This second message in the "Consumed" series examines the Bible's teaching on materialism.
What Stewards Should be Consumed With
How to Tell Whether You are Among the 'Consumed' and Some Practical Tips for Regaining Your Freedom
The Antidote That is Community
Consumed with Debt and What to Do About It
Why God's Love for You Compels Him to Loathe Materialism
Materialism: The Lie That 'This is All I Need'
Barb: I'm so glad we finally made a decision.
Alan: Don't get too excited. We haven't signed on the dotted line yet.
Barb: I know. But at least we decided on a model.
Alan: Yeah. Now, remember. The basic strip-down model. No extras.
Barb: I know. We're going to stay within our budget. All I want is a seat and engine and four wheels.
Alan: Good. Now, when we get into the salesman's office, let me lead the conversation.
Alan: Barb, you get too emotional about this kind of thing. I'm afraid you're going to get swept in the hype. These guys are professionals.
Barb: What are you doing?
Alan: I'm warming up for the fight.
Barb: Oh, brother.
Alan: Oh. New car smell. There's nothing like it.
Barb: Look. Over there. There it is.
Alan: No, don't go over there.
Barb: Why not?
Alan: That one is loaded.
Barb: Oh yeah.
Bob: Hello, folks. You're back.
Barb: Mr. London…
Bob: Please call me Bob.
Barb: Bob. We finally made a decision.
Alan: What the wife is trying to say here, Bob, is we're leaning in the direction of a certain vehicle. We'd just like to talk price.
Bob: Great, great. Come on into my office. Have a seat. Can I get you anything to drink? Coffee? Tea?
Barb: No, we're fine. Thanks.
Alan: Nope. We're here to talk business. That is if you can make us an offer we can't refuse.
Bob: That's my job. Is there a certain car you're interested in?
Barb: Uh-huh. That cute little blue one over there.
Alan: Stripped down.
Barb: Yes, of course.
Bob: Is this car going to be for you, Mrs. Pines?
Barb: Please, call me Barb. Yes, it'll be for me.
Alan: What we'd like to know is what the lowest price is that you can give us for this vehicle.
Bob: Stripped down?
Bob: Well, let's see. Including taxes, licensing, dealer tags, dealer prep, it'll cost you…
Alan: Woo _!__ Hah! Uhh…_ That is high. We were thinking more like this.
Bob: Mr. Pines, my manager will never go for this. These are cars are in high demand. We'd lose money on the deal.
Alan: Why don't you just go ask your manager there, Bob.
Bob: All right. I'll ask, but I can't guarantee anything.
Barb: You can't expect him to take a loss.
Alan: Oh, that's a bunch of baloney. He'll come back with a counteroffer that'll be right in the middle, right where I want him to be. We'll sign the deal and be done with it. You have to know how to deal with these guys.
Barb: I hope you know what you're doing.
Bob: I honestly can't believe it. My manager didn't go as low as you wanted, but he did counter with this.
Alan: Is this as low as you can go?
Bob: It's worth every penny.
Alan: Bob, you got yourself a deal.
Bob: Great. Awesome. While I get the paperwork together, why don't you look over the brochure, and if you have any questions, let me know.
Barb: Oh, this will be so convenient having two cars, and look at the seats, and look at the nice colors. I think we should get a neutral color so it won't show the dirt.
Bob: That would be your Sahara Beige.
Alan: Honey, look at the leather. It seems a lot nicer, don't you think?
Barb: But won't it cost more?
Alan: Yeah. Well, it'll be a lot nicer, don't you think?
Bob: Tell you what. I know you don't want to add any extras, but if you go with the leather seats, I'll only charge you $50 for the leather conditioner. That's a saving of $80.
Barb: Leather conditioner?
Alan: We'll take it.
Barb: We will?
Alan: Honey, we need it. You know how easy it is for the kids to trash the inside of a vehicle.
Barb: Alan, I thought we agreed on no extras.
Alan: I know.
Bob: I know you don't want anything fancy, but it sounds strange to me that you'd protect the interior of the car without protecting the exterior body.
Alan: Yeah, Barb. He's right.
Barb: He is?
Alan: Well, we need rustproofing.
Barb: Rustproofing? I need a cup of coffee.
Bob: Alan, did you know that we just came out with a new paint shield? It permanently protects your body's finish.
Alan: Yeah. I read something about that. It's like getting a no-wax car. Man, think of the money I'll save not buying Turtle Wax. Yeah, add that on.
Bob: All right.
Alan: Oh, Barb needs a radio. Just the basics.
Bob: CD player?
Bob: Six-disc CD changer?
Alan: Ooh, nice.
Bob: XM Radio?
Bob: Upgraded speakers?
Alan: Bose system. Front and…
Bob and Alan: …rear super bass surround sound? Yes!
Bob: I got it.
Alan: You know, I think I need to protect my investment with an alarm system. Why don't you give me one of those motion detector things with the remote starter and keyless entry? Yeah, this is feeling a lot nicer.
Bob: Alan, I'm sorry, but that model doesn't come with those options available.
Alan: What? No!
Bob: However, if you go to our top of the line model, I can get you all of that and more including 0 percent financing and $1,000 cashback.
Alan: Yeah. Do it. Does it have a Hemi?
Bob: If you want it.
Alan: Oh, yes. This is so thrilling. What else I can get?
Bob: I can upgrade you to 22-inch rims.
Alan: With spinners?
Bob: How about OnStar?
Alan: Traction control?
Bob: Running boards?
