While there are those in America who can’t afford food or shelter, but generally speaking, if you compare yourself to others around the world, you are filthy rich. American Christians are among the wealthiest believers to have ever lived! I remember reading a book in seminary called, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (ethics class), and I have been empathetic to the poor ever since.
There’s nothing wrong with being rich, but God has some very specific things to say to rich Christians. I even delivered a message back in 2010 about Investing in Eternity.
Take a look at 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Paul tells Timothy to give rich Christians some information.
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
So let’s take a look at 10 things God wants rich Christians to do:
1. Don’t Be Proud: Some translations use the word, haughty, which is blatantly and disdainfully proud. It might indicate the stereotypical rich snob, who feels they have more self worth than others because they have more net worth than others.
2. Don’t Put Your Trust in Money: It’s funny how we feel more comfortable and at ease when our bank account is full, and much less comfortable when our bank account is empty. Those are natural feelings, but where do they come from? Many times it’s because money is our idol and we put our hope and trust in our cash instead of the sovereign Creator of all things.
3. Put Your Trust in God: God is the One who promises to take care of his children. Everything we have ever earned, received, or worked for is a direct gift from him. He is the One we look to for our hope, faith, and trust, not wealth.
4. Enjoy Your Money: God created us to glorify and worship him by enjoying Him forever. We enjoy Him by enjoying the things He has given us. God gives us money to invest in eternity, but he also wants us to enjoy it as well. Use it to glorify him by enjoying what he’s given you, and always remember him as the source!
5. Do Good: Use your money for good things, like helping others and giving to the poor. Don’t just spend lavishly on yourself.
6. Be Wealthy With Good Works: Instead of constantly trying to dream of ways to build wealth with your business or work, dream about how to build wealth in terms of your good works towards others.
7. Be Generous: Generosity should be the mark of every Christian, especially rich Christians. After all, Christ gave up all the riches of heaven to become poor so that we (through his life, death, and resurrection) might become eternally rich!
8. Be Ready to Share: You become ready to share by getting rid of generosity killers like debt, greed, pride and busyness!
9. Store Up Treasure in Heaven: What does it mean to store up treasure in heaven? Back in those days, Jews would have understood treasure in heaven to mean deeds of mercy and deeds of kindness to those in need. We build great wealth in heaven by eagerly helping the poor, needy, and distressed of this world.
10. Experience True Life: True and lasting life is an eternity spent with your heavenly Father who loves you and sent his Son to die for you. Jesus lived the perfect life that you and I never could to make atonement for sins we have committed. He died a gruesome and horrendous death on a cross, one that you and I deserved to die. And yet, he laid his life down willingly. For the joy that was set before Him, he endured the beatings. He scorned the shame of a Roman cross, for you. He went to that hill to die and all the while he whispered that he loves you.
That is what we cling to, not our wealth. Not our money-making plans, or our business ventures. Those things aren’t wrong, but they aren’t true life! Look to Jesus Christ, the source of true life!
This is teaching from Rick Warren. As always, how do we see King’s Grant measuring up to this standard?
If you want your church to have the impact of the early church, the book of Acts shows us eight essential characteristics we need in our congregations:
Supernatural power (Acts 2:3-4): We don’t just talk about God; we experience Him. This is what makes the church different from every other organization on the planet. We have the Holy Spirit. God promised His Spirit to help His church.
Use everybody’s language (Acts 2:4): This passage isn’t about speaking in tongues. It’s about the gospel being communicated in real languages. People actually heard the early Christians speak in their own languages — whether that was Farsi, Swahili, German, Greek, or whatever. God says from the very first day of the church that the Good News is for everyone. It’s not just for Jews. It’s amazing grace for every race. But the power of Acts isn’t just about the language of your country of origin. It’s also about languages spoken only in particular subcultures — like mothers of preschoolers or people into hip-hop or accountants or truck drivers. God says in His church, everyone’s language gets used. Are you helping your people use their “language” to reach people with the Good News?
Use everyone’s gifts (Acts 2:14, 16, 19, 21): In New Testament times, there weren’t spectators in the Church. There were only contributors; 100 percent participation. Not everyone is called to be a pastor, but everyone is called to serve God. If you want your church to have the impact of the early Church, get everyone involved in the ministry of your church. Make it clear to everyone in the church that passivity isn’t an option. If they want to just sit around and soak up the service of others, let them find another church.
Offer life-changing truth (Acts 2:22-40): The early Church didn’t offer pop psychology, polite moralisms, or nice-sounding inspiration. We must always offer the truth of the gospel. God’s Word has the power to change lives. No other message changes lives like the Good News. No other message changes a guy from a wife-beater to being a loving, responsible husband. It’s when the truth of God’s Word gets into us that we change.
In Acts 2, Peter gives the very first Christian sermon, quoting the Old Testament book of Joel. Peter shares the Gospel in this message. Acts 2 says that the early church devoted itself to the “apostles’ teaching” – the Bible. God’s Word gave the early church power.
