Dave Ramsey – Liberty University Convocation

Dave Ramsey – Liberty University Convocation

September 11, 2019 2 By Kody Olson


Let’s pray. God we stand before you with hearts
of gratitude. Lord, I’m thankful for this university. Thank you for the legacy of the
Falwell family and I’m thankful for the students here this morning. God, I’m thankful for the
opportunity to be here and deliver your word. God, you know I can do these talks by myself,
but they sure are better when you do them. So we turn this time over to you. In Jesus’
name, amen. Money is not the root of all evil. Money is
not the root of all evil. We can do this all day if you want. The Bible just does not say
that. It doesn’t say that. The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil.
And any time we worship anything other than God, He’s a jealous God, and He doesn’t like
that. In the culture today, there are voices out there that are very, very loud and very
pronounced and are supposedly steeped in intelligence that are giving us the message that money
is the root of all evil. And by the way, if you believe that money is the root of all
evil, not the love of money, if you believe that money is evil, it naturally follows a
logical progression that people who have money must be evil. And so we get to vilify people
who have become successful. This is a dangerous socioeconomic psychographic trend. It’s very
dangerous because any time you vilify success, then no one wants to become successful. Because
if you’re successful, you’re evil and you’re evil because money is evil and you got some.
You follow the progression; it’s not real tough. But this drum beat is out there and you and
I have a problem, and this culture has a problem because there’s an inconsistency that goes
with this. Let me help you with this. If your household income, and by the way the average
American household income is $50,000 a year. That’s the average American household income
right now according to the census bureau, actually just a little bit over that. But
if your household income makes considerably less than the average and your average household
income is $34,000 a year, you are in the top 1% of income earners in the world. If you
make $11,000 a year, which puts you substantially below the federal poverty line, you are in
the top 14% of income earners in the world. Translation: most of the families in this
arena today are rich. And if money is evil, and rich people are evil, I’m looking at a
bunch of evil people. This is a problem, you guys. This is a serious problem. Now, I know you don’t feel rich and I know
probably your family doesn’t feel rich because you get to compare yourself to people who
are richer. But you’re in the top 1% of the world. So when people start vilifying the
building of wealth, especially when it’s done by a believer who’s doing it as a stewardship
issue, managing the wealth for the good of the Lord, and doing little things like building
universities, managing money for the positive use of the kingdom, it creates this hypocrisy
in the marketplace, because the very people who are saying in the marketplace, doing their
drum beat about “wealth is evil,” are by definition, wealthy people. And the problem is, in other words, that North
America today, we are the most successful group of people of this size, the United States
of America, in the history of human kind. Financially, the United States of America
is the largest group of financially successful people in the history of humankind. Now I
understand God’s blessings and I believe in those. But you need to understand that there
was a cause and effect, a sowing and a reaping thing that caused that to happen. The reason you and I are so wealthy as compared
to the rest of the world is the Judeo-Christian ethic that is underlying our entire economy
and our belief system. Even if you’re not a believer, even if you’re not a Christian,
a person of faith, it doesn’t matter. You still are operating in a culture that function
with the value system of a Judeo-Christian ethic. Let me give you an example. We believe in
this country that you should tell the truth. And if a company doesn’t tell the truth, if
you go to get your car fixed, and they lie to you, that is considered a breach of ethics,
and people do not do business with that mechanic again and he goes out of business. If they
lie to you at the doctor’s office, you don’t go back to that doctor’s office. We don’t
believe in lying. Integrity, however, is not viewed that way universally, around the world. Some cultures, it’s actually, the ethic is
if you can mess someone over, you’ve done something good. Now that’s a foreign concept
to us, because the Judeo-Christian ethic is so rooted in who we are as a people. The second thing is that we believe in service.
And guess what? How service works in the marketplace. See, we believe in worship service on Sunday,
but on Monday we believe in customer service. We believe servant leaderships are the best
leaders. Whether you’re a person of faith or not, you believe those things. You believe
in good customer service. You believe that’s how things ought to be done. They have bad
customer service over there. We believe in good service. As a matter of fact, my wife
and I went out on our date night a while back. She joined me, I was speaking in Phoenix 2
weeks ago and she joined me down in Phoenix and we had a date night at a sweet restaurant.
