Call Me Wealthy
December 4, 2016
By Ed Young
When we think of wealthy people, we think of those who live in multi-million dollar mansions or drive six-figure vehicles. But in this message, Pastor Ed Young shows us how wealth is much more than what is in our bank account. True wealth is about realizing what God has blessed us with and following through with His command to be generous. Because when we are willing to release what we have, we discover the power of real wealth!
What would you do? That’s right, what would you do if you were wealthy? If you were one of the 1%ers, if you were an A-lister? What would you do if you were rich? What would you do? I mean, what would I do? How would I travel? Where would I go if I had all of this money? I love playing that game. Just for a second, think about that. What’s the first thing I would buy? OK. How would I act? Oh man, if I had Kardashian money… if I had Zuckerberg money… man, I’d be a great rich person.
Well, today we’re going to do something really interesting. This is going to be a cool message because I’m talking to just the 1%. I’m talking to people who can say, “Call me wealthy.” Huh. Do you know any wealthy people? I’m talking about people who have a lot. Whoa. The CEO of my company. That girl I went to high school with. That person I see, oh yeah, they’re wealthy.
So I just thought we would talk about that, because you know, the Bible – and I didn’t even realize this – talks about what happens when a person becomes wealthy. I’ve known a lot of wealthy people. I know a lot of wealthy people. And most wealthy people are good people. I think most of us would go, yeah, they are. I would say, though, most are not good at being wealthy. Let me say that again. I know a lot of rich people, I’ve met them in my life. Most are good, I know some jerks. Most rich people are good people, they’re just not good at being rich. And if you follow the American plan, once you become wealthy and a few people here, you definitely one day will cross that nebulous line, you’ll become wealthy. So, if you do, I’ve got some great words of wisdom for you from the Bible, because you can become good at being wealthy. I know you’re a good person, but when you become wealthy you can say, “Wow, I’m good at being rich.” It’s kind of an interesting sermon, isn’t it? just for a few people. What do you think? Yeah, Ed! Stick it to those rich people! Now, I’m not going to do that necessarily but I’m just going to talk to you if you ever become wealthy, if you cross that line and you’re like, whoa. Call me wealthy.
The apostle Paul told Timothy to write to rich people and here’s what he said. 1 Timothy 6:17, “Command those who are rich…”
Let me stop there. Command. It’s not like an option. Command those. Don’t we call the rich people, ‘those.’ Yeah. Those. The haves and the have-nots.
“Command those who are rich in this present world here and now not to be arrogant.”
Isn’t it true that when someone has a lot of money they can become a little arrogant? Isn’t it true they can become a little snobbish? Not all people, not all rich people, but many have that tendency. So if you become rich, don’t become arrogant. That’s what Timothy is saying. What do we say to the rich people? We’ve all said this: Must be nice. Some day. Lucky! Wish it were me! Wow! Man, I could cut some corners and live on that! Your office is bigger than my house! I’ll stop.
“Command those who are rich (the 1%ers) in this present world not to be arrogant, nor to put their hope…” Let’s say hope. You know, that’s the key to this text. Hope. You could write the word trust. “… not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain.” That’s true, isn’t it? “But to put their (say it again) hope in God (I love this!), who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
Twenty-five hundred verses in the Bible talk about wealth, and the juxtaposition when you talk about wealth is this. You’ve got the blessings of God, and from cover to cover the Bible says we’re to enjoy the blessings of God. We’re to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Don’t feel guilty enjoying things. If things didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be matter. But there’s accountability, responsibility. So there’s that holy tension. If you become wealthy, if you become a 1%er, if you say to yourself, “Call me wealthy,” you will have that tension. Enjoyment, blessings of God, responsibility. The more you have, the more responsibility you have. OK. You’re saying to yourself, OK, I can work with that. But the key here is hope.
We go to verse 18, “Command them (there’s the word again) to do good.” So most wealthy people are good, they just aren’t good at being wealthy. I just said to myself as I read this, “If I ever cross that line and really become wealthy, I’m going to be good at it. I’m serious.” And I know you’re going, OK. Man, I wish God would give me that opportunity! You’re saying, OK, I understand that. “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be (let’s say it together) generous.” That’s the essence of Christianity.
Have you ever thought about why America is the most benevolent and the most generous country? It’s because of our Christian roots. We’re born as a natural-born taker, then we’re reborn and we become these re-born givers. It’s so amazing. It’s stunning. It’s astonishing. The essence of Christianity is generosity. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he…” Yeah, that’s what I thought. “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” How? How? How does that happen?
