October 16, 2011

David Sorn

Too often we get stuck in the "if only" cycle where we think, "if only I had this much money, I'd be happy." Learn how to get out of the cycle.


October 16, 2011

David Sorn

Too often we get stuck in the "if only" cycle where we think, "if only I had this much money, I'd be happy." Learn how to get out of the cycle.


Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.

Thanks to Bryan and Rachel for filling in for Zach today. Zach and some of the guys from our church lead worship for hundreds and hundreds of kids at Camp Shamineau every Fall and Winter, and this is one of the weeks they are gone

We are finishing our series on Idolatry called “The Replacements” this week

We’ve been talking about things we let “replace” God, and are thus idols.

We defined idolatry: “The worship of something that isn’t God” OR “Letting something else take the place of your love and devotion for God”

And today we’re going to talk about “Money.”

And this isn’t necessarily a “Be generous with your money, give to orphans and churches message…”

This is “How in the world have we replaced God with paper” message

This is…”We’ve taken out God, and started to worship our bank accounts instead.”

We laugh at the silly Israelites for worshipping stone idols, but perhaps they would laugh at us for worshipping green pieces of paper.

And I want to create a Biblical case, we’re going to show you TONS of Scripture from the Bible today…of how money can indeed be a replacement


Money is one of the few idols that the New Testament just straight up calls an idol

(Colossians 3:5) – NIV

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

And Ephesians 5 says the same thing.

Greed, and greed for more stuff,more money specifically is idolatry.

Well, how is that? How does it take the place of God?

Well, for one, we just let money, INSTEAD OF GOD, meet our needs.

I’m really struggling right now, you know what would make it better? You know what would make me happier?

GOD right?? No money!!!

Well, that’s how a lot of us act anyway. Notice I didn’t say, that’s what a lot of us say… It’s how we act though.

We spend so much time working, working, working so we can get a promotion, so we can get more money…

Why? Why are you doing it?

It’s because there’s a core belief somewhere in us that says: MONEY will meet our needs. Make us happy!

And money is a fascinating idol, because it’s a gateway idol. Like a gateway drug.

It can buy you more idols.

Money can buy you the idol of pleasure, or buy you the idol of materialism, and so on.

It’s why Paul pens these words to Timothy

(1 Timothy 6:10) – NIV

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Even Jesus himself unmistakably describes money as a replacement for God

(Matthew 6:24) – NIV

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

And people live this way. Jesus meets a rich young ruler once and the ruler asks, “What must I do to inherit the Kingdom of God?” Jesus answers, get rid of all your possessions (which were his idol) and follow me!

And the Bible says the man went away sad because He had great wealth

Money is a serious idol and the Bible makes it clear over and over


And its biggest danger is the “if only” cycle.

What if you and I decided to go out and survey 100 people by asking them, “Are you completely satisfied with the amount of money you have now?”

How many people do you think would say yes?

Hardly anyone.

Because we’re all caught in the “if only” cycle. “If only I had THIS much, then I would be happy.

Maybe it’s “I have 15,000, but if I had 25,000…or I have 35k, but if I had 40k, or I have 75k……..

Problem is. A) we never get to some state of money happiness. B) It’s a vicious cycle.

See, the college student says, “Just wait till I get my first real job.” “IF ONLY, I had that, THEN…I’ll be happy

But then they get it…and guess what? Not happy.

The 20some says, just wait to I get married, and combine “wealth” with my spouse and we get an apartment together! IF ONLY we had that…

And even though that apartment was so amazing that first week, it eventually becomes “junky.”

But if they had more!??!?!

The 30some says, just wait till I get a raise!! And a new job! And a HOUSE! IF ONLY we had that

And then they get it, and their boss is annoying, the house is too much work, and their kids are sucking all their money away!

The 50some says, ahh..just wait until these annoying kids are finally out of here, AND out of college, and my mortgage is finally paid off….IF ONLY I can get to that point, THEN I’ll have enough money to be happy!

Doesn’t work

And finally, the 70some then says, “Oh great, I’ve finally got the money I want, but all it’s done is landed me in is a nice nursing home with a 10 x 8 room where no one visits me.”

The cycle never works!

But the world is just trapped in it like a hamster on a spinning wheel!

I want to look again to the book of Ecclesiastes today, which was written at the end of the great King Solomon’s life.

We are going to be on PAGE 542

One of the phrases we’ve been using over and over in this series is, “Perspective is the great idolatry killer.”

And that’s what Solomon gives us. Look at how he looks at his masses of wealth at the end of his life

(Ecclesiastes 5:10) – NIV

10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.

The famous millionaire John W. Rockefeller was once asked by a reporter, “How much is enough?’

