Learning to master your money is the next step, after we have looked at mastering various of your life, and we’ve talked about mastering your past, your time and your mind. All of these are important aspects to bringing control of your life, but today’s message is one that can often completely dominate our lives, but we never speak about.. mastering your money.
Understand I’m not trying to make you give money to the church, and (disclosure) I’m not trying to give financial advice. I just want to talk about the fact that money masters many of us rather than us mastering money, and discover what God says about how we can control money, indeed master your money.
WHO’S SERVING WHO?
In the 1960s a United States Senate committee predicted the work week would be down to just 14 hours by 2000, with at least seven weeks off a year. That clearly has not happened, because what they failed to factor in is the incredible greed people have to get more and more! So rather than relax, we choose to do more Work to get more money to have more stuff we have less time to enjoy!
Mark 10:17-22 (ESV Strong's)
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
This young man thought he had great wealth, but in fact his great wealth had him! Do you possess your money, or does it possess you? And by the way, don’t think you even need money to have it possess you! Some poor people are more obsessed with money that’s those who have it! We need to learn how to master your money.
Let me point out that money in itself is not evil, it is neutral. It’s not wrong to have money. It’s not evil to be wealthy, neither is it necessarily a sign of God’s blessing. Since time began, people have believed that being wealthy is a sign of the blessing of God, and sometimes it is, but I know very wealthy people who have lives, marriages and children who are falling apart.
Money doesn’t buy happiness, you can just be miserable in comfort. I’d rather be happy.
The San Francisco Federal Reserve reports that, all else being equal, suicide risks are higher in wealthier neighbourhoods, a demonstration of the folly of trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”
Let me introduce you to a contagious disease that affects all of us. We are all infected with afluenza, the disease that makes us insatiably crave more and more.
How many of you here have a new generation iPhone, Android or tablet? How many have a car less than 5 years old? How many of us have rooms in our house we haven’t been in for months! That new TV, that new computer, ouch, whether we can afford it or not, we’ve got to have it and we’ve got to have it now. Saving for things is so old, delayed gratification is so last century, right? Learning to master your money is so yesterday!
1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV Strong's) (Paul says this…)
godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Money is not the root of all evil, the love of it is! And our society teaches us to love that stuff from the very beginning of life. People love it so much they will do anything to get more of it! They sell their time, they sell their bodies, they even sell their souls for money, but we spend it faster than we make it!
Even in the first century, Paul was concerned about afluenza, and he didn’t even own a credit card! Today it’s all, “Buy now, pay later,” and instead of waiting and saving, we want it all now, many times putting in credit things we don’t need but we do desire, even when we know we will not be able to pay them off!
Australia has more than 16 million credit cards accruing a debt nationally of over $33 billion. Combined with personal loan debt, Australians now owe $109 billion, that’s more than $4300 for every man, woman and child in the country. More than 10% of us are expecting to live with that debt our whole lives and never escape it! Many of us have been caught in the debt trap!
Christians say that the things of this world don’t satisfy, that only knowing and serving God can satisfy, but do we live like it? Paul said the rich fall into a snare, and the wannabe rich do also, but he also suggests that godliness with contentment is great gain. Let’s get specific, he is saying that we should be content with a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our backs, that's how you master your money.
THE CONTENT OF DISCONTENT
Discontent is an all pervasive thing in 21st century life. Marketers realise that the basis to advertising and hence our economy starts by inflaming discontent. No advertisement I’ve ever seen says, “Hey, you’ve got the best car, don’t buy ours!” “Hey, your phone is still current, don’t bother checking out the new iPhone.”
We are so intent on our discontent. No one is contented these days, we all want more and more.
Hebrews 13:5 (ESV Strong's)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Listen, we grow content when we see God as our sole Provider, and we grow discontent when we focus on gratifying our desires rather than looking only to our genuine needs. (Not unlike the 2 year old who says, “But I NEED chocolate!”) Paul wrote…
Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV Strong's)
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
We often want to quote, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” but did you know that that verse is about being content with your life and serving God? Paul is saying, “I can do both poverty and wealth through Christ who strengthens me!” If we truly value our relationship with Christ over our fleshly desires, we can learn to be content regardless of what we do and don’t have. Paul faced many trials, and was blessed in many ways, and his joy and contentment did not depend on what he had, or had not. That’s the secret…
Proverbs 30:8-9 (ESV Strong's)
Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
Learning to master your money is not about having more, it’s about desiring less!