I’ll just tell you, the more books I sell, the better my date nights are. It’s incredible,
man. We go to one of these restaurants, you know what I’m talking about? White tablecloth,
you recline at the table, because you’re going to be there a while. And they’re bringing
food, my mouth’s watering just talking about it, you guys. They’re bringing the food, and
we ate, went into a coma, we ate, amazing! But you know what happens in one of those
environments, if you’ve ever been able to do that, is the person who brings the food
to the table, your server, we believe in service. By the end of that meal, they’re not just
someone who slops some food on the table, by the end of that meal, they’re a family
member, you all know what I’m talking about. What is customary and proper to do if you
were served well, at the end of the meal, you say “thank you.” And there’s a universal
language for saying thank you to servers; it’s called money. And you leave a tip. And
at a meal like that, you leave a big honking tip. Because this is now your friend, you’ve
got a connection. In our culture, we believe in rewarding service. Customers that are served
well don’t mind paying an organization for service. My friend Rabbi Lapin who’s an Orthodox Jewish
Rabbi, wrote a wonderful book called “Thou Shall Prosper.” He says that in the marketplace
when you serve well, your customers give you certificates of appreciation with President’s
faces on them. We customarily say, “Thank you,” and we issue a certificate of appreciation
when someone fixes my water heater at my house, when fixes my car, or changes the tire on
it. We give certificates of appreciation for service in this culture. My friend Ken Blanchard says, “Profit is the
applause your customers give you.” This is why our society has prospered. These are just
two of the ethics, service and integrity, that have caused that to happen. But we have a problem. There are really three
proper views of wealth and possession, or 3 possible views of wealth and possessions.
I’ll go ahead and tell you ahead of time, 2 of them are wrong, one of them is right,
and I have done all 3, which means I’ve done it wrong some – more times than I’d like to
admit in here today. To help with that though, I want to actually read a couple of Bible
stories. So let’s get your Bibles out. That means if you have your iPhone or your iPad,
or if you don’t have them, that’s fine, I’ll read them to you, they’re quick. These two stories very likely occurred in
the same place and certainly with some of the same characters but at different times.
Let’s start with Luke 10:38, then I’ll go to John 12:1 in a minute. Luke 10:38, “Now
it happened as they went that he entered a certain village and a certain woman named
Martha,” mark that, “welcomed Him into her house. And she has a sister called Mary who
had also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word. But Martha was distracted with much
serving, and she approached him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister’s left
me alone to serve? Therefore, tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered her and said,
‘Martha, Martha, you’re worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed
and Mary has chosen the good part which will not be taken away from her.'” John 12:1, very likely in the same house but
definitely at a different time. And you need to note the time, because it’s an important
part. “Then 6 days before the Passover,” shortly before the crucifixion, in other words, “Jesus
came to Bethany where Lazarus was who has been dead, whom he had raised from the dead.
There they made him a supper and Martha,” there she is again, “served. But Lazarus was
one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary,” there she is again, “took a pound
of very costly oil and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. And
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. And one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot,
Simon’s son, who would betray Him said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 denarii
and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he
was a thief, and he had the money box and he used to take what was put into it. And
Jesus said, ‘Let her alone, she has kept this for the day of my burial.'” Well, there’s 3 characters in those 2 stories
we need to use to represent these 3 spirits. There’s Martha, there’s Judas, and there’s
Mary. My friend Robert Morris wrote a book called “The Blessed Life” wonderful book on
generosity and in it he talks about these three spirits for one paragraph. He should
have written the whole book, and then I wouldn’t have had to do this talk. The first spirit is a spirit of pride. Pride
says money comes from me. Now this is the one I fell into the first time, and I can
fall back into it too because I believe in hard work. Money comes from me. I believe
work is where money comes from. I believe that’s all in the Bible. And I think people
ought to work. I created money. Money came from me. My success came from me. Now, these
are performance-oriented individuals, who check a box spiritually in their performance
things, I’ve been there and done that. Basically, Martha is this person. I mean, think about
Martha here. She’s doing all the right things. She’s cooking, and she’s cleaning, and she’s
doing all these things, but Jesus, the Son of God, is sitting in her house, and the woman
is running a vacuum. She had the opportunity to spend time at Jesus’ feet, instead, she’s
doing the dishes. I’ve done that. But we do that when we think that money, or wealth,
or possessions or the love of God comes from my performance. People that fall into this
spirit of pride, like I have, we like Bible verses that say things like, “Those that won’t
work, don’t let them eat.” We like Bible verses that say things like, “The diligent prosper,”
or, “When you’re faithful with a little, more is given to you to manage.” “You will reap
what your sow.” I love those kinds of verses. Ramsey family’s hard working people. There
wasn’t a whole lot I learned growing up from my dad and mom, but one of the things I learned
for sure was work. I asked my dad one time for some money to go down to the local market
and get an icee, he handed me a lawnmower. Work. The Ramsey coat of arms, we’re Scottish.
