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TEXT: Hebrews 13:5
SUBJECT: Gospel Changes Everything #7: Overspending
Today, with God's blessing, we will move on in our Sunday afternoon study called, The Gospel Changes Everything.
By 'the Gospel' I don't mean a set of manmade rules or even the rules we find in the Bible. I mean, 'Good News', the announcement that God is fixing the world He made through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
By 'changes' I mean, 'for the better'. The Gospel makes a thing in this life better than it would be apart from the Gospel, and in the life to come, the Gospel makes it very good as it was in the beginning-and then some.
By 'everything' I mean just that. The Gospel touches everything and everything it touches is changed from what it is to what it is meant to be. The Gospel not only saves our souls, it also saves our lives at church, on the job, in the home, by the pool, our whole lives and every part of them is changed for the better by the Gospel.
Does this mean the Gospel cures cancer? In fact it does, but for now, it changes the cancer patient, enabling him to live a meaningful life and to die in the sure hope of the Resurrection.
Does the Gospel fix every broken marriage? Eventually it does, but for now, it fixes every believer who is broken by the fighting or indifference or infidelity of a broken marriage.
Only the Gospel can do this because only it is-
The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
This is what our study is aiming to do: to apply the Gospel to every part of life and to see it do what the Lord says it will do-to save that part of life.
The part we'll look at today is a big part of life nowadays, and getting bigger by the moment. Can you guess what it is from the text, Hebrews 13:5?
It's overspending. The Gospel changes overspending.
By 'overspending' I don't mean: spending more than I do. I know a man who does define it this way and is very judgmental on how other people spend their money. If he rents an apartment, anyone who rents a house overspends; if he drives a Toyota, anyone who drives a Volvo overspends; if he shops at Food Maxx, anyone who goes to Nob Hill overspends. The problem with his view, of course, is that he himself is condemned by it too. Why is renting an apartment wise spending when you could rent a studio apartment? Why is driving a Toyota wise when he could take the bus? Why is shopping at Food Max wise when he could eat at the Rescue Mission?
Martin Luther faced this very problem, and suffered under it till he found the Gospel. To be saved, he was told, he had to pray more and fast more and confess his sins more. He did all of the above, but he never knew when enough was enough. If three hours of praying per day is not enough, how can I be sure that six hours a day will be?
For years he whipped himself into shape, or tried, to, and found he was as guilty and hopeless as ever. Till he found the verse-
The just shall live by faith.
Faith in the Gospel, and not faith in all I'm doing to make myself a better person.
So, I'm not going to attach a dollar amount to 'overspending'. What I mean by it is simply this-
The habit of buying things you don't need and can't pay for.
This is what I mean by 'overspending'. Not an impulse purchase now and then, not 'buying nice things', but the habit of buying things you don't need and can't pay for.
To say that overspending is a major problem today is about as insightful as saying, 'Water sure is wet'. Everybody knows overspending is a major problem today.
What makes it so common today as opposed to some other time? The short answer is technology and easy credit. Let me tell you a story that-for some of you-will sound like a caveman describing his pet dinosaur.
When I was a boy, shopping was not that easy. You had to dress up in those days, get in the car, drive downtown, and pay for what you bought with cash or a check. If you didn't have the money, you put the item on lay-away, that is, you put down a deposit, and then you paid it off over a few months. When the thing was paid for, you took it home.
Today, you shop online at home in your pajamas, 24 hours a day, and with a credit card that allows you to buy things whether you can pay for them or not. If the card is maxxed out, no problem: just use another one; if you don't have it, the banks would love to send you one.
Wanting things you don't need and can't afford has been a problem since the Fall of Man, but now banks and stores and advertisers and the culture has made it easy to fulfill the old desire.
Christians and others worry about pornography on the internet and elsewhere-and that is a real problem-but remember, sexual lust is not the only lust, and Jesus didn't say, 'You cannot serve God and Eros', He said-
You cannot serve God and Mammon
Why do we do this? Why do we crave things we don't need and pile up things we can't pay for? I'm sure there are political and economic, psychological, and sociological reasons for this, but I don't know enough about these things to speak on them with any authority and so I won't.
I do know something about the spiritual side of life, however, and this-I believe-is where the real causes lie.
We want to belong. If all the boys are wearing Van's gear, the boy who comes to school wearing something else won't fit in. He won't belong.
Our self-image depends on having the right things. Losers drive Ford Pintos; winners drive BMW's. I am a winner (or I want to be), so I drive a BMW (even though I can't afford it).
We want people to think well of us. If my brother owns a nice house and I live in a shabby apartment, what will he think of me? What do my wife and kids think of me, not being able to own a home?
We have holes in our hearts and we try to fill them with things we can't afford. I'm bored or depressed or I can't sleep, and I've got to relieve the tension, fill the emptiness with a new pair or shoes, or a nice MP3 player, or maybe a Christian book or two!
I didn't make up these causes; I've felt them in myself and I've seen them in other people. It's easier to think of ourselves as connoisseurs or aficionados or collectors, or people with good taste. But it's truer to see ourselves as needy people-
Looking for love in all the wrong places.
WHAT WON'T FIX THE PROBLEM
How do we fix the problem? Financial advisers offer practical solutions from paying off your credit card debt to declaring bankruptcy to coming up with a workable budget, and what they say is really helpful to people who want to take better care of their money.
There's the rub-wanting to take better care of your money. This is the one thing many of us don't want to do. What we want is to pay off our debts, have some money in the bank, and keep on buying things we don't need and can't pay for!
On this point, financial planners cannot help you, because all they have to work with is the law. They can tell you what you ought to do, all the good that will come if you do it and the evil that will come if you don't.
What they can't do is change your heart, to be content with what you have, because in Christ, you have it all.
This is where the Gospel comes in. You overspend because you want to belong. The Gospel says you're adopted, and you already belong to the Family of God.
You overspend because you need to justify yourself-you're a real man-but the Gospel says God has justified you.
You overspend because you need people to think well of you-but the Gospel says, for Christ's sake God and His people already think well of you.
You overspend because there's a hole in your heart, but the Gospel says, Jesus has come to mend broken hearts.
Should you learn basic principles of money management? You should do that because you ought to be a good steward of God's money, bless people by what you have, and not burden them without cause.
But the principles follow the Gospel. Meditate on what God has done for you in Christ, and you'll be ready to learn how to take care of your money, and-
Be content with what you have, for He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'.
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