Andy Stanley - The Consumption Assumption
Hi, I'm Andy Stanley, thank you so much for joining me. You may be excited to be a part of this discussion or you may be here against your will, and you're gonna give this like one shot, and if you don't love it, you're not coming back. And I get it. I mean, talking about money makes people nervous. Agreeing to spend hours talking about money, well, I don't know, you may feel like this is punishment. But, I promise if you'll stick with me, our time together may be a turning point for you in lots of ways, including financially. And here's why.
For the next few weeks, we're not just gonna talk about money, we're gonna let our money do the talking and no, this isn't going to get weird. We're just going to kind of flip the script. You see, usually, isn't it true, you're the one telling your money what to do? Buy me some groceries, pay the mortgage, go into savings, but what if, what if instead, we allowed our money to talk to us? What if we invited our money to pull up a chair and give us some advice? What would our money say if our money talked?
Now the truth is, some of us would probably rather not hear from our money. We already know what it might tell us. It would probably sound like a disappointed parent. You know, I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed and for good reason, because some of our financial decisions and hindsight, well, they really don't make much sense. And we'd expect our money advice to be well, pretty much common-sense sense. See what it did there? Anyway, sorry. Anyway, we'd expect our money to say pretty much the same things that a financial planner would say, or maybe an accountant would say, or maybe a wise parent. But what might surprise you, hopefully pleasantly surprise you, is this, what our money would say if our money could talk, actually matches what Jesus said, when he did talk about money 2000 years ago.
Now, if you grew up around church, you've probably heard this before. But Jesus actually said more about money than just about everything else. In fact, he said more about money than he did heaven, but not because he needed any. In fact, best we can tell, Jesus never even asked for any. He wasn't after people's money. He was after something else, but it wasn't their money. More on that later. Now, before we get to the first thing our money might tell us if our money started talking, I wanna ask you a question. And I know this is gonna sound like a strange question. But here's the question, what do you do with your spare money? Not your spare change, your extra dollars, your spare dollars, well, the ones that you don't really need. And it's not a trick question.
And if you're thinking, "Andy who has spare dollars laying around? Sometimes I'll spare $1 for a good cause, but I don't have any extra money and I certainly don't have any extra money laying around". And technically that's true, you don't have extra money just laying around. But you do have extra. Have you ever taken a vacation? Have you taken a vacation in the past couple of years? Do you have a car? Do you have more than one car? Do your kids have a car? Does your car have its own little house? Have you ever driven a perfectly good car to a car lot and then left it there and drove away in another perfectly good car but newer model that you use some of your extra money to purchase?
How about this. When you went to purchase your current cell phone, Did you walk into the store with a perfectly good cell phone in your pocket? Of course you did. You see, people with extra, we don't wait for things to break, we upgrade, we trade things in. Or how about this, don't raise your hand. Have you ever gone to your kitchen, a kitchen that has countertops, and microwave, an oven, a refrigerator and then rip it all out? And then use some of your spare money to replace it all with countertops, a refrigerator, a microwave, and an oven. Do you have so much spare money that you actually pay someone to keep track of it for you? Like someone else's job is to take care of all of your money and invest it so it turns into more extra money?
So when I put it like that, What do you know? You do have spare money. You just don't feel like you do. And the reason why you don't feel like you do is a word we don't talk much about, it's the G word. It's greed. It's hard to see greed in the mirror. Now I can see greed in your mirror but it's hard for me to see greed in my mirror. In fact, I've never had a conversation with anybody who was having financial problems who said, "You know what? My problem is greed". Greedy people say things like this. "I'm just careful. I'm a good money manager. I'm a saver". Again, it is very difficult to see greed in the mirror. And yet greed is behind much of our financial struggle. And greed is behind a lot of our financial stress. Maybe a definition would help. Greed is the assumption that it's all for my consumption.
You see, you can be poor and greedy, or you can be rich and greedy. Greed has nothing to do with an amount of money. It has everything to do with an assumption about money. So your dollars become things, they become a house, they become things in your house, they become a car. You just consume, consume, consume. or maybe you do the opposite. Some of you don't spend all of your extra money you hoard yours. Of course, we don't call it hoarding, we call it saving. But the same assumption that drive some people to spend spend spend, is the same assumption that drive some people, may be you, to save, save, save. Because who are you saving it for? For you, after all it's yours. Different habits, same assumption, the consumption assumption, and most of us are guilty.
