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Rick Warren - Escaping Materialism

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ESCAPING MATERIALISM

Confronting Your Culture  -  Part 4 of 6

Proverbs 27:20

Rick Warren

Sermon Notes

Proverbs 27:20 (GN) "Human desires are like the world of the dead -- there is always room for more."

 

1.  WHY DO I ALWAYS WANT MORE?

Because of three misconceptions:

       *     Having more things will make me ______________________________

               "He who loves money shall never have enough.  The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness! The more you have, the more you spend..."  Eccl. 5:10‑ 11 (LB)

 

       *     Having more things will make me ______________________________

               "Be on your guard against greed in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends on the number of his possessions."  Luke 12:15 (Ph)

       *     Having more things will make me ______________________________

               "The rich man thinks of his wealth as an impregnable defense, a high wall of safety.  What a dreamer!"  Pr. 18:11 (LB)

               "Be wise enough not to wear yourself out trying to get rich.  Your money can be gone in a flash..."  Pr. 23:4 (GN)

THE TRUTH:

       "If I have put my trust in money, if my happiness depends on wealth, ... it would mean that I have denied the God of heaven."  Job 31:24, 28 (LB)


2.    HOW TO BREAK THE GRIP OF MATERIALISM

       *     Resist _____________________________________________

               "We do not dare classify or compare ourselves... (it) is not wise."  2 Cor. 10:12

               "When we long to be rich we are a prey to temptation; we get trapped into all sorts of foolish and dangerous ambitions which eventually plunge us into ruin..."  1 Tim. 6:9 (JB)

       *     Rejoice _____________________________________________

               "It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else."  Eccl. 6:9 (GN)

               "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have..."  Heb. 13:5

       *     Return _____________________________________________

               "The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives."  Deut. 14:23 (LB)

               "Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money which will soon be gone.  Tell them to use their money to do good.  They should ... give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.  By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven -- it is the only safe investment for eternity!"  1 Tim. 6:17-19 (LB)

THE ANTIDOTE TO MATERIALISM:

       *     Refocus _____________________________________________

               "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." Col. 3:2

               "... the man who hears the message, but allows the cares of this world and his longing for money choke out God's Word, does less and less for God."  Matt. 13:22 (LB)

               "No one can serve two masters.  You cannot serve both God and money."  Matt. 6:24



Sermon Transcript



ESCAPING MATERIALISM

Confronting Your Culture  -  Part 4 of 6

Proverbs 27:20

Rick Warren

Proverbs 27:20 (Good News translation).  It started as a trickle a few days ago and during the next 78 days it's going to turn into a deluge.  I'm referring to the number of Christmas Catalogues  -- the great American wish book.  The fact is, during the next 78 days, everybody wants your money.  They've been planning all year on how to get it.  They're counting on getting it.  There will be over 150,000 toys on the market in the next 78 days.  Just toys alone.  How can anybody escape materialism?  We are a nation consumed with consuming.  The average American says Time magazine says the average American spends $1300 for every $1000 they make!  And the problem is, it's catching up with us. We've overspent for a decade and the national debt is collapsing the economy. 

What do you call it when output exceeds input?  Body builders call it overwork.  Electricians call it overload.  Bankers call it an overdraft.  Politicians call it, What problem?

The Hunger for More:  Searching for Values in an Age of Greed is not a Christian book.  It's by the New York Times.  The cover says, "More.  If there's a single word that summarizes American hopes and obsessions that's it -- More!  More money, more success, more luxuries, more gizmos.  We live for more.  For our next raise, our next house.  And the things we already have, however wonderful they are, then to pale in comparison to the things we might still get.  The hunger for more characterizes the American frontier from it's beginnings, but in the 1980's that appetite became a shared addiction.  Success lost all reference to accomplishment and was described solely in terms of money. Lifestyle, defined as the sum total of the things one bought, seemed to take precedence over life itself.  Why did it happen? How did it happen?

Look at what the Bible says.  Proverbs 27:10 "Human desires are like the world of the dead.  There is always room for more."

 

 

WHY DO I ALWAYS WANT MORE?

What motivates me to always keep spending myself into debt?  What motivates me to never be satisfied with what I have?  What motivates me to keep wanting more and more and more? 

Three misconceptions that are found in our culture:

 

                      1.  Having more things will make me more happy.

                      2.  Having more things will make me more important.

                      3.  Having more things will make me more secure.

None of those are true but that's what society says. 


