(These are the notes I worked off of this morning in my sermon. Here's the link for the video on our church website: https://www.kingdomstreams.net/post/the-blessing-of-uprightness )
So my son and family got the opportunity to go on a much needed vacation; and Anne and I had the privilege of following them to the airport and driving their van home. We were to all leave their home on their departure day at 10:30, so we got there 15-20 minutes early to help with the kids or any last minute things. Trying to pack for three small children and yourselves and managing the youngest who wasn’t at that point perfectly potty trained yet and who probably had some level of anxiety about what in the world was getting ready to happen – well as is always the case there were last minute challenges and we left 15 minutes late.
Because Anne and I were so focused on trying to help in any way we could, we never thought it might be wise to use the bathroom ourselves. So five minutes down Los Osos Valley Road we both realized we had full bladders. Our habit driving down that long road is to in the beginning recite a scripture verse to one another and pray. We did that, but with growing concern about how we were going to get to a bathroom in time.
We realized when we get to the airport according to airport rules, one of us would have to stay in our car, and one of us would have to jump into Joshua’s van - as you cannot have a vehicle there along the front of the terminal unattended. We initially thought – once Josh and family were safely in the airport - we would drive to Costco or Staples or somewhere similar to use the bathroom, but honestly by the time we took a right off of Tank Farm Road towards the airport we knew all of those options were too far away and our need was…. well critical.
So before we pulled up in front of the airport we decided we would park both cars in the paid parking lot across and down from the terminal and run up to the terminal to use the bathroom there and hopefully see our grandkids one more time before they went through security. Anne let me out and then went on ahead in our car since I had to stay with Joshua’s van until they had all their stuff out, and then drive it away from the terminal. Mind you our bladders are at red alert at this point. . I arrived in the mostly full parking lot, but found a parking spot. And then I had a moment of decision. We were just going to be there for maybe five minutes. There didn’t appear to be any airport authority around. And my bladder was very near the point of no return. I had taken a picture of Joshua’s license plate with my phone. But I knew the process at the kiosk would take a few minutes. By the grace of God I stopped at the kiosk and tried to get the process going. Whoever designed that machine was probably not a senior with bladder issues. Everything they asked me after I answered had to be confirmed. Are you kidding me? Can I just abort and start running? Then I had to get my phone out and find that picture and enlarge it so I could read it and punch in Joshua’s license plate #. If it was to spit out a receipt, I did not stick around for that and ran as fast up a long flight of stairs as I have run in a long time.
Thank God there was no line in the bathroom! And yes we did get to see the family before they got through security.
Paying $2.00 each for two vehicles for five minutes of parking? Why mess with it especially under the circumstances we were under? Ahhh…, so glad you asked. The answer is because God, who knew we could hold it a little longer, cares very much about uprightness among His sons and daughters. And that’s what I want to talk to you a little bit about this morning.
Definition: “Honest, just…conformable to moral rectitude” Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
It means to be a person of integrity. A person who does the right thing in every circumstance no matter the pressure or temptation to do otherwise. To be upright is to take the high road; to resist compromise, cutting corners, stretching the envelope, rationalizing away responsibility. It is to live especially in the realm of money as if God is right there beside us assessing our thoughts, motives and actions, which He always is, but He also finds great pleasure when we choose to please Him instead of ourselves.
So why should we desire and pursue uprightness?
Well first because God Himself is Upright:
Moses declared in Deu 32:4 - "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”
What about Jesus in His earthly life, wherein He operated as one who was fully man, fully human with all of the limitations that come with that even though He was also fully God?
Well we know He learned to work with His hands as a carpenter - being mentored by his mother’s husband Joseph most likely.
We know once He started His ministry for those three and a half years or so, He had no hidden angelic supernatural source of income. Being fully human He had to pay for groceries or food, He had to pay taxes, perhaps sometimes for lodging, etc., and He had to do this not just for Himself but for all those following Him. We know there was a band of women who contributed financially to Jesus and the twelve disciples’ needs according to Luke 8:1-3, “Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many other who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”
We know Jesus and the twelve disciples had a money box and that Jesus chose Judas of all people to manage it. And we know that Judas often pilfered it or stole money out of it for his own use.