We don't feel like we have spare money because we either consume it now, spending, buying, upgrading, or we stash it away in the bank or a 401k to consume later. But either way, it's for me. It's for me now, or it is for me later. And Jesus says that is a faulty assumption. And he points to a completely different way of viewing our money. And when we begin to view our money the way he does, it changes not just our finances, honestly, it changes everything. It gets us off the treadmill of more, more, more, me, me, me, it's a completely different paradigm and it leads to freedom, contentment, and ultimately, satisfaction.
Here's how Jesus introduced this topic. Here's what he said. He said, "Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed". There's our word, greed. He's saying that those of us making the consumption assumption, spending it all, saving it all, assuming that everything that comes to us is for us. He says, "Hold on, wait a minute". Then he continues. He says, "Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions". In other words, life is more than stuff. It's more than our possessions or even our potential to acquire more possessions.
And the fact is, most of us think about this, most of us are gonna run out of time, before we run out of stuff. We're gonna run out of time before we run out of money. We're going to die with a whole lot of stuff leftover. Stuff, somebody's gonna pick through, sell and then perhaps just throw the rest away. You see if life consisted of possessions, we would run out of life, the moment we ran out of possessions. And while we know that's not the case, it is so easy to fall into the trap of living as if life is nothing more than the accumulation of more. Jesus' point, is something our money might point out if our money could talk.
If our money could talk, it may say something like this, "I can add meaning to your life, but I am not the meaning of life. I can add meaning to your life, but I'm not the meaning of life". Money, your money and my money would remind us that it doesn't get much play at funerals, does it? Other than how much was given away, earning money chasing it, spending it, that's not the point of life. Money is not the meaning. And this is where we're going, it is a means, it is a tool for doing something meaningful. It has the potential to make your life meaningful.
Imagine if that was the frame of reference for your finances. Every spending decision, the way you save, the way you plan for the future, regardless of how much or little you have, what if, when you had some to spare, when you had some extra, you thought to yourself, "Wow, I have extra. How can I make the extra a means to something meaningful? How can I make it a means to an end that goes beyond me". What would it look like to live free, of the consumption assumption. Instead of making every dollar that comes your way a means to something newer or shinier Or maybe renovated, what if you began to view your money as a means to making your life more meaningful, meaningful rather than just full of stuff.
Now, if you had been thinking this way, for the past 10 years, your personal finances would look very different. In fact, you would have less stuff, but you would have less debt, you would have more margin. And this is a big one, you would actually probably have more savings. More on that later. Now, all of us make financial decisions based on some assumptions. Whether we've ever stopped to identify those assumptions or not. And since your financial assumptions govern the way you manage your personal finances, you should know what those assumptions are, don't you think? So this week, that's what we're gonna do. We're gonna sit down and discover our financial assumptions. Then, over the next few sessions, we will take a closer look at what Jesus says about how we should view and handle our money.
Now, I need to warn you, you might have to make some adjustments. You may even have to break a financial habit or two. and if that scares you, it shouldn't, because no one, no one, who applies what Jesus says about money to their personal finances, ever regrets it. Their only regret is that they didn't start sooner. Besides, you can't be a fully devoted follower of Christ and not invite him into the realm of your personal finances. Christ can't be the Lord of your life when you've got him on one side saying, "Here's what I want you to do. And you've got Visa on the other side saying, Yeah, but let me tell you what you have to do because of what you already did".
And to be honest, you felt that tension, right? You feel like God is nudging you to be generous to your local church, maybe a local charity or an after school program. But before you can find your checkbook, American Express starts nudging you in the other direction, that money's already spent. Or once you find your checkbook, you find yourself hesitating to add that extra zero because, well, just because. You feel generous, but you can't be generous, and you can't seem to make yourself be generous, or in some instances, you just won't be generous. Why? Well, because you have fallen victim of a consumption assumption.
So this is a really big deal. This goes way beyond the realm of personal finances. This is about who's in charge of your life. It's about whether your life will simply be full of stuff, or perhaps full of meaning. In this way, financial issues actually become spiritual issues, don't they? What you do with your money is an indicator of who and whose you are. So where do we go from here? Your workbook has a quiz. And don't worry, it's not the kind of quiz you can fail. It'll just help you figure out what your relationship with money looks like today. So start there, then make sure you come back next time and we'll be talking about one more assumption that most of us make when it comes to our money and getting that one wrong, it may be the thing that keeps getting you into trouble. Luckily, it is easy to fix. We'll see you next time.