Home Wreckers - Week Three: "No Money, Mo Problems"
Today we are going to continue our sermon series, "Home Wreckers: Guarding Your Family God's Way."
The idea behind this sermon series is pretty simple: Families in our culture are facing a number of issues--any one of which could completely wreck them.
And Christian families are no different. In fact, studies have shown that Christian families are struggling at as high or higher rates as non-Christian families when it comes to these issues--namely: Busyness, Lack of Communication, Financial Troubles and Lack of Spiritual Depth.
So each week of this series we're going to tackle one of these home-wrecking issues as we learn how to guard our family God's way.
Today we're going to be talking money.
And the one thing that I want you to remember today--our big idea is this: Money might be able to buy you lots of things, but it can't buy you peace, and A Peace-Filled Family Is Priceless.
The title of this sermon is "No Money, Mo Problems," which is a bit of an homage to the late Biggie Smalls, otherwise known as the Notorious B.I.G., who had a hit song entitled "Mo Money Mo Problems," that sounded a bit like this:
I don't know what they want from me
It's like the more money we come across
The more problems we see...
So I'm just reframing this a bit because the fact of the matter is that the normal family in America is broke. And mostly because the normal family in America is addicted to shopping.
I have to admit, I can relate to this because I love to shop. I’ve learned over the years that there’s an actual physiological thing that happens when most people buy things—either on the inter-webs or at stores.
The same thing that happens when you take drugs, gamble or do something really risky happens to you when you buy something that you want. Your brain releases dopamine and floods you with a euphoric feeling that lasts for just a little while.
Usually until you either leave the store, or after you sign out of Amazon. It doesn’t last long, but it lasts long enough to feel awesome enough for you to want to do it again.
This is how normal people in our culture act. Normal people spend too much money, have more car than they can afford, have a ton of credit card debt and are living paycheck to paycheck.
But Christians—we’re called be weird. We’re called to see money differently. We’re not supposed to be like everyone else.
Let me go a bit deeper into this for a moment. This is what normal looks like in our American society right now. In 2018 the Center for Financial Services Innovation did a study that revealed the following:
28% of families in America are considered financially healthy
44% say their expenses exceeded their income last year.
42% say they have no retirement savings at all.
17% of Americans are financially vulnerable
29% of Americans have 6 months or more of emergency savings.
And yet… listen to this… consumer spending in 2018 was at an all time high.
And we wonder why there’s stress in families. The struggle with money, finances and the like causes more divorce, more turmoil, more crises in families—including Christian families, who are not exempt from any of this.
So what do we do to live differently, since that’s what we are called to do as followers of Jesus—to be weird and not normal?
It’s a good thing we have Scripture as our guide. And the Scripture that we’ve been using as our guide throughout this sermon series comes to us from the ancient Hebrew book of Proverbs.
Let’s read the following verse from Proverbs 15:16 together:
Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.
Let’s take a deeper look at this verse. It packs a lot of truth on the surface doesn’t it? But as we’ve been learning during this series, there’s so much more to these bits of wisdom.
First, let’s take a look at the word “better.” The Hebrew word is tob which is translated to mean: lovely, beautiful, pleasing, correct and full of sensual goodness. Come on! That’s so much more awesome than “better” am I right?
So it’s lovely, beautiful, pleasing and full of sensual goodness to have a little… a little money, a little of possessions, prestige, stuff… a little of that with the fear of the Lord.
So the phrase “fear of the Lord” hinges on the Hebrew word yirah which means “to be reverent, filled with awe and dependence. Hold on to that last definition for a moment.
It’s lovely and pleasing to have a little but depend on God… than to have great wealth and suffer from turmoil.
The word turmoil is the Hebrew word mehumah which means confusion, panic, tumult all of which is connected to judgment day.
In other words, it’s better to depend on God than to depend on wealth, because what will you do with all of that wealth when the stuff hits the fan? What will you do with all that wealth when your life falls apart? What will you do with all that wealth when your time is up and you have to meet your Maker?
