Sex & Money

Sex & Money

Sex & money.  Both are pretty important parts of our lives.  Both are good things, given by God, and loaded with tremendous potential for good in our lives.  And both are also fraught with dangerous consequences if abused or misused.

Both are spoken of clearly in Scripture.  Both are spoken of often in Scripture (especially money). But both are seldom spoken of by many pastors and other church leaders.  Paul David Tripp writes,

We seem to approach both areas [sex and money] with a timidity, reserve, and embarrassment that does not make personal, cultural, or biblical sense. Pastors are often hesitant to teach and preach about money issues as if somehow this topic is outside the boundaries of what they’ve been called by God to do. And if they’re cautious in talking about money, they’re even more so when it comes to the topic of sex. Meanwhile, in both areas the world around us never seems to stop talking. (Sex & Money, p.17)

If we as believers are not properly equipped with a biblical view of sex and money, we will be ill-equipped for living in a world that seems to be utterly consumed by them.  And if we are not thinking about these things biblically, there is little doubt that we will be influenced by the world’s faulty view of these things instead.  And so (to use Paul’s words from Romans 12:2), we should not be surprised if more and more professing Christians are conformed to this world in these areas, rather than being transformed by the renewal of our minds.

So what are we to do? We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  We must, by God’s grace, conform (or renew) our thinking on these subjects to the Word and will of God, not to the pattern of this evil age.

For that to happen, pastors and teachers in the church must be committed to teaching the biblical view of sex and money.  While we certainly should not be fixated on these subjects in an unhealthy or unbalanced way, we must speak about them wherever, whenever, and however the Scriptures do so.  To do less than that is not only to fail to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) to the people of God, but then also to fail to be innocent of the blood of all men (Acts 20:26).

Obstacles to Evangelism – Part VIII (Lack of Hospitality)

Thabiti M. Anyabwile

One of the most common hindrances to evangelism today is the simple fact that too many believers have little or no significant contact with unbelievers.

Sure, many of us work side-by-side with them for hours at a time on a regular basis, but what about after that?  Do we spend any time with them socially?  Do we have any meaningful friendships with unbelievers?

It seems that, over the course of our lives as believers in Jesus Christ, our circle of friends often becomes more and more narrow in at least one very important sense – we for whatever reason end up having fewer and fewer unbelieving friends.  And because of that, our opportunities for evangelism are then fewer and fewer as well.

Thabiti M. Anyabwile writes,

Perhaps our failure to be hospitable explains why so many Christians have few non-Christian friends and find themselves far removed from evangelistic opportunities. We cannot share the gospel with a person we fail to greet, or speak to a person with whom we refuse to spend time. Apart from being hospitable on some level, sharing the good news becomes close to impossible. (Finding Faithful Elders And Deacons, p.72)

Many of us (present company included!) need to work at reversing this trend.  We need to resist the urge to isolate and insulate ourselves from others.  We need to actively look for ways to get involved in the lives of others, and to allow them to be involved in ours as well.

If we do that, things may get a little messy and uncomfortable at times. But we will eventually find that, over time, one of the biggest obstacles to evangelism has been removed.  It really is much easier to share the good news if we cultivate the grace of hospitality.

The Grace of Giving


The grace of giving should be a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian church.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “It’s somehow always about money, isn’t it?”  But bear with me – don’t go packing your bags for that guilt trip just yet!

First, we can see from the example of the church in the book of Acts that the grace of generosity was characteristic among Christians from the earliest days of the church’s infancy.

In Acts 2:42-47 we read:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

And the same thing happened later on in the book of Acts as well.  A large crowd of Gentiles in Antioch heard the gospel and believed.  They were then taught the great truths of Scripture by Barbabas and Saul for an entire year (!).  And what was the result?  Once again, it was generosity toward their fellow believers who were in need.