To which he replied, “Just a little bit more”

At the end of his life, he was reported to say, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness”

Look again at the words of Solomon regarding money

(Ecclesiastes 6:7) – NIV

7 Everyone’s toil is for their mouth,
yet their appetite is never satisfied.

And it’s not satisfied. They did a study of members of the Forbes 400 richest list, the world’s wealthiest individuals, and their satisfaction level was no different that the person with the average American income.

No different. No more happier.

And you might have mentally just assented to that, but what if we made it less philosophical and more real?

What if I just straight up asked you, how many of you think you would be happier if I gave you 20 million dollars?

Don’t you think you could be somewhat happier? Think of what you can do with 20 million??

Pay your kids college, pay of your house (heck get rid of that one and buy a different one), help out your family!

Think of seriously how much happier you could be?!?

But that’s the “if only” trap. That is EXACTLY how we make money a “Replacement for God”

We can’t stop from doing that in our minds…

“yeah, Yeah, Yeah, we see all the stats on how it doesn’t make people happier…BUT, BUT…if it were me, I’d handle it differently. I’D be happy!

(Hebrews 13:5) – NIV

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Don’t let money be a replacement for what can make you happy…

I read a story once of a 5th cent man who lived in Egypt and decided to leave the conforms of Egyptian society and live a holy and simple life in solitude with God.

He would always visit the shops for hours whenever he would come to visit the great city of Alexandria, which always puzzled onlookers who knew of his life.

One day, somebody finally got the guts to ask him why he did that, to which he replied, “My heart just rejoices so much at the sight of all the things I don’t need”

But we forget that. We forget what life’s about. We get distracted by our replacement idol…


Let’s, if we can, because perspective is the great idolatry killer, take a journey to the end of your life.

You’re gonna die. It’s one of the only things all humans have in common. We all die. You simply can not escape it.

And we’ve got to start asking ourselves more; we’ve got to step out of the rat race and ask, “What’s it all for? What am I living for? What am I even trying to accumulate all this stuff for?”

Look…AGAIN…to the words of Solomon

(Ecclesiastes 5:15) – NIV

15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.

Tolstoy once told a story about a successful farmer who was never satisfied with the amount of property he owned. He wanted more of everything. One day he received an offer. For 1000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown.

Early the next morning, he started walking at a fast pace. By midday, he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more ground. Well into the afternoon, he realized that his greed had taken him too far from his starting point, so he started to run.

As the sun began to sink below the horizon, he came within sight of the starting point. He garnered every bit of strength he had left and crossed the line just as the sun disappeared.

Unfortunately, the man had given so much to run back that he collapsed on the finish line and died.

Afterwards, his servants dug his grave and remarked over the irony that all he won was a plot of land 6 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 6 feet deep.

You can chase after the replacement, the idol of money all you want, and you can even get it. You can get lots of it… But you’re still gonna die.

And then what?

(1 Timothy 6:6-8) – NIV

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Or as one of my all-time favorite sayings goes, “You can’t take a U-Haul behind the hearse”

So, instead, we take the advice of Jesus

(Matthew 6:19-21) – NIV

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus spends a lot of time in the Gospels trying to pull people out of their emotional self-centered world of idolatry, and wake them up to reality of eternity. ETERNITY IS REAL.

(Luke 12:16-21) - NIV

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

And this is where money become so futile…what does it matter in the end? Will it matter if you’re a millionaire?

This is why Jesus says in Matthew 16, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?”

Seriously. You could be the richest person on the planet, and all you would have in your hands on judgment day would be…..what??

I’m not normally the type of guy who likes poetry…at all…but I ran across this this poem week, and I think it’s helpful to our discussion

Riches can buy you:

A bed but not sleep;
books but not brains;
food but not appetite; 
finery but not beauty; 
a house but not a home; 
medicine but not health; 
luxuries but not culture; 
amusements but not happiness; 
religion but not salvation; 
a passport to everywhere but heaven.

Listen, the richest man on earth looks like a homeless man when he shows up on God’s doorstep.

Think about that. God’s going to look down at anything we’ve ever amassed and respond like he did to Job, “Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth? Can you put the stars in the sky??”

“So you built a skyscraper, I built the sky. “


And I could continue to tell you stories of people like Solomon, or Rockefeller, or what about Howard Hughes (who had money, Hollywood success, bought himself pleasure, built the fastest aircraft, had power over presidents and more) but yet at the end of his life was a miserable depressive wreck.

And I could tell you story after story after story…BUT you can still say, “Yeah, but those are the extremes…I can’t relate to the philosophical”

Okay, fine. Maybe you can’t. Let’s talk about your own life then.