Verse 19, “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves…” So if I’m generous, I’m like a 1%er, call me wealthy, if I’m generous I have the ability, the opportunity, to “lay up for myself treasures as a firm foundation for the coming age.” You might want to circle that. The coming age. Well, now the writer is talking about eternity and wealth but in verse 17 he’s talking about wealth and the here and now. Verse 17 he’s talking about the present, and verse 19 he’s talking about the future. So “in this way they’ll lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
So if you become wealthy, when you die God is not going to go, <sarcastic clap> “Wow! You left millions behind. Amazing. Great job.” No. If, when you’re wealthy, when you’re uber-rich, when you leverage your finances and bring them to God, to his house, by doing that I’m laying up for myself (hypothetical now, I’m talking to the uber-rich) treasures in heaven. There will be rewards in heaven, levels in heaven, and we have that opportunity. What did I say the key word was to this text? What? What? Hope!
I’m a very visual person, majored in the arts. Let me draw this diagram. God – Hope – Riches
Riches, I like that. I decided to use green, riches. Hope. We hope in God. I’ve been studying generosity and those who don’t have much are much more generous, percentage-wise, than the wealthy. I thought that was interesting. Now the wealthy might write larger checks, but those who don’t have much, you know, who are just getting by, they give a higher percentage. So if you’re uber-wealthy – we probably have a couple of people here. Maybe you have that stealth wealth, I don’t know. There are always a couple of Bentleys or Rolls in the parking lot. Maybe that means, sometimes it means you’re just in debt, but maybe you’re just rolling. Maybe you’re just loaded. When you write a check, let’s say for example to this church, the check is $10,000. Or maybe $100,00. Wow! You really think the God of the universe, the Creator, the Sustainer, the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, do you think God is going, “Man! Look at that check! $10,000, wow! A million? Wow! I can’t believe it!” no. No. Heck to the no! God’s not doing that.
Right before Jesus died he was watching people putting stuff in the offering basket. Did you know that? These heavy hitters were coming by. Throw their money in <whoom!> the plate would rattle <whoom!> Jesus was like, “OK, whatever. A single parent came by, a widow, dropped in just a little bit. Jesus turned to his squad and said, “Guys, that’s the generous one. It’s about percentage. Again, I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the wealthy people. It’s about percentage, not all the zeros. You understand me. But here’s what happens. I mean, I’ve studied a lot and by virtue of my life I’ve been around a kaleidoscopic range of people, some very wealthy. And here’s what I’ve noticed about wealthy people.
Here is what I call the slope of hope. Like some trees, like you’re in Telluride or somewhere, Aspen, I don’t know, the Alps. And here is Randy Rich and his lovely wife, Rhonda. And you know, before they had all of this money, their hope was in God. Now, though, they’ve crossed that line, that line that – let’s be honest – all of us want to cross. Don’t act like you don’t. I do. I want to be rich. I know you do, too. Don’t lie. Don’t sit there being pious. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we do. We want the big money. That’d be so good being rich, Ed. You have no idea. If I had Zuckerberg’s portfolio, Trump money, Kardashian money? Wow, I would be the man! I would be the girl! I would be so good at being rich! But here’s what happens. We receive money, we become rich, and well, we go to the slopes. These are skis. And if we’re not careful, if you become this way, cool. Hope migrates. We slide down the slippery slope and hope moves from God to what? Riches. Let me say it again, because I think some people have missed me here. Most of the wealthy people I know are great people, they’re just not great at being wealthy. So if you follow the American plan you’re not going to be great at being wealthy.
It’s so funny. We have all these opinions about wealth, blogs and people post this or that and you have these infomercials or conferences. Yet, in God’s opinion it’s just there. I mean, there’s no different way to interpret it. There’s no way to… well, there’s a way but you can’t take it out of context. I mean, it is what it is. God warns us, he tells us, if you ever become a heavy hitter, a player, a whale, a high roller, the hope will migrate. It will, you better watch it, from God to riches. It migrates. We don’t want it to but it does and become money and things have weighted us down, they weigh us down, we just slide down the slope.
I’m not a big skier but I’ve attempted a couple of times and you fall, sometimes you slide, you can’t stop. So when your hope migrates, the writer says, you’re going to crash and burn. Man. This is nuts, isn’t it? Send those rich people in your life this link, would you? Tell them to log onto FellowshipChurch.com, please. The wealthy people need to hear this. They’ve been blessed by God but they need to be good at it. They do many good things but I would argue not necessarily great things. Hope, hope, hope.
Well, what happens when hope migrates? Well, I want to write some words down, and here’s what happens. Once again, see, I’m not talking – I don’t think I’m talking to you, I’m just talking to a few – but we see this in people’s lives, especially during this time of year. Here’s what happens when hope begins to surround our riches.
We become selfish. Our self begins to smell like a fish. It’s mine. Extra? It’s for me. More? It’s for me. Rich people say it’s not, they say, “Oh, I’m doing this for my family. I’m doing this for my grandkids.” Come on, man. You’re doing it for you. Just be honest. Selfish.