To sum this up: Money won’t bring happiness or peace, but trusting God with your money can fill your family with both.
So how do we learn to do this? How do relearn to trust God with our money—to depend on God to guide us with our finances so we don’t end up normal—which is broke, in debt and subject to panic?
I’m going to share three basic steps with you today that will help you figure this out if you choose to embrace it. You can walk out of here today and begin practicing these steps and I promise you it will change your life if you do.
First, Get on a budget.
In Luke chapter 14 verse 28 Jesus shares this bit of wisdom with his followers:
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough to complete it?
I’m going to share something with you that might blow your mind. Jesus talked about money more than he talked about heaven or hell. More than he talked about anything else, in fact except the kingdom of God.
It’s like Jesus knew that money might very well be the thing that either enabled or prohibited people from experiencing eternity now and forever. And in this brief exhortation, Jesus lays out the need for planning when it comes to your money… the need for a budget.
I can tell you that the idea of a budget for someone like me who loves to spend money on things is a bit overwhelming. “You mean, I have to plan what I’m spending? But what if I want some new cigars that are on sale on the inter-webs for only one day, and I have to buy them now even though they weren’t on the “budget?”
Here’s the thing. What I’ve learned over time is that there is freedom in budgeting. When you plan ahead, when you account for your spending, when you control where your money goes… you can actually begin to create a budget where you get to buy cigars on sale once in a while.
If you don’t have a budget, change it today. We can help you.
Second: Get out of debt.
Here’s a bit of ancient Hebrew wisdom for you:
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
As politically incorrect as this sounds, there is some serious truth here for those of us who find ourselves dealing with crushing debt. When you owe money there’s an imbalanced, inequitable relationship that is created.
How many of you have ever seen the bumper sticker “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go?” We treat this with flippancy, don’t we? It’s just a thing. We’re all in debt. Car payments, twelve different credit cards, plus the cards we used to consolidate our debt and pay off credit cards, so we could then charge up those now freed up credit cards.
Listen, I get this—both Merideth and I get this.
And we have a way that you begin today to get yourself out of debt. Being in debt and broke is normal. You are called to be weird. Let’s us help you learn to be weird.
Third: Save and Give.
Here’s some more ancient Hebrew wisdom that is completely on point when it comes to why we should create a budget, get out of debt and start saving:
“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp their’s down.”
Preparing for the future is wise. Listen. It’s not a matter of if you will have a crisis, or an accident, an illness, something that you didn’t plan on that costs you money… it’s a matter of when.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve counseled during my time as a pastor—people who weren’t prepared when the storms of life came. They weren’t ready when their spouse died. They weren’t ready when they lost their job. They weren’t ready when the got in an accident and found themselves unable to work.
Here’s a practical tip on how you can begin changing that right now if you haven’t started…
Along with saving, we also should be practicing generosity. We should be giving, and we should be giving joyfully.
“Each of you should give what you have decided I our heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Some of you are thinking, “I’ve heard that somewhere!”
So now here comes the question, “How much should I give?” Good question. Christians argue about this all of the time. I remember a church member came up to me once and told me, “I can’t stand it when preachers talk about tithing. Jesus never said anything about tithing.”
I told the guy that he was, in fact, sadly mistaken. Jesus did actually talk about tithing. He ridiculed the overly-religious people for tithing even their herbs from their herb garden while neglecting the poor, but he never once said that actual tithing was a bad idea.
He once told his followers that he didn’t come into the world to tear up the rules and traditions that people were following, rules like tithing one/tenth of your income to God. He came to fulfill those rules, to show us how they are a baseline for us and what we might be called to do would be to give more.
Jesus told a guy once that he should give everything to the poor and follow. So I told my church member, I figure that Jesus would be happy with anything between one/tenth and everything.
Here’s how Merideth and I approach the whole giving thing:
If you want to gain control of your finances, you must learn to trust and depend on God, and in order to do that, you need to put the wisdom of Scripture into practice.
And when you do, you will find peace in your house, peace in your family when it comes to money. And.... A peace filled family is priceless.
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