Sermon Podcast Audio
Get Fit Recap
I’m so glad to have the privilege of wrapping up this series we’re calling GetFit today. And I’m not glad because I’m tired of it, but because it’s been such a helpful series for so many of you. Here is a brief recap of the ways we want to help you GetFit in 2016.
We kicked off this series the first Sunday of January talking about being BodyFit. We challenged the lie that being skinny was the goal and replaced it with the more Biblical idea that our goal is to have a healthy body.
Then we moved on to the topic of being RelationFit. We discussed ways we can improve our relationships, and Brent gave you the surprising answer that some relationships are best improved by being ended!
Amy then spoke about being EmotionFit. She pointed out the two unhealthy extremes we can lean to with our emotions — having essentially none, like a statue, or having such heightened emotions that we allow them to drive our perceptions in unhealthy ways. She described the middle ground God wants us to experience as we are made in His image and He is a God who feels!
Two weeks ago Brent spoke about one of the least discussed topics in churches – Mental Health. He spoke about undoing the stigma that mental health issues has among Christians instead comparing it to any other physical issue that we surely would go to a doctor for help with. And he also challenged us, as the church, to be the most grace-filled, safest place for a person struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other mental illness to open up.
And last week, Brent spoke about being SpiritFit. My favorite quote from that sermon was: “What I have discovered is that it is easy to cast aside spiritual discipline and label it legalism to gratify our inner sloth.” Essentially, the problem is, like Emotional Fitness, we tend to err on one of two sides of spiritual discipline. Either we are legalists, or we are flat out lazy. He challenged each of us to focus on how we can grow spiritually this year.
Today I’m going to finish this series on another topic that, as Brent would say, is really meddling in your business, literally. Today I’m going to talk about money. Now it’s true, the Bible is full of verses about how to wisely manage our money, and I could present a laundry list of verses and ideas for you to implement into your financial activities, but I believe what’s holding us back from being MoneyFit is much bigger than not following each and every Biblical principle about money.
I’m not trying to minimize these many principles the Bible teaches about money. In fact, we recognize the wisdom in the Bible on this subject is so valuable to finding financial fitness that we plan to offer a financial class in the coming weeks for people to begin to grow more MoneyFit. You can sign up for that class or make us aware of your interest in a class on any of the other topics we have presented in this series.
But having said all that, I still believe many of us have an enormous hindrance keeping us from financial health that we must address before any of these other principles will actually work for your budget.
What is Money?
As we begin to uncover this roadblock to being MoneyFit, I want to simply define what money is. You see, when I say money, I know most of us think of green sheets of paper with old white men wearing long wigs on the front and a picture of a fancy building on the back. We think of currency. But money is so much more than the paper it is printed on. Money is the means to get what we want! It is simply a method to trade what we have for what we want.
Think about that for a minute. We work jobs, giving up our time and talents (what we have) for a paycheck — money to use later on what we want. And then we go out shopping and give that money (what we now have) to a cashier in exchange for the new purse or new phone, or perhaps healthy vegetables to feed your BodyFit body. So money is simply a representation of everything you WANT! Do you see where I’m going with this?
The roadblock to being MoneyFit has nothing to do with how we manage the paper dollars in our wallets and purses. It has everything to do with how we manage our wants and selfish desires. In fact, this is perhaps the primary point the Bible makes when teaching about money.
The Bible Speaks to our Selfish Desires
To prove this point, lets look briefly at three verses in the Bible, starting with the Old Testament. In the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes we read:
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. —Ecclesiastes 5:10
See how this verse isn’t pointing to a poor use of money but instead to the insatiable desire to have more stuff, more belongings, more WANTS and never enough money to acquire all those desires?
Next, let’s look at a verse with one of the most famous lines in the Bible about money. In 1 Timothy we read:
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. —1 Timothy 6:9-10
As I’m sure some of you have heard before, Paul isn’t saying here that money is evil — it’s the love of money. Money is neutral. It is neither good or bad. It’s how we use the money, how we view our finances, that matters. And when we love money, or more accurately, the THINGS it can get us, that is where evil takes root in our hearts.
That’s exactly what the first part of this verse is describing. Those who want to get rich end up with harmful desires — the money in itself doesn’t ruin anyone — but what the money can get people, or not get people is where the trials come from.
And interestingly, it isn’t just people who DO get rich who have harmful desires. Even poor people can WANT TO GET RICH. And even if a poor person never fulfills their goal of riches, their desire for money can still become a trap that brings ruin and destruction.
How so? Thanks to our American Capitalism, virtually anybody can buy whatever they want whether they have the money or not. They can get pay-day loans for little things or massive mortgage payments for the big things. We all get credit card offers in the mail, regardless of our credit score or how many credit cards we already have.
You see, it’s all these methods for getting what we WANT, nay what we NEED, which allow us to overspend, which leads to crushing debts, and block us from ever being MoneyFit — from having a healthy financial life.
Now I want to focus in on one final verse that I think most clearly gives us a clear path forward to overcoming the roadblock of our wants and selfish desires.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” —Hebrews 13:5
Since we already know the love of money is the root of all evil, it makes sense to read here the instruction to keep our lives free from the love of money. But then it goes further. BE CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. I think this is the key to unlocking a lot of our money issues in our homes… CONTENTMENT.