Greed. When this happens, I’ve seen it, we begin to have a vice grip on our stuff. We want to control it and control everybody. We begin to think, wow, I’m really smart because I’m rich. And when my net worth goes up, my intelligence also goes up. So we have selfishness.
And then we have pride. The ride of pride. And you know, pride is stunning, because people who are dealing with pride don’t know they’re dealing with it. It’s the forerunner of all sins. So if you don’t think you’re prideful, you’re prideful. I did it. I’m the man. I’m just a little bit better than you. You’ve been in those stores before. I just felt like they were looking down at me. You’ve been to maybe that restaurant or whatever, you just kind of feel that. We feel that, don’t we? Sometimes? We do, we do. I mean, maybe it’s real maybe it’s not, but we can become prideful. We kind of drop hints.
“Oh yeah, I was in the Alps last week and I bought a brand new Lamborghini. There are only 17 of them in the world. I was driving through the Alps and stopped and hunted elk with a slingshot…” and it just goes on and on. “I’m taking a trip to Pluto in a couple of years. Richard Branson, Mark Cuban and I, we’re very good friends.”
Always one-upping everybody, always telling stories. They’re at the party and people like to gather around rich people to hear their stories. A rich person will just say something that’s not that funny. Everybody gives it a horse laugh. I’m thinking, that’s stupid. Why am I laughing? He’s rich. Isn’t that true?
And they can also – and this is tough but I will say it – they can also become strange. Have you ever looked at some of these cats? Hilarious! Not everybody who’s uber-wealthy is this way. We’re having fun, just chill. But money can make you whacky because of hope. We move it from God, if we’re followers of Christ, and we move it to riches and it makes you just a little weird. It accentuates what you already are. And you begin to turn inward and get a little paranoid. It’s just funny, just funny, just funny.
And there’s one more and this one… this one here is a massive principle you’ve got to understand if you become wealthy. This will happen to you. It’s going to happen and I’ve dealt with this, well, ever since I’ve been in the ministry. Where can I write? OK. Rationalize. Those people who have had the migration, they rationalize. They rationalize their wealth. When I have an opportunity to speak into wealthy people’s lives they rationalize. “Oh, that money’s all tied up and it’s in a corporation or stocks or it’s in real estate. And you know, I just take a salary of $50,000 a year. And I tithe off of that and…” Call me stupid. Really? Really? You’re so creative in buying cars and homes and planes and yachts and then when it comes to the things of God – I’m talking about the uber-rich – you can’t do it.
ILLUS: I was in a conversation like this 10 years ago. This wealthy guy was in the passenger’s seat. I began to challenge him over things and he was talking about the diamonds he was buying his spouse, and he was buying this and that and another home, and his company is buying 400 acres and developing this. He’s buying this office building and I said, “Man, that’s awesome. God has blessed your life. I’m glad I’m not you.” What? He looked at me like, preacher? You do well and all that but look at me. You’re telling me that? Yeah. I said,
“You must stay up at night thinking of ways that you can leverage your wealth for the church. God has blessed you so much, man.”
“Oh, I can’t.” Call me stupid. It’s between you and God.
But it’s amazing how the wealthy people rationalize. Yeah, they’ll throw the show off money. “Woah! Look at that check! $50,000!” They’re worth a half a billion. And I love it when social media gives these numbers that these movie stars have donated, like that’s huge money. I’m going, that’s pathetic. See, don’t do the American way when it comes to wealth. Do it God’s way. Do it God’s way.
T.S. So, hasn’t this been a fun message? So if, and very few here will be, I think, if you ever become a 1%er, are you with me? Do it this way:
First of all, I’m again just preaching from Scripture, the first 10% of everything we make, that’s starter generosity, goes to the church. It’s talked about throughout the Old Testament, and in the New Testament most followers of Christ gave 20-30-40% of their income to the church. So my word to the wealthy, for those of you who become super, super rich, first 10% goes to God’s house. Then, over and above that, that’s an offering. Really, generosity starts at 11%. You do that, and then enjoy. You’ve got 10 yachts, 15 jets, 17 helicopters, 400 ranches, enjoy it! Enjoy it! But God says the first is mine, because if we don’t bring the first, hope has a way of migrating, of moving down the slope, and then we begin to orbit (I’m talking to the rich people now) our lives around riches. So tell the rich people that you know about this message. It will serve them well.
I was researching wealth, in fact I’ve been doing so the last couple of weeks, and I ran across something and I want to share this with you. This is a stat. The median global income is $9,700 a year. Hmm. I thought, that’s got to be wrong. I looked at other sites. No, it’s right.