And Acts 11:27-30 says,

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Not only that, but look at what the apostle Paul has to say about the subject.  He thought it was so important, that he exhorted the church at Corinth to “excel” in the grace of giving. And he did so by reminding them that this particular grace was evident even among some of the poorest churches in Macedonia:

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. (2 Corinthians 8:1-7 ESV)

Notice the arithmetic of grace that Paul mentions:

Abundant Joy + Extreme Poverty = Overflowing Generosity

That being the case, there was no excuse for a well-to-do church to not be excelling in that same grace of giving.  And there still isn’t.

What about us?  Do we excel in the grace of giving?  If not, why not?

Is poverty (admittedly a very relative term) a valid reason?  We might think so, but that sure didn’t stop the churches of Macedonia, did it?  In fact, while their “extreme poverty” could have been viewed as a reason not to give, the thing that made all of the difference was their abundance of joy in the gospel.

Because of the joy that they had in Jesus Christ, they not only gave beyond their means (v.3), but even begged (!) Paul to allow them to participate in relieving the needs of the saints (v.4).

And Paul not only urged them to give on the basis of the godly example of the churches of Macedonia, but, ultimately, on the basis of the gospel.  In v.9 he reminds them of the sacrificial love of Christ, saying,

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (v.9).

So Christ is our ultimate example of the grace of giving, but Paul is saying much more than that, isn’t he?  Christ’s grace toward us in becoming poor resulted in His people becoming rich!  The riches that Jesus won for us on the Cross are not financial in nature (despite what some prosperity preachers may say), but they are no less real! 

In fact, our riches in Christ are far more real than anything that we could have in a bank account or investment portfolio. (Elsewhere we are told that we have an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” – 1 Peter 1:4.)  The riches of Christ bring such joy to the life of a believer that he or she almost cannot help but be generous.

If we really know that we have treasure in heaven, we will be much more generous with our earthly treasures, whether great or small.  We may (mistakenly) think of giving in legalistic terms, but it’s really all about grace (or should be).  No wonder Paul calls it an “act of grace” (2 Corinthians 8:7)!

May we excel in our joy in Jesus Christ, that we might also excel in the grace of giving!

Sticks and Stones?

stick-14191How serious of a sin is slander?  Just words?  Sticks and stones and all that? Or is it murder with words?

Thomas Watson writes,

You may kill a man in his name as well as in his person. Some are loath to take away their neighbor’s goods – conscience would fly in their face; but better take away their corn out of their field, their wares out of their shop, then take away their good name. This is a sin for which no reparation can be made; a blot in a man’s name, being like a blot on white paper, which will never be got out. God will visit for this sin. (The Ten Commandments, p.171-72)

We may not give it much thought, but sins of the tongue are deadly serious. They are not easily undone, and they do great harm. A ruined reputation can ruin a person’s business. It can ruin his or her standing in a community. It can destroy families. Watson was right – you can “kill a man in his name as well as in his person.”

The New Testament is full of warnings against the sin of slander (e.g. Matthew 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:1, etc.), so we would be wise not to take it lightly; and we would be wise not to assume that we are incapable of such sins.

No wonder Paul tells us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31, ESV)  And what is our motivation for putting away such sins of temperament, attitude, and speech? The gospel.

In the very next verse he writes, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (v.32).  The forgiveness of sins that we have in Jesus Christ through faith should transform our relationships with other people, even (especially?) those with whom we differ, disagree, or just can’t seem to get along.

If we have been forgiven by the Lord for all of our sins, the very least we can do is show kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness to others. And it should certainly lead us to refrain from the sins of gossip & slander.

The Necessity of Forgiveness

forgiveness-1767432_1920Scripture repeatedly reminds us of the need to forgive one another.

There must be a reason for that!

Even the Lord’s Prayer includes a reminder about the necessity and importance of forgiving one another:

“ . . .and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12-15, ESV)

Jesus tells us that we must forgive our brother when he sins against us “seventy times seven” times (Matthew 18:22).  That’s a lot of forgiving!

In 1 Corinthians 13, when the apostle Paul wanted to describe and define real love, he included the idea of forgiveness:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV)

And in two of his other letters, Paul tells us that we not only must forgive one another, but that it also must be in the same manner that the Lord Jesus Christ forgave us:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

All of this adds up to impress upon us the importance of Christians forgiving one another.  It is a key component of the Christian life because it is a key component of Christian love.  And it is a big part of what it means to follow Christ.