If money is the method to trade what we have for what we want, and we are told to stop being lovers of money, then we need to stop wanting to give up what we already have for more and more and more of what we don’t. That, in a nutshell, is contentment. It’s being happy with what you have and not needing to trade it for something new, something better, something fancier or more popular.
Lack of Contentment is a Common Problem
I know, at this point most of you are probably feeling a little guilty about a recent impulse-buy for something you really WANTED but definitely didn’t need. I’ll be honest, I’m terrible with impulse-buys. I buy things just because they’re on sale, not because I actually need more socks. I went shopping with my wife Friday night on our date-night, and knowing I had been thinking about this sermon for over a week, I had a lot more control over my impulse-buys. For the first time since I can remember, we walked in and out of a store without buying one thing!
Really, this lack of contentment isn’t just a new problem in the 21st century. Sure, advertising telling us this product or that product will bring us happiness is as common as the air we breathe, but this is a problem as old as time. In fact, it goes all the way back to a garden, the garden of Eden.
Some of you may remember that story, the first story in the Bible about humans. You see, God made Adam and Eve, the first people ever to walk this earth, and he put them in an amazingly lush, beautiful garden and he told them everything in that garden was theirs. All of it… EXCEPT the fruit of a single tree in the center of the garden.
Now, contentment in this situation would look like Adam and Eve being totally satisfied with everything God had given them and being content and happy with God their provider. But for some reason, rather than having a focus on what they had, they turned their eyes to a focus on what they couldn’t have. They couldn’t have that fruit, and they couldn’t have the knowledge of good and evil like God.
It didn’t take money for them to take the fruit and eat from it, but the same principle applies here. They exchanged what they had, perfection and a relationship with God Almighty, Creator of the world, for what they wanted — to be like God. And just like the many Bible verses about money promise — those desires for more caused them total ruin. It brought sin and death into the world. And it’s no surprise that all their descendants through all of time struggle with that same sin of wanting more and failing to find contentment.
And that folks, right there, is the roadblock to our being MoneyFit. We lack contentment with what God has already given us and desire to obtain something else for ourselves. Whether rich or poor, we all do it. Maybe for you it’s an unhealthy desire for the most fashionable clothing or the newest phone. Maybe it’s a fancier car or a bigger home. Perhaps your desire is for one more vacation each year or a larger investment portfolio so you can really enjoy your retirement. Whatever stage of life you are in, you’re susceptible to loving money and the selfish desires it can feed.
Unfortunately, greed for more is an insatiable monster. Like Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us, once an unhealthy desire for more takes root in your life, no amount of income can satisfy you and you will be left perpetually dissatisfied with life, regardless of all you have acquired.
Where Can You Find Contentment?
Fortunately for us, Hebrews 13:5 also provides us with the answer for where to find the contentment we all struggle with. Let’s look at the back half of that verse:
because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” —Hebrews 13:5
Ultimately, our contentment is not to be found solely in the STUFF we already have, but in our God who is always with us. Without this second half to the verse, the previous portion could be used by anybody as a good money principal. Be content with your stuff. Any magazine could print that in a finance guide and people would agree.
But our contentment actually isn’t to be found only in our stuff, but in something even deeper. Our contentment must first be found in God through Jesus Christ. You see, if you aren’t content with God, then it’s nearly impossible to be content with your stuff because you will always be searching for something to bring you joy and happiness. But your possessions will break, wear out, and slowly bring you less joy than before.
However, it’s not that way with God. God brings you an unending amount of joy whether you are poor or rich, have fancy toys, or only the shirt on your back. That’s the story of Job in a nutshell. The book of Job begins with The Adversary telling God that Job, a righteous man, was only content with his relationship with God because of all the stuff God had given him.
The challenge was to allow The Adversary to wipe out all of Job’s stuff and then see if he was still content. And as you read this book of the Bible, you will find that Job actually seems to lose his joy and contentment, but not because he loses his stuff. He loses his contentment because he thinks for awhile that he has lost his relationship with God.
But then God speaks to him, restores the relationship, and Job’s contentment is restored. You see, Job had all he needed when he had God.
Contentment in Christ Will Change Your Life
That’s the lesson for us to drill deep into our souls today. If you want to be MoneyFit, sure there are lots of financial principles to put into place, but none of them will make any difference if you don’t first find your contentment in God through Jesus Christ.
When you realize all you need is HIM, and you throw yourself at Jesus and cling to him, then all the other things of this world will seem like meaningless trinkets. When you find your contentment in Christ, your choices in how to save and spend money in a financially healthy way will be clearly defined, because you won’t be loving money and chasing the things it can get you. Instead you will be loving Jesus and chasing ways to bring glory to his name.
Suddenly, generously giving will become a joy, and even facing trials when your stuff is lost or destroyed won’t steal your joy because it was never where your joy was found.
Being MoneyFit isn’t as complicated as the magazines on the rack and your bank statements may lead you to believe. Being MoneyFit starts with finding your contentment in the Creator and not the Created.
That single starting point will help you:
- view your money more accurately
- spend your money more wisely
- give your money more generously
- save your money more easily
Yes, other ideas will help you manage your money wisely, but they are all based on you understanding that MONEY CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS. Happiness and Contentment are found only in one place — God.