We are in the final week of our teaching series called “ I WAS BROKE.”
We’ve spent the last three weeks talking about money and generosity. Honestly… it can kind of be a buzzkill to talk about money at church. Not because you don’t talk about money, we all talk about money and how we spend it every day of our lives. We just don’t always want our pastor talking about our money.
Am I right? Get fired up!
Last week, Joe Sangl shared a great message on generosity. We have copies of his book "I Was Broke. Now I'm Not" available to you. If you didn’t get a copy, we’re giving away one per family. You can grab one on your way out today; no cost to you. If you want to make a donation, that would be awesome.
Let’s jump into our text for today. These are Jesus' words in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
Verse 24 comes at the end of a teaching from Jesus about money and possessions. Previously, David and Joe hit on Matthew 6:19-21 which talks about not storing up your treasure on earth and where your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
David broke out his action figures and used them to illustrate when it comes to our finances, each of us is either underwater, treading water, or walking on water.
Right now, no matter when or where you’re listening to this message, there are people in all three of these categories. Which one of these categories are you in today? Underwater, treading water, or walking on water?
I would argue that the path to finding financial freedom and becoming radically generous with all you’ve been given starts with admitting we each have a master. Jesus is a man of his word. We’re either going to be a slave to money or a slave to God. We’re gonna be devoted to one and despise the other.
No one wants to admit that. But I love you enough to shoot with you straight.
Your interests will always end up being divided. We’re gonna be a slave to one or the other.
Don’t believe me? Follow your money and see where it goes. It will show you who your master is.
It’s a horrible exercise. Open up your banking app or your checkbook and look at where ALL of your money goes each month. Is the money going towards life transformation and building the Kingdom of God or building the Kingdom of YOU?
In his book, ”Money, Possessions, and Eternity”, author Randy Alcorn writes, “One day everyone must answer these three questions:
- What has been accomplished for the Kingdom, for eternity, through the use of all my wealth?
- What did I spend it on?
- Where did it all go?
Some of you may be thinking…“Have you seen my bank account? I don’t have any wealth.” But here’s the reality, almost every single one of us will manage a fortune in our lifetime. If you work from age 25-65 and make ONLY $25K a year, you will receive and manage a million dollars. That may not be a lot of money to you, but that’s a lot of money to me!
So, I’m just gonna ask you the same question Kelly and I are asking ourselves... who is going to be our master while we manage this wealth?
We need to ask this question because I would argue that the vast majority of us have a master named MONEY and most of us have become enslaved to consumerism.
Consumerism is the idea that increasing the consumption of goods and services is always a desirable goal and that a person's wellbeing and happiness depend fundamentally on obtaining more consumer goods and more material possessions.
Don’t think you’re enslaved to consumerism?
How many pairs of jeans do you own that look exactly the same?
(You know, unless you are digging ditches or work in construction, you shouldn’t be washing your jeans after you wear them just once, right? Look it up. Straight from the designer’s mouths. If they smell bad, wash 'em, if not, put 'em away to wear 'em again.)
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
How many TVs do you have?
How many cars do you have?
How many video games do you have?
How many pairs of socks do you have? (ME!)
So, do we really need that many pairs of jeans, shoes… do we really NEED that much stuff? No… none of it, at the bulk in which we have it, is needed for the survival of the human race.
We don’t need it… we want it.
Because gradually, over time, the vast majority of us have slowly become enslaved by consumerism.
In Matthew 6, Jesus is trying to help us break free from the chains of consumerism. I want to show it to you this way:
I’m putting this body armor on in case any of you get any ideas. Never know what’s gonna happen when the pastor starts telling you what to do with your money! This body armor represents the protection offered to us by God when we place our trust and faith in Him.
We’ve made a decision to follow Jesus. Our salvation and eternity are protected. Now, what do I do with the rest of my life? The most commonly asked question is, "What’s my purpose?" Come back next week, David will answer that for you.
Seriously, what happens too often, is we make a decision to follow Jesus, praise God, but we don’t really think about how that directly affects the way we live, specifically how live financially.
We want things to change. We’re just not sure how to change things… and we’re not exactly sure how we got where we are.
And so we just keep doing what we’re used to doing or we do what we were taught, good or bad. Listen… doing more of what you’ve always done will only get you more of what you’ve always gotten. And in time, with no real plan or understanding of how to change things, we find ourselves in the chains of consumerism.