Alan: Yes, yes, yes! Oh! This is so exciting. You do build excitement.
Barb: What is going on?
Alan: Barb, darling. We're buying the car of our dreams.
Barb: You didn't?
Alan: I did.
Barb: How could you?
Alan: It was easy.
Barb: Oh, but we decided on a car.
Alan: Yeah, yeah. That was then; this is now. We didn't have all the facts.
Barb: Yeah? Well, here's one more fact. I'm leaving.
Alan: Barb! I don't know what gets into her. Sometimes, she gets sooo emotional.
Bob: Alan, you still want the car?
Alan: Oh yeah.
[End of Video]
Oh man, the laughter of familiarity. Amen? Good stuff. Let's pray together.
Father, it's just great to see a glimpse of how easy it is to be caught up in the emotionalism of all that our society says will bring us joy and fulfillment and happiness and peace and satisfaction. We thank you that when we as a group of folks who you love want to figure out what it is will give us satisfaction, peace, and joy we don't need to look at a car commercial or go to a car dealer. We don't need to be led by society or by those who would inform us with the ways of the world. We go to you who loves us, who doesn't withhold from us any good thing.
Yet, Lord, our world convinces us day by day that's really all you're about. That you're some cosmic killjoy, some eternal tax-driven God who wants to take from us what we have earned with our labor. Because of that, we get pierced with many a pang. We become enslaved to that which you've given us to use to serve others to glorify you. So we pray you'd use this little series we're in the middle of to keep us free from the love of the things that are of the world.
We thank you, God, that you love to see your people enjoy life. But you hate when we are deceived as to what it is that will make us enjoy this life that we seek. So today, we come to you, not the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Money, or any place else. We go to your Word because we know that's where we need to go to be informed. Not just about eternity, not just about comfort and forgiveness. It's where we need to go to be informed about everything because you're a good Father who cares for his children.
We come to you now, Lord, and ask that you show us, teach us, and lead us in the everlasting way. Help us to not be consumed by that which is fleeting but to be consumed with the one thing who will give us life. You, and you alone. Would you show us that today? Wherever we are, just take us one more step deeper into a relationship with you that we might trust you and experience life as you intended. Thanks, Lord, that you love us, so we seek to learn at your feet. Amen.
I want to read you an email that deals with this very topic. It's an email I got this week from somebody in our body who just got a new car. I have permission to read it to you. But I want to start with this. It says this.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for the wonderful car! It is perfect for my son and me. It is in great condition, has a big trunk and according to him it has 'sweet controls.' I love the way it drives! It takes turns easily and changes gears smoothly. I prefer standard to an automatic, which this car is.
Did I mention it has a CD changer in the trunk? The first time my son rode in it, he kept saying, 'It's dark blue. it's dark blue' (which just happens to be his favorite color). I could go on and on about how perfectly this car fits with us. But, I just want you to know I am thankful for it. God couldn't have picked a better, more perfect car for us.
Thank you for your role in fixing it up for us. It is so good to know that I don't have to worry about doing all of that stuff, like spark plugs and what not, myself. My heart is so grateful. I just can't believe it! I could go on and on praising God for His faithfulness and goodness but, thankfully, I get to do that for a long time ahead. In the meantime, I'll let you get back to your life, but thanks again."
It sounds a lot like that guy in the little drama we just went through, doesn't it? She tacks on at the end there, "Get back to me." It wasn't addressed to me, but the folks who lead us in what Charis ministry, which is the Greek word for grace, which is where we get the English word charity… She says, "Remind me how I can get back together and continue to process with you guys how I can lead my family effectively in the area of finances."
This letter came from a single mom who, from our body, just got a new car. The car that she addressed is a car with over 150,000 miles on it. It's a 10- to 12-year-old Honda. What joy she has in being somebody who is part of a body who just loves her. As she shows herself to be a diligent follower of Christ who isn't just approaching us in a time of need but walking through life with us through the gracious gifts and provisions of this, our family. When we have somebody in our family who has a need we can meet, as folks who love God and care for one another, we can bring some joy.
Think about material possessions and think about how we all love to have things that are meaningful to us. Think about how some of us have more than a few cars sitting in our driveway. You think about the joy that is attached, not just to a letter like that, that you all received to this week. It wasn't written to me. It wasn't written to our Charis team. It was written to the body of Watermark. Specifically, it was written to a God who she loved and cannot believe there are people who really live that way, who bring immense joy. Do you see the simplicity of that life?
A 10- to 12-year-old Honda with 150,000 miles on it, and the joy it brings her and her son because it's what she needs. Yet, we have all these teddy bears sitting there that we keep wanting the next one. We want the newer one, the bigger one, and when we let go of something that is just peripheral to many of us, the joy that it brings makes those bears… I'm referring back to an illustration of last week. If you weren't here grab last week's message to understand the joy that comes with letting go of things we don't really need or the things we have in abundance.
We are in the middle of a series, as you saw earlier, called Consumed, where God wants us to regain our freedom by realigning our focus. He wants us to know that he's not a God who is trying to share with us ad nauseam, and to a greater extent than any other single subject in all the Scriptures because he's trying to take from us something we have earned. He is trying to give to us what we long for.
God is desperate for you and me to experience the freedom of life as he intends for us to live it. Do you want to know why God hates materialism? For the same reason, he hates every other ‑ick, -ism, or thing that draws us away from him. I mentioned to you a guy by the name of Randy Alcorn last week and how he wrote a book that is really an excellent work on the issue of money, possessions, and eternity.
