Call Me Wealthy
December 11, 2016
By Ed Young
Discovering the power of true wealth.
Ask the average person on the street if they consider themselves wealthy and they’ll likely respond, “No.” But the reality is that every one of us is wealthy, because we have been given so much by God. What He calls for each of us in response is to live a life of generosity. In this series by Pastor Ed Young, we will discover that wealth is less about our things and more about our obedience. And when we obey God with what He has given to us, we find ourselves in a position to say to anyone who asks, “Call me wealthy!”
INTRO: Let’s talk about basketball. What do you think? Who in here can spin the ball on their finger? Anyone? Really? Really? Let me pick someone to spin the ball on their finger. Karry, come on up. Karry Johnson! Karry Johnson is here. Karry, how are you doing?
Karry: Great. How are you?
Ed: It’s great to see you.
Karry: It’s good to see you.
Ed: Karry is an awesome, awesome young woman. She’s been a part of our church for over 20 years. She is the better half of pastor Mike Johnson, and that was her lovely daughter during the welcome. And, I don’t want to embarrass anybody, her boyfriend. OK, anyway, Karry. So you’ve never really spun the ball on your finger before. Well, here’s something I used to do at basketball camp back in the day. I really enjoy doing this. I’m going to spin this and I’m going to teach Karry how to spin the ball on her finger. What do you say? All right, Karry, here we go. This might not be easy but you can do it. OK, point your finger just like this. There we go. Karry! Thank you, Karry! Karry Johnson!
How many people in here know how to shoot a lay up? How many people have never heard of a lay up before? A few. A lay up is a basic shot and I’m going to talk about that today. I’m going to talk to you about a lay up. I’m going to teach you how to shoot a lay up. A lay up is a very easy shot on one hand. It’s also a foundational shot. If you can shoot a lay up you can do a lot of stuff offensively when it comes to basketball. Years ago my father taught me how to shoot a lay up.
So when you shoot a lay up you have to have some coordination. You have to have some foot work. You have to have some timing. Basically if you’re right-handed (and most of us are right-handed), if you’re left-handed , a southpaw, the same thing happens on the left side. But I’m going to teach you from the right side how to shoot a proper lay up. It’s shocking, in fact it’s astounding, because a lot of people don’t know how to shoot a lay up, even college basketball players. Now and then I will see them, they don’t have the correct form. Let me show you how to do this, because I used to do a lot of basketball camps and I’ve talked to a lot of people about it, and I’ve shot a lot of lay ups in my life, especially at Florida State. I led the country in scoring. Warm-ups scoring.
Anyway, you shoot a lay up like this. You take a dribble, let’s just start right here for demonstrative purposes. You take a dribble, OK, then you take a step. You want to lift the leg that you’re favoring, or that is your good hand. So I’m right-handed and pretend like a string is from my right side all the way down to my leg. I go up, and shoot the ball. When you’re shooting a lay up you have to look, you have to concentrate on the white square. See the white square up there? So if I hit the square, being on the right side, on the right edge it’ll pretty much go in every time. If I’m on the left side for those – who in here, if you’re a southpaw, left-handed, lift your hand. The most creative people are left-handed. It’s true, it’s true. The left side, same thing. A lay up, though, is something that is fundamental. So you’re playing basketball and you have a shot for a wide open lay up you just simply take it and score. It’s a lay up. Foot work, follow-through.
One of the biggest mistakes people make, and this even happens when you watch television, when you shoot a lay up too many people put their hand (I’m getting a little bit technical) under the ball. Now obviously there are times when you can put your hand under the ball and shoot a lay up or a scoop shot or whatever. But you want to have your hand behind the basketball when you shoot a lay up. Why? Rarely do you have a wide-open lay up. Now and then you will. Usually you have someone defending you, an opponent.
So when you have your hand behind the ball, if the opponent puts his or her hand in your face, maybe they bump you a little bit, you can reset the ball, see, and still get a shot off. If you do this and they try to block it, I mean, you’re stuck in no-man’s land. Are you feeling me? Did you learn something today? I doubt seriously when you were driving to church you said, “Man, I really need to work on my lay up skills. Hopefully Ed is going to teach me about shooting a lay up.” I kinda feel like I’m at basketball camp.
I’ve done so many basketball camps. I love basketball camps. Basketball is a game that you play on your fingertips. You don’t, like, vice grip the ball. You don’t use your palm really at all when you play basketball. If you go outside and play you’re palm should never be dirty, only your fingertips. Basketball is a game we play with our fingertips.
ILLUS: After Thanksgiving I was in Houston with my family. My mother has been sick for the last several weeks. We had a great meal and after the meal we went into Dad’s back yard and played a game of HORSE. Dad is 80 years old, he looks like he’s 40, and someone filmed a little bit of us playing HORSE. And look at the lay up that he shot. There he goes, watch him. Oh yeah. Now that, that’s my brother. That was a difficult shot because Dad shot a lay up to try and put me out of the game. Of course, I won. #humbled. Dad was shooting a lay up back here.