The Ramsey coat of arms has two Latin words above it, pray and work, we don’t know how
to do anything else. Work! I believe in hard work, and I believe in those scriptures. But
I don’t believe that the farmer who’s a mature believer, plants seed and when it rains, and
the crop comes up, says, “Didn’t I do good with that rain thing? I’m pretty good at this
rain thing. That crop was but all the result of my work.” That’s a dangerous place to be.
Sometimes, those of us that fall into that category, we might be politically conservative.
Sometimes we might vote Republican. It could happen. Oh, I’ll get to the others, don’t
wait. The second spirit is the spirit of poverty.
Spirit of poverty says, “Wealth is evil. Possessions are evil.” By the way, this is a form of gnosticism
which is a type of heresy. God does not say wealth is evil anywhere in the scriptures.
Nor does He say wealthy people are evil anywhere in the scriptures. Nor does he say wealthy
people can’t get to heaven anywhere in the scriptures, once you understand what the scripture
really says. Now, I love Twitter because atheists quote me scripture on twitter. I think that’s
fun. It’s hard to teach doctrine, though, in 140 characters, I’ll tell you. So I’ve
kind of given up on Twitter fights, they don’t really get you anywhere, I just block the
trolls and move on, but. I mean, there’s no point in arguing with you if you’re wrong.
But it’s interesting to me that I’ll get tweets, or I’ll get hate mail that says, “You’re telling
people how to get money.” And Christians send me hate mail, too. Christian hate mail should
be an oxymoron, I’m here to testify that it’s not. “What about that rich young ruler thing,
Dave? Where Jesus said, ‘It’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than
it is for rich men to get into heaven?'” Well what about, you continue reading three more
verses so you understand the scripture and get it in context where Jesus finally looks
at them and says, “No one goes to heaven except through the Son.” Rich people included. Here’s
what that person who sends me that tweet is actually saying, that Jesus’ blood and sacrifice
on Calvary will get a prostitute into heaven, a murderer into heaven if they accept Christ.
We’ll get an adulterer into heaven if they accept Christ. He can do all of that, but
if you’re successful and become wealthy, you’re not going. This is your doctrine? These are
the thought leaders, supposedly, in our culture today? You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s absolutely
absurd! Spirit of poverty says things like, the little
man can’t get ahead, the deck is stacked against us. I’ve got a relative who’s bitter and beat
up and he just says, “The corporations, the corporations, the corporations!” I don’t even
know what he means by that, but, apparently they’re taking over, the corporations. It’s
this vague boogeyman, that this 60-year-old bitter man has in his head, who loves conspiracy
theories of all kinds. The little man can’t get ahead. It’s the Rockefellers. What? Seriously?
You live in Tennessee, the Rockefellers aren’t even there. It’s unbelievable. It’s all fixed.
