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About this series
Keeping Love Alive - Volume 2
Four Biblical Skills Great Marriages Have in Common
It’s hard to believe there are couples who’ve been married for thirty, forty, or even fifty years. So, what’s their secret? In this series, Chip shares the newest volume in his ongoing series, “Keeping Love Alive.” As he teaches from the book of Colossians, he'll highlight 4 important skills every healthy marriage has in common. Learn how to be better connected spiritually… communicate more effectively… resolve conflict peaceably... and manage your finances wisely. Discover what you need to improve your relationship and start making a change or two, today!More from this series
If you’ll pull out your notes, skill number four is how to biblically manage your finances together.
The number one source of conflict and divorce in America is issues and problems around money. And, really, it’s the symptom, as we learned. It’s different values, different priorities, different styles.
Almost every marriage has a spender and a saver. Different family backgrounds. Your whole view of money, wealth, spending, saving, investing, risk – you grew up in a family and it’s in your thinking, it’s in your nerves.
And you just have preconceived ideas about those things. And then some of you, because of circumstance or situations, entered your marriage with debt or challenges or have had huge hardships that have created financial problems. All I’m saying is all that does is this: It creates incredible pressure. Just incredible pressure.
And incredible pressure brings things to the surface where because we are human, we figure out primarily how to blame the other person.
Okay, you’ve got your, You still have your passage? We are still in Colossians 3, 12 through 17.
So, in context here, it says, “As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called into one body; and be thankful.”
The very first line says, “This is how God sees you. This is who you are.” What I just read after that is, “This is what we are to do in our relationships.”
And then notice verse 16 is a resource. “Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you.” How? “With all wisdom,” that means at the right time, at the right way, sharing it for the right purposes, “teaching and admonishing one another,” well how? With truth. “Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs,” and then this idea of regardless of our circumstance, “singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
And then in verse 17, he’s going to say, “This is how I want you to behave.” “Whatever you do in word or deed,” now, just pause for a moment. Can you think of anything that’s outside of “word” or “deed”? Thought. That’s good.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” The command here is that all of our words and all of our actions are to be done in Jesus’ name. And in Jesus’ name simply means two things. It means you do it as a representative of Him. So, I’m speaking or I’m behaving or I’m acting as His representative.
And it also has the idea of being empowered by Him to speak whatever He wants you to speak or to do whatever He wants you to do.
The two most accurate mirrors of our heart and our lives are our words and our money.
“The good man out of the good treasure of His heart,” Jesus said in Luke 6, verse 45, “brings forth what is good. And the evil man, or the evil woman out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil. For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.”
If you ever want to know where you’re at, the MRI of your soul, I mean, I can intend, I can think, I can look at my hands, I can sing, I can say I love God, but my words, my words reveal what is really in my heart. And that’s why our speech is so important.
And so, anytime that is true, the other thing is your words, you can go into training so that you deal with issues so that what comes out of your mouth reveals what you want to be in your heart.
The second greatest revealer is our money. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourself,” underline in your notes if you would, “for yourself,” “treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” Why? Why would He say that? He doesn’t want you to have nice things? He wants to keep something from you?
What’s true about moth, rust, and thieves? They can take it away. In other words, it’s vulnerable. “But store up,” now, underline again, will you? “…for yourself,” this is for your benefit, “treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust can destroy and where thieves do not break in,” and then here’s the purpose clause – why? “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Wherever, if you want to know, I mean, if you really wanted to know, Lord, how am I really doing? From heaven, all pretense, what anyone else thinks, in my own denial, in the deceitfulness if my own heart, if I really wanted to know where am I really at? If it took a tape recorder and listened to my words for a week and then sat down and listened to it, the tone of voice, the anger, the sarcasm, the hurt, the swearing, the thanks, the praise. I would get a really good idea of what is in my heart.
That would be a pretty challenging thing to do. A little bit easier way, if you would take all your financial statements, all your credit cards, and see where you, all your money was spent in the last year or two years or three years or four years, what you saved and why you saved it, and where you gave money, both formally and informally, it would tell you more about your life than almost anything you could imagine.
Because wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart really is. That’s why Jesus talked more about money than heaven and hell combined. He doesn’t need or want our money, In fact, I bet I was a pastor for ten years and I thought life was like this: there’s Jesus, right? There’s the godhead. And then there’s the enemy, Satan. That’s not what the Bible teaches.