So here’s the great thing about a lay up. Once you learn how to do it, if you see great players like Steph Curry, LeBron James, others. Many times they will shoot a lay up type shot way out here. Everything you learn about a lay up, you can build upon it. I’m here to tell you that our great God is a God of the lay up. I was shocked and I began to research this a while back, how many times the phrase “lay up” is used in Scripture. I thought to myself, you’ve gotta be kidding! God loves basketball! Lay up, lay up, all the time, lay up, lay up, lay up, lay up, lay up. A lay up is foundational. A lay up takes coordination. A lay up takes coordination. A lay up takes concentration. A lay up takes consistency. You’ve got to do it so much it’s second nature.
In 1 Timothy 6, the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to write a word to those who are rich. Those who are wealthy. And I love what the text says in 1 Timothy 6:17, you can see it and I will read it. “Command those…” This is not like a suggestion. This is not like, oh we can discuss this. Or let me give you my opinion on the matter. Who cares? This is what God says. “Command those (those, I like those) who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant.”
Isn’t it true that we call the rich people those? Yeah, those. The 1%ers. The jetsetters, the high flyers, the high rollers, the A-listers. And we use phrases like “must be nice”, “some day”, “lucky.” And social media exacerbates this. Social media, of course, is an ESPN highlight reel of stuff that’s not real. If you think that’s real on social media it’s not. I’m guilty of it, too. Sometimes I will do four or five videos until I get the right video to post that looks the best. It’s not real, that’s not what I do or you do all the time. It’s funny and fun. Don’t take it too seriously. However, if you look and if you read too much into social media – and I can sometimes – I say to myself, “Wow, they’ve got it made. Wow, look at their life. Look where they traveled. Look what they do.” Competition, envy.
ILLUS: I have been having some problems recently I wanted to kind of reveal, because this is the stage and I thought I would talk about some of these problems. You know, I put my car in reverse yesterday and there were raindrops on my camera because I put the car in reverse. That’s a terrible problem. Raindrops on that backup camera. And then my car, it took over a minute to sync up with Bluetooth. That was horrible. A couple of weeks ago I was in an airport and I had to wait over an hour for a flight! One hour. Terrible. Then my second fridge, I walked in the other day and it was packed with stuff. Horrible, terrible problems. Sprinkler system wasn’t working right a while back. A patch in the yard was kind of brown. I’ve got some serious problems. I need an upgrade on my phone, too. The iPhone is overrated. You see what I described to you? First world problems, right? Problems of someone who is rich.
Because we discovered that pretty much everyone is rich. We read this text last week and I talked about rich people, and you thought I was talking about the 1%ers. But then we found out most of us are the 1%ers because the top income worldwide globally is $32,400. I said that and a lot of people didn’t believe it. And I have numerous sources. You can check it out on the world wide web. $32,400. The top 1%, if you make more than that annually you’re in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world. So let’s say it, let’s just make a declaration. Call me wealthy. 1-2-3 – let’s say it. Call me wealthy. It doesn’t sound – you’re not saying it with very much conviction. 1-2-3- Call me wealthy. I’m wealthy. You’re wealthy, based on a world economy. But here’s the problem. We don’t feel wealthy. There’s this line, this nebulous line, where someone can cross and I guess when we cross that we go, OK. Call me wealthy.
What is wealth, anyway? I’m just kind of pausing here, and I’m going to continue to read 1 Timothy 6:17 then I’m going to continue. Wealth is having more than enough to gratify normal needs. A camera on your car when you put it in reverse. Hundreds of channels on the television and you say there’s nothing to watch. Walk into your closet, “Oh, I don’t have anything to wear.”
We’re rich, OK? Rich is relative, I understand that. Rich is subjective. I dig that. Let’s just own it. We are rich. Here’s what I’ve discovered about wealthy people. And when I said this last week it was very controversial but correct.
And listen to me about wealthy people. I know a number of wealthy people, so do you, because remember, we’re all wealthy. I mean some here make less than $32,400 a year, I understand that, but most of us here are wealthy. I do know some who are like real high-rollers, people who have a lot. And you probably know them too. Most of the people I know who are wealthy are great people. Let me say it again. They’re good people, great people. But they’re not great at being wealthy. Let me say that again. Most people I know who are rich, who have surplus … I like the word surplus. We think the surplus is for us, right? So most people I know who are rich aren’t good at it. It’s not that they’re bad people. They’re not good at being wealthy.
“Now Ed, how can you say that? I don’t believe that.” Because the rich people, I mean the real rich, the uber-wealthy, they have companies and corporations and charities and this and that. Again, let me say it. Great people, they do some great things, they’re just not great at being wealthy and here’s why.