Eventhough Jesus was the King of a very real kingdom that had its own economy and thus in one sense He nor His 12 disciples who were sons of this kingdom needed to pay taxes, He had them pay taxes. We see that both with the time in Matt. 17 when Jesus had Peter go catch a fish and there was a shekel waiting in the fish’s mouth for both Peter’s and Jesus’s taxes. Also It was Jesus who in a discussion about paying taxes said, “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” context of discussion was taxes Matthew 22:21
Even Jesus’s enemies had to admit that He was a very hard guy to pin wrong doing on - as is recorded in Matthew 21:16, “…Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.” Jesus was a principled man if there ever was one, and no person, persons, or any set of challenging circumstances could cause Him to compromise His integrity and uprightness.
The great news in all of this is you and I were made in God’s image. And if we are in Christ by the Spirit of God, if we have been born again and His Spirit now dwells within us, He is constantly working to help us be conformed to His image, which includes uprightness.
The not so good news is we were also born in sin; and as Byron Paulus put it in an article about the epidemic of lying, “The bent to deceive is an inborn and deeply rooted dimension of our fallen condition… We are easily deceived and we readily deceive.”
King Solomon spoke to this when he said,
Ecc 7:29 - "Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices."
And the apostle Paul in a long passage about the utter lostness of mankind affirmed what we know about God and what we know about every human ever born on this planet“….let God be found true, though every man be found a liar,….” Romans 3:4
A little later in that article about the growing problem of lying in our society Mr. Paulus spoke about some of the reasons we are so prone to lie, “We lie to protect ourselves; we lie to promote ourselves; and we lie to profit ourselves.” It is that last motivation for lying that I trust we will be more motivated to overcome as a result of our discussion this morning.
So the first reason why we ought to pursue walking in uprightness is because God Himself is upright. Four more reasons for pursuing uprightness, and cleansing from the lack of uprightness:
First, God delights in and is intimate with the upright:
Psalm 11:7 “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.”
Psa 140:13 - Surely the righteous will give thanks to Your name; The upright will dwell in Your presence.
Pro 3:32 - For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate with the upright.
Pro 15:8 - The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight
One of the many blessings of walking in uprightness in all of our dealings with God and man is the blessing of intimacy and favor with God and the confidence that He is listening to our prayers and values our fellowship.
Second, Uprightness leads to Prosperity:
Psa 112:2,3 - His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, And his righteousness endures forever.”
Prov. 14:11 “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, But the tent of the upright will flourish.
One of the earliest examples of this was a man named Job.
Job 1:1 – “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. ...” Job was also very wealthy and prosperous we are told in that first chapter. But then God decided to allow Satan to buffet him severely, and Job lost his children and most of his wealth and assets in a day and later on his health.
His suffering was so great that some of his close friends traveled to be with him and comfort him in his affliction. For seven days they showed great empathy and compassion and spoke not a word – mourning with him for such a great loss. But then as Job lamented outloud and shared some very raw emotions they felt they needed to defend God and they became his critics instead of his friends. One of them drew a faulty conclusion that I want to warn you of.
Job 8:6 -“ If you are pure and upright, Surely now He would rouse Himself for you And restore your righteous estate.”(Bildad speaking) Bildad failed to understand the role of suffering and trials in a believer’s life. He assumed that this kind of suffering and loss could/would not happen to a person who is walking in uprightness.
Times of trial and suffering often cause confusion on our end and unrighteous judgment by those who are close to us. In general uprightness as a way of life will result in our prosperity, but there are times when God tests us to see what is in our hearts, and to make sure that He, not money and things is our greatest treasure. It is crucial that we learn to wait on Him in those seasons – knowing He will eventually come through for us.
Third reason we need to pursue uprightness - Uprightness leads to Joy & Gladness:
Psa 32:11 - Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
Psa 64:10 - The righteous man will be glad in the LORD and will take refuge in Him; And all the upright in heart will glory.
Psa 97:11 - Light is sown like seed for the righteous And gladness for the upright in heart.
There is a sense of joy and gladness and well being that comes when we know our conscience in all things financial is clean, and there are no sins or compromises we are trying to keep under wraps.
Fourth and final reason - The lack of uprightness leads eventually to ruin:
Prov. 10:2 “Ill gotten gains do not profit…”
Prov. 13:11 “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles…”
Prov. 15:27 “He who profits illicitly troubles his own house….”
We may get by with a lack of uprightness and integrity in all things financial for a while, but it will eventually catch up with us.