Alcorn says materialism is not just idolatry; materialism is a failed idea that doesn't provide for us what we want. The reason God wants to speak into our lives about our love for material possessions is because our world is trying to draw us away from him. Anytime we serve something other than than the God whose love relationship with us is about giving us freedom and joy, we end up serving a god who, while he makes great promises, can never deliver, because there is no other God but the one who has created us, who has revealed his love for us through his incredible gift of his Son, Christ, and through his Word that we might live as enlightened people and not slaves to the ideas and understandings of men.
There is a little ad campaign going on right now by Citigroup that is really great. What they're trying to do is market to folks to partner with them in terms of planning for tomorrow. They're coming at it from the perspective of, "We're not going to tell you if you do business with us you can sail away across the world and be happy because you sail away across the world, because there's more to life than money." That's their whole campaign. "We want you to have what you need so you can experience the golden years and all that life is about."
There's one little ad that I've loved because it shows some idea of a backyard home movie. The world's trying to grow you up to be something that, as a child, you didn't want to grow up to be. You are constantly barraged with things that are leading you to become money men. No one ever really starts out, when you ask a kid what they want to be, they go, "I want to be filthy rich. I want to have more than anybody who ever lived has."
Kids, as you know, do have a perverted perspective on things. They cling to things sometimes that they think are going to give them life. You've seen kids throw tantrums in ice cream shops and grocery stores, at toy stores because they are convinced if they don't leave that place with the one thing they have fixed their eyes on, life is over as they know it, and they will die.
Yet, you as a good parent say, "No, that's not really what you need." So sometimes, you allow them to be full of disappointment with you so that just 15, 20 minutes later they can go on with their life, and you've begun to teach them, "No, you don't need to live as if the one thing you see that you don't have right now is going to make you happy."
That's not really who you want to be. It's the job of those who are trying to make money from you to convince you that if you get what you're selling, you'll get the life of your dreams. When, in fact, the God who loves you is saying, "Living with me enlightened by what I have to offer you, that is going to give you the life, not that you dream about, but the life that I intended for you."
Our world is trying to make you the money man. It does that in a lot of different ways. It does that by venerating and honoring people, not who are great public servants, not who are humble consumed servants of other people, but they honor folks who have gained freedom, who can do what they want with their wealth, and whose wealth will curry for them the favor of others, powerful men and beautiful women.
So people trapped in poverty long to be like their hero rap stars and rock stars who can live a life of licentiousness. Athletes aren't venerated because of their discipline. They're venerated because of what their athletic prowess gives them, which is freedom and financial greatness and sexual opportunity. We are told, again and again, through these models who are put before us, that if you could be like them, you could have the joy that they would have.
We have it in a lot of other ways. I was laughing this week as I was thinking about this. You go to a Mavericks game, and you're there having a great time. You walk into that Mavericks game just to be with some friends, maybe to enjoy some guys playing some sports and to relax for a minute in a way that's fairly mindless. It doesn't require much of you. You're there to simply be amused as other guys compete athletically.
All of a sudden, a bunch of bozos run out there in t-shirts and sweats. They have a launcher, and they start firing these little t-shirts up into the crowd. All of a sudden, you're ready to hurt a 3-year-old to get that t-shirt. You didn't know you needed that t-shirt until they came out there and shooting them up. There's only a limited number of t-shirts. There are 5 t-shirts and 20,000 people. So you have to be one of the lucky ones who walks out there with what you did not come in there knowing you needed.
I talked to a young man who's a friend of ours who was at Lake Highlands High School football game two weeks ago. He was in the car with us that Saturday morning, and he was talking about how he was at the Lake Highlands High School football game, and people in their booster club we're throwing away little plastic footballs. He didn't go to that football game knowing he needed a plastic football, but when they started throwing a few plastic footballs up there into that crowd, he knew that life would not be full unless he left there with one of those plastic footballs.
Our world just does that to you. The way we watch people fight for things that get thrown around before us, and there's a limited supply. We think, "If I could just get one of these, I'd be so happy." Yet, we have plastic footballs laying at home that we can't sell for a nickel at a garage sale. "But that one. That's the one I need."
God is trying to give us another perspective. It's a perspective not unlike the car thing I just read. A friend of mine was at a Rangers game sometime, and there was a foul ball. The foul ball was off the bat of the Ruben Sierra. At the time it came off the bat of Ruben Sierra, Ruben Sierra was about as hot a young prospect as there was in major league baseball. Many folks thought that he would go on to be the next Micky Mantle, the next Roberto Clemente, the next great in the game. That foul ball off that young, hot rookie was going to be a big deal.
That ball came flying over, and there was a man who stood up. As quickly as he caught it, he grabbed it and put it in the glove of a young man who was in front of him, like this, who could not ever get to it because of the strength of the adults who were around him. He caught that thing, he grabbed it, he put it the glove, and sat down. The kid didn't even know what happened. He just came down with the ball.
But the folks around him saw what happened, and there were people who were shocked. They looked at him. They go, "What are you doing? You just lost the opportunity of a lifetime. You don't get a foul ball when you go to a game, especially a foul ball off the bat of Ruben Sierra. What are you doing, man? That was the opportunity of a lifetime." The guy turned around and looked at him. He said, "You guys don't understand. I just took advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime."
When I hear that, I go, "Exactly." Yet our world tells you if you don't hurt somebody going after that foul ball, you've missed it. You won't get the joy you came to get. Do you really think so? Aren't we like that? Hurting other people so we can have the next material thing when God is saying, "Y'all are missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime."
