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Why We Have So Much and Enjoy it So Little, Part 1

From the series God's Boundaries for Abundant Living

Have you ever noticed: If you get a raise, a bigger one would be better; if you have a car, a newer one would be better. Right? Join Chip as he uncovers the secret to having what you want and wanting what you have.

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Message Transcript

“Set your mind on the things that are above,” Colossians 3, “not on the things that are on earth.” And so the Bible, over and over and says, the key to much of our life in Christ is the renewing of your mind.

And so, as we start, I want to talk about private thoughts and consuming passions. There are certain private thoughts that you have and I have and most everyone has and if they’re the wrong private thoughts, they lead to consuming passions.

Let me give you three quick examples.

First private thought is that: more is never enough. This is built in more to the American culture than others. But no matter how much you have, it’s not enough. If you have ten you want twelve. You get twelve you want fourteen. You got fourteen you want a hundred. I mean, who was it? Jean Paul Getty. They asked him how much money, how much money do you really need to be satisfied? And his, sort of, sly answer was, “About one more million.”

More is never enough. And if you believe, unconsciously, that more is never enough, it produces a drivenness and a push in your lifestyle.

The second lie that we believe is the, what I call, when/then thinking. When I’m out of school, then I’ll be happy. When I’m married, then I’ll be happy. When my marriage gets better, then I’ll be happy. When I’m stronger and sexier, then I’ll be happy. When I lose twenty-five pounds, then I’ll be happy. When I make the starting team, then I’ll be happy. When I get a good job, then I’ll be happy. When I make x amount of dollars and live in this part of town, then I’ll be happy. When I can finally drive this kind of car, then I’ll be happy. When I can finally get a place up in the woods or down by the beach along with my main house, then I’ll be happy.

When/then. When/then. When my spouse becomes a Christian, then I’ll be happy. When I’m famous and more spiritual, then I’ll be happy. It produces disillusionment. Because thinking people realize that whatever you’re asking God for today, whatever you’re working for, whatever you’re driven to get, the moment you get it, what happens? It’s a moving horizon. It has to be the next thing, the bigger thing, the better thing.

And you know something? It is amazing though. The more is never enough produces drivenness. The when/then thinking produces disillusionment.

And then the final misbelief and thinking is that success is how I’m doing compared to others.

The way I measure success, I compare how I’m doing compared to other people. The standard of whether I’m doing well is I look around and find out what other people are doing and I measure myself with them.

And it’s inbred. I remember, I can still remember probably five, six years old. Right in the front of my yard, going, my dad’s bigger than your dad. My dad could beat up your dad. Why didn’t I just say my dad’s big? Or why didn’t I say, my dad’s strong? But it was, I never, I learned, five or six, by the time, my dad’s bigger than your dad.

And then I learned when I went to school. And they would give me this little thing every six weeks that told me how I was evaluated. I never got a report card and said, “Oh my, I think I’m starting to fulfill my divine potential. I’m measuring myself with me. I think I’m gifted in certain areas and I’m making progress and I’m doing well compared to me and what God has given me.”

Is that how, what you all did when you got your report card? What did you do? You went to your sister, “What’d you get?” “I got a B.” “I got an A. Ha ha ha.” “Well, I got a C.” “I got a B.”

And then, you know, if you had a real smart sister you realized, don’t go there. What did you do? You found someone, you know, “Hey, what did you get in math?” And we compare one another. And sometimes our parents played into it unknowingly. “Why can’t you be smart like Bobby.” Because I’m not Bobby. I never said that back to my parents but…

And then we graduate from report cards. And so People Magazine says - what? The top ten dressed people in America are…right? And so, you look at what you’ve got on and say, “Wow.” I measure success by, hold it, the top ten sexiest people in America are… And they’re on the front and you look at them and go, “Well…”

And then, no, no, no, no, no. Then Forbes is going to say, the top 500 companies are… “Well, how’s my business doing with top Fortune 500?” And then, the Wall Street Journal’s going to come out. Or Money Magazine with the top hundred richest people in the world are… And then you look at their names and look at. And you know what? How I’m doing compared to others is a dead-end street.

We said how a man or a woman thinks in their heart, so you become. You are the product of your thinking. Here’s what I want you to hear. When you have more-is-never-enough thinking, it produces drivenness. When you have when/then thinking, it produces disillusionment. And when you measure success by how I’m doing compared to other people, it produces dissatisfaction. Because I’ll guarantee I don’t care where you get, there is someone smarter. Wherever you get, there’s someone richer. However sexy you think you are, there’s someone sexier. So, you’re always dissatisfied.

And it’s behind these types of thinking that produces passions and drives that the Bible calls, write the word in, coveting. It’s these passions and drives that the Bible calls coveting. The word in Hebrew is “hamad.” It’s an inner desire. It’s to delight in something. It’s an urge. It’s a passion. It’s to be highly motivated. It’s to be driven. It’s to be compelled. It’s to lust for. It’s, I-can’t-live-without, impulse.