There are four chains of consumerism that keep you and I enslaved to money and possessions…
Buying stuff we think will make us happy. As Dave Ramsey says, we “buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like.” We get trapped in this cycle of consuming… and now we’ve got this chain attached to us. It’s not horrible. We can still move around. We can still do some things we like… maybe even some good things. But we don’t have total freedom. Our ability to live and move freely becomes limited.
Storing up money and possessions for ourselves, filling storage units full of stuff… filling bank accounts and mattresses, just storing as much as we can… for ourselves, for some unforeseen rainy day, or a zombie apocalypse. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with saving for retirement or putting aside money for an emergency fund, or for your kids' education. That’s good. That’s wise planning. That’s not what I’m talking about. This is the chain that enslaves us to the thinking we have to hoard it all for ourselves… that our future and security will be found in the storage of MORE. MORE stuff, MORE security… MORE money, MORE comfort, MORE status. A little secret Biggie Smalls taught me... MO money, MO problems. With this 2nd chain… I’m not as mobile as I was… things are getting a little harder to move around.
Worrying about money more than trusting God to provide and the fear of not having enough or not being provided for is one of the most common chains of enslavement. I won't ask you to raise your hand, but if I did I believe (if we're being honest) almost every single hand would shoot up in the room and in the chat online if I asked you if you’ve ever worried about having enough money for your future AND your present needs.
(NOT) planning to live generously with your finances let alone not having a plan to operate within a healthy financial budget only sets us up for failure. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. At this point… it’s almost impossible to live freely, to have financial freedom, let alone even think about living generously. When you’re a slave to money and possessions, you lose control. You don’t have your money, your money has you.
Which one of these chains are you connected to right now? Be honest. One of them? All of them?
Friends, this was me right before Kelly and I were married. Kelly didn’t just marry me. She married a mountain of debt that I created because of these four chains.
In the first couple of years of our marriage, I dug us into a financial hole I didn’t think we would ever get out of. We were on the verge of bankruptcy. We were months behind on our mortgage. We had close to 100K of debt that we were barely chipping away at. Ducking and dodging debt collectors, operating with zero margin… We became paralyzed.
I’m not sure if you know this or not, but this is not the life God wants for you.
Jesus came to break the chains of the oppressed and set the captive free. There is power in His word and through His people. There is freedom found in Christ… true freedom. REAL freedom.
I don’t just share this because it's what the bible says, although that should be enough. I’m sharing this because it was God’s word and God’s people that set Kelly and me free.
When things were at their worst with our finances and in our marriage (usually those things go hand in hand), we finally got desperate enough to ask for help.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but...admitting your reality is the first step to changing your reality.
We allowed some incredible godly men and women speak into our lives and give us a plan towards experiencing financial freedom. First, we have to trust God more than we trust our money. Our master has to be God and we have to trust he is a good master who will provide for us. The chains do not break without our trust in Him. We have to learn to trust that everything we have in this life has come from God.
Colossians 1:16 says, "Everything was created through Him and for Him."
It’s all His. His money. His talent that He gave you that gives you the ability to make that money. His breath in your lungs to use your talents to make the money.
When finally get this, when we finally surrender to it’s all His and start to see the world through His eyes, then we’re finally able to start moving towards financial freedom. We become equipped with the ability to start breaking these chains.
The only thing that’s gonna break these chains is the power of God’s word.
Deuteronomy 8:3: "People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
I want to give you four scriptures from the mouth of God that will lead you to financial freedom. Write these down, make a note on your phone. These are the four CHAIN BREAKERS:
1). If you want to break the chain of BUYING… LIVE OUT what God’s word says about how you should use your money.
1 Timothy 6:17-18: "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others."
2). To break the chain of STORING… LIVE OUT what God’s word says about where we should store our treasures.
Matthew 6:19: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal."
Luke 12:21: "Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."
3). We break the chain of WORRY when we... LIVE OUT… EVERY DAY (say every day)… LIVE OUT the truth and power found in Matthew 6:31: “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
4). We break the chain of (NOT) PLANNING when we... LIVE OUT Proverbs 21:5: "Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty."
When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by balloons. I always wondered how many balloons it would take to be able to lift me up off the ground. A few years ago, a movie came out called UP. And there’s this incredible part of the movie where this massive cluster of balloons lifts up an entire house and carries it away. The first time I saw it, I was like… YES, that would be amazing!!