So what are some of the snares that keep us from being upright? Here is a short list:
- Cheating on taxes (this will be especially tempting if we dwell too much on how evil and corrupt and undeserving in our eyes our government is of our hard earned money). Believe me the gov’t in Jesus’s day was just as wicked and corrupt as in ours. Never when the Bible talks about paying taxes does it add “if your government leaders are people of uprightness and integrity”.
- Taking pay “under the table” as if God isn’t able to see under the table transactions.
- Not recording all tips if you work in a business wherein you get tipped and are required to report them
- Not paying bills on time and in full when you could scrimp and make some cuts in your personal lifestyle and pull it off
- Not giving to God’s what is God’s – not being rich towards God and giving Him the first fruits of all of our increase
- Taking advantage of fellow believers instead of paying them in full for what they are worth.
- Getting consultation from friends or acquaintances that they would normally charge someone for. The key to this is communication. Make sure on the front end you have a very clear understanding with the person you are seeking help or services from for what they expect.
- When finding valuable things, not trying to first find the owner
- Not pointing out to someone taking your money for some purchase that the change they gave you back was too much.
- Noticing that a server or host in a restaurant forgot to charge you for something and not bringing it to their attention
- Turning to our credit cards or buying something with credit that God wanted us to wait on Him for
So one last word and then I want us to pray some about this. Jesus in the parable of the sower or better of the soils, spoke to the kinds of things that keep the word of God from going deep in our spirits and producing good God pleasing fruit. In Mark 4:19, it is possible He is speaking of believers or at least church attenders. These people He says hear the word perhaps preached or taught or perhaps they even read the Bible on their own. But three things all having to do with finances referred to by Him as thorns in the parable – three things prevent God’s word from taking root. Listen to His words, “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:19,20 What do people of the world, who do not know God worry about more than anything else? Money, provision, how we are going to get that remodel done, or purchase a newer more reliable vehicle, or how we are going to save up for our golden years, or go on that much desired expensive vacation, or have enough savings to weather a recession! The “deceitfulness of riches” has to do with all the lies the world tells us about how money will solve all our problems to the point that it is the main thing on our minds all the time and we sacrifice relationship with God, our marriages, our relationships with our children and who knows what else to attain more of it. “the desire for other things” is the curse of coveting and greed that so many in our world are enslaved to. Thinking things will fill the vacuums in our souls that only knowing and walking with God can truly fill.
So how can we overcome these three thorns that oppress most people we know, and walk in uprightness in all things financial?
Around two – three weeks ago I started off the day meditating on Psalm 147. I always start my day off with a Psalm and most days God ministers to me through them. But that particular day, God made very clear to me what my solution is for the ever growing list of financial needs Anne and I remind Him of fairly regularly. The solution is to fear Him and to wait on Him, refusing to take the meeting of our needs in our own hands, and refusing to doubt His goodness and faithfulness – “The Lord does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness.” Psalm 147:10, 11
Now God created horses for our use and He obviously created us with legs to help us go where we need to go and do what we need to do. The issue here is trust. What am I trusting in? Am I trusting in my efforts and my ideas and my schemes out of a sense that it is all on my shoulders? Or am I trusting in His loving-kindness? Am I clinging to His promises, waiting on His provision, waiting on His timing, waiting for Him to reveal His way - - all out of ever growing confidence that He loves me with an everlasting love, knows and cares about my every need, and that He owns it all and is not stingy?
Is my confidence increasingly in the promises of God based on my relationship with Him through Jesus Christ? Promises like:
Luke 12:31,32 “But seek His kingdom (Matthew puts it, “See first His kingdom and His righteousness”), and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”
Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
Listen - If the living holy righteous God of the Universe who hates sin, and has never known sin, and who has commanded us to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, strength and minds - - and yet knows none of us do or have, if He decided before any of us turned to Him – to solve that problem of sin and rebellion of man by sending His Son to die in our place, to satisfy the justice and wrath of God towards our rebellion by laying His life down as the sacrificial lamb of God - - if He would actually somehow on that cross become sin so that we could become righteous - - if He would endure the unrestrained wrath and malice of men – men He created in His own image – so that we would never have to fear the wrath of God - - and so that the power of sin and death could be broken over us - - why would He not then provide for our financial and material needs – especially if He has adopted us into His forever family and made us His own coveted sons and daughters, whom He assumes full responsibility for?