Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Dollar and a Dream

This past Saturday morning many people were left wondering why they did not win the lottery.  Despite the odds, many people convince themselves that they are going to win.  Who hasn't now or at some point in their lives dreamed of what they would do if they suddenly struck it rich.  I certainly have.  I certainly did last weekend.  How can you not consider when all you hear in the news is that someone stands to win half a billion dollars?  It an amount that unless you were hopelessly dumb, should buy you a very nice life for the rest of your days.  And the cost to have a chance at this fortune?  A mere $1.00, which is a price too good to be true.  For countless millions of people, that price was too good to be true.  If anyone is Christian and is actually disappointed that you did not win or even wondering why you did not win, the Bible has a message for you.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  1 Timothy 6:6-9 NKJV
Godliness with contentment is great gain.  In fact it is greater gain than hundreds of millions of dollars.  I say that because even all that money is only a means to contentment.  Being content, however, is a very elusive thing.  Many people who have won millions of dollars soon learned that harsh fact.  All that money suddenly was not enough money.  The hole they were trying to fill was never satisfied and many have ended up in financial and/or personal ruin.  Families have been destroyed.  Friendships have been destroyed.  Lives have been destroyed.  So much has been destroyed by this so-called blessing.  Being content is something possible no matter how much or how little money you have.  Being content means, simply, being satisfied with what you have.  It is a state of mind and not a state of being.  We should be content with Jesus.  We should be content with the treasures we are laying up for ourselves in Heaven.  The point I am making is that if you are not content with those things, money is not going to help.  What you think will be a blessing will only serve to pull you even further away from God as you trust in material things and not God for your contentment.  So, the first step to winning the lottery is to already be content with what you have.  Then again, if you were already content with what you have you are much less likely to even play. 

Next, we read "For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out."  You see, what you win is only yours for a brief time.  You were born with nothing and when you die you will leave earth with nothing.  You are asking for more than you can ever need for the time you will need it for.  You are asking for excess.  Perhaps you will say that you will leave it to your children.  That is a nice thought, but do you know if that is best for them?  There are a lot of trust fund babies living very fallen lifestyles.  Do you know that your children would not react the same if put into that kind of temptation?  Perhaps you say that you will give some to charity.  Let us even say you will give a lot to charity. Again, that is great, but what commission are you expecting God to pay you for your generosity?  Be honest, while you may give a lot, you will also get a lot.  Perhaps you say that you will give it all to charity.  If so, that is awesome, but then why do you need it in the first place?  Why not just pray for God to supply that ministry with what they need instead of oversupplying them and leading them into temptation with what you decide to give them?  Or why do yo need to give it?  Are you looking for glory?  The fact is that if you want to win the lottery, please do not pretend it is to be able to help others.  While you may help others, you will be getting plenty of "help" for yourself as well.  So the next step of winning the lottery is to have no selfish reasons or plans with the money.  But, again, if you have no plans for the money you are less likely to even play.

Paul then revisits the important concept of contentment : "And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."  We should be content with food and clothing.  In other words, be content with those things you need to survive.  You do not need jewelry, mansions, fancy cars, the latest most expensive clothing, or anything else for that matter.  You need food and clothing and so long as you are provided with those you should be content.  I have news for you:  If you can afford to pay the lottery, you have food and clothing.  You can not be out and about the get the ticket if you have no clothes and if you walk around naked, trust me, someone will give you clothes.  If you have even $1.00, you have food.  Even at McDonald's, you can get a cup of water and a hamburger for that dollar you have.   So the next step to win the lottery is to be naked and less than a dollar to your name.  That makes it very unlikely you will even be able to play! 

I may have been someone tongue-in-cheek up until this point, but Paul is going to close with a very serious warning.  Paul writes " But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."  In other words, if you want to win the lottery and be instantly rich, you are in great danger to fall into temptation.  You are endangering yourself to get yourself caught up in greed and all the evil it brings.  The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, and when big money is involved, all kinds of evil come with it.  Even if you are not greedy, you are in danger of the evil acts of greed of those around you trying to get a hold of your money.  You truly have no idea what you are opening yourself up for when you have that desire to be right.  Money will never ever make you happy.  Money will never ever satisfy your soul.  Money will never lead you to righteousness. 

I am not saying that becoming rich is a bad thing.  For some, becoming rich would be a bad thing for others it would be a good thing.  Only God knows and we must trust Him to know better than we do. I am not immune to getting caught up in "what if" thoughts, but to be honest, I really do not know what I would do if I was suddenly blessed (or cursed) with more money that I could ever possibly need.  I would like to say that I would be responsible, generous, humble, and live within reasonable means, but I can not say for sure.  I do not think anyone can.  Only God knows how we will handle the tremendous temptations that come with becoming very rich very quickly.  Please do not put your hopes in ridiculous odds at making it rich.  I am not going to go on a tirade about gambling or playing the lottery because I am not the steward of your money.  People like to make a big deal out of it, but those same people probably waste just as much money on entirely different things.  Of course, no one is ever wasteful in their own minds.  I only say that if watching those numbers come up gives you some kind of joy then so be it, but never put your trust in it.  Trust God to give that money to whomever He decides.  Instead, put your faith in a sure thing.  Put your hope not in some fantasy of a mansion on earth, but the mansion our Lord is preparing for you in eternity.  Put your hope not on some exotic vacation, but put your hope in the indescribable beauty of Heaven.  Trust not in the miniscule chance at short term riches on earth, but put your faith in the eternal riches you are laying for yourself up in Heaven.  And, finally, put your faith not in random chance taking care of your material needs for a few years, but put your faith in Jesus, to take care of all your needs for all eternity. 
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend [it] on your pleasures.  James 4:3 NKJV

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