Oh yeah, you could've gotten $2,000 on that trade-in (you with six figures-plus tucked away) or you could put it somewhere where somebody in need who's a part of your family can be overwhelmed at the greatness of your God because you let somebody else have what you were ready to do away with.
God is all about teaching us about material things. Not because he wants to take from us what is a source of life to us, but because he doesn't want us to be confused about what life really is. You weren't created to be money men. You're created to be God's man, God's woman filled with all kinds of freedom and all kinds of joy. Jesus loves you, so he doesn't want you to waste another minute giving your life away to fleeting things. Do you know why God hates materialism? Because he loves you.
At the beginning of this little series last week, I gave you a couple little points. I talked about how God hates materialism because it keeps people from him. Specifically, when you give your heart to something other than him, you are worshiping a god who cannot deliver, cannot satisfy, that will affect you both in terms of your temporal satisfaction and joy and will also keep you from a relationship with him for all eternity.
Secondly, we talked about the fact that God hates materialism because it brings false hope or security to his people. "A rich man's wealth is his strong city and a high wall in his imagination." It won't protect you from anything. The good friend of mine who's been prospered more than billions of people on this earth said this.
He said, "Let me tell you something, Todd. All the money in the world will do zero for you in terms of a relationship deficit and your character defect." He said, "You can have a lot of money, and you have relationships that are broken, you have a character others don't look at and respect, that you yourself don't love, and believe me, that money is anything but a joy. We're designed not to be money men but lovers of men, lovers of each other, who honor God by the way we live our life."
God hates it when his people live as if he alone cannot satisfy. Do you guys know the very first judgment that fell on the church? It was a severe judgment. People ask, "How come God doesn't still kill folks when they're deceitful about their intention to use money for God's glory the way he did with Ananias and Sapphira.
God always, early on in his revelation and teaching people about who he is and how he responds is pretty severe in his object lessons. He wants folks to know this is a big deal. After that, he'll tell folks, "I've already set the standard. I've already shown you the consequence. In my grace, I'm not going to wipe out everybody every time this happens. You need to remember the same God who was offended then is still offended now. My grace might be a little bit more patient on you in terms of executing that judgment, but that judgment is coming for every one of you."
Ananias and Sapphira were at a moment where there were individuals who were in their body who needed new cars, who needed clothing, who needed shelter because of the persecution that came to them, who needed basic food elements. In order to exalt themselves, there was a couple who came forward and said, "We just sold some land we didn't need. We're bringing all the money of the land we sold to you."
The apostles said, "Is that what you're doing?" They said, "Oh, absolutely," when, in fact, they weren't. They were holding back some for themselves. Because they were trying to promote themselves and make themselves look like spiritual people without really loving God and loving their fellow man, they were struck dead one after another.
Why? God was going to make it very clear that he's not going to lead people of a divided heart. That he's not going to be associated with people who act as if God is God and yet in their hearts and in their lives betray that profession. God is going to lead folks who are going to honor him. People of a divided heart and people of a duplicitous lifestyle, he says, "Cannot be associated with me, as I seek to glorify myself in the nations by calling people out, living in a way that's different from the way the world lives."
I talked about last week how God hates to see his people gives themselves to all that is fleeting. He loves you too much to let you give yourself away to vain things. I was with my kids in the car last week, and I saw a car go by us. That car had a Darth Vader sticker on the back and a Stormtrooper sticker on the back.
To a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old boy, that's a pretty big deal. They were big stickers. They go, "Dad, look at that. That guy is into Star Wars." I turned back to them. I said, "Let me just tell you something. That guy is a geek. I'm all right with you guys being Star Wars fans and everything, but if when you're 23-year-old and you're slapping Darth Vader on side of your rearview window and a Stormtrooper on the other, you have issues. Big issues."
But I didn't stop there. I said, "Anytime anything is that big of a deal to you that you have to stick it on there… Do you see that Texas Ex sticker? Geek. Do you see that Century Club sticker? Geek." See all those folks? Yeah, come on. Back off. I'm going to come right at you this morning. It's funny when we're making fun of the Star Wars geek, isn't it?
The fact is, it's not the UT Sticker, and it's not the A&M sticker, because a sticker is fine. But if it's way too big a deal for you that your football team is winning, you are lost and giving yourself to fleeting things. So the sticker itself isn't the issue, but the people who are wound up about anything other…I mean, really committed to, driven by, finding joy in…than that which does not fade, come and go with each call, each turnover, each recruiting class, each season…
You want to enjoy a team? Enjoy them. But you'd better not act like it's your God because you make yourself to be a fool in any area or any idol other than the one that God calls you to. Don't give your heart to it. Enjoy it, but make sure you're only enjoying it and not needing it. This is where life is. God loves you.
Let me just remind you of some basic stuff. Jesus spent a lot of time talking about this. It's kind of the seminal verse that he uses to describe the perspective he wants us to have in money, the very first time he ever spoke to his people. He said, "Blessed are those who are poor in Spirit, who know they're bankrupt before God. Not men who are rich in this world, not men who are rich in their own self-estimation, but men who really understand their deficit before God." He walks all the way through that.
Then he talks about what real righteousness is. We read some of these verses last week, but let's get back to it. When you get to Matthew 6:19, this is what he says. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Then he goes on to share this verse. In verse 22, he says, "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light." We talked about this meant last week. "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"
This means what you fix your eye on, if this becomes light to you, then you are going to be informed by what you learned to love. If you cast a begrudging eye towards what the world says is lifegiving, you're not going to be a very happy person. God says, "Let your eye be the light. Let truth come to you from God." So we pick it up back up, and he says this.