1.  Having more things will make me more happy.

The ads tell us that so it must be true!  There's not any doubt about it.  Here's an ad for a car that plainly says, "You can buy happiness."  If it's in the paper, it's got to be true, right? You can buy happiness right here in the center of Orange County. We believe in Life, Liberty, and the Purchase of happiness.  It's American. 

Here's one for Chevrolet.  "Makes you feel good inside."  I want to feel good inside, don't you?  If I buy a Chevy, then I will feel good inside. 

The fact is, things can bring happiness.  The problem is, it's temporary.  It's just for a while.  Things do make you happy.  If you get a gift, you're happy about it.  But it doesn't last and after a while the thrill goes away and the excitement fades and boredom sets in because things never change and people change. We get bored with things that don't change so we want to redecorate... It's fun for a while but the happiness doesn't last.  How many of you are still thrilled over last Christmas's gift?  If you remembered last Christmas's gift, this year you want the bigger model, the better model, the nicer model and you want to redecorate.  You've got to have more. 

Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 "He who loves money shall never have enough. The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness!  The more you have, the more you spend."  Andy Rooney said, "Having enough is no where near as much fun as I thought it was going to be when I didn't have any."  Sign:  "When I first started working, I used to dream of the day I would earn the salary I am now starving on."  There never seems to be enough.  Sure it will make you happy but it's temporary.

2.  Having more things will make me more important.

This is the idea that's promoted by shows like "Lifestyles of the Rich and Tackey" that if I've got money, then I must be important.  The misconception is, I am what I own, that my valuables determine my value, that if I have little then I must be worth little.  So since I want to be liked and respected and looked up to, I must continually keep on getting more and more and more.  I've got to keep up with the Jones'.  Don't worry about keeping up with the Jones' -- they just refinanced. 

If I have more things, I'll be more happy.  The fact is, we buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't even like!  That does not make since.  Having more things will make me happy -- for a while.  But it doesn't last.

Having more things does not make me more important.  It's amazing what people will pay for a status symbol.  Some people will pay $50 more for a shirt because it's got a little thing up in the corner.  It's still made out of cotton.  You pay $50 more for that little horse.

Luke 12:15 "Be on your guard against greed in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends on the number of his possessions."  Don't confuse your net worth with your self worth.

Bumper sticker:  "The one who dies with the most toys wins."  I saw one the other day that said:  "He who dies with the most toys, dies."  That's true!  Big deal!  It doesn't matter whether you've got it or you don't.

Notice it says, "Be on your guard" -- continually evaluate yourself.  Ask yourself the tough questions:  Am I expecting more things to make me more happy?  Am I expecting more things to make me more important?  It says be on guard -- continually evaluate yourself.

3.  Having more things will make me more secure.

"If I could just achieve financial independence..."  Have you heard that one?  As if that's the goal of life.  The fact is, the more you have, the more insecure you can be because the more you have to worry about.  The more you have, the more time and energy it takes to maintain it.  The more you have, the more insurance you have to pay to insure it. 

I never worry about the barnacles on my yacht -- I don't have a yacht.  I never loose sleep over the stock market -- I didn't buy any stock.  I'm not saying you shouldn't buy stock, but for me personally, I don't want to invest in anything that I have to get up in the morning and check the paper before I find out if it's a good day or not.  Many of you can handle that, but I can't.  I never worry about thieves robbing Kay's mink.  She would like to worry about it, I'm sure!  But I don't have a mink. 

The less you have, the less you have to worry about.  You don't have to pay insurance on it and you don't have to take care of the upkeep and maintenance.  The Bible says it's dumb to base your security on how much you've acquired because you can loose it all.  Proverbs 18:11 "The rich man thinks of his wealth as an impregnable defense, a high wall of safety.  What a dreamer!" 

Proverbs 23:4 "Be wise enough to not to wear yourself out trying to get rich.  Your money can be gone in a flash."  How many ways can you lose everything overnight?  An infinite number of ways. 

The truth is, real security can only be found when you place your security in something that can't be taken away from you.  If you put it in something that can be taken away from you, you put your security in things, things can be ripped off from you a million different ways -- legally or illegally.  You must have security in something that cannot be taken away from you and the only thing that cannot be taken away from you (because even your family can be taken away from you) is your relationship to God. 

Job 31:24, 28 "If I put my trust in money, if my happiness depends on wealth it would mean that I have denied the God of heaven."  If I trust in money, if my happiness depends on wealth I've denied God.  I might as well be an atheist.  Why did he say that?  Because whatever you trust in for your security is your god?  If you're trusting in your career, that paycheck for your security, that's your god.  If you're trusting in your pension plan for your security, that becomes your god.  If you're trusting in God, He is your God. 

