Financial Mistakes Become Spiritual Mistakes (Luke 14:25-33)
In this Money Matters series, we are exploring 4 principles the Bible teaches about money. For a better financial future work heartily, spend wisely, save consistently, and give generously.
This week we are going to explore that second principle, spend wisely.
Money management is an area of life where you cannot afford to fail. Money mistakes are costly mistakes.
These are the top 3 money mistakes we make according to Investopedia.
- Frivolous spending. Little things become big things. It all adds up. You wonder where your money went, but everyday you spend $5.00 on a frappacino at Starbucks. Lunch was $10.00. You stopped on the way home from work to get a snack at the gas station that cost you $5.00. It’s a little here and a little there, but you do that 5 days a week and you’ve burned $100 of your paycheck. Over the span of a month, $400. Could you use an extra $400 a month? Sure you could.
- Never ending payments. Subscriptions have become a common way of frivolous spending. Money Watch found that people estimated that they spent $84 a month on subscriptions, apps, and streaming services. They then showed the people a list of popular subscription services and asked them to check off which services they used. After they checked the boxes the participants realized that they were actuality spending over $200 a month on subscription services.
- Living on borrowed money. A lot of times there is more month than there is money. So we pull out the plastic and charge it. It’s an easy way to pay the bills you need to pay, but it’s a dangerous way to live. Credit cards make life more expensive. You pay more for anything that you put on a charge card. It’s food + interest. It’s vacation + interest. It’s the water bill + interest. Eventually it mounts up and that payment swallows you up. It’s really hard to dig out of credit card debt.
Here’s the truth about money mistakes. Money mistakes are not about AMOUNT BUT MENTALITY. It’s not a problem with how much money you have, but how you handle it.
If money is not an amount, but a mentality then you will make the same mistakes with a lot of money that you make with a little money.
And if money mistakes are mental/management mistakes, then you probably don’t just make those mistakes with money, but also with time, with managing your resources, managing responsibilities, and managing family/life stuff.
Jesus adds one more area of life where you make the same mistakes. If you mismanage material things, you will probably mismanage spiritual things.
If you were to type into a Google search, “What does the Bible say about budgeting?” it is going to give you a long list of articles, almost all of them bringing up this passage we are looking at today as it relates to budgeting.
But here is what’s interesting about the passage. It gives two examples of budgeting/management, but the passage is not primarily about budgeting or money.
The passage is primarily about discipleship. What Jesus is doing is using the examples of the way two situations are managed to explain two responses to His call to discipleship.
Let me explain this idea of discipleship so that we are all on the same page. The best way to understand the term is to understand what words Jesus DIDN’T use.
- Jesus didn’t use the term “believer.” We use the term believer to describe Christians because we understand that belief/faith is necessary for salvation. But ultimately the Bible is negative on believers. James tells us that even demons believe in Jesus. We aren’t called to just be believers, but followers of Jesus and doers of the Word of God.
- Jesus didn’t use the term “student, pupil, or learner.” The point of Christianity is not to get information about Christ. The point of Christianity is not to know a lot about the Bible. Jesus once talked to a wealthy young man who indicated that he had a lot of moral understanding of the Bible, but he went away sorrowful because He refused to do what Jesus asked him to do. He had a lot of information, but he did not follow.
Jesus used the term disciple. A disciple is not just gathering information, but making changes. A disciple is learning, but also following. A disciple is not a pupil who learns from a master, a disciple is a student who attaches themselves to a master because they want to be like the master.
Belief is something you do to start your Christian life. Discipleship is what you are supposed to do for the rest of your Christian life. Allow me to demonstrate the difference.
This year we have themed Every 1 Matters. The concept comes from two places in the Bible. It comes from Luke 15 where Jesus gives 3 stories about lost things. The one lost sheep mattered. The one lost coin mattered. The lost son mattered. We ought to be intentional and urgent about rescuing the lost by sharing the gospel.
And we have put together a process for Every 1 Matters based on Matthew 28:18-20.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Baptism is a part of the measured, intentional way we are seeking to fulfill this command. But look at the passage. Baptism is a part of the process, not the end. The command is to make disciples. Baptism is not the finish line, it’s the starting line. We are not making 100 baptisms our end goal. As a matter of fact, in our Every 1 Matters process, Baptism is not the last step. Assimilation is the last step. We understand that we haven’t helped 100 people cross the finish line, we’ve helped 100 people get into the race. We have to make disciples.
Here’s the reality. We may baptize 100 people, but they all aren’t going to make it. Why?
It won’t be because they didn’t desire change. It won’t be because they didn’t really want to be forgiven or go to Heaven or know Christ.
The reason why they aren’t all going to make it is because they will make the same mistakes in their discipleship that they make in every other area of life. They make the decision, but they don’t manage it well.
Jesus makes 2 radical statements about disciples in Luke 14:25-33.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Now, there will be three responses to Jesus’ radical statements about disciples.
Response 1. Not for me.
I love my family too much. I like my life. Crosses are not an option for me. I’m out. They reject the offer. Unfortunate, but honest.
The next two responses Jesus demonstrates by using some life-management examples. He makes a radical statement about discipleship and then he starts talking budgeting, building towers, and winning wars. How does it relate? He’s sending a message. The way people handle their tangible areas of life will translate into the way they handle their spiritual area of life. People will make the same mistake with money management that they make with discipleship.
Response 2 - I would call the “if you fail to plan you plan to fail approach.”
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
There is a lot of enthusiasm about building a tower. It’s a bold decision.
