Summary: This message is from a series that looks at God's desire for us to live life in a way that avoids being overloaded and overextended.
In 1952 Patti Page recorded a song written Bob Merrill that asked this question, “How much is that doggy in the window?” The lyrics of the song are quite catchy and the little arf, arf scattered throughout the song is quite cute. However, when examined closely the lyrics reflect an attitude that unfortunately permeates our society. She knows if her sweetheart has the doggy he won’t be lonesome. Today we are constantly sent messages that tell us if we purchase the right stuff all those empty spots in our lives will eventually be filled. We are offered thousands of choices for filling those holes in our lives with the stuff that we think we can’t live without. Robert Kanigel describes it this way, “The right to choose is as American as apple pie (or pumpkin pie or Boston cream pie or pecan pie).” So on and on our society goes in a never ending pursuit of stuff and more stuff. In fact, our culture is so taken with the idea of making money, having money and spending money that it dominates about every aspect of our culture. Every year, Americans spend more on eating out than the individual gross national product of 207 countries in the world. The American dream is the pursuit of wealth giving rise to sayings such as this, “In the end the one with the most toys wins.” The average American spends 10 percent more than they earn in pursuit of the good life. This not only saddles us with debt it causes us to worry excessively because of the uncertainty that accompanies our economy. As we turn to Matthew 6 which is from the Sermon on the Mount we find a message that is completely opposite to the one being sent by our culture. Jesus wants us to discover that wealth is not a primary objective of life. Jesus is advocating trusting God more than wealth which will lead to less stress and more margin in our finances.
I. The American dream is quite simply the pursuit of more and more possessions.
A. The "American Dream" has been credited with helping to build a cohesive American experience but has also been blamed for overinflated expectations.
1. James Truslow Adams in 1931 defined the American Dream as the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.
2. The American Dream today is built upon the four dreams of consumerism.
a. The dream of abundance.
b. The dream of a democracy of goods.
c. The dream of freedom of choice.
d. The dream of novelty.
3. Recent polls have shown that the majority of Americans feel that the American dream is becoming out of reach.
4. Americans are overloaded, overextended and are struggling with a feeling of hopelessness.
5. The problem exists because our self worth and lives are intertwined with the economy.
B. Jesus shows that we are living a lifestyle that risks severe emotional, physical and spiritual consequences.
1. Although we are striving to acquire possessions Jesus urges His followers not to put their trust in possessions.
2. In the ancient Middle East possessions such as clothing, gold, grain and precious stones were acquired to reduce anxiety about the future.
3. The problem with this philosophy is that the acquiring of possessions actually increases anxiety because they are subject to loss and destruction.
4. In times gone by, Americans did not worry about locking things up. Today we have advanced security systems, deadbolt locks and other security measures all in attempt to protect our possessions and to make us feel secure.
5. Jesus’ words speak to people of any class including the wealthy who have vast possessions and others who have the desire to acquire more possessions.
6. Don’t take this wrong, Jesus is not condemning saving money or having possessions. What He is saying is that we cannot let these things get in the way of Kingdom things.
II. The structure of our economy has the ability to quickly turn the American Dream into a nightmare.
A. Our economy is based on the principle of living beyond our means.
1. Debt-sponsored economic theory has been around for about seventy years and was a direct result of the Great Depression.
2. The idea was to use borrowing, credit and interest to fuel the economy. As a result the national debt has been growing ever since the 1930’s. Corporate debt started growing after 1945 and during the 1950’s personal debt started to grow.
3. Since Franklin Roosevelt first accepted this idea every president since has followed suit.
4. Today so much of our capital is being used to make interest payments that our entire economic system is on the verge of collapse.