How Can I Instantly Have More Money? | 05.21.23 | Master Your Money Pt.2
Drew Williams   -  

Luke 12:13-21
Pastor Drew Williams

Last week, I was speaking with someone after church about how they were thinking about their finances, especially since their situation has recently changed. And the questions they were asking were all about how to ensure that they weren’t falling behind in their goals and in the ways they wanted to be a part of God’s mission.

And I loved that conversation, because it was specifically focused on making sure that our money doesn’t master us, but figuring out how we can master our money.

That’s the series that we just started last week, and we looked at the different financial stages that you can find yourself in over the course of your life.

I mentioned last week that I got out of college with some decent debt, and a not-so-decent income, and was squarely in the struggling category. Or maybe you can relate with the surviving category, where you’re living paycheck to paycheck. You’re taking care of the bills, but there’s not much left over after all that to save up for the future.

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Some people will connect with the Stable category, when you’re not only able to take care of your regular financial needs, but you’re also able to put some money away. Maybe it’s not TONS, but you’re able to save up for that vacation, or you’re putting a little into a retirement fund each month.

The Secure category is characterized by being able to make big purchases with cash, because you’re able to save up enough regularly, where the Surplus category is when you are starting to think about money strategies for growth and investment because you have more than you need.

And then the final stage is when you’re actually thinking about how to make an impact with the resources that God has entrusted to you, and that stage is called Significant.

And last week, we were introduced to 5 Biblical principles by the author and financial counselor, Ron Blue. These 5 principles are helping us experience transformation in our lives during these weeks of this series, so I’ll let Ron recap them for us again:

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Let’s go over these 5 Biblical principles again: Spend LESS than you Earn. AVOID Debt. Build Margin (SAVE). Set Long-Term GOALS. GIVE Generously.

Ron tells us that these 5 principles will help you get to the next level in your finances no matter where you currently are. Last week, we dug into #1, Spend Less than you Earn. So if you missed last week, go back and watch the message online, because it’s part of the foundational practices that can transform your financial strength.

Today, we’ll take a deeper look at #2 and #3: Avoid Debt and Build Margin.

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But to begin, I want to remind you about one of the things we talked about last week: which is peer pressure. We talked about how it causes us to push beyond our limits, and can get us in a dangerous position.

But another thing it does is cause us to think that certain things are just “normal” because “everyone is doing it.” But then, years go by, and you might look back at things that were “normal” and you realize it was pretty dumb.

For instance, let’s look at some fashion choices from previous years.

[SLIDE 7] (Pastor Drew will prompt each image one at a time)

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Back then, you might have thought you looked pretty cool. You might have fit right in with everyone else. But now, you might cringe and say, “What was I thinking?! That was dumb.”

And I wonder, what else is “normal” now that we will look back on in a few years and realize is dumb? Here’s one that I think we’ll realize we were all wrong about: Debt without discussion.

We have a debt-driven society, and I’m swimming in it as much as anyone else, but we need to be praying for the day when we realize how foolish this way of life is. Let’s listen to Ron discuss this:

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Our culture has redefined what it means to be able to afford something to now mean, “I can afford the payments.” And so now, we barely even think about the overall cost and weight of what we’ve taken on, because we’re not looking at the overall amount.

We’re just looking at the monthly payment. We’re just looking at a “little” bit of interest, but any worry or weight we might feel is washed away by the shiny new thing that we get to have RIGHT NOW if we only sign on the dotted line.

And our debt-driven culture has made it so easy to sign up for new debt that we just say “I NEED that” instead of being honest and saying “I GREED that.”

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Pastor Kevin had a great point that I wrote down: “The problem with greed is that it masks as need.” (x2)

And once you say you NEED something, it’s a lot easier to justify.

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St. Francis of Assisi reportedly said, “[people] have confessed every sin to me except greed.” The point is that you can’t see it in yourself. Greed hides itself.

So let’s get it out there. I am capable of greed. Anyone else willing to admit that? Look at your neighbor who isn’t raising their hand and help them.

We’re ALL capable of greed. Because everywhere we go, there are ads and commercials and displays and influencers telling us, “You don’t have that yet. You NEED that.”

And we don’t even need to leave the house because of online shopping. We don’t even need to pull out cash or swipe a card, because we can just push a button, and it ships straight to our house!

And to get really real, I need to confess as your pastor that I fall into justification and greed all the time. Just this week (x2)… I made a big purchase that I had convinced myself I needed.

See, we live on an acre, and for someone who just moved here from CA…that’s a lot of grass! In CA we’re always in a drought, so even the grass we DO have grows slowly. But not around here!

And we didn’t have a mower, and I didn’t want to pay someone to mow it for us. I was too proud for that, and to be honest, I didn’t want people whispering about the CA pastor who couldn’t even mow his own lawn.

So I asked my neighbor to borrow his mower, because we were getting ready to invite snakes into our life with how high the grass was getting. Every time the kids played outside, Ollie thought he was exploring the jungle because he could bend down and be completely lost from view in the thick foliage.

So I mowed, and it felt great. Megan commented on how nice the lawn looked. I strutted around the house with my chest puffed out. I was a MAN!