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?" Look what God is driving you to.
"And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'
For the Gentiles [those who don't know God] eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Then he closes with this. "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Here's an amazing study that was done by a group of folks who are financial planners. They interviewed a bunch of people who had more than $1 million in investments. Of the folks who they interviewed who had more than $1 million in investments, less than 50 percent reported back that as their investments grew, as those who were investing for them performed well, less than half of them said it made them any happier or in any way brought more joy into their lives.
In fact, a third of them thought the more money they had, it brought them greater troubles, and it brought more problems than it solved. Another third said no matter how much they made, they were still worrying about having enough money. Fifty percent said, "We're worried our children are growing up with an entitlement perspective." Another 50 percent said, "We know right now our children are spoiled."
Of those with over $10 million in investments, folks who were living well and had $10 million over there trying to grow and have some more, the majority still worried they didn't have enough. You see, those of us with $100,000 go, "If I just had $1 million, I wouldn't worry if I had anymore." Those with $1 million are worried. Guess what those with $10 million are? Worried, "Is this enough?"
They consistently said, no matter what money they had, all the way up to astronomical numbers, that they felt like if they could just double what they had, then they would have enough. Isn't that the way you are out there? If I came to you right now this morning and said, "If I could double what you have saved, would you be happy?" You know what I wish I could do? I wish I had the means to double what every single person in this room had. Because what would happen is you'd go, "Why didn't I just ask if he would've quadrupled it?"
In fact, there's a great story of a guy. He was sitting there, and he was talking to his buddy saying, "I just need $500. This job is killing me. If I just had $500, my life would be so significant. If I had $500 right now, my troubles would go away." His foreman heard that, walked over, and wrote him a check for $500. He said, "I'm going to give this to you so you can quit deceiving yourself into thinking that that's really what you're looking for."
This foreman made a lot more than he did and knew that life still wasn't in the fact that he made substantially more an hour than this day laborer. Do you know what that guy said when he walked away? He heard him say it. "Why didn't I say $1,000?" It's not just that guy it. It's all of us. That's why God is saying, "Let it go."
The Quartermaster General of the United States Army did an interesting little study. He went back, and he looked at the people who God let out of bondage, and he led into the wilderness to a place of promise. He did a little study with them, and as he followed what most scholars estimate were 2 to 3 million people being lead out of Egypt as they headed up to Israel. He said, "This is what it would've taken to provide for those people in the desert."
Now think of Matthew 6 right here. This is God in the flesh telling folks, "Why are you worried? If you'll follow me and go where I ask you to go, I'm going to take care of you. Even, in fact, if you die in some desert of obedience, I'll take care of you." That's what Jesus was saying when he was in the desert for 40 days. In some supernatural fast, God preserved him.
The Enemy came along and said, "God has forgotten all about you. You're going to die. Why don't you turn that stone into bread?" Jesus said, "Because I'm not here to live as if I'm God. I'm here, though I am God, to live as if I'm man. So I'm going to trust my heavenly Father. Am I hungry? Just a little bit. But if it's God sovereign plan that I die right here in the desert from malnourishment, he'll take care of even my death. He'll resurrect me to some life.
If I need to be resurrected right now to go serve what I came here to do and serve, I'm not really worried. I'm not going to break the terms of the incarnation. I'm not going to not identify myself with man. I am going to continue to be as a man is, and I'm going to trust my heavenly Father. Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. God has not commanded me to turn this stone into bread, so I'm not going to do it."
Being God, being a man of faith who knew his word, being a spiritual God, he knew God was quite capable of providing for people in the desert. This is what the Quartermaster General found. If you're looking to take 2 to 3 million people through a desert, you have to have 1,500 tons of food every day to feed that many people. He said logistically to bring food to that many people every day, it would take two freight trains at least a mile long.
He says in order that they would have firewood to use to cook the food they were given, it would take 4,000 tons of wood just to cook the food they were going to be given, which is 3 more trains, each a mile long, just for one day. These folks were 40 years in transit. Then you have water. They would need 11 million gallons of water every day. That's a freight train with tank cars 1,800 miles long just to bring those people water.
If there was a narrow path that was two folks wide as they cross, it would be a line 800 miles long and would require 35 days and nights to cross the Red Sea. Did you ever think about that? How did God get those folks across the Red Sea in one night? Do you know how? God made a way for them. That Red Sea had to be parted 35 miles in order for that many people to get across in 1 night.
Then they needed to be provided for in the desert the way they were provided for in the desert. You know why they were provided that way? Do you know why there was a gap that big in the middle of the sea? Because God said, "I'll take care of it. Don't fret, Moses. Just follow me." Yet, we worry if this God can take care of us.
Do you see why God hates it when his people act as if we have to make sure we can be secure for tomorrow and then we'll get back to consider what God wants us to do with what he's given us? God doesn't want us to trust in twice what we already have. He doesn't even want us to trust in what we already have unless what we already have is our confidence in him. As we seek him first in his righteousness, all these things will be added to us.
The reason God hates materialism is he knows what it does to our hearts, and he knows what it does to other people whom we are supposed to be a hope and a light to who are looking to us wondering if we have met the God who can give you security, peace, provision, and the life you've always wanted and not be pursuing fleeting things and not finding security in the same things they're seeking to find security in. Is there a God, and do you know him?
