Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Treating Money Like Marbles

"But people who are trying to get rich fall into temptation. They are trapped by many stupid and harmful passions that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some have wandered away from the faith and have impaled themselves with a lot of pain because they made money their goal." 1 Timothy 6: 9,10
 One of my favorite games as a kid was marbles. In fact, it didn't seem like a game to us; it was more like a sport, and we took it as serious business.  I guess there are a hundred ways you can play marbles, but we mainly played it in two. One way was the players would put their marbles in the middle of some make-shift circle. Then you had to knock your opponents marbles out of the circle, and for everyone that you did, you got to keep it. The other way was we would dig a small hole in the dirt, usually starting it with the heel of our shoe, and then rounding it out with our hands. Then from some agreed upon starting point, you try to roll your marble into the hole first, all the while knocking others away from the hole. The one who made it to the hole first won their opponent's marbles. And of the many other ways the game can be played, the ultimate reward of any of them was to be able to take other people's marbles. 

So it was the thing to be able to come back into the classroom after recess, or to go home after after playing with your buddies and to brag about the bag full of marbles you won from everyone else. You would shake the bag in their faces, let them hear the marbles clicking; wave around that prized cat-eye marble your opponent vowed he'd never lose. Boy did it feel good to be the one holding all the marbles.

You know, I have noticed that a lot of people never grow up from that game of marbles. Its just that now the marbles are more expensive. Sure, we try to do it in more subtle ways; and try to have a little more adult-like dignity about ourselves. Though we may feel like it, we try to refrain from giving people the "na na na boo boo" treatment. But we still like waving around our bag of marbles. We like showing off the house (we even put spot lights on them now in case you can't get a good look at it in the dark). We like showing off our cars. We make sure that if we spend a lot of money on clothes that it has a very visible emblem on it so people will know we spent a lot of money on it. We do that and many other things because we get some sense of satisfaction and self-worth if we are seen as being rich, wealthy, well-to-do...the one with all the marbles.

There are some things in God's word that are somewhat fuzzy, and some that are down-right confusing. But there are also somethings where the Lord makes Himself perfectly clear, and His warning against a desire for riches is clear. The Apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son Timothy to warn the people then and now that we have to be careful about wanting to be rich. He did not label money as bad. Money is an inanimate object and can be nothing other than what people make it. But he gives a very strong word of warning to those to dedicate their lives in the pursuit of money. Here in the Common English Bible version, he uses words like temptation, trapped, stupid, harmful and destruction. The King James uses words like snare, hurtful lust, perdition, and sorrows. But we want those marbles so badly that even many bible-reading Christians will string together bits and pieces of scripture to weave a false truth to make themselves feel ok about putting money and material possessions first; or they just simply ignore it all together. 

If you find yourself caught in that snare, and you're living your life by treating money like marbles, let me break it down for you like this. No matter how many marbles you may accumulate in life, and no matter how shiny and pretty those marbles might be, when it comes to the end of your life or the end of this world, you will sadly realize that...they're just marbles.

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