Robert Jeffress - Spend Your Way To Wealth
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Tragically, most Americans live beyond their financial means. They live from paycheck to paycheck, barely keeping up with their bills. As a result, many households are crushed under financial pressure. And even worse, the debt is often passed from one generation to the next. How do we break this seemingly endless cycle? Well today, we'll consult the wisest and richest man who ever lived-king Solomon-on how to find financial freedom. The Solomon secret for financial freedom is, "Spend your way to wealth". I'll talk about that on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
People have always been fascinated by the subject of money. And for good reason, when you think about it. I mean despite all the bad press that money gets from us preacher types: the fact is money can do a lot of wonderful things for people when you think about it. Money can relieve stress, money can provide independence, money can help us fulfill our dreams in life. When you think about it money can do a lot of very same things that God promises to do for us. At least at first glance. And I think that explains why Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other or he will despise the one and hold on to the other. You cannot serve: you cannot worship God and money".
And notice Jesus didn't say you cannot worship God and your work. Or you cannot worship God and sex. It's not that those other things cannot be idols for us, they can. But Jesus understood that money has a unique ability to take our heart's affection because of all of the things it can do for us. That also explains why Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil and some by longing for it have wondered away from the faith and have pierced themselves with many a pain". And yet most people I talk to they don't have any desire to fall in love with money, they don't want to worship money: instead most people's attitude about money is like one couple who talked to me recently, they're facing the first year tuition bill for their child's college education. They said: pastor we just want to have enough. We just want to have enough.
Did you know, by the way, that is a biblical goal for your finances? To have just enough: enough to meet your current and your future needs. Turn over to Proverbs 30, if you would. Proverbs tells us what a reasonable goal for us ought to be in our finances. And it's found in Proverbs 30 look at verse 8. The writer said, "Lord here's my prayer, give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny you and say who is the Lord? Or that I be in want and steal and profane the name of my God".
The writer is saying Lord, here's my prayer, don't give me too much money because if I have too much I could be tempted to say I have no need for God. How many wealthy people do you know just like that? But he also said, Lord don't give me too little lest I be tempted to do something wrong to steal and profane your name. God what I'm asking is that you give me just enough. That ought to be our goal in money, to have not too much, not too little, but have just enough. The question is do you have enough? Do you have enough money, enough financial resources to meet both your current and your future needs? Let's take an exam right now to determine if you have enough, ok?
Here's question number one: If you or your mate were to lose your jobs, neither one of you had a job, how long could you survive, how many months without a paycheck?
Question number two: If you add up all of your assets, that is everything you own and subtract all of your liabilities, everything you owe, is that number a positive or a negative number?
Question number three: For those of you with kids still at home, who are facing college bills, do you have enough to provide for their college education if they chose to go to college?
Question number four: What about your retirement? You know there's a day coming for everybody, when you are no longer working with a steady paycheck coming in. Do you have enough money for retirement, for when that day comes?
Now, what do those four questions reveal about your financial health? Do you feel pretty good about where you are? You need to understand that most Americans owe more than they own, have not made adequate plans for retirement and could not go more than few weeks without a steady paycheck. You see most Americans believe that the way to financial security is to earn a bigger salary, to win the lottery or hope aunt Gertrude dies before the first kid has to go to college. But as we're going to discover today, Solomon says the secret to financial success in life is not in earning, winning or inheriting. The secret to financial success that God wants all of us to experience is through spending. That's right, you heard me right. The Solomon secret for success in your finances is to spend your way to wealth.
Now to know exactly what I'm talking about and what Solomon is talking about turn to Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21. Financial consultant Dave Ramsey he tells about two couples that came to see him for financial advice a number of years ago. And the first couple that came to him was a couple that was earning $35.000 a year. They had accumulated a $150.000 in their 401k plan, they had no credit card debt and they only had a 3 years worth of payments left on their $70.000 home. That was couple number one. Couple number two that came in right after the first couple had $64.000 in credit card debt, they drove two leased cars, they had a $175.000 outstanding mortgage on their home.
What was their problem as compared to the first couple? You might assume that they must have earned less money than the first couple earning $35.000. No, Ramsey said the second couple was earning $84.000 a year. So how is it that one couple admittedly a few years ago could survive and thrive on $35.000 of income and yet a second couple earning twice as much money was on the brink of financial insolvency? The key is the first couple had learned the Solomon secret for success in money and that is margin, financial margin. You see a lot of people again believe if I just had more money, if I had a bigger paycheck I'd be financially okay. But Solomon exposes the fallacy of that thinking in Ecclesiastes 5:11, he said, "When good things increase those who consume them increase". In other words, the higher your income the higher your expenses. The more you make the more you spend. Can I hear an amen on that?