Why do I always want more?  Because I think having more things will make me happy, more important, or more secure.  It's just not true. 

So how do I live in a consumer drive culture?  How do I break the materialism when we live here in Orange County the capital of it?

Four things:

       1.  Resist comparing what I have to what other people have. Don't do it.

       2.  Rejoice in what I do have.  Be grateful.

       3.  Return ten percent back to God.  That's the antidote to materialism. 

       4.  Refocus on permanent values.  On things that really matter, that really count.

You resist, you rejoice, you return, you refocus.

1.  RESIST COMPARING WHAT I HAVE TO OTHERS 

2 Corinthians 10:12 "We do not dare classify or compare ourselves it is not wise."  It's dumb.  It is not smart to compare yourself to other people because God's made us all to be unique and comparing inevitably leads to coveting. 

There was a famous study that was done in Muncie, Indiana.  They discovered that a high percentage of women who took jobs didn't really need to take jobs but they did even though they preferred staying at home.  Why?  The number one answer was so they could buy things that would make them the envy of others. 

Just about the time you're starting to feel good with what you've got, you look over your shoulder and somebody just got the newer model.  And you got a 3000 SXQDT and the guy next to you got a 3001 SXQDT but the problem is, by the time he's bought his the company's come out with a 4001 PDQ!  It's intentional.  They want to keep you on the line.  It is intentional.  You buy a camera. The moment you buy it, it's already out of date.  They're coming out with another one next month with better features on it.  It is this constant consumer driven society that we live in and you've got to stop comparing yourself to others if you're going to get off the rat race, if you're going to get off the track.

1 Timothy 6:9 "When we long to be rich, we're a prey to temptation.  We get trapped into all sorts of foolish and dangerous ambitions which eventually plunge us into ruin."  He's saying be careful.  That's all he's saying.  Money is neither good no bad.  It's neutral.  It's how you make it, how you spend it, what you do with it.  Some of the wealthiest men in the Bible were some of the most godly men in the Bible.  That's not what he's talking about.  He's saying when we long, when it becomes our ambition in life, that that's our number one goal to make the almighty dollar -- watch out!

Do you know how they trap monkeys for zoos?  They hollow out a coconut and put a hole in it big enough that a money can put his hand through it.  They attach the coconut to a chain to a tree and they put candy inside the coconut.  The monkey comes out of the jungle, smells the candy, sticks his hand in the coconut but once his hand is wrapped around the candy it's too big and he can't pull it out.  And he's stuck.  Monkey's are dumb enough that they don't know how to let go.  And they'd rather hold onto that candy and get caught than let go.

That is a parable of life.  We can get possessed by our possessions.  If you own anything -- a house, a car, anything, a bank account, a nice guitar, anything -- and if God told you to give it away and you're not free to give it away, you don't own it.  It owns you.  If you have something that God told you to give away and you couldn't give it away -- "I could never let go of that!" -- you don't own it.  It owns you.  We tend to become possessed by our possessions. 

The thing about things is that things often transform us.  Have you ever seen anybody changed by a lot of money?  People sometimes even give up relationships for riches.  Like the guy that won the lottery.  He called his wife and said, "Honey, we just won forty million dollars!  It's great!  Start packing!" She said, "Fantastic!  Warm clothes or cold clothes?"  He said, "It doesn't matter as long as you're out of the house when I get home."

People will give up relationships for riches.  You see it all the time.  You see some star starting out.  They're nobody.  They hit the big time and what is the first thing they do?  Divorce. 

He's saying resist comparing what I have to others. 

 

2.  REJOICE IN WHAT I DO HAVE

Be grateful for what you've got.  Ecclesiastes 6:9 "It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to always be wanting something else."  It's a lot cheaper too.  In Orange County the desire to acquire is out of control.  It's incredible.  The desire to acquire is out of control in this county.  We're in an unreal world.  I think sometimes we just have to stop and ask ourselves the tough questions.  "Will moving from a $250,000 house to a $500,000 house double my happiness?".  We just need to be careful and ask ourselves what really matters and am I depending on things to make me more happy, more important, or more secure.  If so, I'm basing myself on a faulty foundation. 

I've got a millionaire friend in Oklahoma City.  In fact he's a multi millionaire.  He says his favorite phrase is "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."  That's a great phrase!

Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have."  Contentment.  Is that a natural quality?  Absolutely not.  Is it easy to be content in our society?  Not when you've got four or five thousand advertising messages aimed at you every day and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on each one to make you anything but content, to make you feel, "I've got to have this, I've got to get this ... I've got to get more so I can be more happy, more important, more secure." 

Contentment is not a natural trait.  It must be learned.  You have to learn it.  I invite you to enroll in the school of contentment.  Say, "God, teach me to learn to be satisfied with what I have rather than always be wanting something else."  G. K. Chesterton says there's two ways to have enough.  One, get more. Two, desire less.  If you desire less, you can be content without having to get more.  You can get off the track.

Notice it says, "Keep your lives free from the love of money..." Circle "love".  Who came up with the idea of money, anyway?  God did.  Money is neutral.  But money is to be used.  It is not to be loved.  Money is to be used, not loved.  God says you are to use money and you are to love people.  If you start loving money you're going to get it reversed and you're going to use people. If you love money, you use people.  If you love people you use money. 

Resist comparing myself to others, rejoice in what I do have.

 

3.  RETURN THE FIRST TEN PERCENT BACK TO GOD.

That's called tithing.  Deuteronomy 14:23 "The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first."  Circle "put God first".  The purpose of tithing is to teach you to put God first in your lives.  God says, as an antidote to materialism, the first ten percent of everything you make, you give it back to God.  Why?  God doesn't need the money.  It's to teach me to break the grip of materialism, so I put God first.

National Statistics:  While real personal income has increased in the past twenty years, giving has declined.  People today are making far more and giving far less.  Why?  Materialism.  The money is going other places. 

       People who make less than $10,000 a year give more than people making over $25,000 and even the group that makes more than $50,000.

       Orange County is the least generous county in the nation although it's one of the wealthiest. 

That's what makes Saddleback church so unusual.  The people in this church go against the flow.  This is an incredibly generous church.  This church is filled with tithers.  We probably have one of the highest giving rates in the nation.  That is so unusual because in a society that is the most tightwad county in the nation, the least generous county in the nation, we've got a church full of tithers.  That says there are people in this church that have the courage to say, "I'm going to buck the flow. I'm going to do what God says to do."

Notice it says "first place".  Why don't some people tithe? Simple.  God is not first place in their lives.  Wrong priorities.  They're not willing to live on less.  They're not willing to go without.  They'd rather disobey God.  A family should always live on less than they make.  Why?  So you can save some and so you can tithe.  If you're living on everything you make, you can't save anything and you can't tithe.  That's what he's saying.  We ought to live on less so we can give more and tithe more so that God can be first place in our lives. 

1 Timothy 6:17-19 "Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money which will soon be gone.  Tell them to use their money to do good.  They should give happily to those in need always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.  By doing this, they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven.  It is the only safe investment for eternity." 

Notice several things about this passage.

First he says, "tell those who are rich..."  Everybody in this room is rich.  In relationship to the rest of the world, if you're an American, you're rich.  I don't care how low your income may be, in relationship to the rest of the world, if you're an American, you're rich.  There's nobody here worrying about getting a meal in the last thirty days.

Then he says true living comes from giving.  He says we ought to be always ready to use our money to do good.  Because he says when you're doing this, when you're giving your money away, you're storing up real treasure in heaven.  That is the only safe investment for eternity.  He's saying the safest place for my money is in God's hands.

Summary:  What is the Bible saying to us?  The antidote to materialism.  If you want to break out of the consumer society there's only one antidote to materialism.  Giving.  Giving is the antidote to materialism.  Why?  Because it's the exact opposite of getting.  That's what materialism is -- get, get, get!  Get all you can and can all you get.  The exact opposite of getting is giving.  The point that he's saying is that every time you tithe, every time you do an act of generosity, every time you give, every time you sit down and write out that check as a tithe, you are winning a spiritual victory over materialism. Every time you do it.  You're saying, "I'm going to buck the flow of life that says get, get, get.  I'm going to show that my trust is in God and I'm believing that God can pay my debts if I put Him first in my life and that He is my source of supply and that He really is number one in my life.  My giving is proof of that ‑- my evidence."  Every time you write out a check, every time you do an act of generosity in giving, you are winning a spiritual battle, a victory over materialism. 

4.  REFOCUS ON PERMANENT VALUES

Colossians 3:2 "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."  Look at life from God's viewpoint.  Realize that all possessions are temporary.  Focus on what's going to last forever.  Everything material will eventually vanish. 