TIPS TO MASTER YOUR MONEY
Master your money, or it will master you! Jesus told us in Matthew 6 that we cannot serve two masters, we cannot properly serve both God and money. One of them has to be our master, and the other by default becomes the slave. We go to jobs we don’t really like, doing things we don’t really enjoy to buy things we don’t really want… I ask you, are you the slave or the master of the dollar?
Matthew 6:24 (ESV Strong's)
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Our society demands that we serve money, but Jesus says we cannot serve both God and money. Jesus didn’t say it would be difficult to serve both; He said it would be impossible. We cannot serve both, so therefore, we must choose.
So what are some tips to help you master your money?
1. RECOGNISE WHO OWNS WHAT
The crazy thing is that your money isn’t really yours at all!
Psalms 24:1 (ESV Strong's)
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
God owns it all. What does that mean in practical terms? First, it means that God has the right to take or use whatever He wants, whenever He wants. We are simply managers of the resources He entrusts to us.
Secondly, if we recognise God’s position as the ultimate owner, then every spending decision we make becomes a spiritual decision. Instead of asking whether or not we can afford to buy something, our questions should rather, “Does God want me to use His resources in this way?”
Job was a rich man, but he recognised that whatever happens to him, God is the ultimate owner. Do you know how to master your money?
Job 1:21 (ESV Strong's)
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
2. SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN
This is debt reduction 101, but most Aussies don’t get this… you need to spend less than you earn. Simple mathematics. Stop buying things and putting them on credit! Pay for it or don’t get it.
No matter how much money people have, there will always be unlimited ways to spend it. Spending less than we earn is the number one key to achieving financial freedom and security-regardless of what happens in the overall economy. Simple, easy to apply and it makes sense.
Proverbs 21:20 (ESV Strong's)
Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.
Spending more than you earn devours your financial life. Be wise and spend less and master your money.
3. AVOID DEBT TO MASTER YOUR MONEY
The average family devotes 25 percent of its spendable income-the amount left after taxes-to paying off outstanding debts, much of it as interest! Not only does going into debt presume upon the future, but it pre-commits our resources, limits our financial flexibility, and dictates what we can (and cannot) afford to do down the road.
Proverbs 22:7 (ESV Strong's)
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Going into debt makes you a slave to the banks and credit companies. Now some debt is what we call good debt, because you into debt to finance something that will eventually make you money. Your home, for example, is usually considered good debt. Investment or business debt can be good, as long as the investment is sound (talk to a financial advisor). We got a loan to buy this church, and have paid over $70,000 off the property. But anything that doesn’t earn income is not smart debt. Borrowing for cars, holidays, consumer goods or fun toys makes you a slave to someone else!
4. HAVE PLASTIC SURGERY
Proverbs 17:18 (ESV Strong's)
One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
Credit cards are very convenient. I now have them on my phone, so I don’t even need to carry cards.
Buying consumer debt on a credit card is foolish. If you cannot control your spending, credit cards are an explosive trap that will ruin your life, with interest up to 4 times higher than house loans. You need to be able to pay it off, and do so fast. Some of us here need to have some plastic surgery… cut up those cards. Pay off that debt, and never use the things again!
5. PLAN YOUR FINANCES
Setting financial goals makes a lot of sense. Most of us don’t set such goals, we just stumble along from crisis to crisis, overcommitting ourselves and then becoming slaves to debt.
Proverbs 21:5 (ESV Strong's)
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Think twice or three times before you commit once. Do you really need that debt now? Is it good? How do you put the pieces of your financial future to fit together.
Money experts also suggest that we make one goal building liquidity. What is liquidity? It’s cash, or assets that can be readily and quickly converted to cash. I meet so many older people who are asset rich and cashflow poor. They live like paupers but stay in a too big house they own worth a million dollars.
A cardinal sin in finances is to max yourself out, committing so much to ongoing debt or payments that you cannot live a reasonable life. If your mortgage payments are so high you cannot afford to buy the new curtains for the lounge, they’re just too high! If anything goes wrong, you’re exposed to great loss. We must live within our means, either spending less or earning more or both.
6. BALANCE THE BOOKS
I’m a businessman, and I can tell you the two basic solutions to your financial woes and to master your money… either spend less, earn more or both! Whether it’s working and extra few hours, taking in a border, mowing lawns or selling eggs or honey, earning a little more can make a big difference.
If you are overspending, it is a fools paradise and cannot last forever, unless you’re a government! You will slide into debt and like more than 2 million Australians, never find a way back out. Money has a nasty habit or luring us in, and we usually spend up to our means. We start with little in the way of finances, and we live simply and keep it tight. When we start to earn more, we spend more also, buying more. If however our income reduces, we most often fail to reduce spending with it…
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV Strong's)
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
In the 1870s, then richest man in the world John D Rockefeller was asked, "How much money is enough money?" He replied, "Just a little bit more." Nothing has changed!