Not only that, but it is a reminder that forgiveness will be necessary. In other words, we who are called by the name of Christ are forgiven and justified in Him, but we still sin.  A lot.  And we will sin against one another.  A lot.

Sometimes we will be the one sinned against. Sometimes the shoe will be on the other foot and we will be the offending party.

And when (not so much if) that happens, we must forgive. And we must forgive as Christ has forgiven us.

It is not the presence of sin in the church that necessarily undoes our testimony before a watching world, but the absence of forgiveness and restoration.  Because forgiveness and restoration are both based upon the gospel of Christ as well as reflections of it (John 17:20-23).

Forgiveness & Prayer

Have you truly, sincerely, and freely forgiven anyone who has done you wrong? (Have you told them so?)

This is so important that it is included in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)!  We ask our heavenly Father to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (v.12).  Would you or I be happy if God forgave us exactly the same way and only to the same extent that we have forgiven others?  Because that is exactly what we are asking Him to do every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer.

And then, just in case we miss the point, Jesus repeats it a 2nd time in v.14-15: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.”

Evidently our Lord knew that we His people would have a major problem in this area, so He included this in the very pattern that He gave us for prayer!

Every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, take a moment to use it as a spiritual check-up of sorts.  Examine your relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and especially with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Remember how great a debt of sin that we have been freely forgiven in Christ, and let that be our motivation and example for extending real forgiveness to each other.

Famous Last Words

Acts 7:59-60 gives us the last words that Stephen spoke before he was martyred for the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

His last words in sound familiar, don’t they?  They are an echo of Jesus’ last words from the Cross (Luke 23:34, 46)!  Like his Lord Jesus, Stephen showed great love, mercy, and grace to those who showed him none of the above!

If you stop and think about it, those are amazing words.  That is an amazing prayer!

How was Stephen able to pray for the Lord not to hold their sin (his own murder!) against them? How was he able to cry out for their forgiveness even as they were killing him?

Can you even imagine being able to do that? We often have trouble forgiving far lesser things, don’t we?

How can we learn to forgive our enemies like Stephen did here in Acts 7? The key is the gospel.

The more that you grasp the reality of the love and forgiveness that are yours through faith in Christ, the more willing you will be to stick your neck out for the gospel.

And the more willing you will be to forgive even the worst offenses against you.

The Only Thing That Was “Not Good” in the Garden

Did you know that there was only one thing lacking in the paradise of the Garden of Eden?  Everything was “good” except one very specific thing.

Genesis 2:18 says,

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

It is interesting that this is the only time that the LORD said something was not “good” prior to the Fall (Genesis 3).

Everything else God had made in Creation was created “good.”

Day 1: Light and Darkness (Genesis 1:3-5) – “God saw that the light was good” (v.4).

Day 2: Waters & the Heavens (Genesis 1:6-8)

Day 3: Dry Land & Vegetation (Genesis 1:9-13) – 2X “God saw that it was good” (v.10, 12).

Day 4: Sun, Moon, & Stars (Genesis 1:14-19) – “And God saw that it was good” (v.18).

Day 5: Fish of the Seas & Birds of the Heavens (Genesis 1:20-23) – “And God saw that it was good” (v.21).

Day 6: Beasts of the Earth, Livestock, and Adam (Genesis 1:24-31) – “And God saw that it was good” (v.25).

In case we missed the point that God created everything good, Genesis 1:31 gives us a summary statement:

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

But when we get to Genesis 2:18-25 (the story of the creation of Eve), we are told that it was “not good” that Adam should be alone. (The animals were nice, but not sufficient.)  Adam needed Eve.

So if you are a married man, thank God for your wife. If it was not good for Adam to be alone even in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden before the Fall, how much more do we need the blessings of marriage in a world filled with sin and misery!

Some men have the gift of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:6-8), but for the rest of us, the respective wife that God gives to each one of us is a most desperately-needed helper and companion in life and ministry.