Summary: This message focuses on stepping out of the American Dream's pursuit of escalating standards of living. Instead we are to hold our money lightly and "freely receive, freely give."
- In some ways this is the second part of last week’s sermon. Last week we looked at this passage in Matthew 10:8 about freely receiving and freely giving. We talked about living life with an open hand and whether we are living stingy lives.
- I want to return to that same passage this morning and talk about the grip that money has on us.
OPTING OUT: Living for a certain standard of living is a choice.
- Matthew 10:8.
- The American Dream is such a part of who we are as a society that we just presume that it’s the only way to live. Of course we’re going to buy as much stuff as we can. Of course we’re going to acquire more, even if it requires running up the credit cards. Of course we’re going to keep up with the Jones’s.
- It’s worth stopping for a moment and thinking about this: that’s a choice we’re making. We have the option of getting off the roller coaster. We don’t have to buy into the escalating standard of living trap.
- To speak to the truth from last week, instead of being people who are grasping tightly to ever extra dollar and every extra thing we get, we can be people who hold our money lightly and freely receive and give. We can have money freedom.
- Often today people don’t own their money and possessions; they are owned by them. We can people who are not slaves to our things.
- “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
FIRST STEPS IN A BETTER DIRECTION:
1. DELIBERATELY DOWNSIZE.
- Many of us have allowed our material lives to become too big a part of our lives. We don’t have the time and attention we should for our spiritual lives. We don’t have the time and attention we should for our relationships. We don’t have the time and attention we should for time alone. In too many lives, one of the reasons for that is our passionate pursuit of more material stuff.
- Many of us need to make a conscious effort to downsize the part of our lives that is obsessed with the material. We need to deliberately downsize.
- Question #1: Am I doing a good job of discerning wants and needs?
- Almost all of us say things that aren’t really true on this score. “I need a new shirt.” Yes, I ripped one but maybe I’ve got another 15 perfectly serviceable shirts. “I need a new car.” Yes, your ride has more than 100,000 miles, but maybe it’s still in pretty good shape. “I need a new kitchen.”
- It’s easy to get caught up in the constant ascent of higher standards of living. We “need” a smartphone. No, we “need” the newest smartphone. I’m not arguing that we return to the pioneer days and have no phone at all and wash our clothes by hand in the creek. I do think, though, that most of us could stand to do some reassessment of what we call needs.
- We get caught up in the pursuit of more and nicer and newer and bigger. And we act as though our pursuit of material things is a completely separate entity from our spiritual lives. It’s not. The mere act of passionately pursuing material things has a spiritual impact and speaks to our spiritual priorities (or lack thereof).
- Question #2: Do I see any side effects of “shopping as entertainment”?
- I know I’m going to get in trouble for this one, but it’s worth some careful consideration.
- I’m not saying that shopping is wrong – we obviously need to buy things to eat, etc. I’m not even necessarily saying that the occasional shopping trip might be terrible. But some people have come to a point in their lives where they simply shop for entertainment. They don’t need what they’re buying – they’re just buying for the pleasure of buying. Let’s look at ourselves in that – what does it say about us if we’re buying just for the sake of buying? What does that say about how deeply consumerism has infected us? What does it say about how invested I am in the material world?
- Might it be a moment for us to look at our need to downsize how much stuff we have? If I admit that I’m not buying out of need or maybe out of want but simply out of a desire to get to buy something.
2. SEEK SIMPLICITY.
- Life seems to naturally get more and more complicated and busy if we don’t deliberately seek simplicity.
- It might involve getting rid of unnecessary parts of our lives to create more space in our lives for family or God.