The Games People Play - Monopoly
1 Timothy 6:6-10
There’s not a lot of set up for our sermon this morning, actually we have a lot of ground to cover in 21 minutes so if you will turn with me to Proverbs 30:7-9 we will get started by looking at a prayer of a man named Agur. (Read Text)
Like I said there is not a lot of set up, we are jumping right in the deep end of the pool. As we start our time together this morning I want to know if you could you pray a prayer like that? I mean are you even brave enough to pray a prayer like that? Look at what he says. God I ask you for two things. In all the world there are only two things that I ask you for God. I don’t want a job, I don’t want you to heal me, I don’t want you to give me a wife or husband, I am not asking that you make my kids behave. Lord there are only two things that I desire.
First keep me far from falsehood and lying. Father I don’t want to speak a dishonest thing. That’s a difficult thing to pray, and something that I believe that we need to spend some time on. But it’s not the game we are talking about this morning.
This morning we are looking at the game that has to do with the second part of the prayer. God the second thing I ask you for, God the second thing I want is don’t give me riches or poverty. God I don’t want to be rich and I don’t want to be poor. Now many of us are very comfortable with God please don’t make me poor; please don’t put me in a situation where I have to steal to feed my family. Father please don’t put me in a position where I have to steal to pay my light bill or pay for medicine. Father please don’t make me poor.
But that’s only half the request. It’s the don’t give me riches part that hurts my feelings. You know I hear preachers say that God wants you to be rich. God wants to bless you beyond your wildest dreams so that you can give more money to the church, so the church can do more work.
But that’s not what this man is praying. He doesn’t just say don’t make me rich, He also gives the reason Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ God don’t put me in a position where I forget about you. God I know that you can give me an abundance of stuff, but please don’t because I know me. I know that if you give me a bunch of stuff, if you make me rich, then I’ll forget about you. Instead Father give me enough, just enough that I don’t have to worry about my needs and just enough that I can remember and depend on you.
This morning I want us to consider the board game Monopoly. In the game players compete to acquire wealth through the purchase, rental and trading of real estate. I believe that we need to talk about what the Bible has to say about the accumulation of things. Because I believe our drive to get more stuff is really our way of trying to discover contentment in our lives. Now unfortunately we are not trained by our culture to be very content? Everything around us teaches us to believe in an accumulation of things.
A typical Grocery Story in the United States in 1976 stocked 9,000 items; today that same store carries 30,000 different items. And it’s not enough for them to have olives, we want them to have 6 different kinds of olives. We say it’s because we want to have choices, but in reality we believe that the more we possess the more satisfaction we have in our lives.
I want you to look again at 1 Timothy 6:6-10 but this time I want to read it to you from the New Century Version: Serving God does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have. We brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out. But, if we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with that. Those who want to become rich bring temptation to themselves and are caught in a trap. They want many foolish and harmful things that ruin and destroy people. The love of money causes all kinds of evil. Some people have left the faith, because they wanted to get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow. I see five characteristics of contentment from 1 Timothy 6 that we need to add to our lives.
To grow in godliness we must become content.
Look at verse six: But godliness with contentment is great gain. We should be content with our God-given circumstances but never satisfied with our spiritual growth. Unfortunately our tendency is to do just the opposite. Many of us are content with where we are spiritually and very discontent with our circumstances. And we need to wake up to that. Wake up and realize that nothing in this world is going to give us the joy and happiness we are chasing after.
When the boys were younger Trista and I would ask them where they would like to go out and eat. Invariably they would say they wanted to go to McDonald’s, but it wasn’t for the food. Does this look familiar?? Of course it does, we all know what a Happy Meal looks like. Somewhere behind a big mahogany desk a marketing genius at McDonald’s decided that they were not just selling chicken McNuggets and a tiny plastic toy; they were selling happiness.
Let me share something I discovered 1,000 happy meals later. The Happy Meal makes a child happy for about a minute and a half and then the happy wears off. Happy Meals were introduced when I was a young boy and I have eaten my share of them, but I have never gone to my parents and said Dad, remember that Happy Meal you gave me? That’s where I found lasting contentment and lifelong joy. I knew if I could just have that Happy Meal, I would be content for a lifetime, and I am. Thank you. In fact, the only one that Happy Meals bring real happiness to is McDonald’s. You ever wonder why Ronald has that silly grin on his face? Twenty billion Happy Meals a year, that’s why.
Now, you would think that sooner or later we would catch on and say, You know, I keep getting these Happy Meals and they don’t give me lasting happiness, so I’m not going to set myself up for disappointment any more. But it never happens. We keep buying Happy Meals and they keep not working. And the sad truth is that as we grow up, we don’t get any smarter; our Happy Meals just keep getting more expensive. And the world around us tells us that happiness is always just one more Happy Meal away.
The Apostle Paul tells us the secret to true happiness in Philippians 4:11. He writes, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.
The secret to happiness is to focus on Christ and to seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will take care of itself. But I’ve got to tell you, that doesn’t happen without a decision. If you just drift along, there is enough pressure and influence from society, advertising, inner greed, that things will soon occupy our focus. We need to make a decision that I’m not buying into it anymore. I don’t need those things to make me happy, because they aren’t going to anyway.
If you want to be happy you need to start in the right place. You don’t have a material shaped hole on the inside, you have a God shaped hole that only He can fill.
Next, to grow in godliness we must turn over the ownership of all you have to God.