Jesus says there are two gods. There’s God and there’s mammon. Wealth, greed. Money promises to do everything. Money promises to protect, provide, make you a someone. Jesus said, “This is one God, this is the other god. Satan is just the enemy to get you to believe that that will deliver.” And the world system is created to tell you your possessions, your power, your fame, what you can buy, what people think – that makes you a somebody.
So, Jesus says, “Money isn’t neutral.” He says it’s powerful. It’s deceptive. It’s not bad in and of itself, but it’s the other god.
And so, if you want to know what is going on in your life, or if you want to direct your life, money is a revealer. And my experience is, I’ll own it, the first few years I was a pastor I didn’t talk much about money. A lot of pastors don’t talk much about money. Or if they do, it’s about giving, right? Or about a capital campaign, or about a building, or a bus that we need.
And what you need to do is you need to study the whole counsel of God on money.
I read through all of Proverbs a number of times and I took a green pen and anytime money in any way came up in Proverbs, I highlighted it in green. You’ll go, “Are you kidding?” Because what you’re going to find out, it’s so fundamental.
Let me give you a very brief overview of biblical finances. And I’m going to go really quick. And I’m only going to give this, because this is the context in which I’m speaking and it’s the context and, my experience, most Christians don’t have. Money is sort of like a side thing over here. It’s a problem to deal with. It’s like we know we need some money.
Or the matter of giving is sort of like, maybe there’s some law and I’m supposed to give ten percent and either begrudgingly or semi-begrudgingly it’s like paying a bill and I should do that because I was taught to. And the whole teaching of generosity in your heart and the purpose and how money fits into the development of your spiritual life, in my experience, is often missed.
So, what the Bible teaches in quick overview, is that God owns it all. “The earth is mine,” Psalm 50, “and the fullness thereof.” “Every good and perfect gift,” James, “comes from God.” Second, we are stewards, managers, and trustees, Luke 16. You don’t own anything. You don’t have a car, you don’t have a home, you don’t have any investments, you don’t own anything. It’s one hundred percent Him. “What do you have,” the apostles said, “except what you have received?”
And so, my money, my house, my investments, my wife, my children – I am a steward. And a steward or a manager is someone who is entrusted with certain things to make good use of them for their master.
That changes your whole world. That means, okay, the market goes up or the market goes down. “Lord, You are losing a lot of Your money right now.” We laugh, people have been jumping off of buildings and off of bridges – 2008. Anxiety, depression, fear, overwhelmed. The American view of money – we are living, the last fifty years, seventy years, we are living in America with a level of affluence that only the greatest kings in all the world ever experienced, historically.
And, yet, in this affluent world, we have more anxiety, more suicides, and more problems than I could take you to multiple third-world countries where they have very little and the people are very happy and no one is taking drugs.
The most recent research, now, by the way, when you’re in abject poverty or you’re really poor, there are financial issues, does money solve all your problems? No. But it sure helps. And what the secular researchers say is that basically, right up to about seventy-five to eighty-five thousand dollars, if you’re below that in the current economy, if you get in about that area, and without debt, money really helps. And all the dollars after that is sort of diminishing returns in terms of quality of life.
The saddest, most miserable, most problems in families in all my life have been the wealthiest people that I know. And what is so ironic, I sit with them and I talk with them and they talk about their second or their third marriage or their daughter’s suicide or the anxiety and their enablement of their kids, because when you’re really wealthy, it’s hard to say no to your kids. It’s hard to set boundaries; it’s hard to teach them responsibility.
And so, really, really – the only people that have more messed up kids in all the world, by the way, this was a study done by an insurance company, is the poorest of the poor of the poor, like living in the ghetto, and the ultimate rich. And what they measured is treatment centers and all the rest. Why? Because money can’t solve the problems. In fact, it creates incredible entitlement, lack of responsibility.
We’ll give an account for our stewardship. God, according to how He has made you and purposes has given us all different talents, different resources. And I’ll give an account of what I do with His money, what I do with His time.
I had a card for years that I wrote down, you know, I do this thing a lot with my thinking. I mean, I really believe, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he becomes. The mind set on the flesh, death. The mind set on the Spirit, life and peace. Set your mind on the things above.” I am absolutely, I mean, I am over the top on, boy, what comes into my mind, there’s a huge filter. And what I put into my mind – because life change happens not by behavior or emotions or trying hard. Life change happens, first and foremost, you renew your mind. And as you think differently, all of a sudden, that’s not a temptation, because it doesn’t look very good. You think differently and emotionally things change because the news is like poison. And the more and more I watch of news and people being blown up and these people hate these people and those people. Then what it does is it creates all kind of things inside.
