Don’t Be Haughty (from Wealth)

by Erin Bird

Today is Day 5 in our 40-day Generosity Campaign. If you missed the kick-off on Sunday, you can catch up with the sermon on the podcast or website. And if you didn’t get a devotional book yet, you can swing by the building and grab one or download it to your phone by searching your phone’s app store for givewithjoy (one word, no spaces).

In today’s blog post, we are continuing our walk through 1 Timothy 6:17-19 by looking at the second phrase of the passage. Here is the passage as a whole:

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19, ESV)

Don’t Think You’re Better

The phrase we will consider today is the “charge” from Paul to “not be haughty.” Some translations (like the NIV) use the word “arrogant,” while others (like the NASB) use the word “conceited.” But they all convey the same idea. To be haughty, arrogant, or conceited is to think so highly of yourself that you see yourself as better than others.

Unfortunately, this is a reality that has happened in far too many cultures throughout far too many moments in time. When a person’s bank account gets “full,” they often become “full” of themselves.

Don't be haughty from wealth“But Erin, I’m not rich,” you probably want to reply, “therefore, I’m not ‘haughty’. I sure don’t think I’m better than anyone else!” As we saw last week, you may not be “rich” in the eyes of most Americans, but globally and historically, you are quite wealthy. And this wealth may unknowingly (or knowingly!) cause you to think you are better than the poor in Haiti,  the homeless in New York, or even the people living in low-income apartments in Waverly. This means you have fallen into the same thought-trap into which many other rich people have fallen – to think a bit more highly of yourself than you ought.

The Gospel, however, teaches us otherwise. Jesus did not die only for the rich, nor did He die only for the poor. He died for the sins of humans, regardless of income capacity. So the size of your home, or the number of cars you drive, or the net worth of your possessions and financial accounts can’t nor ever will impress God, nor do they make you “better” than anyone else. As the cliché says, the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

Humble Generosity

I want you to also realize another truth: Jesus, God the Son, who knows true wealth and has all wealth (Psalm 24:1) was the humblest person on earth. Despite His possession of all things and all power, He still willingly and humbly went to the cross to die the death He did not deserve to give us the life we do not deserve.

And so because Jesus was the opposite of haughty, and out of his humility gave generously of His very life, may we “live like Jesus lived” and live out generous humility as well. And not just for the 40 days of a “generosity campaign,” but for all our days.

A Word To The Rich

 

A Word to the Rich

by Erin Bird

Hope you are doing fantastic on this Thursday (or whichever day you are reading this). If you’ve read the past few blog posts, we have been doing a series from Exodus 34:6-7 entitled God’s Bio. While we are only half-way through that series, we are going to take a six-week break to shift gears for our upcoming generosity series.

As you have hopefully heard, we kick off a generosity campaign this coming Sunday. The goal of the campaign isn’t to just get more money from you, nor is it to fill your head with a bunch of biblical ideas. Rather, the goal of the series is to help you see what God wants for you by helping you grow in generosity in all areas of life. (In Riverwood-speak, we want to help you open up your FIST (Finances, Influence, Skills, and Time) in even more Christ-honoring ways.)

Here is what the generosity campaign will look like:

  • On Sundays, we’ll study 2 Corinthians 9 understanding How to Give.
  • We also encourage you to take this topic deeper through 40 days of personal study and reflection through the devotional booklets you can pick up in the lobby or download from your phone’s app store (search for givewithjoy(one word, no spaces)).
  • And lastly, here in the weekly email, we will do a companion series called How to be Rich which will be a six-week study of 1 Timothy 6:17-19. The goal of this series will be to help all of us understand even more of the Scripture’s teaching on the topic of generosity.

So to kick us off, let’s read our key passage for this How to be Rich series:

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Who are the Rich?

If you are like me, you don’t see yourself as “rich.” After all, the late Robin Leach would probably never have called you to be a guest on his show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. So because you don’t see yourself as rich, let me help you understand who the rich are and the type of life they live.

Rich people…

  • not only own a car and can afford to put gasoline in it, but oftentimes they own more than one vehicle.
  • not only live in a house, but they often have a spare bedroom ready for guests.
  • have a special house for their cars called a “garage.”
  • have a job where they are paid more than the world average of $8,500 per year.
  • often have art like paintings, photographs, and such on their walls. (They also have books on shelves, many of which simply serve as decorations.)
  • have spare money that allows them to own domesticated animals.
  • have so much stuff they can’t fit it all in their house, so they build sheds or rent a storage unit to hold their possessions.
  • (and possibly most amazing of all) have rooms called “pantries” that are simply used for food storage. (They also own an appliance called a “refrigerator” that also stores food, but at cooler temperatures, which reduces the spoilage of food.)

You are the Rich!

A Word to the RichNow, after reading that list, you might be shocked. But I suspect you aren’t shocked at the way rich people live. Rather, you are probably shocked to rrealize that by global standards, YOU are rich.

Truly, you are richer than you realize. Which means, the Apostle Paul’s first phrase in our key passage (“as for the rich”) pertains to you.

