I – INTRODUCTION to the topic and contextual background People are naturally thing oriented. We are inclined to seek, enjoy and protect material possession. This is especially true in prosperous culture. We have the natural tendency to build our lives around things. The religious leaders of Jesus day were the same. Because they did not have a right view of themselves (Mathew 5:3 to 12), their relationship to the world (5:13 to 16) the word of God (5:17 to 20) and religious duties (6:1 to 18) they would not also have the right view of material possessions. False doctrine always leads to false standards, behavior and values. The Sermon on the Mount gives Jesus standards for Kingdom citizens. So how should Kingdom citizens view material possessions ?
<ul><li>CONSUMED BY CONSUMING </li></ul><ul><li>1950, 10% of all income was spent for luxuries, or about 50 Billion dollars in America. By 1980 that figure was 30% of all income spent on luxuries, about 350 billion dollars. And it is now, in the last ten years, moving towards 40% of our income. </li></ul><ul><li>To show how that is distributed, between 1983 and 1988, Americans bought 62 million microwave ovens, 88 million cars and light trucks, 105 million color TVs, 63 million VCRs, 31 million cordless phones, and 30 million answering machines. </li></ul><ul><li>We want the money and we want the stuff the money buys. Whether or not it serves any purpose seems irrelevant . </li></ul>
<ul><li>Dr. Erin Beck did a 10 year study of patients hospitalized with suicidal tendencies. It appeared in the American Journal of Psychiatry. His bottom line was this, "Suicide risk is increased with income." The more money you have, the more likely you are to kill yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>Another medical study proved, and I quote, "Subtract two years from your life if your family income is over $40,000 a year. The more money you have, the more you have to be anxious about, the more complex your life becomes, and the less years you live. </li></ul><ul><li>Another study shows that the increase of money creates moral decline and family disintegration, because money becomes the obsession, "Among both men and women, the incidence of marital infidelity rises in conjunction with an increase in income." In other words, the more money you have the less faithful you are to your marriage. </li></ul><ul><li>Of the married men earning $20,000, only 31% conducted extramarital "love affairs." Of the married men earning more than $60,000, 70% of them conducted extramarital "love affairs." </li></ul>
<ul><li>According to the latest crime statistics, the estimate is that 99% of all crimes are motivated by sex or money, and money "out points" sex four-to-one. The obsession with money destroys families, destroys lives, destroys culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Almost half of all charitable giving in the United States, comes from households with incomes under $30,000. The people above that proportionally give less. A leader in the Romanian Church in Romania, now is one of the few countries left behind the "Iron Curtain" locked into Communism, but a Romanian Church leader said, and I quote, "In my experience, 95% of the believers, who face the test of persecution, pass it. 95% of the believers who face the test of prosperity, fail it. </li></ul><ul><li>Hosea 13:6 may sum it up, "And being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore, they forgot me." </li></ul>
<ul><li>THE BIBLE AND MATERIAL WEALTH </li></ul><ul><li>16 out of 38 of Christ's parables, deal with money. </li></ul><ul><li>More is said, did you know, in the New Testament, about money then about Heaven and Hell combined </li></ul><ul><li>Five times more is said about money than about prayer. </li></ul><ul><li>On the subject of prayer and faith there are 500 plus verses, on </li></ul><ul><li>the subject of money and possessions there are 2,000 verses. </li></ul><ul><li>And a Christianity that doesn't affect how you handle your </li></ul><ul><li>money, is not a true Christianity. </li></ul>
SOME THOUGHTSON MATERIALISM MATERIALISM - The love of it. The love of it and loving it is different then having it. You can have it and not love it, and not have it and love it. MANIFESTATIONS OF MATERIALISM 1.) ANXIETY over money - SPENDING MORE THAN YOU CAN EARN. QUARRELING OVER MONEY (This, according to statistics is the main cause of divorce and separation)
<ul><ul><li>4.) GREEDINESS - Greediness is different than coveting. Coveting is wanting what somebody else has, greed is wanting what you don't have. It is sort of the other side of it, it is your personal desire for more, for more, for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more, and for more. It feeds on a number of things. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2.) COVETOUSNESS </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>He lust for something that somebody else has. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He's not content with his situation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There is something pushing him for the new and the different. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He becomes tired of something very rapidly. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3.) SELFISHNESS - No joy in giving. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5.) UNFAITHFULNESS - Lack of interest and a lack of faithfulness to serving Christ. </li></ul></ul>
II – THE TEST OF MATERIAL POSESSIONS, THE DETERMINATION OF TRUE SPIRITUALITY “ The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” – Mathew 6:22,23 - The verse expands on the previous three verses and the eye becomes an illustration of the heart. The lamp or lens of the body is the eye through which all light comes to us. It our only means of vision. When our eyes is clear, our whole body light enters and we can see properly. - The heart is the eye of the soul by which God’s shines to us his spiritual blessings. - Single (Haplous) or clear. When our hearts (spiritual eyes) are clear or has a single minded devotion, then our soul is full of light.
<ul><li>- Words that are closely related to “haplous” are “liberal” (Haploteti) (Romans 12:8) and “Generous” (hapios) (James 1:5) </li></ul><ul><li>The implication of the verse is that if our heart (represented by the </li></ul><ul><li>eye) is generous (clear, single) our whole spiritual life will be flooded with spiritual understanding (or light) </li></ul><ul><li>If our eye is bad no light can enter and the whole body is full of darkness “Evil” or “bad” (Poneros) is often used in translating the expression “evil eye” a Jewish colloquialism for grudging or stingy. (Proverbs 28:22) </li></ul><ul><li>A heart (represented by the eye) that is bad is selfishly indulgent. The person who is materialistic is spiritually blind, because he has no way of recognizing true light. Because there is no way of recognizing true light, he thinks he has light when he does not. Because of this self deception the spiritual darkness is indeed great ! </li></ul><ul><li>The principle is simple, the way we look at and use our money is a sure barometer of our spiritual condition. </li></ul>