Then I kept digging. According to the global rich list, an income of $32,400 per year puts you in the global 1% of wage earners. Whoa. That means if you make more than $32,400 you’re a part of the 1%ers. So I need to make a declaration today. I’m under conviction because I make more than $32,400 a year. I’m going to say it. Call me wealthy! But I don’t feel it. You need to say the same thing. Almost everyone here, in Miami, Dallas, Keller, Southlake, you’re watching online from places around the world. Allaso Ranch, some in our prison campuses. Let’s say it. 1-2-3, call me wealthy. That was pitiful. There was no conviction. You don’t get it, do you? We’re all wealthy. Let me say it again. Say it like you mean it! 1-2-3 – Call me wealthy! I saw some the men do this, “Call me yuuuuu…. <sound effects>” Let’s do it again. 1-2-3 – Call me wealthy! There you go!
So, I guess what you’re saying, Ed, this message is for me! You were talking to me! So, I have a tendency when I’m paid to get heavy and weighted down. I have a tendency for hope to migrate, to slide down the slippery slope! I’m so mesmerized by the thrills and chills of the raises and the trips and the extra and the more, that hope now begins to surround riches. And I can become selfish. Oh yeah. I can become prideful. I can become strange. On yeah, can I rationalize. I’m great at that. Telling myself rational lies? The slope of hope.
The writers of proverbs, well he was wealthier than anyone will ever become, probably more intelligent. Oh he’s more intelligent than like, Stephen Hawking or someone like that. Just research him. I’m talking about Solomon. Here’s what Solomon said. “The rich (that’s you and me – call me wealthy) think of their wealth as a strong defense. They imagine it to be a high wall of safety.” I think I can save my way into safety and security.
ILLUS: My mother has been struggling with an illness. She’s been sick off and on for the last three years. And during Thanksgiving she was in ICU at Methodist Hospital in Houston. She now is home recovering, so we spent a lot of time during the Thanksgiving holidays in the ICU room. ICU is intense. It’s not a fun place. I saw so many people who are just devastated with loss, sickness, pain, regret. I saw chaplains go from room to room, people taking their last breath, wanting to make sure that their hope is in God and they’re spending forever with him. That’s great. What a ministry! I’m all about that. But, amazingly, I didn’t hear about anyone in ICU talking about their portfolio. I didn’t hear anyone from ICU talking about their beach home in Galveston. I didn’t hear any of those people talking about riches!
Don’t wait until you’re on the death bed! Don’t wait until you’re in ICU, hooked up to all those machines. Put your hope in the Lord.
The number one competitor for your heart and mine – some are saying it’s that ding-dong-dingbat devil. No. Well, yeah, he’s behind it. But the number one competitor for your heart and mine … money. Jesus talked more about money than he talked about heaven or hell. So you can get upset. Oh, I can’t believe they’re talking about money. I’m just preaching Bible to you.
How do you keep your hope in God? It’s very simple. You bring the first 10 to the house. And again, I want to emphasize it’s a percentage thing. Also, you begin because you bring the tangible to the house, what happens? God begins to bless your life like you’ve never seen possible. Sometimes financially, sometimes financially, but usually in ways that money can’t even touch. So you begin to bring that to God, you begin to bring the first to him, you give him the first of your day, of your week, and you’ll be like – wow! This is awesome! You’ll be able to enjoy the other 90% more than the wealthiest person alive! Because you understand where it’s coming from! Because you are not on the slippery slope, you’re climbing up the slope of hope because you’re putting your hope in God.
Hebrews 13:5, I thought this was interesting, “keep your lives free from money and be content with what you have.” Right? Money is evil. No, that’s the Ed Young translation. Let me read that again. “Keep your lives free from the… from the… from the… love of money!” Money is neutral. We can leverage it for greatness. The moment I allow hope to migrate, suddenly I’m in love with money. I do what God tells me to do, I love God first, then I can truly love the blessings. Most wealthy people don’t even know why they’re blessed! They’re worshipping the benefits and missing the Creator. Call me wealthy.
Here are two Tweet-able phrases, put these on Facebook please, Instagram. I’ll read them. You don’t have to be wealthy to be generous. You just need to be generous to be generous. “Oh, if I had a million dollars…” No, you wouldn’t. “Oh, if I had Kardashian money…” No, you wouldn’t. It starts now. It started now for Lisa and I 35 years ago as we began to bring God’s tithe to the house. Now we bring a good bit more than 10%. We give over and above that to special offerings. I couldn’t talk about this if I was not involved in it.
Here’s another Tweet-able phrase. If you aren’t content with what you have, you’re not going to be content with more than you have. If you’re not content with what you have now, what makes you think you’re going to be content with more? Call me wealthy.
I thank you, church, because so many of you understand that you’re wealthy and you’re good at it. We have a chunk of people, let’s just give it up for them right now, who are good at being wealthy. You understand it’s from God and you’re like, God, I can’t out-give you. Call me wealthy! And you enjoy the blessings of God. Because you understand it’s a percentage thing, not a numbers thing.