This is why we are going to take six weeks to contemplate the call to generosity Paul wrote in these three verses. My hope is that you will see that generosity isn’t just about giving money, but about your life – your approach, your perception, and your attitude. And I hope you will also see that the generous life is truly a joyous life.

Spend Less

by Erin Bird

It’s been one week (most likely) since you enjoyed turkey and football and giving thanks with family and friends. Which means, it’s now the Christmas season! Radio stations are now pumping out Christmas music over the airwaves. Houses are being decorated with colored lights. And loud advertisements on TV and in the newspaper tempt us to purchase gifts for our loved ones.

Well, those advertisements must work. Because Americans spend a LOT of money on Christmas.

Our Addiction to Spending
According to Forbes, last week’s Black Friday saw Americans spend over $6.2 billion – a new record. And Cyber Monday was even crazier, with Americans spending $7.8 billion (of which over $2 billion was purchased via smartphones). Investopedia estimates that Americans will spend around 4.5% more in 2018 than in 2017, meaning we will spend approximately $720 billion for the holidays.

That’s a lot of moola. But what does that equate to for the average consumer? Almost $900. And most of that $900-per-American goes on credit cards, which takes some people months to pay off (making it actually far more than $900!).

But while Americans are making VISA rich, global crises continue. For instance, Advent Conspiracy claims it would only take $10 Billion dollars to provide safe water to everyone on the globe.

So what if we spent a little less on ourselves this Christmas so we could give more to those in need?

The Simple Power of “Spend Less”
As I have for the past three Christmases, I want to once again encourage you to Spend Less. Rather than convey your thoughtfulness to others through the amount you spend, I challenge you to convey your love through creative means such as:

  • handcrafting something rather than buying it
  • writing your loved one a poem or a song
  • giving a gift of food rather than a gift certificate to a restaurant
  • or even giving a homemade “coupon book” full of chores or tasks you will do for them

These types of gifts will be better for your bank account, better for your heart, and quite possibly better for your relationships.

A Real Life Example
I have shared this before, but here is one way my family lives this tenet out: LeAnn and I decided years ago to not give each of our kids 5 or 6 (or more) presents, nor focus on spending an equitable dollar amount on each of them. Instead, we give them only three gifts. Each gift is representative of the gifts the Magi gave the Christ Child in Matthew chapter 2.

  • The “myrrh” gift is something practical,
  • the “incense” gift is something to help them grow spiritually during the next year,
  • and the “gold” gift is the thoughtful, valuable gift – something we know will be meaningful to each of our kids.

We then set a budget for these gifts and stick to it. This helps us to Spend Less each Christmas while making Christmas more meaningful for our kids.

The Purpose of Spending Less
Keep in mind, the tenet of spending less isn’t so we’ll have more to spend on ourselves, rather by spending less, you are freed up to Give More (which is next week’s topic). Until next week’s Notes, though, think about how you can Spend Less this Christmas, while still making this one of the best Christmases you can remember.

Spend Less at Christmas?

by Erin Bird

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s the Christmas season! Houses all around town have lights on them. (I seriously think my house is the only one on my block without them!) Radio stations are pumping out Christmas music over the airwaves. And loud advertisements bombard us to purchase gifts for our loved ones.

Well, those advertisements must work. Because Americans spend a LOT of money on Christmas.

OUR ADDICTION TO SPENDING

On Black Friday last week, Americans spent over $5 Billion. And Cyber Monday was even crazier. America set a new “record” spending $6.59 Billion. If that pace continues, it means, America will break the $658 Billion dollar record spent on Christmas last year.

That’s a lot of moola. But what does that equate to for the average consumer? Over $900. And most of that $900-per-American goes on credit cards, which takes some people months to pay off (making it actually far more than $900!).

But while Americans are making VISA rich, global crises continue. For instance, Advent Conspiracy claims it would only take $10 Billion dollars to provide safe water to everyone on the globe.

So what if we spent a little less on ourselves this Christmas so we could give more to those in need?

THE SIMPLE POWER OF “SPEND LESS”

This Christmas, I want to encourage you to Spend Less. Rather than convey your thoughtfulness to others through the amount you spend, I challenge you to convey your love in creative ways:

  • You might create something rather than buy it.
  • You could write someone a poem or a song.
  • You could give them a gift of food rather than a gift certificate to a restaurant.
  • You could even give them a homemade “coupon book” full of chores or tasks you will do for them.

These type of gifts will be better for your bank account, better for your heart, and quite possibly better for your relationships.

A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

Here’s one way my family lives this tenet out: LeAnn and I decided years ago to not give each of our kids 5 or 6 (or more) presents, nor focus on spending an equitable dollar amount on each of them. Instead, we give them only three gifts. Each gift is representative of the gifts the Magi gave the Christ Child in Matthew chapter 2.

  • The “myrrh” gift is something practical,
  • the “incense” gift is something to help them grow spiritually during the next year,
  • and the “gold” gift is the thoughtful, valuable gift – something we know will be meaningful to each of our kids.

We then set a budget for these gifts and stick to it. This helps us Spend Less each Christmas while making Christmas more meaningful for our kids.

Next week, we will look at the topic of Give More. Until then, think about how you can Spend Less this Christmas, while still making this one of the best Christmases you can remember.

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