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Love & Money

Eccles. 5:10

 

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." (NIV) 

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a non-profit association of attorneys surveyed their 1500 members and compiled a report of the results of that survey in a booklet entitled Making Marriages Last. In it, they say, “Not all marriages fail for the same reason. Nor is there usually one reason for the breakdown of a particular marriage. Nevertheless, we hear some reasons more often than others. They are: poor communication, financial problems, a lack of commitment to the marriage, a dramatic change in priorities, [and] infidelity.” (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Other sources I read cited abuse, drugs and Internet addictions as other causes of divorce, but I do believe the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is a good source for this kind of statistic–after all, divorce lawyers should have a feel for these trends. Specifically what I want to zero in on with this message is Love & Money–how financial problems can negatively impact a home.

On one level, poverty itself is a problem that can lead to hopelessness, despair and can contribute to relationship problems. But poverty isn’t necessarily the only financial problem that can hurt a marriage. Proverbs 19:1 says, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.” (NASB) and James 2:5 says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (NASB) Given the choice between being rich or poor, most of us would choose wealth, but having a lot of money doesn’t necessarily solve our money problems.

Whenever we think about our financial woes, we often think the solution is more money. And in all fairness, sometimes our financial problems are because we aren't making enough money, but sometimes, they are because we aren't managing what we make. Take Suzanne Mullins for example. In 1993, she won 4.2 million dollars in the Virginia Lottery. Eleven years later, she is deep in debt to a Florida Company that lent her money using the winnings as collateral. A circuit court ruled that Mullins owes $154,147.

Though Mullins could not be reached for comment, her lawyer said Mullins blamed the debt on extensive medical bills of an uninsured son-in-law who needed $1million dollars in medical bills before he died four year ago. The lawyer, Michael Hart said, "It's been a hard road. It's not been jet plane trips to the Bahamas."

In 1998, Mullins took out a loan with a Florida company that serves lottery winners who need their money faster than the annual payments can arrive. The Florida Company lent money, expecting payments from the yearly lottery checks through 2006. When the lottery rules changed allowing winners to collect their money in a lump sum, Mullins decided to cash in the remaining amount and did not make payments on the loan after February 2001.

A spokesman for the Florida lending company said his understanding was that Mullins had no assets to repay the remaining money. Tom Nasta of Personal Financial Planning in Roanoke said it's not unusual for people to go broke after wining the lottery. He says one client of his who won $1millon dollars only had a mobile home to show for it seven years later.  (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html) For Mullins, and other lottery winners that Nasta cited, more money didn’t solve their money problems.

Well if more money isn’t the answer to the problems many couples face, what is? Our culture’s quick fix for marriage problems is divorce. Divorce not only kills a marriage, but most of the time doesn’t solve the money problem.

Leslie Haggin Geary, Staff Writer for CNN/Money agrees that money problems can be a major source of conflict in the home, but she doesn’t think divorce improves the problems. She writes, “...money woes are among the leading causes of divorce. But in many cases, your financial troubles get worse -- not better -- after you bid adieu to your ex.” (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Conventional wisdom has taught for years that divorce is the best option for a bad marriage, but a study recently conducted by the University of Chicago is shattering that myth. Linda Waite, lead author of the report said, “Staying married is not just for the children’s sake. Some divorce is necessary, but results like these suggest the benefits for divorce have been oversold.” 

The primary conclusion of the study was that divorce did not increase the level of happiness of individuals in troubled marriages. There was “about the same proportion of couples who avoided divorcing despite an unhappy marriage ended up happy five years later as those who split up.” 

(http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Divorce is not a cure all. It doesn’t solve a couple’s financial problems, and according to this study, doesn’t improve their chances of being happy.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons God says. "I hate divorce," in Malachi 2:16 (NASB) 

So if more money or divorce won’t necessarily solve the problem, what will?

To be totally honest with you, nothing will. Not if you are looking for a quick fix. And that’s what winning the lottery and divorce have in common–they are both a big gamble that something–anything can fix the hole you have in your soul that is the real problem. Hear me good–nothing is going to give you an instant fix.

Now with that reality check, let me say, there is hope. In his Best-Selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren writes, "When God wants to make a mushroom, he does it overnight, but when he wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years. Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Have you ever stopped to think that there could be a purpose in your financial struggles? That your struggles and the suffering they are causing could bring you closer together instead of driving you further apart? If you find finances are dividing you, step back for a minute and ask why. In your wedding vows you promised to love and cherish each other in richer or poorer. Are you keeping those vows. What I’m saying, is instead of putting your energy into solving your PROBLEMS, why not invest the same time in your relationship and solve your PROBLEM. Do you get what I mean? The financial problem could be an opportunity to grow stronger, instead of a threat to tear you apart. James 1:4 says, "So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (MsgB) 

A few years ago, we were driving along Hwy 10 toward my Mother-in-law’s home in Indio, CA and pulled over at the rest stop that is near all the wind-driven electric generating machines in the desert. Oh, how the wind was blowing that day. As I was waiting for Susan, I noticed a small tree that was being tossed around by the wind. The tree was bending, but it hadn’t broken. But the stake that the gardener had tied to the tree had snapped in half. Half of it was in the ground, the other half was tied onto the tree and was flapping in the wind. The rigid stake snapped while the flexible tree survived. The tree had the inner strength it needed to survive the trial. And so do you. Instead of fighting with each other over the problems you have–financial or otherwise–why not come together and attack the problem instead of each other and cooperate with a God who loves you enough to let you grow instead of constantly rescuing you from your problems.

I want to close today by giving you a starting point. I suspect that most arguments over money begins because one or both of you have failed to master a very simple truth. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. [7] For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. [8] And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (NASB) And Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’” (NASB) We reap great problems when we love money and use people. It is supposed to be the other way around. 

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