Yesterday I preached on Hosea 10:1-2
Hosea 10:1 Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars. 2 Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars.
The passage speaks of Israel's relationship to the affluence God granted them. Instead of using their wealth for the glory of God, they built altars to false gods. Instead of seeing affluence as something to be managed and shared, they turned their energies toward building false places of worship- a direct insult to the Lord of all things- including money and material things. The main proposition of my sermon was concerning how wealth (affluence) has always been a challenge for the Church in every age.
Our church is in an affluent suburb of Kansas City. I think it would be utter dereliction of pastoral duty to not speak concerning the manifold Scriptural warnings concerning the peril of affluence. Certainly there is nothing sinful about affluence, in fact, it creates a great opportunity for the advancement of God's glory, however various forms of idolatry lurk with a misguided view of wealth/possessions. Brian Griffiths, who is an advocate of wealth-creation (and the right use of the same) recognizes the perils of wealth-
“The mere fact of owning wealth tends to produce a spirit of arrogance and self-reliance. Success tends to breed a philosophy of possessiveness: things become mine, my money, my property, my company, my work force. Wealth gives people a false sense of security; it deadens the life of the spirit; it makes people unresponsive to the good news of the gospel.”
Griffiths echoes the important, Holy-Spirit directed words of Moses to the Church on the brink of great wealth when he warns in Deuteronomy 8-
Deut. 8:17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.
As you may know, the bible has something like 2,350 verses that concern money or wealth. I am so appreciative of the ten-week Crown Ministries study I took over three years ago. I am not aware of a better discipleship plan for this important area of life. Crown biblically displays how we handle our affluence influences our relationship with the Lord, possessions compete for first place with the Lord in our lives and so much of life revolves around the use of money.
The full sermon will be online at our church website by tomorrow. I am guessing more than a few people were tweaked by the sermon, some are probably mad. I can relate to such reactions as the whole subject convicts me every time I consider it. I won't kid you, preaching on the subject makes me nervous, probably because of my own conviction in this area. I did receive a very encouraging email from a brother in the church, I'll share it here, changing the names.
I want to thank you again for the sermon this morning. I am grateful for your faithfulness to God's Word. Thank you also for the application! It was good to hear the statistics you shared. I was challenged, Jane and I just finished a good conversation about money, stewardship, trusting God, etc. The Holy Spirit has been working these same things in my heart and I rejoice to hear it from the Bible.
Long and many have been the trials in my life over money and possessions vs. the affections of my heart! I can't count the times that I have been blessed by God, only to turn around and build altars to other gods. Many times the Lord has had to chasten me and let me reap the rewards of my own sin. I grieve over the lost time and opportunities and how I dishonored Him! I wish I could say that I never struggle with this anymore, but God in His loving & patient way keeps bringing me along like His little child.
I doubt that all who heard you today feel the way I do. However, I don't think one person left today without feeling something! I am sure many are angry, many are sad, many are probably discouraged. Pastor, I know you love your flock are care about them. I know you feel their hurts also. Please don't let the strong emotions & hurt feeling of those you care about discourage you or doubt your words - THEY WERE SENT FROM HIM! Redeemer Presbyterian Church needed to hear that today. Thank you for not fearing men. Thank you for lifting up Christ. I am blessed to have my family under your ministry. I want my children to hear the Bible! I am eager to see God use this in the life of our church, regardless if it increases giving or not. He will build His church! Just like Bob Lemon said many years ago about George Steinbrenner - "I am happy just to be along for the ride."
For His Glory, Richard