Summary: . We need is to learn how to manage the finances we already have in a way that acknowledges God’s wisdom and leads to financial freedom.
I’d like to begin by making an observation. There are people in this room who live in comfortable homes and drive nice cars and eat in good restaurants who are not doing as well financially as they appear to be doing. We all like to think that we’re good at crunching numbers…but sometimes when we look at everything we’re dealing with, we feel like instead of us crunching the numbers, the numbers are crunching us! One couple said, “Expenses are getting much easier to meet these days. Everywhere we go we meet them!”
We live in the richest country in the history of the world. Yet financial freedom seems to be more elusive than ever. Why is that? Why in the middle of the richest country in the world do so many of us find ourselves not financially free? Well, I want to suggest to you, in part, it’s because we have bought into some money myths. We’ve heard these money myths so many times they’ve become ingrained in us.
For example, here’s the first money myth. Myth #1: All I need is just a little bit more. I mentioned this a few weeks ago. Somehow we think that all of our problems will be solved if we just had a little bit more money. This mentality has led to a sobering reality in many homes across America…we argue about money more often than we care to admit. One Gallup poll indicated that 65% of all married couples argue over money. So the myth that all we need is just a little bit more leads many of us to argue about money.
This myth also causes some of us to spend money we don’t have by leveraging credit cards. It doesn’t matter if you make a hundred dollars, a hundred thousand dollars or a hundred million dollars. If you ask most people how much it would take for them to become financially free, they would probably say, “Just a little bit more.” So we’re never content. We’re always striving to make one more dollar.
That’s what makes Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6 so challenging. He says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain…But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Now the fact is every one of us in this room has food and clothing, but only a few of us are content. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” but ever so few people find this contentment. This is because of the myth that to be happy we’ve got to have a little bit more. The words of Ecclesiastes 5:10 certainly ring true. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income….”
The problem for 95 percent of us is not that we need more—that’s a myth. The reality is this—most of us don’t have an income problem; we have a financial management problem. We need to learn how to give, how to save and how to live wisely with the income we have, and not to keep expecting more money to solve our problems.
I read about one financial planner on TV who was trying to encourage people—especially young people—to pay cash for vehicles they could afford rather than financing large sums of money. He said the average car payment in the US is $378 a month. He said if you’re 24 years old and instead of financing the car for $378 a month, you pay cash for a car that you could afford and you started saving $378 a month…typically by the time you would retire do you know what that $378 a month would be worth? $4.4 million! Then he looked at the audience and said, “I hope you’re enjoying the very expensive new car that you’re driving!”
You see the problem for 24-year-olds making a $378 monthly car payment is not that they don’t make enough to be financially free…they do. The problem is not an income issue…it’s a money management issue. Friends, Jesus says in John 8 that the truth will set us free.
Now, I realize that a few of us may be in extremely precarious financial situations, but I venture to say that 95% of us don’t need more. What we need is to learn how to manage the finances we already have in a way that acknowledges God’s wisdom and leads to financial freedom.
Now here’s a second money myth. Myth #2: It will all work out somehow. But this is not what the Bible teaches. You will never just drift into financial freedom, any more than you will just drift into godliness. It takes discipline! You will never just wake up one morning and say, “My goodness! All my bills are paid, I’ve got a healthy amount of savings socked away, I’m giving generously to kingdom causes and everything is fine on the financial front.” Those things simply won’t happen by accident.