Jesus says this in Matthew 6:19-21. We're not going to read it again but let me give you some points. If you want to break it out, he says, "You do need to store things up." Right now is your time to store things up. Don't wait for your heart to move before you move your money. Because where your money is, there your heart will be. So don't try to get your heart someplace and then bring your money to it. Put your money someplace, and your heart will follow it.
Nobody else can store for you. You must store for yourself. What he wants you to do is store some place that is not fleeting and foolish. You only have one place that you can store that is secure, and it's not right here.
This is a great little story I read a couple of weeks ago as I was thinking through this series with you about a guy. We all know when you die, you can't take what you have with you. But there was one guy who begged and begged and begged and begged and begged. He said, "God, I want to bring it with me. I want to bring it with me. Please, let me bring it with me." God said, "You know what I'm going to do for you? I'll let you bring with you, whatever you can fit in one suitcase. Guy goes, "Deal. Perfect."
So he dies. He standing there before St. Peter and St. Peter said, "Welcome. We knew you were coming. You're welcome to come in, but you're going to have to leave that suitcase here. Nobody brings anything in." The guy says, "No, no, no, no. I have special permission from God that I'm allowed to bring one thing in here." He goes, "No. Nobody brings anything in here."
"I promise you. Go and ask the Father. I tell you, I get to bring this in." St. Peter goes, "I'll go ask, but I'm telling you. It hasn't ever happened, and you can't do it. But I'll be right back." As the joke goes, he goes and asks God, and sure enough, God says, "I told him he could bring one suitcase." St. Peter goes, "Really?" He said, "Yeah." "All right."
So he goes and comes back and says, "I'm sorry. This is new. God has never done this before. So come on in. You're welcome. I'm just curious. I'd love to see what you brought because that's a pretty big deal." The guy goes, "I'd love to show you." He took his suitcase. He popped it open, and he spun it around. It was packed with gold bullion. Peter looks up and goes, "You brought pavement?"
Those of you who know the Bible know that God talks about heaven as being paved with streets of gold. I will not be disappointed when I get there to find out that maybe the streets are of gold. Frankly, I'm not sure they will be. Don't start a new church over this. But the idea is the things that we value most on this earth, that we'll kill for, we walk on in heaven. Whether the streets are literally paved with gold or not, you need to know what men will go to war over, hurt each other for, deny other folks life for, we walk on in heaven. It is worthless.
If you take that gold while you're here and use it to glorify God and tell him that you have a perspective that this world won't give you, believe me, there's something else in heaven that we can't even get our arms around that God says is coming your way. Store it up. God hates materialism because it competes for his rightful place in the hearts of men and causes them to conform to this world.
Here's the deal. Satan is the Lord of materialism. He's always the one telling you, "God alone can't satisfy. You have to enthrone yourself. You have to live as if what you want is what will bring you life. God's saying, "No, no, no. There's a way that seems right to man, but in the end, it's the way of death. Trust in me and live." In 1 John 2:15-17 it says,
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." First Timothy 6:9-10 says,
"But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
Do you see why God hates it? Because something in your heart, when you become attached to what the world is selling you, leads you down a road that pierces you with many a pang. I love the statement that one guy said. He said, "The man who thinks that money can do anything can be thought to be the one who will do anything for money." Whatever it is that you think if you just had it, that one more thing, that would make you ultimately happy, you could be understood to be an individual who would think you'll do anything for that one more thing, when God is saying, "You don't need one more thing; you just need me."
I love Michael Caine. He's talking about how in Hollywood because the love of money is out there at times, that they find themselves making movies and being associated with different productions that they wish they hadn't been. Michael Caine was asked about why he made this one movie. He said, "I've never seen the film, but by all accounts, the one you're talking about is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."
He's saying, "Yeah. So I risked all my professional credibility, but you should see the house it got me. Oh yeah, so I've ruined a couple of marriages, but you see my investment and bank account. Oh yeah, my kid has no relationship with me, but you should see my toys." God says, "Don't let that happen to you." This is why God says this to his people, especially, in Jeremiah 10.
"Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the LORD, 'Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens although the nations are terrified by them; for the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak…'"
They're talking about the gods of this world that they set up to worship. If you'll look down there in verse 8, he goes on to say that people who trust in material creations, "…are altogether stupid and foolish in their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!" Here it's talking about totem poles and the like, but just because we don't build totem poles and we build houses and drive cars thinking that will give us happiness… It is a delusion.
Our idol is beaten silver. It's brought from all these different places of the world. "But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation." Fear God. Walk in his ways. In Luke 14, Jesus says this. This is why he hates materialism.
"A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.' Another one said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.'
Another one said, 'I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.' And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became…" Watch this. "…angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame [who have not found satisfaction and joy in this present world and call them to come to me] .'"
People said, "I have some new land. Is that bad? I have a new wife. Is that a problem? I have a new herd. Is that such a sin?" Here's the deal. God didn't begrudge these things because he hated these things. He hated these things because it caused his people to betray what was best for them. God is saying, "Come and dine with me. Be with me." We're saying, "I can't because I'm too busy finding joy in these other things."
Do you know there is nothing in this world that we can say to God, "I'm going to go over here and spend time over here right now because that's where life is for me"? God says, "Compared to the way you love me, it ought to look like you hate your new herd, hate your new wife. It ought to look like you hate your new land and your business."
We already know God tells us to love and serve and cherish our wife, so it doesn't mean we ignore them while we do spiritual things. But anytime we elevate something else to a place that will bring us joy and satisfaction beyond him, it makes him angry. Why? Because he looks bad? No. But because he loves you, and he knows you're hurting yourself when you try and find life in a relationship before you get your relationship with him squared away. It's idolatry.