1 Timothy 6:17-19. Again, I know most of you are wealthy but let’s say you become like uber-rich. Here’s how to be good at it. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so (let’s say it together) uncertain.” That’s a fact. It’s just so, so, so uncertain. “But put their hope (their hope, there it is again) in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
Command them to do good. OK, what does that mean? We’re going to find out. “… to be rich in good deeds (all right, I’m tracking) and to be generous (OK) and willing to share.”
“Well, OK, Ed. I’m a generous person. I will sometimes pick up a check. And I will throw a bone in the offering plate. I bought this table for this charity. And I’m always thinking about the other person and I’m generous, I really am.”
OK, OK, OK. Good, good for you. Rah-rah-rah. It’s good that you think that way. That’s awesome. “In this way (verse 19) they will (there’s the word – say it) lay up treasure for themselves as a (there’s the fundamentals) firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Lay up, so I can, wow, as a rich guy, lay up for myself treasures in heaven. In the next life.
ILLUS: Lisa is not a great basketball player. She’s OK. When she was younger, I mean she still can jump pretty good, but back in the day she had some serious hops. And she didn’t even know it. She just does not play a lot of basketball. She played for her church league team though, when she was in high school, and don’t tell Lisa this story because she’s out of town. Well, she’s watching this. She’s in South Carolina with her mom. She shot at the wrong basket. Everybody died laughing. She was so excited. She got the ball and she just turned and she shot at the wrong basket. She missed it but she shot at the wrong basket.
Could it be that a lot of us who are rich, I’m talking to the 1%ers, most of us here, could it be that we’re shooting at the wrong basket? Could it be that we’re laying up treasures for ourselves as opposed to laying up treasures for eternity? Laying up treasure for yourself, you’re thinking about the here and now. You’re thinking about the present world.
Timothy comes up to these people in Ephesus. Obviously some were heavy hitters, they were the upper-crusters. And he goes, “Hey, here is a new concept. You can be rich toward God.”
You have the opportunity, with the blessings of God, to do what? To shoot a lay up. To lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. You lay it up, and you score. That’s what it means to put the ball through the net. So I need to be generous. I need to be willing to share a firm foundation.
When I’m generous and willing to share, when I understand that I’ve been blessed to be a blessing, what happens? Everything in my life can be built off of that. I can show you how to shoot a lay up. I can show you how to shoot a lay up, and if we practice for a while you will take that lay up and build a lot of things off of that lay up. The same is true when it comes to being generous, true generosity, and being willing to share. That’s a foundational principle. And God says “I’ve shown you how to do a lay up. You’ve got a wide open lay up.” It takes coordination, it takes concentration, and just shoot the lay up. It’s going to go through the net. Don’t even think about it!
T.S. Well, what does it mean to be generous? I’m a why guy. Generosity, willing to share, what does that mean?
Malachi 3:10 tells us. “Bring the whole tithe…” what is the word tithe? Tithe is 10, 10%. The first 10% of everything you make and I make goes to the house. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house.” This is my house, right? “ ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open (are you ready for this?) the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.’”
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. One of the nicknames for a basketball is a dime. I mean, you got the dime. Drop the dime. You’re passing, drop the dime. Dime, dime, dime. Tithing. A dime on every dollar. It’s very simple math.
The lay up is very simple to explain. I could even explain it to you and you guys have not played basketball that much. A few of you have but I doubt seriously a lot of you play basketball. So it’s simple. It takes coordination, it takes concentration. A lay up at least 10%.
And I love what the writer says. He doesn’t say give it, he doesn’t say it’s yours. No, no. We bring it. When you play basketball at a gymnasium, you play on the junior high level, high school level, college level, NBA, the team doesn’t own the basketball. The organization that you play in owns the ball. God owns it all. And if you think you own it, you’re not going to take anything with you when you die. I have an opportunity, don’t I, to sync up my heart with my stuff.
The last time I kind of did a diagram for you and let me do this again, because it helps me. You have God, then you have riches. God and riches. You have the slope. That’s moguls and everything… we can do a couple trees. I’m not a big skier but… the slope of hope. You’ve got you and me, money coming into our lives.
Over 2,500 verses about money in the Bible. Jesus talked more about money than he talked about heaven, than he talked about hell, or prayer. Sometimes we go, “Oh, I can’t believe I showed up at Fellowship Church. Ed’s talking about money again.”
Hey, I’m sorry. I’m just giving you what the Bible says. Don’t get mad at me. If you want to get mad, get mad at God or get mad at Jesus. Jesus, though, tells us and the Scriptures tell us, the main competitor for your heart and mine is money. It’s money.