I was coming back from Denver Friday.  I'd spoken in Colorado Springs.  I was sitting next to a nicely dressed man in a three‑ piece suit, obviously very affluent.  I showed him this book I was reading on materialism and we were talking about it.  He said, "We really don't own anything.  We just get to use it for sixty or seventy years.  It was somebody else's before and we'll pass it along to somebody else.  We just get to use it while we're here.  We never really own anything.  I guess we better use it in a better way.  How we use it makes a difference."

Matthew 13:22 "The man who hears the message, but allows the cares of this world and his longing for money choke out God's word, does less and less for God."  It's the old excuse, "I can't be involved, I can't serve... I can't be involved in ministry, I've got to make a living!"  Never confuse making a living with making a life.  Making a life is much more important.  What you live for is much more important than what you live on. 

Dr. James Dobson says, "I have concluded that the accumulation of wealth even if I could achieve it is an insufficient reason for living.  When I reach the end of my days, a moment or two from now, I must look backwards on something more meaningful than the pursuit of houses and lands and machines and stocks and bonds. Nor is fame of any lasting benefit.  I will consider my earthy existence to have been wasted unless I can recall a loving family, consistent investment in the lives of people, and an earnest attempt to serve God who made me."

That's what you call focusing on what's really valuable.  There are some things more important than money.  I consider the real heros of the church men like this... This is a card from the first service:  "Rick, your message really hit home today.  I was being approached for a substantial position with a company in Seattle including a substantial raise.  Your message was an answered prayer.  I'm happy to tell you that my wife and I will be staying in Mission Viejo so we can attend Saddleback.  Some things are more important than dollars."

I could have six or seven men right here in this audience stand up and give the exact same testimony.  I know all kinds of guys who have said "There's some things more important than a raise and a promotion."  And because the raise involved leaving here they've said, "I want to keep my family under the influence of this church.  I'm much more interested in how my kids turn out and how my family grows than how many bucks I bring in."  Those are the real heros.  Those are the men who go against the flow.

Just in case there's any doubt, Jesus lays it out real clear. Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters.  You cannot serve both God and money."  Money is to be used, not served.  Use your money.  God has blessed us with it.  No one can serve two masters.  You cannot serve both God and money."  Jesus is saying each of us have a choice.  What or who will determine my lifestyle?  Will my lifestyle be determined by Christ?  Or will my lifestyle be determined by culture?  Will my lifestyle be determined by the Master?  Or will my lifestyle be determined by Madison Avenue? 

As we've been looking at this series for a few weeks on "Confronting our Culture" I want to challenge you to do something real risky.  I want to challenge you to challenge the myth of more.  The myth that says if I get more, I'll be more happy, more important and more secure.  While everybody around you is on that track -- in the capital of materialism here -- I want to challenge you to be different.  Ask God to help you break the grip of materialism in your life and begin to take these four steps today.  Say, "God, I'm going to stop comparing myself to other people.  I'm going to stop classifying -- they've got this so I'd better get that style too.  I'm going to rejoice in what I do have.  You have blessed me more than I deserve.  All of us are blessed more than we deserve.  God says these things are meant to be enjoyed.  It's ok to enjoy, as long as it's not your god. Rejoice in what I do have.  God, I'm going to return ten percent back You of every check that I bring in."  Some of you are saying you can't afford to tithe.  The real question is what are you willing to do without in order to obey God.  That's the real question.  If you don't have enough money to save some every month and to tithe, then you're living beyond your means.  That's called materialism.  "Lord, help me to focus on permanent values. Help me to readjust my lifestyle because I'm going to spend more time on that side of eternity than I will on this side."

Prayer:

       Father, I thank You for Your word that it is relevant and practical and it helps us where we need it most.  Father, I want to thank You for Saddleback church.  I want to thank You for the hundreds and hundreds of people who are living examples of the principles of generosity and giving and tithing.  They are faithful tithers who say "We're willing to live on less to put God first in our lives.  Before anybody else gets paid, we're going to honor God with our wealth."  I thank You for the testimony of faithful people in this church.  Lord, I know that there are some who are here today who are struggling with materialism.  They want to be free.  They really do.  But it's just so tough and they've got themselves trapped in a lifestyle that is more than they can afford.  Help them to make the adjustments that are necessary in order to be able to save some and to tithe.  Help us not to compare ourselves to other people, to be grateful for what we do have and to refocus our lives on things that are really going to count.  For we pray this in Jesus' name.  Amen.

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