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
When we surrender our burdens to Jesus, he takes the weight and heaviness of all of the things that weigh us down and he exchanges our burden for His. His burden is as light as a balloon. His freedom carries you to heights and places you never thought possible. This applies to EVERY AREA of your life, especially in your finances.
Kelly and I have that verse on our wall above the foot of our bed, so that every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed, I’m reminded to exchange my burdens for balloons.
I want each and every one of you to experience what Kelly and I and so many others experience. We don’t have it all together. We navigate between treading water and walking on water sometimes (depending on the season), but we walk in freedom now. Our burden is light.
The Antidote to Consumerism is Generosity.
Today, we’re going to give each of you an opportunity to take a step to break the chains and walk in freedom. It’s a step towards trusting God with the money He gave you. It’s a BIG step, but we’re going to help you in a unique way.
First, I’m compelled to share with you about the first time Kelly and I made the decision to actually tithe. Like, not just throwing $20 in the offering if the sermon or music was good… but the time when Kelly and I decided to actually trust God with the money He gave us. To give 10% of our income back to him through our church.
For context… I already shared with you the financial situation we were living in because of the debt I brought into our marriage. So when we made this decision we were under-underwater with very little hope of ever treading water. BUT, we trusted God. Like really trusted Him. So, we made the decision to tithe, to TEST HIM.
I can still remember where I was standing when we made this decision. We were standing in our kitchen. It was a Thursday. And we wrote the check. And my heart was pounding. We were excited, but we were also terrified. We were BROKE. Writing a check like that when we didn’t have things figured out financially didn’t make any logical sense. But… we trusted God.
We went to bed that night at peace. We couldn’t wait to get to church that weekend. And then Saturday happened.
On Thursday, we placed the check on the kitchen counter. On Saturday, our oven broke. Like broke, broke. Not just a bad coil that needed to be replaced. Like the whole thing needed to be replaced.
So here we were. BROKE. With a broke oven. With a newborn baby. With no extra money and no credit. I looked up online how much a new oven would be. And I kid you not, one of the cheapest ovens I found cost almost the exact amount of the check sitting on our kitchen counter. Within $20 dollars.
So… Kelly and I had another conversation. And thanks to Kelly, we decided to stick to the commitment we made to God to start tithing.
I remember dropping the check in the offering that Sunday, with so many mixed emotions. But, at the end of the day, we trusted God. Even when it didn’t make sense.
That night, like at 9 o’clock in the evening, there was a knock on our door. I opened the door, and it was Toby, a pastor from our church. He handed me a small envelope and said, “Hey man, sorry to bother you… this is gonna sound weird, but, somebody gave me this envelope and asked me to give this to you. So, here ya go.” He handed me the envelope and said good night.
I closed the door all sorts of confused. I took the envelope back to Kelly and told her what Toby had said.
So we opened the envelope and inside there was a note that said, "You have been a blessing to us… so be blessed in return. We are blessed to be a blessing.” Inside the envelope was a gift card to Lowes for $500.
To this day, we have no idea who that card was from or how they even found out about our oven. And honestly, it doesn’t matter.
Test me in this, He says.
I can’t tell you how God will bless you when you test him in this. But He will bless you. I can’t tell you when He will bless you, but He will bless you. When you test him in this, he knows your heart. He knows why you’re doing it. He knows whether or not you trust Him.
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. This isn’t a magic spell, that you rub the lamp, and a genie pops out. But if you test him in this, I’m telling you, He will bless you. I’ve watched it happen my entire life following Jesus.
So here’s what’s gonna happen, I’m gonna pray, and then our worship team is gonna lead us in one more song. During this song, we’re inviting you to take a 90-Day Generosity Challenge by filling out the card in the seatback in front of you. All you need to share is your name, number, and your email. No financial information is on here. And we will reach out to you with a link to start your 90 Day Generosity Challenge. You can also sign up for the challenge online by going to ifoundhope.com and clicking on the 90 Day Generosity Challenge link.
After you’ve filled out the card or on your phone, we want you to come forward and drop off your card on the steps by the balloons. Before you go back to your seat, grab a chain link from one of the buckets. Put this chain link on your backpack, diaper bag, keyring, water bottle… wherever you’re gonna see it every day as a reminder of God’s presence in your life.
Let it be a reminder, not just of the 90 Day Generosity Challenge, but also a reminder that you are no longer a slave to money, but you are a slave to Christ, called to walk in freedom… let it be a reminder, that YOU are a chain breaker.