Mark 4:18-19. Jesus was talking about what makes men prosper on this earth, but he's saying, "Be careful because there are storms in this world that as God's Word comes into you, this world is going to communicate that things are where life is, and it's going to grow up around you. It's going to choke you out. The worry of the world, see also associated directly with the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things, are going to enter and choke the world out, and it's going to become unfruitful."
The Word is what gives you life. Deuteronomy 32:47 says, "This is not idle word. This is your life. There's a way that seems right to you, but it is deceitful. It'll bring worry, not peace." Do you see why God hates materialism? He doesn't need your cash. He wants your heart to have freedom, and it makes him angry when we are a slave to a lie.
God hates materialism. Not just because of what it does to us, but he hates materialism because of what it does to others. God hates materialism because it consumes individuals and hardens them towards the needs of other people.
Proverbs 3:27 says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." That goes to how you compensate folks. That goes to how you terminate people. That goes to how you support folks who are in need. That goes to how you express compassion to those who are around you.
If you have the means to be compassionate, to be fair, to be generous, what's going to cost you just a minimalistic percent of who you are… If you have the ability to do good to somebody and you don't do it, it is an offense to God. Why? Because God always does what's good for people. Nehemiah 9:20 says, "You gave [talking to the Lord] your good Spirit to instruct them. You didn't hold it for yourself, but because you're loving, the one thing love can't do is keep to itself what it has."
So God, in his eternal glory, eternal peace, eternal satisfaction, and eternal community didn't just say, "There. I'm going to keep what I have. No, we have the ability to share with others. In fact, we're going to create people, and we're going to share with them our love, our goodness. I'm going to give them my Spirit, I'm going to give them my Son to deal with their sin, so they can be brought back into the relationship with me, which they need."
"Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst [both physically and spiritually speaking] ." Psalm 84:11 says, "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory…" Watch this. It's a verse you need to be convinced of, or you will be given to materialism. "No good thing does He withhold from those who [love him] ." Not a single good thing.
God is so against materialism. Not because he doesn't want you to have good things but because he doesn't want things to be your god. They are fleeting and worthless. Amos 2:9 is talking specifically to a group of people who were missing this. He said, "I'm the one who put you in a good place." "Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, Though his height was like the height of cedars And he was strong as the oaks; I even destroyed his fruit above and his root below."
He was saying, "I made you great," but look what the people did as God gave them greatness." In Amos 4:1, "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan…" In chapter 4, God specifically is going to address the women first. These women who were around men who were not given to love God but were given specifically to be concerned for themselves because their men were serving themselves. So the women said, "Fine. You go serve your own gods. I'm going to serve me.
Bashan was a fertile region, and the cows there were infamous. They were famous, and God called these women a bunch of heifers. "…you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, 'Bring now, that we may drink!'""Don't worry about anybody else. You just keep feathering my bed." Here's what the men were doing in Amos 5:11-12.
"Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor and exact a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, yet you will not live in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine. For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, you who distress the righteous and accept bribes and turn aside the poor in the gate."
Amos 8:4-6 says, "Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, 'When will the new moon be over…""Enough with this God stuff, so I can get back to business and making my money." When they would take people who were in need who cried out for sandals and covering, they'd give it to them at high-interest rates. When they couldn't pay it, they would sell them into slavery. God said, "I have a problem with that."
He says, "Therefore, I'm going to take you from your well-hewn homes, and I'm going to put you in a place that is not going to be well with you." I'm going to tell you this. God hates materialism because he hates what it does for us and our concern for one another. We become fat cows who are concerned only with what we need to fatter still instead of saying, "What can I do with the abundance I've been given in order to care for those who have less?"
I want you to look at 1 Timothy with me and read through this section of Scripture and follow along as we see God reveal to us some basic things he wants us to understand. This is Paul's seminal idea. In 1 Timothy 6:7-19, I want to read along.
"For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction."
They betray their kids. They betray their wife. They betray those who are needy around them because they are serving something that will be fleeting to them. "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
We know that's a testimony of many in this room who have pursued life in success and possessions only to have broken relationships that no amount of money can heal. There are others who have not have the means to pursue great wealth but have become enslaved to great debt because they felt like they needed things and have pierced themselves with many a pang."
"But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." The idea is don't live as the world lives. Don't be caught up in the current of what this world says life is about. You informed man and woman of God, live differently. You're a child who has a loving Father, so you don't need to throw a temper tantrum. You don't need to act like that extra scoop or the sprinkles are going to bring you life. You'll forget about it in a matter of moments. Be an informed child. Flee from those kinds of tantrums and kinds of fits.
"Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!"
Honor him. Serve him. Nothing else. Do you want to know why God hates materialism? It pulls us away from life and pierces us with many a pang There are many folks who are pierced with many a pang in this room today through debt and through an unprioritized life. We're going to address both of those things next week because God loves you. There's a solution if you're enslaved to death. There's a solution if you're enslaved to making so much money you can get whatever you want and never be in debt.
He has an antidote to materialism, and we're going to give that to you next week. But understand this. The heart of God speaking strongly to this issue is not because he's trying to get a piece of your wealth. He's given you your wealth. Your wealth is a tool. It is a test, and it is a testimony. It's supposed to be a tool to give God glory to store up for yourself treasures in heaven, a tool for you to serve your fellow man.