And wouldn’t you know it: the grass grew back! Like, 3 days later! I had to borrow my neighbor’s mower again, but this time I felt bad. I couldn’t keep doing this. I need my own mower.

So, I called Aaron Gonzalez from Peabudy’s and picked out a brand new Cub Cadet ZT1 with a 54” deck.

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And it arrived Tuesday! Fully financed, no money down, and look at how happy I am. Big ‘ol dumb grin, not thinking about how dumb it was to say “Sure, money’s a little tight right now, but what if I willingly take on extra payments every month for the next 3 years?!”

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And honestly, it’s not like this is the worst thing a person could do. I’m being a little facetious. The point is that I fooled myself into thinking that I NEEDED it. When in reality, I could have swallowed my pride and kept borrowing my neighbor’s mower while I saved up cash for my own.

I could’ve gotten a used one for cheaper. I could’ve gotten a pushmower…it’s only an acre!

But I JUSTIFIED all the reasons, so that I could say “I NEED that” instead of “I GREED that.”

And when we get into the self-deception of greed, it can cause us to do all sorts of harmful things. In 2011, a 17-year-old Chinese student was so convinced that he needed the new iPhone and iPad that he sold his kidney on the black market.

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Complications from the surgery caused him to go into renal failure and probably be bed-ridden for the rest of his life. When his mom asked him why he did it, he said it was because he NEEDED the phone.

Greed masks itself as need.

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And you might be amazed at that and think it’s absurd, but what are we doing that we might, later on, look back at the picture of our decisions and say, “That was dumb.”

The Bible talks about money more than “faith” and “prayer” combined because God knows how much of a pull money and greed can have on our lives.

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And in our Jesus story today, we’re going to see how the way we feel about money is a direct expression of our faith. Pastor Kevin put it this way: “Your faith is expressed and authenticated in the way you earn, spend, manage, give, and hold money.”

I hope you’ve had a chance to find Luke chapter 12, which is on page 57 if you’re using the black, seat-back Bibles. And we’re not going to read the whole chapter, but let me give you the context for our passage.

Verse 1 starts with showing us that Jesus is talking to a massive crowd of thousands of people, and he’s talking about not being overcome with the worries and stress of this world, to not live in fear of gaining or losing material things in the material world, focusing instead on the eternal qualities of life that are secure in the kingdom of God life that Jesus offers.

And while he’s talking about not being consumed with material things, a guy in the crowd thinks, “I know someone who needs to hear this…” so he raises his hand and interrupts Jesus. Let’s read together:

[SLIDES] Luke 12:13-21

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It’s funny to me that the guy heard Jesus’ message about NOT being overly concerned with money and stuff and immediately figured it was for someone ELSE. Don’t we do that? How many of you have left church and said, “I need to send that sermon to my friend… My mom needs to hear this… My son should listen to this one!”

Jesus has been talking about NOT being consumed with money or stuff and this guy pipes up and says, “Yeah, my BROTHER is too focused on all his stuff, so can you tell him to give ME some of it?…”

This guy was probably the younger brother, since in that culture, the older brother would assume responsibility over the whole estate. And since the guy is asking Jesus to talk to his brother, it’s safe to assume that the brother was probably there in the crowd somewhere.

So Jesus has an opportunity to directly apply his teaching to help an older brother overcome his obsession with stuff and divvy it up among his family.

The tax collector, Matthew, had left his job and lifestyle behind. Zaccheus had paid back all the people he defrauded. And here’s another chance for Jesus to help create life change.

[SLIDE] Luke 12:14
But Jesus doesn’t do what the guy asks. Verse 14: “Who made ME the arbiter and judge?”

[SLIDE] Luke 12:15
Instead, he focuses on the thing behind the thing, the deeper truth: v 15 “Be on guard against GREED.” And then he says the doozy that we all need to hear today. Write it down, underline it. Make note of it somehow.

“One’s life does NOT consist of the abundance of possessions.”

Jesus is saying that our life is not made up of the STUFF we have. And if we’re following Jesus, then we’ve got to agree with Jesus when he says that life is not about how much or how little money or stuff we have.

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And even when he had the opportunity to talk to someone who had a bunch of stuff and say, “this has the potential to enslave you, you need to divvy it up and give it away so that it’s spread out more.”

Well, he didn’t do that. Instead, he said, “You need to protect yourself against GREED.”

But we hear that, and we see how the world shows us a picture of life based on money and things and status, and we say, “well, if no one is going to give it to me, then I’ll just DEBT my way into it. I’m going to have it.”

Ron talks about this in his book, and I appreciate the way he says it:

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“Debt is not a sin. The Bible discourages the use of debt but is not prohibited. Being in debt is never the real problem; it is only symptomatic of the real problem. The real problem is usually greed…”

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But Ron also talks about the fact that when we go into debt to get something we want, we’re doing it to make our life better, but going into debt usually has the reverse impact than we intended. Let’s hear him explain it:

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We’re trying to raise our standard of living, but the impact is actually lowering our standard of living. And remember, we’re asking the question of what financial stage we are in and how to get to the next step. We want to know how to get from Struggling to Surviving, or from Stable to Secure.