I mean we all know that's true, don't we. And so that's why Solomon said, no, the key to financial security is in margin, it has to do with your spending. What is margin? Write down this definition. Margin is that comfort zone: it's the buffer zone between where you are and your limits in life. Margin is that buffer zone between where you are and your limits in life. Dr. Swenson in his bestselling book "Margin" describes what life is like without any buffer zones. I bet some of you can identify with this, living without margin is being 30 minutes late to the doctor's office because you were 20 minutes late getting out of the hairdresser's because you were 10 minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station and you forgot your purse. That is life without margin.
The fact is when you're always pressing the limits, you're going to feel stress in life and that's true about your financial life as well. People who live in their finances without any margin, that is they're spending everything they have, are under incredible stress. Perhaps you know people like this: perhaps you're a person like this. You live from paycheck to paycheck hoping and praying you run out of month before you run out of money. And if there's anything unexpected that comes up in the month, a car repair bill or a medical emergency there is no way to cover that. As far as big ticket items for the future, like a college education for your kids, or your own retirement, or caring for elderly parents, why, don't even think about that. There's no way to plan for that.
And yet people do think about it. And so they have this nagging fear in the back of their minds that not all is well in their finances and because of that stress they live under unbearable pressure that extends through their relationships. Did you know financial consultant, one noted financial consultant says that 90% of divorces are precipitated by financial pressure. You've heard me speak before about my father. My father was a wonderful Christian man: in fact he's the reason the rest of my family, my mom and all of us became Christians. And one of the lessons I learned from my dad was the importance, the discipline of saving money.
I remember when I was a little boy my dad would get paid two times a month and on those Fridays he would take me with him to the bank as he would deposit his check. And then he would purchase a United States savings bond and would go downstairs to the vault and we'd walk in there to his safety deposit box and he would deposit that savings bond, he did that twice a month religiously and when my dad was relatively young man he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, told he had just a few months to live. And I never will forget sitting around the kitchen table with my dad going over his affairs, he knew he was about to die, I'll never forget what he said to me. He said: you know Robert I spent my whole life setting aside this money so that I could enjoy it one day and now I have to end up leaving it to you knuckleheads.
You know Solomon said basically the same thing? In Ecclesiastes 2:18 he said, "Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me". When we're talking about financial margin we're not talking about being a hoarder of money. We're talking about setting aside a reasonable amount in the present to take care of future expected and unexpected needs. What are the benefits of doing what Solomon said? Of not consuming everything you make and setting some aside? I want you to notice in the Bible there are three benefits of having financial margin, a buffer zone between your income and your expenditures.
Number one: financial margin offers freedom to do the right thing. Having that buffer zone allows you to change jobs and do something you really want to do in life. Financial margin allows you to take that mission trip that you've been dying to take. Financial margin allow you to start that new business that God has placed on your heart to start. All of us need financial margin in our life, it is the freedom, it provides the freedom to do the right thing. In his book, "The Official Guide to Success" Tom Hopkins describes the benefit of financial margin. He just has another name for it. He calls it: Go-To-Town money. Listen to this.
He says, "Millions of people stay in jobs they hate, or they settle for less than they should get because they don't have any go-to-town money. What is that? It's enough money to allow you to face change with a stout heart. How much go-to-town money do you need? Whatever it takes to make you feel strong enough to risk losing what you have now in order to reach for a greater opportunity. This is the executive's equivalent of a strike fund. It's the sales person's ace in the hole: it's everybody's hold out money. Go-to-town money provides you with extra courage and clear-headedness to meet the surprises and alarms of life. It improves your performance under the pressure of a tough negotiation, it can double or triple your rate of climb, but if having go-to-town money makes you impossibly bull headed putting it aside would be one of the worst mistakes you ever make".
Now listen, you see, financial margin is the freedom not to do what is wrong. But it's the freedom to what's right. You say well we ought to do what is right whether we have financial margin or not, shouldn't we? Well we should. But a lot of things we should do that we don't do. We're flawed human beings, we're sinful human beings. And God understands that and that's why God's plan for all of our lives is that we have financial margin in our life. In Proverbs 10:15 Solomon wrote, "The rich man's wealth is his fortress, but the ruin of the poor is their poverty".
You see when you have no financial margin in life you don't have the ability to make wise decisions. Trusting in money is no substitute for trusting in God. In fact there's no amount of money that can protect you against a loss of a loved one, no there's some things money cannot do, but Solomon's point is God's plan for our life is that we have some margin so that we can have the freedom to do what's right.