And by the way, the word is neutral. Roughly half the time in the Old Testament, it’s used as something good. And about half the time, it’s used as something evil. But the idea is, a consuming passion, desire, drive for something. This word actually is used of God for His love for Israel. He has a “hamad” for the people of Israel. He has a “hamad” or a love, a desire for you, an intimacy with you. But it’s also used of this passionate desire that Achan had for - what? A bar of silver. It describes the passion and desire that David had…one more, Bathsheba.

In fact, you know what I haven’t given you is some psychology. David is the more and enough. Achan is the when/then thinking. And Ananias and Sapphira are success compared to how I’m doing to others. Aren’t they? Well, Barnabas gave a lot of money. So I’ll try and fake that. Achan is, when I have more money then I’ll be happy even though it’s under the ban. And what happened to him? David is, one more. And behind each of the sin of David and Achan and Ananias and Sapphira is coveting.

Some coveted another’s wife. Some coveted another’s reputation. Some coveted material wealth. And what the ninth commandment prohibits is coveting. If you want a definition, it’s an inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire that leads you away from God and corrupts your relationship with others.

I can hear you. Please go slower and say that again. Okay, I will. Slower. It is an inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire. And if you don’t want all those adjectives, just say a selfish desire, that leads you away from God and corrupts your relationship with others.

The command is, you shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. Don’t covet his house, don’t covet his wife, don’t covet his manservant, his maidservant, his donkey, his oxen. Don’t covet. Don’t have this passionate, inner, inordinate, selfish, greedy desire to have what they have. Don’t believe that you need more to be satisfied and the way to get more is get some of theirs. Don’t do that.

Don’t believe when I have what they have, then I’ll be satisfied. Don’t believe that what real success is, is driving a car like them, and having a family like them, and knows as many Bible verses as him, or have a body like hers. Don’t do it! It’s what it says. That’s the command.

The tenth commandment is a command of the heart. I mean, you don’t do this one with your hands, you don’t do this with your feet. You don’t kill anybody, you don’t lie with your tongue. The tenth command is a command of the heart. The command makes clear that the law is not simply a legal code to relegate men and women’s actions, but it’s a divine axiom to govern the innermost being of men and women’s hearts. The tenth command is a command concerning your desires, and your drives, and your wants, and your goals. The tenth command prohibits, are you ready? It prohibits wrong thinking. And finally, the tenth command is a direct attack on envy, jealousy, and you know, just before you feel like, oh my lands, I thought the first nine were tough and I’m getting killed.

Let me tell you why. Why would God give this command? Why would your heavenly Father, why would the one who sent His Son to die for you on a cross, why would the God who cares so deeply for you make such a difficult and high command to say, don’t envy, don’t be jealous, don’t think more is better, don’t compare with others? Why? Because He wants to put a boundary around your personal contentment and your private joy.

He loves you. He wants you to experience joy. He wants you to experience contentment in Him with who you are, where you are, with what you have. Is this a violation of healthy, good, what I would call holy ambition? No. But this is a prohibition against coveting, desiring, being driven, to get, attain, capture, manipulate something of someone else’s with the private belief: then I’ll be happy. And since God knows that you’ll be disillusioned, since God knows that, you know, you’re going to just be, live a driven life. And since He knows it’s going to be pain, what’s He do? Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

How do you think you’re doing on this issue of coveting? I mean, how, you know, just if you were, scale of one to ten, don’t tell anybody, don’t raise your hand, don’t put up, like, how many fingers. But, I mean, just, sort of, how do you think you’re doing? Just, I want you to put the number in your mind. Because then I’m going to give you a test. And then I want you to take that number and evaluate it with, sort of, how the test comes out.

Because this one I think is so important is this reason. If you keep the tenth command, you’ll do pretty well on all the other nine. If you don’t covet, if you’re satisfied with who God made you, doing what you’re supposed to do with Him, and Him alone, what you’ll find is, an awful lot of those other commands involve hurting, stealing, lying, manipulating, being driven so you don’t take a Sabbath.

It all revolves around things with the belief system that it will deliver for you. And you know what? If you learn not to covet, you’ll find that most of these other commands, you’ll do pretty well on.

So turn the page if you already haven’t. Let me give you five symptoms that tell us, consuming passions are robbing our joy. See, that’s the issue. God does not want your joy to be robbed.

I mean, it was Nehemiah in the thick of it, what did he say was his strength? The blank of the Lord is my strength. What is it? The joy. The joy of the Lord. It’s a byproduct of the Spirit. It’s the Spirit of God doing something in your heart and your life and it flows out of your emotions that gives you energy and drive and excitement.

And you can go against all kind of adversity. And when you do not have the joy of the Lord, you’re often just driven by your passions. By goals. And with a mindset, more is better. Success means getting, achieving, having. And so let’s do a little evaluation. I think there are five symptoms that let you know where you’re at with regard to this issue of coveting.