It's a test to see if you really love God or if you're going to begin to love the things God gives you. It's a testimony to where your heart really is. So God gives you the answers to the test, the Spirit which will allow you to live with a testimony that will honor him, and a heart that is his so you can use this tool as a great servant and not be in bondage to it.
I want to close with a little email I got from a friend as we talked about this before and he responded to it. He realized that where he was in his life stage and the career he was in the middle of pursuing was taking him down a road that he didn't want to go. So he made a decision to live by trusting God and living according to a perspective that God said he should live by.
So for him, he before the Lord in the context of relationship with others, determined that he should walk away from his job in order to have more time for his family and serving his Lord, as a young man in his early 30s at the height of his earning capabilities as his career was taking off. This is what he wrote to me several years after he made some life changes.
"Three years ago, the day after my first child (Caleb) was born, I quit a job that I passionately loved, a job that fit my gifts like a glove. The decision to quit that job was the greatest and godliest decision I have ever made. I took a less time consuming job three years ago that I enjoy but don't love, and I thank God for that frequently.
You see, God doesn't have tunnel vision, and as I have looked at His hand in my life with the broad vision He has for me, I see my job's role in this season in my life so much broader than the 9-to-5 timeframe. In this season in my life, God has blessed me with a job that provides incredible flexibility and very little travel. Sure, I am not climbing the career Mt. Everest that I once climbed, but He has given me so much more. For example, in the past three years I have been able to be a part of the following as a direct result of my job's benefits:
Fly to New Orleans on a weekday to hang with my dad, give him a Bible, and convince Him to read the Bible (with much help from God) for the first time in 45 years.
Have breakfast or lunch with an atheist friend weekly for three years and ultimately watch him begin praying with his young daughter, begin studying the Bible with me, and watch him convince an old friend that she shouldn't have an abortion.
Read the Bible and pray with my kids almost daily. Have time to take the daily phone call from my 2 year-old son to hear him describe in intricate detail all of his bathroom experiences. Watch my son try to turn every stick into a snake and call down frogs and locusts from the skies.
Take a much more active role at Watermark and see so many lives changed that the stories begin to flow together.
Date my wife weekly and have the time and energy to do life with her daily. Really get to know her and see the fabric of her heart.
Todd, I could go on and on about all the awesome things that I have been blessed to experience over the last three years. Very few (if any) of these memories have occurred at work, but God, through His providence, put me in a job that has allowed for so many of them to happen. If I had followed my own selfish desires, I doubt any of these things would have happened and there would be a bit less treasure stored up in heaven.
I don't know if He will have me in this job for another week or another decade, but I do know that if I follow His promptings I will always be in a job that will allow me to bring maximum glory wherever He desires (1 Corinthians 10:31)."
This is the person who, when Katrina hit, had flexibility in his job to see the need. The reason Watermark touched so many lives at Reunion, and the reason we were mobilized first, the reason we touched Red Cross, and the reason Salvation Army marveled at the favor God gave us with city administrators is because this guy had a job he had created that would give him flexibility to lead us when something hit. He said, "I'm capable. I'm an entrepreneur. I'm a leader. I can organize. Follow me." We said, "How can we support you?"
Do you see why God doesn't want us to be consumed with the next job, with the next thing? We're missing out on life. There's not a moment of regret that he can't get the new plasma TV, can't upgrade to the finer car, because he's upgraded to the finer life. So can you, If you learn to trust the same Father he's trusting.
Father, as we wrestle with your Word, I am just so grateful that you love us, that you continue. The current of this world that we live in, Father, is so strong. Thank you that again today you've tied an anchor and you've tried to batten us down, so we don't get drifting way downstream and find ourselves in places we don't want to be.
Some of us washed already over waterfalls, getting beat around the rocks of self-deception and self-love. We thank you for the ground you've taken in all of our hearts in different times over these last weeks already. We pray, Father, that you'd take more, you'd free us up, that you help us each to evaluate this stuff before you.
Each of us are unique individuals, Lord. We shouldn't all do the same thing, except for that one thing, being to seek you first and to call others around us and say, "Man, will you help me wrestle with these things? Will you help me really get downwind of myself and see how I'm prioritizing my life and what I am saying is going to give me life."
Lord, may you reign in our hearts as a group of a people who are being released from the bonds of materialism and idolatry and a concern for many things and be concerned about the one thing that will be life to us. Father, we love you. We're grateful that you're so patient to grab us into your lap one more time, to, if you will, bounce us on our knee as a Father and speak truth into our child-like appetites, fears, and naivety.
May we lean not on our own understanding but trust you as a Father who holds no good thing from those who love him and seek him and begin to walk in your ways, that we can use the foul balls, pucks, cars, possessions, investments, days, hours, and minutes as a tool for your glory, others good, and a sure investment for us. May the testimony of our possessions be that you alone are God and there are none but you. Help us to pass this test as you give us the answers with your truth. For your glory, and in Christ's name, we pray, amen.
One of the things that happens when you give yourself too much to money is you either become a slave to debt or you become a slave to a life that will keep you free from debt. We're going to talk about how to escape that next week. Have a great week of worship not being consumed by anything but him.
Whether youre deep in debt or have the tendency to hoard, the Bible is clear that there is a direct correlation between our attitude toward money and our relationship with God. Through these six messages by Todd Wagner, pastor of Watermark Community Church, you will learn Gods heart on the issues of materialism, debt, and being consumed with money and possessions. Our hope is that you will take away practical tools for handling what God has entrusted to you and surrendering your finances to Gods wisdom and direction - ultimately leading you to financial freedom.