Matthew 16: 21-26
Remember, Do Not Be Afraid, There is Enough, You Are Enough!
We are going to begin our series Enough - Time to Rise, based on the book Enough, Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity. What we cover here in August will go hand in hand with the study that many of you have decided to begin this week, and if you are not in the study, that is ok too, you will be blessed and I pray; moved to a course of action.
We are going to discuss stewardship this month and next month you are going to hear from your leaders within the church as they describe to you, what this study has meant to them.
What do you think characterizes the hopes and dreams of most Americans?
Most of us have the hopes and dreams that involve success, power, money. Most of us have the dream of owning a bigger home, or a better car, or that we are successful at our job or in our endeavors. We tend to measure our success by what we have, the things we own, our possessions. Our current dream is likely something that involves wanting to achieve this dream of success, power, and possessions and seeing the results RIGHT NOW! Our consumerist society has led to more drive through windows. You can even get just about anything delivered to home anymore, not just pizzas, EVERYTHING you can imagine. This dream has become a nightmare of wants over needs and it has led us to the disease Adam Hamilton calls “Affluenza”. Hamilton describes “It is the constant need for more and bigger and better stuff—as well as the effect that this need has on us. It is the desire to acquire, and most of us have been infected by this virus to some degree.”
• The average American home went from 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,700 square feet in 2016.
• Today there is estimated to be 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space in America.
The other disease that Hamilton describes is, “Credit-itis”. It is an illness that is brought on by the opportunity to buy now and pay later, and it feeds on our desire for instant gratification. Our economy today is built on the concept of credit-itis. Unfortunately, it has exploited our lack of self-discipline and has allowed us to feed our affluenza, wreaking havoc with our personal and national finances.
• Average credit card debt in America in 1990 was around $3,000. Today it’s nearly $17,000.
• The average sale is around 125 percent higher if we use a credit card than if we pay cash, because it doesn’t feel real when we use plastic instead of cash.
• Credit-itis is not limited to purchases made with credit cards; it extends to car loans, mortgages, and other loans. The life of the average car loan and home mortgage continues to increase, while the average American’s savings rate continues to decline.
Our souls were created in the image of God, but we have distorted that image. We were meant to desire God, but we have turned that desire toward possessions. We were meant to find our security in God, but we find it in amassing wealth. We were meant to love people, but instead we compete with them. We were meant to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, but we busy ourselves with pursuing money and things. We were meant to be generous and to share with those in need, but we selfishly hoard our resources for ourselves. All of us have an inclination toward sin. The devil plays upon this inclination toward sin.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). In order to destroy us, the devil doesn’t need to tempt us to do drugs or to steal or to have an extramarital affair. All he needs to do is convince us to keep pursuing the American Dream—to keep up with the Joneses, borrow against our futures, enjoy more than we can afford, and indulge ourselves. By doing that, the devil will rob us of joy, make us slaves, and keep us from doing God’s will.
Although we receive a changed heart when we accept Christ, in a sense we need a heart change every morning. Each morning we should get down on our knees and say, “Lord, help me to be the person you want me to be today. Take away the desires that shouldn’t be there, and help me to be single-minded in my focus and pursuit of you.” As we say this prayer and act on it, God comes and cleanses us from the inside out, purifying and changing our hearts.
We must allow Christ to work in us.
Christ works in us as we first seek his kingdom and strive to do his will. As we do, we begin to sense a higher calling—a calling to simplicity and faithfulness and generosity. We begin to look at ways we can make a difference with our time and talents and resources. By pursuing good financial practices, we free ourselves from debt so that we are able to be in mission to the world. A key part of finding financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising restraint. With the help of God, we can
• simplify our lives and silence the voices constantly telling us we need more.
• live counter culturally by living below, not above, our means.
• build into our budgets the money to buy with cash instead of credit.
• build into our budgets what we need to live generously and faithfully.
As you bring yourself and your soul to the table of Christ today, I pray that you are looking hard into the motives found in your life. I pray that you are willing to allow God to change your heart, to open your eyes, to see the bigger picture that He has for you.
I pray that you are willing to let him have more than just the superficial parts of your life.