STEPS TO MASTERING YOUR MONEY… THE WAY AHEAD
If you are struggling with your finances, bad debt or spending, if you feel like your money is mastering you, here are some ways you can start to master your money and move ahead?
1. DECIDE TO MAKE A CHANGE
I have a cousin who is financially very badly off. They live in a rented house too small for their family, never have any money to spare and life is a real struggle. He loves coffee, and when they stayed with us, I have a very nice coffee machine which makes excellent coffee.
Yet every day, every single day, he travels to the store and buys a designer coffee. That’s his priority, but to my mind, it’s a place they could save some money, up to $40 a week.
The first step to master your money comes when you decide to make little changes.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV Strong's)
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Do the same thing and you get the same results. Decide now you want to live as master of your money, not the servant, under the control of money and banks, and commit to making changes.
2. LISTEN TO THE RIGHT ADVICE
Some are like this picture… Whether you see a financial advisor, one of several christian groups offering debt reduction ideas, or a trusted friend or mentor, seek advice from people who know what they are talking about and start to master your money…
Proverbs 12:15 (ESV Strong's)
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Seek advice from people who are trustworthy, not your mates at the pub!
3. MOVE AHEAD SLOW AND STEADY
Aesop said, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Most money problems are not solved instantly, but there is a long road and you need to be committed to see results, until you master your money. Make slow and steady progress, make changes and stick to them and be prepared for a long haul as you wrestle control back from your money and give it to God.
Zechariah 4:10 (NKJV)
For who has despised the day of small things?
Chances are your money problems won’t be solved by winning the lottery or robbing a back. Start small, be consistent and purpose in your heart to see it through.
4. BE GENEROUS
When money controls you and you’re tight for money, the tendency is to be tight with your generosity too. I think this is a trap, because the more you focus on what you don’t have, the more it starts to master your thoughts and your life. No, you need to master your money.
I am not a proponent of the prosperity gospel. I don’t believe that if you give to God you can demand financial riches or “name it and claim it”. I don’t believe in giving to get, and I guarantee you, neither does God. But, when I put Him first, when I have a generous spirit, all I can tell you is that God just seems to bring resources and blessings into my life, financial and other, at the right time.
Proverbs 11:24 (ESV Strong's)
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Even in our worst possible financial moments, Fiona and I have made it our practice to be generous. So if I meet you at a coffee shop, I will always be the first one to try and pay, because I want to bless everyone and be generous, and I trust the Lord that He will take care of us. And He does!
Let me for a moment talk about tithing. I am frequently asked questions about tithing, because nothing upsets people like a money hungry church. Once again, I err on the side of being generous.
I won’t tell you what you should do, but this is my standard… Personally, I don’t just tithe. I give 10% of my income to this church, but for me that is the baseline. Then I start to give, and give and give, generously. Why? Am I trying to get something from God? No, I’m trusting Him!
If you want to master your money, stop trying to use it to manipulate God! He says this…
Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV Strong's)
Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
I’m not after your money, but I also don’t want you to rob God, and miss His blessing and provision in your life. He asks you to test Him with your generous heart, and if you do, He promises to provide above and beyond. I am living testimony of this, so if you want to master your money, try trusting instead of tithing.
Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV Strong's)
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
5. DECIDE TO SEEK GOD FIRST
Jesus says that where our treasure is, our heart is also in Matthew 6:21. He even says not to worry about our provision, our clothes and food, because God has it all under control. Then He says this…
Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong's)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
I work for money, you work for money, but in the end, money comes and goes. Becoming pastor of this church has allowed me to prove this point in my life. I have stepped back from consultancy jobs, cut out business groups, scaled back my own practice and Fiona has given up her job. We have given these up to seek first His Kingdom in this church, and to be honest we haven’t felt any financial loss.
Even though officially I am earning less money, it doesn’t feel like it. Why? Because God loves me and appreciates that I seek Him first, rather than grasping for more and more money.
I am serving Jesus and trusting Him to take care of me and my family money needs, and true to His promises, He does. This is the secret of mastering your money… seek first His Kingdom, and leave the rest up to Him. Be generous, be wise with money, get out of debt and learn to delay your gratification, but in the end if you live for Christ, that’s the main thing you care about, right?
If you are tight for money, facing financial difficulties or being mastered by your money, or you lack of money, or want to master your money, stand up and let’s give this to Jesus now!
And godliness with contentment is great gain, so master your money.