But hear this: You cannot borrow your way to the next step of your financial journey. (x2)

When we try this, instead of going forward, we actually go backwards. And if we want to protect against this, then we’re going to need to do some personal work in our hearts.

So let’s finish by talking about three things we need to protect and protect against.

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First, we’re going to need to Protect from Impulse. Then, we’re going to need to Protect from Impatience. And finally, we’re going to need to Protect Your Savings.

Let’s hear Ron unpack how we can protect ourselves from Impulse:

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How do you get control of how you spend your money? You make a budget, which is just a list of pre-made decisions. You decide how you want to spend your money BEFORE you’re in the store with the flashing display. You conquer impulse with pre-made decisions.

And we already know what happens when we DON’T have pre-made decisions about how we want to spend, invest, and give our money: We get swayed by whatever is in front of us. It’s like going to a buffet for lunch.

The comedian, Jerry Senfield, makes the point that no one would go to a regular restaurant and order a yogurt parfait, spare ribs, a waffle, 4 cookies, and an egg-white omelette. But when we’re at a buffet, and we end up just wandering through and picking up whatever looks good and then we try to make it back to our table without spilling our plate that has enough food to feed a family of four on it, meanwhile making a mental note to make sure to go back for seconds to try the stuff you couldn’t get this time.

Unless you have the willpower of pre-made decisions, you will treat life like a spending buffet. Do that every day, and we will bulge until we bankrupt.

[SLIDE] Proverbs 22:7
That’s why Proverbs 22:7 is a good reminder to us: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

If we don’t have pre-made decisions to help us conquer Impulse, we can enslave ourselves with debt. So I have two questions for you to consider today:

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What spending impulses are conquering you? What is taking you into debt that can be AVOIDED?

That’s where a budget helps. And if you have never made a budget, or if you’re having a hard time sticking to your budget (been there), please talk to one of our pastors or one of our elders, because we want to connect you with some help or some training so that you can strengthen your financial life.

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And this won’t be an immediate switch for you. It’s going to take work. Apprenticing our lives to Jesus and learning wisdom and experiencing how the Holy Spirit transforms our lives so that we can join God’s mission and so that we can use our finances for things that he’s calling us to… isn’t an overnight process. Which is why we have to be willing to develop patience.

And that’s the second thing that we need to protect against if we want to avoid debt and be able to build margin in our finances. We need to protect against Impatience. Let’s listen to Ron as he describes it:

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So how do you protect against impatience? You’re going to have to practice delayed gratification. It involves the process of NOT spending in the current, so that you can have it in the future. And this doesn’t require teaching or explanation, it just requires action, so I’ve got some questions to consider:

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Where are you pretending you can get ahead without practicing delayed gratification? Even if you think you need the 72” deck instead of the 52” deck on the mower, where do you need to wait? Knowing you want something, wait, and then work your way there until you’ve saved up for it.

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To avoid debt and build margin in our finances, we need to protect against Impulse, protect against Impatience, and Protect our Savings. Let’s hear from Ron one last time:

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A little bit over a long period of time, and you’ll be just fine.

The problem is that this is contrary to our culture that says we should “get it ____NOW____.” But if we want to live like no one else so that we can live and give like no one else, then we’re going to have to do things a little differently than most of the world.

And if we don’t work to protect our savings, the world will drive us to spend it all. And then we won’t have any savings. But we’ll still be in a spending mode, so we take out debt to keep up with our spending, and then we’re enslaved to the process of paying back money that wasn’t ours, so we can’t even make decisions for ourselves or for how we want to serve God with our resources.

This lifestyle of growing our financial strength by spending less than you earn and avoiding debt and building margin isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible. And if you’re in debt now, there is a way out. And there are resources to help you learn how to right-side your spending so that you can get out of debt and get into saving so that you’re freed up to live and give in the way God is inviting you to.

But we need to remember that we aren’t doing this to EARN anything with God. Debt isn’t a sin. A huge retirement account isn’t a sin. Going on a spending spree isn’t a sin. Being a penny-pincher isn’t a sin. Money is just a tool that is a gift from God.

It all comes from him, and it all belongs to him. We just want to make sure that we aren’t living our lives in such a way that we are mastered by our money. We don’t want to be living SERVING our money, or our pursuit of money or lifestyle.

But you can follow God and join Jesus on mission with a lot of money, and you can follow God and join Jesus on mission with hardly any money. Being wealthy isn’t a sign of being more holy or having more of God’s favor, and being poor isn’t a sign of being more holy and being more pious. What WE have or what WE do doesn’t make us more holy.

God is holy. And he is the one who reaches out to us with grace and forgiveness and wisdom, inviting us to learn from him, inviting us to follow his way of life, inviting us to join in the work that he’s doing around us with the resources that he has entrusted to us, giving us HIS righteousness so that we can have LIFE.

And when we realize that all we have is a gift from God, when we realize that God is a good provider who takes care of us and who leads us into a life of goodness and connection and purpose and meaning, then we can learn how to master our money and use it for the mission that God is calling each of us to.

Isn’t that good news?