You know, ask a teenage girl. The more you’re on social media, the higher the anxiety, the higher the social – suicide rate. And so, I keep aware of what is going on, but I am really careful about what I let in my mind. And then what I know is that when I struggle with areas, I’ve got to change my thinking. So, coming from my background, giving away money and being generous did not come naturally. My dad grew up out of the depression, his parents’ farm was sold out from under him. That’s a picture that he remembers. He took me as a little boy to the bank every single week and I did yards and did things. And you put it in savings.
And so, that was embedded in me. And so, I had a card that I wrote, “Lord, I desire to be more generous with my time and my money this year.” And I would just read it over. And just read it over, read it over, read it over, read it over. And I just found there were opportunities. They were probably always there, but I noticed them and I would be a little bit more generous. And then a little bit more generous. And then I reviewed that card for, like, five years.
And then I was studying and I just realized, That’s not accurate. That’s wrong, Chip. So, I put an x through the card in certain places, God, I desire to be more generous with Your money and Your time this year. And that’s what I just realized is, whatever I’ve got in my pocket, whatever I’ve got in the bank account, whatever kind of car I drive, whatever I have, it’s Yours, and I’m going to give an account for it.
Money is powerful and deceptive, Mark 4, the parables of the seed and the sower, right? The seed is God’s Word; it goes into the earth. The hard soil; Satan takes it away. The shallow soil, it grows up, but persecution and difficulty, it fades away. The thorny soil, it grows up and then the desires of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out God’s Word. By the way, the deceitfulness of riches. You do understand the word “deceit” means this: When you are deceived, you don’t know it. And we now live in a Christian worldview where we all have certain issues that we all sin, that we have decided, “Let’s have a few acceptable sins, and we will give all each other a pass on them.”
I have been in a number of men’s groups where we all struggle with porn, but let’s try and be more porn-lite. That’s really not one of the options. Or, you know, I know it’s not very wise, but everyone has a lot of debt and everyone gossips a little bit about people when you meet in those groups. And, you know, we all struggle with that, therefore, it must be okay. And we sort of gradually give ourselves permission to have the sacred cow of materialism. “Oh, all the other Christians I know, I mean, they always get the latest phone and the latest TV and the latest that.” Where do they have the money? No, but they’ve got these cards. And it’s pretty cool, you just put them on these cards and you only have to pay like eleven or twenty-two or thirty-three dollars each payment and pay nine hundred and forty-four dollars for that three-hundred-dollar TV over five years.
But you don’t think about, well, wait a second, it’s God’s money. Am I saying it’s wrong to use a credit card? No, I have credit cards. I pay them off every thirty days. But I’m just saying there’s radical thoughts about money and the subtlety and deception of money is it takes you down a path. It’s like being in water where you go out, if you have ever been at the beach, you know, and you’re having fun. And you’ve got the sand and if you have a family you’ve got a couple kids here and you’ve got the blankets and you’re going to have lunch and stuff.
And they go out and play and you’re playing and then you’re playing and you’re playing. And nothing happened, but the current is doing this. And you look up and you realize, my lands, how did we get down, I mean, our, hey, where’s mom and dad? Where’s…? That’s what happens to us with regard to money.
Money is the other god, according to Jesus. We can’t serve both, Matthew 6.
Giving is God’s antidote to greed and the dangers of idol worship. We are commanded, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world,” and biblically, that’s all of us, “not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of money or wealth.” Notice that’s the reason, because it’s uncertain; He wants to protect. “But fix their hope on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
In other words, when your priorities are right, when it comes from God, He is gracious and kind and loving. So you’re not overwhelmed in debt, you’re not compensating by buying things or going places you really can’t afford. Your priorities are right.
And He says, “Don’t fix your hope here,” on the one hand, so you want to be generous and be wise. And then, when He blesses, you don’t have to say, “Well, the reason we have a swimming pool is we are doing baptisms for the youth group.” “You know that mission trip that we are taking to New Zealand and Hawaii?” You know what? If you want to go to Hawaii and the Lord has blessed your life and your priorities are in order, here’s what you ought to do: Enjoy it.
If God gives you a swimming pool and your priorities are in order and He has led you in that way and maybe it’s especially great for the season of your kids, why don’t you enjoy it? But what we do is we play lots of games. God wants us to richly enjoy all that He has given us and at the same time realize that thing, that wealth, that idol wants to take over your soul.