Secondly, financial margin provides the security for future needs. Financial margin provides security for future needs. Consuming less than you earn over a long period of time is God's way to provide for your future, especially those big ticket items in your life. The fact is we all know that there are some big ticket expenditures coming into our life that we're going to have to pay for. The question is: how are we going to pay for those things? Well somebody says well I'm going to trust God. I'm just going to trust God. Well you won't get any argument from me about the importance of trusting God. But the question is not can God provide for my future needs, the question is how is God going to provide for my future needs. And the way God has designed to take care of our financial needs in the future is through this principle of margin. Spending less than you earn over long period of time.
Turn over to Proverbs 6 where you find this principle. Proverbs 6, beginning with verse 6. Solomon wrote, "Go to the ant, oh sluggard, and observe her ways and be wise: which having no chief, officer or ruler prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest". Now an ant has a brain so small you can't see it under microscope, but even an ant has the common sense to know that the plentiful food that's available in the summer and the fall will not last forever. The ant has the wisdom to take some of the bounty of the summer and fall and store it away for the wintertime.
Now follow me on this, did you know God had said the same thing to you and me? He has said to every one of us here, every one of us watching this program: he is saying to you there is a time of financial famine coming into your life. Every one of us is going to face it. And by financial famine, I mean, there's going to be a time in your life when your needs are greater than your current income. So how do you prepare for that time of financial famine? To go ahead right now and start setting aside some of your current income to provide for those future needs.
Thirdly, financial margin allows us to experience the joy of supporting God's work. It allows us to experience the joy of supporting God's work. When I left here in 1985 to go pastor my first church in West, Tx: the church had a few part-time staff members, but no full time staff members, the pastor had been the only full time staff position they had. And so when I arrived at the church and tried to figure out what was needed I knew one of the first things we needed to do was to hire a full time staff member, an educational staff member who would oversee the growth of our Sunday school. I was convinced that if we hired the right educational director the church would grow and the position would more than pay for itself.
Well the leaders were not convinced. They said: pastor if you do this you are going to bankrupt the church. We cannot afford to have a full time staff member. And so a friend of mine a member of the church, he said I just discovered I owned an extra oil well: I had no idea I owned this oil well. Wouldn't that be nice to have an extra oil well? I don't even want to think about that too long. But he said I found this extra oil well and I'm willing to give it to the church and you can use the production from that oil well to pay this new staff member's salary.
I was so excited. I went and met with the leaders of the church, the deacons of the church and I said we got this guy and he's going to give an oil well and we can pay for the staff member. They looked at me and said: what if the well runs out of oil? Well I went back to Chris, and said well they're afraid that the well's going to run out of oil. And Chris laughed and he said well I got the geological surveys: we'll take them and show the leaders there's more than enough oil to pay for that staff member. The well will last longer than the staff member does, probably.
So we took the geological surveys to the leaders, they looked at them and said: still not convinced. So I said ok. I said to the leaders: if the well runs out of oil I will guarantee personally this staff member's salary for a year. They looked at me, and they said what are you talking about pastor? We don't pay you enough to do that. And they were absolutely right about that. But the only way I could make that offer was I had some financial margin. Through the years I had accumulated some excess that I had set aside where I could use for projects just like this. When they heard that you know what they decided? They said: let's go ahead and hire the staff member. And they did it without my friend's oil well or without my assets either.
That's what financial margin allows you to do. It allows you the joy of investing in God's work. And by the way that is the principle that Paul taught the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 16:2. Paul said to the Corinthian church, "On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save as he may prosper that no collections be made when I come".
Now a lot of people interpret this verse to say: okay, on the first day of the week you ought to give your offering to support the local church. That's not what it's talking about. The Bible does teach we ought to give and give generously to support the ministry of the local church. The local church is God's design to fulfill the great commission. But that's not what this verse is talking about. You know how I know that? Look and see again what he says on the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, not put aside and give. Put aside and save. He is talking about giving beyond the tithe. He said: Corinthian church we got a need in Jerusalem, some of the Christians there are living in poverty and I'm going to come through Corinth soon and I'm going to take up a special offering, but when I come I want to be sure there's some money there for you to give.
So I want you for the next few weeks on the first day of the every week set aside some money and save it so that when I come and collect the offering there'll be money for you to give to this special need in the church. Financial margin gives us the joy: it allows us to experience the joy of investing supporting God's work. Freedom to do what's right, security for future needs, the joy of supporting God's work. Those are the benefits of margin.