Symptom number one is fatigue. F-A-T-I-G-U-E. Fatigue. Fatigue from high-speed lives, long hours, lives of high-stress, non-stop lives, get ahead, keep it up, go for it. Work, work, work, push, push, push. It can be in sports, it can be in music, it could be in school. It can be, I’ve got to do this in school and this in music and this over here and this over here and this in ministry. It can be work, it can be job, it can be I’ve got to be a perfect mom. I’ve got to be better than any other mom. I’ve got to have the cleanest house on the block. And on top of that have a Bible study and lead a Bible study with some other women. And, and, and, and.

It’s, I’ve got to be promoted by this age, I’ve got to make x amount of dollars by I’m thirty-five. By forty-five I have to own, outright, my house. By fifty, I’ve got to have x amount of dollars in my 401k. You name it. But it is push, push, push, push, push, go, go, go, go, go fast. And what you are, most of the time, is tired. Tired. And beat. And the symptoms are coming home and the La-Z-Boy looks good and the remote looks appealing and it’s just like… The ol’ remote and a bag of chips, you know, spiritual refreshment like never before.

Proverbs says, “Do not wear yourself out to be rich. Have the wisdom to show restraint.” And I would say, don’t wear yourself out to be a perfect parent. Don’t wear yourself out to have a perfect body. Don’t wear yourself out to have the greatest job.

Now, Godly ambition, goals, Spirit-directed, absolutely. Consuming desires that cause you to mis-prioritize and not have time with God, time with your family, time for yourself, and appropriate rest? Absolutely not.

Second indicator that coveting may be a bigger issue than you think, is debt. And what I mean here, debt that is not relegated to long-term appreciable items, is a symptom of coveting. Ecclesiastes 5:11 says, “The more money you make, the more money you spend.”

They did a survey of high school girls. You know what the number one occupation or preoccupation of high school girls is, in America? Recreational shopping. Ninety-three percent of girls. This is above being with their boyfriend. Ninety-three percent of teenage girls in America said, of all the things I could do, what I like to do most is go to the mall. Go to the mall and shop.

At least, six or eight years ago, for the average America family, I don’t know, it’s probably gone up. For the average American family, for every thousand dollars that they make, they spend thirteen to fifteen hundred dollars. That means that, see, no matter, you know what it tells you is, is that I am buying stuff I can’t afford, that I don’t need, to fulfill needs that don’t get met and I spend more than I have. Why? Because I’m not content. Why? Because more is better.

And, if I measure my success by you, if you get a new SUV and I don’t have one, I’ve got to have one. And I never say that because Christians would never say that. It would sound too ungodly. So what we do is, you know, we talk about, you know, we really need more room and, you know, we’re doing a lot of Bible studies and because we’re doing Bible studies, you know, our friend’s kids are coming and we’ve got to have the room in the back.

And we go to camp, like, once every two years and we need because of that and…

And we need to add onto the house because we really want to serve people and the reason for the pool is baptisms. We don’t need a pool. It’s baptisms. We have a calling of God to spend thirty-five thousand dollars that we don’t have because someday, someway, somehow, we might want to do a baptism in the back.

Can I tell you something? If your priorities are in line and God gives you the money and you’re giving off the top and you’re generous and if you want a pool, buy a pool. And enjoy the pool. If you don’t have the money for a pool and you put in a pool, you’re in debt because you’re believing a bunch of lies. If you can’t afford a nice car and you’re driving a nice car and you’re leveraged up to your nose and working obscene hours and living with unbelievable pressure, you have bought in to the coveting model.

You are a prisoner. How much joy is there in, should we pay Visa this month or MasterCard? And then, you know, you got these people on TV. “Oh, now wait! I can take all the equity out of your house, put you on another level of debt, and we can really help you get sunk deeper than you ever dreamed.

Debt, recreational shopping, you do understand. And this is why, you know, what goes into your mind may be the most important decision you make every day. You do understand that I think some of the smartest, some of the most creative people in the entire world
live in New York. And I’m sure there are some in Chicago. But I think of New York and LA and you know what their goal is? Their goal is to build discontent in your heart.

And what they want you to know is, if you don’t drink this beer, you’re not with it. If you don’t wear this shirt, you’re really out of it. Unless you wear these kind of shoes, drive this kind of car, and have this kind of watch, what kind of a wimp, dumpy person are you? I mean, what’s your problem? Message after message after message after message. Whatever you have….

Isn’t it amazing? You can get a new shirt and it feels really good for about two weeks and then it’s an old shirt. And then you see a new shirt. And this new shirt that was really new two weeks ago feels like an old shirt. And who wants an old shirt? Well, who says it’s new? Well, the guy who says it’s new says, well, they put a little collar on it and they changed the colors for this season and now you got a last year’s shirt. You want to be walking around with a last year’s shirt?

Their goal is to tell you who you are doesn’t measure up. What you have doesn’t measure up. But if you buy what we have. If you buy this timeshare, you’ll have quality family time like never before. If you buy this car, people will look at you different. Once you finally get this watch, people will know you have arrived. And it is driving us into debt because we believe a lie. And behind it is coveting.