What’s money’s track record in your life? Has it brought you happiness before? For extended periods of time? I’m not just talking you bought a new car and were happy that day.

Has money consistently brought you happiness? And a sustained happiness?

Probably not.

Then why do we think about it so much?

Why do we keep thinking the next amount will “make us happy”

Why do we think it’ll make us feel more secure? Why do we think it’ll give us respect? Or, it’ll make people like us more?

Like any idol, we have to trust God enough to let go of the idol in the first place

Gotta trust that when we let go of the idol, He’ll grab us (falling ex.)

I didn’t previously know this, but apparently one of the hardest animals to catch is the Ringtailed Monkey. For the Zulu people, however, it’s simple. Check out how they catch it:

Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it, but he can’t do it. His fist is now larger than the hole.

The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

Not all that different from how we treat any of our idols. We usually have some idea that, “This is not good. This is not gonna work out. I should be letting go soon”

But we don’t.

And my challenge to you…with any idol…is to let go.

But not just to let go, but to replace your idol back with the true owner of your heart, God

Andrew Carnegie who was once one of the richest men alive. When he was 33, he said he would retire at 35 and give most of his money away.

He did continue to give most of his money away, but he didn’t retire until he was 61. He couldn’t stop making money.

And see, and idol can not simply be removed, it can only be replaced.

The Replacement must be Replaced by the thing you originally took out…God.

So, how do you do that with money???

Well, for one, call a spade a spade. Call it an idol in your life. Which it frankly is for most of us. No matter how much you have.

Two, press the stop button on the “if only” cycle. “If only I had that much…”

Stop. Realize it’s futile. And stop the pursuit.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “There are two ways to get ‘enough.’ One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

And thirdly, take what you have…and use it differently.

If money is a stranglehold on you, start giving it away.

Feel like that’s crazy and you couldn’t give it away…well, probably has a stranglehold on you

Think about this…we do this w/ tons of other things as Christians

We tell Christians all the time… , “Hey, if you’re struggling with drugs or alcoholism, get rid of the drugs…

Struggling with lust, get rid of all your crappy movies at your house and get a filter on your computer…

It’s the same principle, if it’s causing you to stumble, do as Jesus said, “Gauge your eye out!”

Want a different perspective on money? Give it away.

The Bible talks about this often. And that’s the biggest understatement I’ve made today.

Did you know there are 2,350 verses in the Bible for instructions on how to handle money?


But you still might be like, “David, I don’t want it to be a stranglehold, but I don’t want to start giving either….”

Well… give it a try. And let it change your perspective on money.

See, money is not in and of itself bad or evil. No one’s saying you should be poor even.

The Bible is just saying that it is incredibly difficult to be rich…because the more we get of it…the more we trick ourselves into thinking we need it.

So take what can be good and bless others…and watch how that begins to bend your perspective on what can make you happy.

Jesus, not Santa, said it’s more blessed to give than to receive.

And it’s true.

And I hesitate to say, “And you can give it to church,” because that’s not what I want this message to be about.

But I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that either. The church is the greatest place to give to exponential life change.

Especially at a place like Renovation where we are reaching more and more people for Christ every month.

We are being a people being changed by God to change the world.

It’s the foundational place to start in giving.

But, the principle is…if it’s idolatry, and you know it’s idolatry in your life, then start treating it differently. Start not only giving it away, but replacing it with God.

And I would challenge you to find a tangible way to do that this week.

Maybe it’s giving here. Maybe you even need quicker proof.

How many of us know someone that’s out of work? Or could use some groceries? Or help on a payment?

I dare you to anonymously give someone $100 this week.

Think of it as idolatry rehab step 1.

No seriously, I dare you. Then see if you really need money to make you happy.

Then see what is it about money that truly makes you happy.. Keeping it or giving it?

And as you start taking money off of the throne of your life, be sure to replace it back with God.

Spend as much time thinking about Him as you do about how much money you are going to make someday.

Learn from the this wisdom of His Word, the Bible, rather than just the wisdom of this world and its advice on money

And give Him your heart.

& when you do…and it will be gradual probably…it’ll take time…

But trust this…if you do…if you can be DIFFERENT…and take money off of the throne…and put Him back on it…

Then someday…you will come to the end of your life…and my hope is, you can look back and knowing that you’ve blessed so many people w/ what He gave you…

And maybe at the end…you won’t even have that much left.

But it won’t matter…because your life is almost over. Would it matter if you had $100 or $100,000 left?

No. It wouldn’t. But you can look back satisfied.

Satisfied that you made a difference and that ultimately Jesus is on your throne.

And that any minute you will meet Him face to face and see Him on His throne.

And that…is all that ever truly mattered anyway.

Let THAT…be your life.

Let’s pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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