Provide loving support (Acts 2:42): The first church loved and cared for one another. The Bible says in Acts 2:42, “They took part in the fellowship, sharing in the fellowship meals and in praying together.” One translation says, “They were like family to each other.” The church isn’t a business. It’s not an organization. It’s not a social club. It’s a family. For our churches to experience the power of the early Church, we’ve got to become the family that they were.
Enjoy joyful worship (Acts 2:46): When the early Church gathered, they celebrated, “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” We must understand and teach that worship is a celebration. It’s a festival, not a funeral. It’s the party for the kingdom of God. When worship is joyful, people want to be there because people are looking for joy. Do you think if our churches were full of glad hearts, joyful words, and hopeful lives, we’d attract other unbelievers? Sure they would.
Make generous sacrifices (Acts 2:44-45): The Bible teaches us to make generous sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. The Christians during the Roman Empire were the most generous people in the empire. In fact, they were famous for their generosity. They literally shared everything, with one another and the poor. The Bible says the early church “shared everything they had … .” That’s a church worth dying for; which is exactly what first-century Christians did. They’d rather die with gladiators and lions in the Coliseum than renounce their faith and their brothers and sisters in God’s family.
Create exponential growth (Acts 2:47): When our churches demonstrate the first seven characteristics of the early Church, growth is automatic. People may have looked at the first Christians as weird, but they liked what they were doing. They saw their love for one another, the miracles that took place in their midst, and the joy that was in their lives, and they wanted what the Christians had.
There are all sorts of people with whom I come in contact that have the power to impact the way I feel. I met a person in a store the other day at the cash register who did not smile, hardly spoke and was just unfriendly. I left there feeling worse than when I came in. Later that same week, an associate at Sam’s Club was pretty friendly and very polite. She had a warm and conversational attitude and caused me to leave there feeling better than when I came in. Some people might make you angry. Some will make you sad. Some will even make you sick because they tell you about every little ache and pain they have.
Have you ever been around someone that just makes you feel better just by being around them? That’s the type of person Barnabas was! Start thinking about what type of person you are? How do you make people feel when you’re around them?
As a disciple of Jesus, Barnabas was committed to telling the good news about Jesus. He left people feeling good because he gave them something to feel good about. Do you leave people better than when you first see them? Not a bad goal to have.
Barnabas’ life displays certain characteristics that distinguish him as a servant of Christ. These characteristics can help us determine if our lives are consistent with the image of Christ. Let’s look at these characteristics found in his life and see if they are present in our lives.
His Goodness (Acts 11:24) Another word could be “righteous.” This refers to the righteousness that results in a Christian’s life once he has been made righteous by Jesus.
- Introduction of Paul to the Apostles (Acts 9:27)
- Emulation of Jesus. The phrase “he was a good man” tells us that he was like Jesus. (Acts 10:38) The church needs people whose lives are marked by goodness. Is God’s goodness present in your life?
His Generosity (Acts 4:36-37, 13:2-3) Barnabas proved to be quite a generous person.
- He was generous with his land (Acts 4:36-37) He gave up his possessions to benefit other people.
- He was generous with his life (Acts 13:2-3) His life was not his own, but was the Lord’s to do with as He saw fit.
- He was generous with his Lord (Acts 20:35) Luke reminds us of a quote that is not recorded in the gospels, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Every church needs people who are generous with Jesus. God exhibited ultimate generosity when He gave His only Son’s life for you and me! Can we do any less than give Him our lives as living sacrifices? (Romans 12:1)
His Godliness (Acts 11:24) He was “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” Barnabas was God-possessed! He had so allowed the Holy Spirit to have control of his life that he was in the center of God’s will for his life. Because of his faith he was totally committed to being like Christ.
- He was Christlike in his conduct – (walk).
- He was Christlike in his conversation – (talk).
(see Ephesians 5:18-21) What you are on the inside is determined by your walk (conduct) and your talk (conversation).
His Gift of Grace (Acts 4:36) “Son of consolation or exhortation” This is what his name meant. In Acts 11:23 we read that he “exhorted them all” (Acts 13:43; 14:22)
- The church needs “Sons of Consolation.” So many times we will beat up our own, or we are wounded by friendly fire. We need to comfort one another, rather than criticize one another.
- We need “Sons of Exhortation.” Too many people say we can’t do that! I believe that with a little encouragement, the attitude of any church will change from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “I can!”
His Gladness (Acts 11:23) Why was Barnabas glad? Could it be that people were getting right with God? His gladness made him want more people to come to Christ. He went around boldly telling people how to have a relationship with Christ! Matthew 18:12-13 uses the word “rejoice” which is the same word as “glad” in the Greek.
Are you glad when people come to Christ or could you care less? It seems like a silly question to a believer, because a person who is sold out to God is glad when people get saved! A lost person or a backslidden believer (carnal, cultural or casual Christian) couldn’t care less.
Can these characteristics of goodness, generosity, godliness, gift of grace, gladness) be found in your life? If not, why not?
- One reason may be that you are a casual or cultural Christian!
- Another reason may be you are lost, never before accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
- If you fit either one of these, better get it straightened out soon; there are no guarantees about tomorrow.
Remember, once you get Jesus, then you will want to be like Him. This study demonstrates that Barnabas is also a fine man after whom we can model our behavior.