Everything belongs to God; He just lets us manage our money and steward our possessions for a brief time. Verse 7 says, For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
We need to realize that stuff is not going to fulfill us. Happiness is not found in the accumulation of things. Of bigger house, bigger cars, better stuff. In our souls, we know that things can’t bring happiness, but we still look for stuff to bring fulfillment in those areas. If we are caught up in coveting, in driving for the accumulation of things, at some point we have to ask ourselves the question, why? Why are we trying to get it all? What do we think it will bring us? Why do we work 12 hour days, all to accumulate things?
I believe that if we are attached to our stuff, the best way to get detached is to let go of some of it. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, he was told to sell his possessions and give to the poor. Jesus’ advice the rich young ruler was very practical. If we want contentment we need to learn to let go of the world’s goods.
The coolest thing is that one of the by-products of giving some of it away is that we learn that we can get by on less. We learn that we don’t need those things to be happy. By letting go of our money and some of our conveniences we find that we don’t need all that junk to be happy. We can get by on less.
I think that is why Paul told Timothy Command those who are rich to be generous and willing to share their money. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation and they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17 Paul says if you want to find true life, you must learn let go of some of your stuff. Contentment comes when you are willing to give.
Then, to grow in godliness we must be thankful for the basics of life.
We see this in verse 8: But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Some of us need to have our needs reduced not our possessions increased. Let me give you a practical suggestion. When contemplating the purchase of another possession, ask yourself this question: Is this a need or a greed? This is important to do because in our culture today almost everything is presented as a need.
We buy more than we can afford because we want more than we need. I know people making $20,000-$30,000 a year who enjoy their lives and pay all their bills. I also know people whose income exceeds six figures and yet they are miserable and near bankrupt, because they can’t control their wants.
And you combine the philosophy that things can bring happiness with our society’s easy access to credit and you will devastate a family budget. I read one time that credit cards let you start at the bottom and then dig yourself a hole.
How many of you got a credit card offer this week? I got one and Trista got two. The average American adult receives 32 credit card offers per year, regardless of their credit history. Average American has four major credit cards with an average total credit card debt of $9,000.00. Now, add to that those that who can only make the minimum payment and you have a recipe for financial disaster. Did you know that if you have a balance of $3,900 and you pay the 3% minimum it will take you nearly 42 years to pay off the debt, and those monthly payments would total $14,530.44?
A lot of people are in a hole because they are consumed with things. This unhealthy drive for more devastates finances and in doing so, devastates families.
We need to understand that if you pursue riches you will have problems.
That’s what verse 9 is all about: People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. Look at verse 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.
When we want something more than we want anything else, including God then we have a HUGE problem. Now we probably wouldn’t say that we want things more than we want God; but what do your daily actions say? I know folks who spend more time studying up on a new car, TV, radio, sewing machine, or microwave than they do studying their bibles. And what’s worse they don’t see this as a problem.
Our priorities are out of whack and when our priorities get rearranged we fall into the trap of chasing things and we stop pursuing God. Stuff becomes the most important things in our lives. Our priorities get rearranged. The drive for more and more stuff damages our relationships with God and always leads us to do something that eventually causes us problems, with our friends, family, and worse of all God.
People today are caught up in the middle of almost complete self-centeredness. They are so focused on getting what they want that it leads to unhappiness and un-fulfillment. The more we have the more we want, and the more unhappy we become! Paul says that the pursuit of things at all costs, causes much grief.
Here’s the bottom line, whether your bottom line is a lot or a little: Work at wanting what you have even if you don’t have everything you want.
Let me say it differently. The key to contentment is not having everything you want but wanting everything you already have. This is stated clearly in Hebrews 13:5: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘I will never leave you; or forsake you.’
We love to quote the last part of this verse but we forget that God’s promise to not leave us is linked to us not loving money. This is actually very comforting because when our cash supplies are lacking God will never turn His back on us. We don’t have to go through all the stress and our money mess on our own, He will never leave us or forsake us.
We were created to desire, and we need to understand that desire is not a bad thing. But we must make sure that we are desiring the right thing. We must work at making sure that God is the first on our list, or said another way we must Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, minds, souls, bodies, and strength. If we love any thing more than God we are buying too cheep.
Questions For You To Consider
Go back and read the prayer of Agur in Proverbs 30:7-9. What do you think about praying that God will not make me rich?
Do you understand the prayer once you see his reason for the prayer, “Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’”
Money tends to corrupt those who have abundance of it. Why would this be a fair statement to make based on Proverbs 11:18?
How can riches, possessions make us forget the Lord?
Debt is often greed dressed up. It can be quite seductive- "you owe it to yourself, go on and buy it, you've earnt it..." How do you struggle with this on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis?
Very few people are willing to say that they are rich, but in our world the average person makes $2.00 a week. In America, even those we consider lower class, are overly blessed. How can we use the blessings God has given us to love our neighbors? (Deuteronomy 15:11 may add something to the discussion here)
• College students owe nearly half of the nation’s $285 billion credit card debt.
• 75% of U.S. adults have credit card debts of $9,000 or more. At 18% interest, and paying just the minimum balance monthly, it will take 56 years to pay off this debt.
–Americans and Money, Gazette Telegraph, 2006
Describe how you currently use credit cards or spend money you don’t have now. How can you relate to the above statistics?
Instead of being anxious about what we have or don’t have, we are called to be content with our money and possessions. What is one practical thing you can do to practice contentment? (For example, whenever you purchase something new like a CD, an item of clothing, a book, a gadget, etc., you get rid of an old one.)