Andy Stanley - A Flipped Script
Hey everybody, welcome back to, "If Money Talked". As you know, we've been working our way through some of the advice our money might give us if our money could actually talk, and as it turns out, we've discovered that what our money would say, actually matches what Jesus did say, when Jesus talked about money. If you remember, in session one, money said, "I can add meaning to your life, but I am not the meaning of life". Life is not just a race to accumulate the most, you're gonna leave it all behind anyway.
Then last time in session two, we said that if our money could talk, it would probably remind us, "The moment you think you own me, well I actually own you". When we lose sight of the fact that our money is not ours, that we're just managers, it starts calling the shots. So, like responsible, accountable managers of someone else's money, we've been tracking where it's going, because everybody should be knowing where their master's money is going. Now, if you've been playing along and if you spent this past week spying on your money, you may have noticed, that there are essentially five things you can do with money. There are certainly categories to each of these, but essentially there are just five things you can do with your money.
Number one, you can spend it, we're all pretty good at that, right? You can pay debt, depending on how much you've already spent or misspent, you can pay your taxes, and I sure hope you're doing that. Or you can save money, and then fifth, you can give money away. Those are basically the five things you can do with your money, and for most of us, as is the order, we actually doing them, right?
First we spend, number two we pay off debt, number three, we pay our taxes, number four, we save, and if there's any left over, well, we might give some away. These are the five things you can do with money, and for the majority of people, that's the order in which they're done. Now I wanna go through that list one more time, but this time I wanna put a little bit different spin on it. Number one thing we can do with our money, well that's for me. The number two thing we can do with our money, oh, that's for me, too. The number three thing we can do with our money, that's kind of just America and me, number four thing we do with our money, that's for me, and number five, well, that's for God and others. So it goes like this; me, me, me, me, God and others. That's how it's done in the majority of cases, and perhaps, that's how it's done in your home.
Now the problem with all that, of course, is that God and others come in last. Essentially, God and others get the leftovers. If I haven't spent it all, if I don't owe it all, if the government doesn't get it all, and if I don't save it all for myself later, then perhaps God and others will get some. This is called 'me first' living, with some leftover giving. And this is totally understandable, because this is the script most of us inherited. This is what we saw modeled in our homes, and this is certainly what a culture encourages. But when Jesus showed up, he literally flipped that script. Here's what he said. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".
Now I bet you've heard that before. Where your treasure is, your treasure is your stuff, it's your money, it's your hopes, it's your dreams, but it's your physical stuff. And Jesus says wherever your physical treasure is, your heart follows. And he wasn't trying to shame us, he was actually just giving us a principle, a fact of life. Whatever gets our money, gets our attention. Now if you've ever had a new car, you understand this. For the first few weeks, maybe the first few months, you parked it at the very edge of the parking lot, right, as far from all the other cars as you could get. In fact, if you had a minivan, you might not even allowed your kids to eat in it. You were spit cleaning every smudge. That car cost a lot of money, so it got a lot of your attention, it had a piece of your heart, right?
Jesus knew how this works, and Jesus knew that our money takes a little bit of our heart, everywhere it goes, so he says, "If I wanna know where your heart is, if I wanna know what's gonna get your attention, your passion, your time, then all I have to do is look at your bank statement, your credit card statement, not your Bible". If you wanna know where your heart really is, Jesus says, "Show me your money or show me where you sent it, and show me where you spent it, because your heart follows your money". Which brings something I referenced in session one, but I kind of left you hanging. Jesus isn't after your money, right, what's he after? He's after your heart. And the best way for your savior and your heavenly father to take possession of your heart is to allow him to take possession of how you manage your money.
Now, lots of people dedicate their hearts to God, especially in times of crisis, right? But Jesus asked his followers to dedicate their possessions, that's how you know whose you really are. Jesus knew that our money and our possessions are where rubber meets the road in terms of our ultimate devotion. It is so much easier to give your health, and your career, and even your relationships to your heavenly father, right? So much easier than to dedicate your money. I mean, when you're sick, you invite God into your health, you want him to intervene, when you're out of work you ask him to intervene on your behalf, land you a good interview, and you wanna know why it's easier to trust God with those things? Because you don't have any control over them anyway. You're relying on doctors, or you're hoping the HR guy calls you back.
Money's different, because money's tangible. You get to decide what to do with it. So when Jesus started talking about where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, he meant that the ultimate litmus test for our devotion to God is what we do with our money. So if our money could talk, it might remind us, "My direction reveals your affection. My direction ultimately reveals your affection". What is most important to you. Your money's direction, what you spend it on, reveals what you care about most.
So let's go back to that list of priority for just a second, how most of us spend most of out money, remember it's me first, it's me second, it's me third, it's me fourth, and then if there's any left over, or I feel compassionate, or I feel guilty, or there's a tsunami or an earthquake, then you know, I can give. And if you think about it in those terms, that's kind of messed up, isn't it? I mean, to me it's a little bit embarrassing. So Jesus offers us a remedy. He calls us to flip that script, to re-prioritize, to flip that list, and don't panic, you're not gonna have to give everything away or sell all of your possessions, that would actually be irresponsible. That would just make you a burden on someone else, right? This isn't about living irresponsibly. Actually, it's just the opposite. Spending almost everything on you or saving it for your future, that's actually irresponsible, in light of the fact that it's not even yours to begin with.
So this isn't about having nothing, it's about re-prioritizing everything. Here's how Jesus put it. "But seek first". Seek first is the key, this is so important, seek first, that is put first, re-prioritize, reorder, rearrange, rethink, but seek first his kingdon and his righteousness. Now, the word kingdom throws us off, because well, we don't live in a kingdom and the word righteousness sounds complicated and religious, but Jesus is saying something so simple and so important. Here's what he's saying, "in my father's kingdom, my father's kingdom is an others first kingdom. If you're going to follow me, it's going to be about doing what's right for others and doing that first". Jesus taught throughout his ministry that what's right for other people, is what's right, that what's best for other people, Well, that's what's best.