It all comes back to money. Money is not evil, the root of money is we either love it and it messes us up, or we understand it’s been given to us by God and we can leverage it for greatness. Yet, the test of blessings, the test of this whole thing I’m talking about, has to do with the word hope. We hope in God. We orbit our lives around God. We hope in him, and that’s hope. The more we get, though, we get heavy. The more you make, the more responsibility.
It’s the juxtaposition of we need to enjoy our blessings. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty if you drive a Bentley or a Benz or a rocket ship for all I care. Don’t be guilty about that, as long as you are bringing the first to the house. God says we can enjoy the rest. So we’ve got enjoyment, that’s one part of the juxtaposition, and the other, we have this great responsibility. When we are paid, when we are blessed, we have a tendency if we’re not careful to turn our skis down the slopes and ride the slope of hope.
Hope migrates like a spawning salmon. Here’s my salmon. And what happens is it migrates from God to riches, then we find ourselves orbiting our lives, putting our hope in riches, which are so uncertain. Does that make sense to everybody? It’s so interesting and it’s so true, because hope migrates. We slide down the slippery slope of hope.
ILLUS: I was talking to a friend of mine I know through fishing who is a former Olympic downhill skier. And he was telling me about going nearly 100 miles an hour. He goes, “I would point my skis downhill and just let it go.”
When we’re blessed, suddenly we can start worshipping the blessings and miss the blessor. Whoa! It’s so fun, it’s so awesome! It’s so amazing, look how fast I’m going! And the people that I know who are blessed who are wealthy, that’s most of us, the more wealth we have, wealth equals options, options equal time. Then we think wow, I will give a gift. I’ll give. And we think because some gift has all these zeros behind it that God is like, “Wow! Unbelievable! Look at all those zeroes! What a transcendent check!” We think that.
Jesus was watching people participate in the offering one day. All the high-rollers were throwing these big offerings into the offering plate. The plate was rattling. Whoa! Whoa, man that was something! Man! Whoa! And then a single woman put just a couple of mites, a couple of pennies in the plate. Jesus goes, talking to his posse, “Hey guys, that is the greatest offering.” When it comes to God’s economy, it’s not the number of zeros, it’s not! It’s the percentage. It’s proportional. It’s purposeful. It’s passionate. That’s a whole sermon right there. I’ll keep going.
So what happens to us is we have more and more, the percentage goes down, we end up throwing just pocket change at God, and where your treasure is, that is where your heart is. If I am a wealthy person, I can travel, I can go here, there and yonder. There’s always something that gives me fast, temporary relief for the aches and pains of life. So you see this separation that rich people have from God and from his house, and that is what Timothy was driving at. Very, very serious stuff.
Then Jesus talked one day about a bunch of barns. Have you ever played basketball on the side of a barn before? Have you ever nailed an old rim on the back of a barn and played? Didn’t have any cement, just had dirt. I’ve played in areas like that before. It’s kind of fun. It’s truly old school. Well, this one cat, he made all this money. He made just money on crops, he had all these crops, and he said, “You know what? My barns are too small. I’m going to tear the barns down and I’m going to make bigger barns for all my stuff because the extra is for me.” And in Luke 12:19 and 21, here’s what the guy said, this farmer, “I will say to myself, ‘You’ve got plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. And who will get what you’ve prepared for yourself?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Again, this whole phraseology, this whole vibe, being rich toward God rocked the entire community back in the day. I can be rich, you can be rich toward God.
And then Jesus said and I have quoted this already but let me give you the address of this. Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
It’s the lay up. Could it be that you’re shooting at the wrong basket? Could it be that you are just holding the rock? That’s also another name for a basketball, the rock. Could it be you’re just holding onto that dime. And you think, this dime is mine, and you’re doing what you want to do with it? Well, God’s saying you’ve got an open lay up. Yes, materialism will be there trying to nail you. Yes, greed will try to block your shot. Shoot a lay up! It’s wide open! And once we shoot the lay up, once we have that muscle memory, that consistency, once we’re bringing God’s offering to the house everything else is going to be built on that and we will be absolutely unbelievable.
Think about one thing before we go. Think about Christmas, just for a second. We’re all thinking about it. The manger, you could say, was God’s offering plate. God gave his tithe, Jesus, first. The manger. Then of course, Jesus crawled out of the crib, became a man. He voluntarily put his body on the cross. You could say the cross, and offering plate. Then he died. They took his body, put his body in the tomb, an offering plate. Couldn’t keep him down, rose again. And now you see the brilliance of God’s economy. We have an opportunity to give an offering to God.
When I opened up I talked about dad teaching me how to do a lay up. I’m glad for that because it served me well. I was able to go pretty far in basketball. But more importantly, my heavenly Father, your heavenly Father, has taught you how to shoot a lay up. And it will lay up treasures in heaven. Let’s pray.
[Ed leads in closing prayer and filling out commitment cards.]