And for a few weeks you see a lot of tower building going on. They are really dedicated to tower building.
But 18 months later the neighbors drive by and all they see is half of a tower. It becomes an eye sore. They become critical. “I knew it. It’s like everything else, a lot of starts no finishes. Now, not only does he not cut his grass, but now we have weeds growing up on a half built tower.”
The guy ran out of money. Why? Jesus explains it very simple. He didn’t count the cost before he started the project. He didn’t take the time to calculate the cost of a finished tower and he didn’t count how much money he had to see if he had enough to finish the job.
Jesus is telling the crowd that they can’t all be His disciples for the same reason that they have half built towers in their back yard. They can’t be his disciples for the same reasons that they have overdue credit card bills. A lack of proper accounting.
The most simple reason most people have money problems is because they have no idea how much they have coming in and they have no idea where all the money goes. They don’t track income and expenses. They don’t count costs.
If you are the kind of person who will ask for everyone to pray for you because money is tight and you are always complaining about your finances. But in June we will see 250 pictures of your 7 day Disney vacation that you financed on a credit card for $6,000, I bet you that you won’t make it in your Christian discipleship. That sounds harsh, but here is why that is true.
- If you want all of us to pray to God about your finances but you’re not willing to do what the Bible says about your finances then you probably ask for forgiveness in a lot of areas of your life where you have no intentions of doing what the Bible says. You won’t make it the rest of your life like that. It’s too hard.
- If you aren’t willing to say ‘No’ to some things in your life financially, then you probably won’t say no to anything in your life spiritually? You won’t make it the rest of your life like that. It’s too hard.
- If you won’t plan ahead for a vacation, charge it now and deal with it later, then you probably have no disciplined approach to memorize Bible verses, read lots of Scripture, or any systematic approach to use Scripture, prayer, and godly counsel to help you deal with sin in your life.
You have half built towers all over the place. It won’t work in your finances and it won’t work in your discipleship either. It’s the same problem all over the place. Remember. It’s not about amount, but mentality.
If you won’t do what the Bible says about money, why do you think you will do what Jesus says about every other area of life for the rest of your life?
Response 3 - I’m not there. I need to be there. What do I need to do to get there?
This third response Jesus describes by using the example of a King who is facing failure. He has half the army as his enemy. He puts it on paper and realizes he will lose this battle hands down.
Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. Luke 14:31-32
Jesus says that this king, “sits down and deliberates.” He is avoiding an emotional, empty, haphazard decision.
So he surrenders. Don’t miss his strategy. He loses the battle, but he is not destroyed. He loses the battle, but he is saved.
He sends a delegation “a long way off.” He is planning ahead. And he wants to know the terms of peace. In other words, we are going to lose, but what will life be like now? How will we live in this loss? Now that we are going to serve you, what does that look like?
That is simple stewardship. You know how much you have. You know how much you need. You realize that you will fall short. So you make a plan.
That’s a budget. A budget is simply putting all of your expenses on paper and making decisions about how you will distribute your income. I can’t spend more than I have. So if we are going to go to Disney this year, we are going to cut back here and here and here. We are going to adjust and save up some money. And you know what. We may not make it this year, but we will next year.
Budgeting is a plan of how you will get there in the long run.
Here are two financial goals to get you started.
$1,000 of savings. 70% of Americans do not have $1,000 of cash they could get their hands on in an emergency. The first $1,000 is the toughest to save. Make a plan and work on it.
Once you have $1,000 saved the next goal is to grow your emergency fund. Your emergency fund should be at a minimum 3 months of expenses. Ideally, 6 months of expenses. Some quantify this goal as a $10,000 emergency fund.
You may be in a place financially where you consider those to be “far off” goals. Maybe so. But a good approach would be to look at it like the king. See it a “great way off” and figure out how you can get there. Sit down. Deliberate. Make a plan.
Budgeting is a long term commitment strategy. Budgeting says, “I’m not there, but I need to get there. How do I get there?” It is a financial way that you learn self-control and practice discipline. It is a way that you learn to say no, evaluate progress, and make adjustments along the way.
That’s a better financial approach. That’s a better spiritual approach. Sit down and deliberate about how to get to the goal.
So you don’t read the Bible much because you don’t understand it. Are you going to give up or are you going to get there?
You may not be accustomed to attending worship services regularly on Sundays. It’s not easy to get up and get going. Are you going to give up or are you going to get there.
Discipleship begins with a decision, but it is a long-term well-managed journey of learning to be Christ like. As you follow Christ, you will begin to see that there are a lot of things in your life that are “a long way off.” But instead of giving up, deliberate on how to get there.
I’ve been a pastor long enough to observe the truth of this passage. The way people manage their tangible, material everyday lives will be the same way they manage their spiritual lives.
We tend to separate the two, but understand the Bible never does. In fact, the Bible teaches this principle Jesus is pointing to, in money. Money can become a tangible barometer of spiritual things. You can affirm that you trust God and believe He provides - but you can look at your budget and see if you truly live that out.
Jesus says that money is a matter of competing masters. You are either serving God or material things.
Here’s the key. In money, management, morality, and ultimately discipleship we do not need haphazard, grandiose professions and decisions. We need less people wanting to build towers and more people deliberating ways of surrender.
Jesus uses this example to drive home the point to all of those he is calling to be disciples. Yes, it’s a radical call. But you lose either way. Will you lose to the destruction of your life or will you lose to the salvation of your life? Do you want to be destroyed by the conquering King who has superior power or do you want terms of peace?