poorly placed cancer cell, one stray bullet,
one drunk driver, away from judgment day.
Emperor Othello in the year 1000 AD exhumed the body of
Charlemagne. Did you study about Charlemagne in school, the
conqueror of France and Germany in that era in there?
Charlemagne had been buried in 800 AD and Emperor Othello
heard that he had a certain request for being buried. It
was said that Charlemagne was buried seated on a throne
with a gold crown upon his head, a scarlet robe upon his
back, and a scepter in his hand, and a book laid open
across his lap. Two hundred years later, as his tomb was
opened, Othello found out that Charlemagne had been buried
just as he had demanded. He was still seated on the throne,
but the golden crown had fallen off his head and the purple
robe had been eaten away by the maggots and the other
creatures that would devour such. The scepter had fallen
from his hand and it was across the bony feet, but the book
was still open in his lap and the bony finger was pointing
to the verse, Matthew 16:26, "For what would it profiteth a
man if he were to gain the whole world, but lose his own
Two premises about our work and how we acquire our
1. Work is good.
I'm not implying that work is not good.
The Ten Commandments say that six days shall you labor and
do your work. In the Thessalonian letter, Paul said, if
you've got a man among you who doesn't work, don't let him
eat. I heard people say one time while growing up, that
work is the curse that was put upon man. No, if you go back
to the Garden of Eden, God assigned man work to do before
he ever fell. Work was designed by God for man's benefit in
the context of innocence. Work is part of God's plan to
prosper us, and to take care of us, and to take care of our
families, and to give us an avenue of having our needs
Do you remember in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus talks
about not worrying? And he said, "Look at the sparrows of
the air, they don't worry, and yet God takes care of them."
And he does, but they still have to go out and look for
worms, don't they? See, we've got to go out and work,
Working is the avenue for our needs to be met. The most
rewarding work comes only with love as a salary. In fact,
money is the weakest of all salaries, but work is good.
"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to
eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome
labor under the sun during the few days of life God has
given him---for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives
any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy
them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a
gift from God." (Ecclesiastes 5:18) Work is good. Work is a
gift from God. But man has a tendency to take the gift and
turn it into an idol to be worshipped.
2. Work is good,
but work is not God.
The reason so many men are stressed out workaholics and
disillusioned is because they're trying to find more in
their work and their money-making than either are able to
provide. God intends for you to work, but he never intended
for you to find your source of eternal happiness in your
job or your bank account. God, and God alone, is the source
of identity, security, and authority. Those are the things
that every man and woman seeks. God gives them. Therefore
we need to make a choice.
(Matthew 6:24) "No one can serve two masters. He will
either hate the one and love the other, or he will be
devoted to the one and despise the other." You cannot serve
God and money [mammon (KJV)]." You cannot serve God and
money. Notice verse does not say,
a. "A man should not serve God and money," that makes
it a question of priority. It's not worded that wayIt said
b. " A man must not serve God and money," that makes it
a moral issue - I should or shouldn't do it.
"You CANNOT serve God and money." It's an issue of
impossibility. It's not even an option. Do you know why?
Because God will not be a second-place deity, he just can't
Satan incessantly uses money as the false god demanding our
allegiance. And that by the way is why Jesus talked so much
about it. And men we've got to stand up and say in the
middle of a world that's extolling this virtue and this
value above all others, "I'm not going to let my life be
defined by my bank account or my job. I've got a higher
How do you combat the desire for fortune, fame and power
contemplate what the Bible says about money.
Do you realize that in the Bible there are over 2,000
references to money and assets, how we use them and the
eternal reward that's going to come from those choices? Do
you know how many verses there are in the Bible about
prayer? About 500. There is more said in the Bible about
how we use the assets placed in our charge than there is
about faith and prayer combined. Do you know where the
richest and deepest and most prevalent treatment of the
subject is? It's in the words of Jesus. Jesus taught more
about how you handle money than he did about any other
subject except the kingdom of God. In light of so much
teaching on stewardship we should contemplate our handling
of this responsibility.
2. Communicate our
struggles with these temptations.
Men, number one with our wives if you're married, and with
select others that you've chosen to be accountable to. Of
all the things in our lives, we tend to want to make money
the most private. It's amazing the number of husbands who
don't even share the family's financial situation with
their wives or the person you chose to help you be
accountable in your life. Satan uses that failed process as
the idol to lure us to bow down before him. When we talk
about how we use our assets and whether or not we worship
the dollar, we're talking about spiritual warfare. It's a
tool of the devil, and it's something we need to
communicate regularly with those we love and trust.
3. Keep the right
perspective by cultivating a thankful spirit.
Paul said "But godliness with contentment is great gain."
(I Timothy 6:6) Contentment is not inherited, it's a
learned thing. He also said "I know what it is to have
plenty, and I know what it is to be in want, but I have
learned the secret of being content in any and every
circumstance." (Philippians 4:11) Most people don't know
the secret of contentment. They are constantly focusing on
what they don't have instead of what they do have.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep your lives free from the love of
money and be content with what you have because God has
said, 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'"
And if you're breathing right now, there's not a one of you
who has lost everything. And even after you die, you won't.
That's when you really inherit.
yourself through faithful giving.
Do you know why God declared and decreed that we give to
his work? God doesn't have to have money. Our God can do
anything he wants to the church whether or not anybody ever
gave a dime. The reason God's in it, is for the benefit of
the givers because he knows it purifies our soul and it
keeps our priorities in line. "When you love money, it
becomes your master. When you give money, it becomes your
servant." Have you ever thought about that? I don't want
money to rule me. I want it to serve me. The best way to
train for that is by giving it away.
Giving keeps our priorities in line. God is calling us to
be men of right values, men with right priorities, and men
of real prosperity. Program
#1212 - Steve Flatt June 4, 1995
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