Guardrails with money

The vast majority of the time when Andy is approached with…“umm, I need to come talk to you about something” or “My wife and I have a problem” it is almost always (he estimates 90% of the time) about either sex or money.  And the truth is, if you were totally honest with yourself right now, for most of us, the biggest regrets we have in life involve either sex or money.  Yet the culture totally ignores the Bible’s teachings on both these issues dismissing them as old school, out of touch or simply not applicable to my life.  God focuses on these and today, specifically money, because it is about our devotion.  Most of us don’t struggle with following the devil but so many of us fall prey to failure in the areas of money or sex and simply put, it is because these areas tend to get our devotion.  What God fights against is not so much the enemy and his minions but rather our temptation to turn and be devoted to the “other gods” of sex and money.

The real internal struggle for you and me is “do I trust my stuff or do I trust God?”  Can I let go of holding onto stuff, holding onto money, worrying about the future and can I give all that over to God?  For so many of us, money becomes the area where we say, “God I will be devoted to you but I’m going to maintain control of my money”.

Matthew 6:24 – “no one can serve two masters – you can’t serve both God and money” so there is this tension there right in between God and money.  Go on, admit it, you feel it.  God’s chief competitor truly is “stuff”.  It is what so many of us worship.

There are generally two types of people – “consumption” = you consume every dollar that comes in or “hoarder” = “what about?  what if?”  We tend to call these the “spender” and the “saver” and usually in marriage, one is a spender and one is a saver.  And catch this – both are very self-centered.  Both are fueled by greed.  The consumption person lives with the assumption that is all for my immediate consumption.  The saver isn’t truly any more noble.  All he/she is doing is stashing and hoarding it now so he/she can be sure it will be there way off in the future for his/her…consumption.

The key to combating this challenge we all face is so easy.  It’s a simple habit we can develop to allow God to rule our life and shift our devotion to Him.  The key is this “GIVE.  SAVE.  LIVE”.  Where with every dollar that comes in you give, you save and then you live.  Give away the first 10% of every dollar that comes in.  This is teaching your flesh that you will not be ruled by money.  Give it back to God where it all came from to start with.  Then, save.  He employs the 10/10/80 rule – give 10%, save 10% and then live on 80%.

Imagine if right now, you got a 20% pay cut.  Instead of making $2,500 every two weeks, you were making $2,000 every two weeks.  You just “lost” $1,000 a month of take home pay.  What would you do?  You’d have to make some tough choices and cut out a lot of things you previously thought you “had” to have.  But odds are, you could do it.  You could find a way to live on 80% of your pay.  And suddenly, that next big screen TV that you were almost about to buy and finance on a note at BestBuy would disappear as a “must have” thing.  You’d probably learn to be content with the TV you have right now.

The point is this – if you will give away 10% of your pay and save 10% of your pay you will begin to shift your mindset and your heart away from letting the stuff you own, own you.  It is an act of radical obedience to give away 10% to the Kingdom and trust God is going to provide what you need but the thing is, God knows your greatest temptation is the consumption of stuff.  He knows the thing you most struggle with is that “If only I had ____ I would be happy”.  He knows your heart can never find contentment in more stuff and the obedient act of giving is the way – perhaps the only way – to defeat this beast we all battle.

You are either devoted to God or devoted to money/stuff.  You cannot – as in can not – serve both.  Don’t let money steal your peace, steal your joy and consume your thinking.  “For the pagans run after these things” Matthew 6:32

Later on he says, “and your Heavenly Father knows you need these things”.  And that’s key – God knows you have to educate your children, pay for a wedding, provide for your family, pay the power bill, etc.  Can you trust Him to provide for you?  Deep down, we don’t think God knows we have these needs so we take control of the worrying over them.  Matthew 6:33 “but seek first His kingdom, His righteousness and these things will be given to you as well.”

So no, this isn’t some prosperity gospel message, this is rather a divorcing of our devotion to stuff, our devotion to “me, me, me” and “gimme, gimme” and settling into a place of contentment and trust.  Just think about the stark contrast of the two paths we can take, one, the tyranny of chasing after stuff, keeping up with the Joneses vs. the second, those two simple words of contentment and trust.  Which path gives you heartburn?  Which path gives you peace?

Remember, we either take the path of discipline or the path of regret.  10/10/80 is discipline.  Living at 105% of your pay, flipping from credit card to credit card is the path of regret.

Andy says that most people discover the power of 10/10/80, Give, Save, Live usually only after the bottom falls out and they crash against the rocks.  As the church helps them restore themselves and gets them on this 10/10/80 plan helping them reorder their lives; what happens almost every single time is they will come back and say, “I started giving, I started saving and my spending on me fell off and I am more content than I’ve ever been”.

10/10/80 is a guardrail.  Most of us live at 100% of our pay or 103% or 105% of our pay.  We teeter on the edge and live paycheck to paycheck and hope nothing goes wrong.  We don’t give money to the Kingdom because we can’t afford to.  In this case, you have already stepped over the guardrail and you are walking on the very edge of financial disaster.  Today is the day to take some steps back away from the cliff and toward the guardrails.  Make some tough choices.  Cut the cable, stop eating out, be content with the phone you have, cut up credit cards and pay off debt as fast as you can.  With each step like this, you are moving farther and farther away from the cliff and you’ll soon be on the safe side of the guardrail.  Keep going.  Put another 10 feet from you and the rail.  Live on 80% of your pay.  Give 10%.  Save 10% (or use that 10% exclusively for debt elimination and then save) and live on 80%.  You will not regret employing this guardrail in your lives and it will radically reorder your life and break your devotion to stuff so your eyes and devotion may rest upon the Lord.



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