So Jesus says, "Here's what I want you to do. I want you to turn that list upside down. And I want you to put God and others first, I want you to put you second, you're still on the list, It's just that you're not at the top of the list". Jesus is actually inviting us into something. He's inviting us into a world, or to use his term a kingdom, where we don't go first. This is his invitation to give your money, before you spend it or save it or spend it in the future, and consequently, give ourselves to God. And you know why Jesus taught this? Not because he wants your money, again, it's because he wants you and he knows what's best for you. And I'm telling you, in the kingdom where you don't go first, you are gonna find more peace, more joy, more purpose, and more meaning. And ultimately, and you may not believe this, when you prioritize the Jesus way, When you flip that script, you will have more financial margin as well.
Look at the rest of this statement. Again, these words are so familiar. "And all these things will be given to you, as well". And what are all these things, these are the things you worry about. These are the things you fret about. These are the things that have to be done and have to be paid for. All of these things that are crucial to being able to survive, they're going to be provided for us as well. This isn't either or, this isn't others to the exclusion of you. This is about priorities, pure and simple. It's about who comes first, "Seek ye first his kingdom and he will take care of yours". Simply put, give first, save second, pay your taxes, repay your debt, and then live on what's left over. Yep, you get the leftovers.
Now, let me make this even simpler for you. Here's the system, I would love for you to embrace. I've been teaching this for over 20 years. Sandra and I have lived this way for over 30 years. It's so simple. Three words, give, save, live. Give, save, and live. When you get paid, you invest in God's kingdom first, you give first, then you invest in your future, you save second, and then you live on the rest. Give, save, live on the rest. This is how you throw open the door to God's involvement in your financial future. And I'm telling you, rich people, poor people, everybody in between. This is the key to financial security. This is how you live responsibly. This is actually the key to true financial freedom. This is actually the key to Financial Peace, you give first, save second and then live on the rest.
Now, here's the tip. I don't want you to think in terms of amounts of money. I want you to think in terms of percentages. I want you to pick a percentage of your income ahead of time, and then give it away as soon as you get it. Whatever the percentage is, and I'm not even gonna make a suggestion. You pick that percentage, whatever it is, talk to your spouse, talk to your friends, family members, but choose a percentage, figure out a way to get that percentage of your money out of your kingdom into someone else's Kingdom before you have a chance to spend it. Pick one or two nonprofits, a local church that you love. Maybe somebody that's doing stuff in your community that's near and dear to your heart, maybe something with children, or foster kids or a hospital, whatever it is. And don't wait to be asked. Everybody gives or just about everybody gives when they're asked. And just about everybody gives, when there's an emergency, I want you to be better than that.
Find organizations you love and start sending them money every single month, regardless of whether or not there's an emergency. And regardless of whether or not they ever asked, pick a percentage, then decide where it's going, and let it go. And then second, pick a percentage to save. This is also a way of helping other people because you don't want your kids or your grandkids to have to take care of you, right? Preparing for your own future is a way of loving other people. So save a percentage of your money second, then well then you just consume your heart out, live on the rest, newer, nicer, upgraded, renovated, whatever. Once you've given a percentage and once you have saved a percentage. Everything leftover is yours to spend.
That's how you guard, not just against financial disaster. That's how you guard against greed. It's how you ensure that you have your money, and that your money never has you. Give first, save second, live on the rest. Now, one last thing, I want you to pay close attention to the internal tension this creates inside of you. In other words, when you start thinking about giving away a percentage of your money and giving away a percentage of your money first, it's gonna begin perhaps a little battle on the inside of you. And I want you to listen closely to those internal conversations, the ones that you have with yourself, the ones that you're preparing to have with your fiance, or your husband or your wife, or maybe the conversation you're already having with me in your head, because I can hear you.
You know, "Andy, I'm all for generosity, and that was pretty clever what you did about the Me, me, me, me, God and others thing, but if I start giving away a percentage of my money, it's gonna take us twice as long to save for a down payment. I'll be paying off my student loans till I'm dead". I want you to pay attention to that internal dialogue, that internal tension. And here's why. Because I want you to discover something about yourself. I want you to discover what is at the center of your resistance. And this is so important. In fact, I think you owe it to yourself, you certainly don't owe it to me.
I want you to answer the question that is at the center of your resistance. Why am I resisting this? Why am I resisting this? Really, I want you to listen to the excuses. You're telling yourself and then I want you to just give anyway. And what you might discover is this, that your resistance, it's not really about money. It's about something else. So give first, save second, and then live on the rest. And if you will start working toward give, save, live, something will begin to happen in your heart. I dare you to try it. I challenge you to flip the script and give first, put God and others first, put your future second and then adjust your lifestyle. So you can afford to live on the rest. It will impact every single area of your life, it will certainly impact your financial life. And ultimately, it will impact everybody around us lives as well. I've seen it 100 times, you'll come back and say I don't understand it.
I can't exactly explain it. But something has happened inside of me because of this simple financial model. Something's happened to my family, something's happened to my finances. I can't explain it on paper, but something's different. I'm different. When you choose to put God first in a tangible way, in a way that's measurable, in a way that actually feels like it's costing you something, everything begins to change. Jesus was clear, the litmus test and this is hard for us. The litmus test of our devotion to God, is our willingness to put him first, in the arena of our money and our possessions, not include him, not offer him our leftovers to put him first, in the arena of our money and our possessions. Because after all, this money would say, "My direction reveals your affection". Where your money is, there your heart is also. So redirect your heart, give first, save second. Live on the rest.