The little man can’t get ahead. You don’t know how it is out there. Yeah, I do. I started
out with nothing, became a millionaire by the time I was 26. I was so stupid, I borrowed
money and I lost it all. I had to start over. I’m so dumb, I had to become a millionaire
from nothing twice. The little man can get ahead. This is the
only place in the world, by the way, that the little man can get ahead. 88% of America’s
millionaires are first-generation rich. They started with nothing; 9 out of 10 of them
became wealthy. It’s mythology that it was a silver spoon. It’s people who got up, left
the cave, killed something, and dragged it home. But a spirit of poverty says, “Wealth
is evil. Wealth is of the devil.” Sometimes, these people are socially liberal, politically
liberal. Sometimes they vote Democrat. Now, there’s socially liberal Democrats, and socially
conservative Republicans who are believers who don’t fall into those categories. I will
give you that benefit of the doubt in either case, wherever you fall. But those two spirits, I have done both of
them. I have said it. You know, this spirit of poverty has two cousins named “jealousy”
and “envy.” Jealousy is I want what you have. Envy is I don’t think I can have what you
have, so I don’t even want you to have it. My Catholic brothers and sisters call that
one of the seven deadly sins: spirit of envy. And that’s loose in the land. But it only
works and it’s only noble if you believe money to be the root of all evil. And it creates
things like a friend of mine, who’s worth $2.2 billion. I got to sit in this room, you
guys, with this group of Christian men who are all very wealthy. The minimum net worth
in the place was a half a billion, 500 million. And I got to sit in there – I was like a weiner
in a steakhouse, y’all – and listen to the billion dollars plus that these ten men and
their families gave to kingdom work that year. We got up to leave the room, and the wealthiest
guy in he room, who had called the meeting, it was a Christian philanthropist meeting,
we’re going to his house for dinner, and he said, “Hey Dave, would you ride with me?”
And I said, “Oh, you betcha. I just want to kind of rub up against you, what are you talking
about? Yes, I’ll ride with you. Whatever. Take notes the whole time.” And he said, “I’ve got to apologize for my
car.” And I said, “Why, dude? You driving a hoopdee? If you’re driving a beater, I’ve
got a pretty good rental car, we can take it. Why would you be apologizing for your
car?” He said, “I just bought the nicest car I’ve ever bought in my life.” He’s 68 years
old. I said, “Really? Why would you be ashamed of that?” He said, “Well, it’s a nice car.”
And I said, “Well, you’ve got a lot of money. It’s ok.” And so we go out there, and I looked
at it, and it’s a nice car. I know, because I went home and looked at them when I got
back, it was a nice car. Sweet. $130,000 Mercedes. Now let me help you with this guys. This is
an interesting guy. He has $2.2 billion. Last year he gave away $370 million, all to Christian
ministries and Christian work around the world. 98% of that you will never know happened.
Why? He doesn’t care what you think. He doesn’t worship you. He’s not taking a poll on what
the right thing to do is. So he buys a $130,000 car. Guess what? He gets hate mail from Christians,
saying, “Well you should’ve drilled another well in Africa. Somewhere there’s a starving
child. And you only gave away $370 million, but that car, now I question your spirituality.”
So translation is, Christians, some of them in America, think that there’s a certain level
of car you can drive and lose your salvation. So we’ve done detailed research, and I’ll
help you with that. It’s a ’93 Camry. Anything nicer than a ’93 Camry, you’re going to hell.
Seriously, people! Is this the kind of filth that’s running through our culture today?
This is ridiculous! So we go out there, and I drive home in his
car with him, and it’s really nice. And I got to thinking about it. These people sending
him hate mail have no idea, obviously, what they’re talking about. Let me help you with
the ratios with this. If you have $2.2 billion and you give away $370 million, buying a $130,000
car is like you and me buying a biscuit. And remember, you all come from wealthy, rich
families when compared to the rest of the world. And so you should be ashamed of whatever
level of consumption you have. So ratios are important to avoid, to make sure you’re in
the last category. Oh, by the way, that category, spirit of poverty, is Jesus’ friend Judas
who said, “Oh, well, you shouldn’t have done that with that perfume. You should have sold
that and given it to the poor.” That’s what people always say when they’re trying to be
holy, when they’re judging someone else. “Anybody has a house that nice, shouldn’t have done
that. They should have given that money to the poor.” Christians always say that when
they’re trying to figure out how to judge somebody else. Really what happens is, is
you’re dealing with an area you shouldn’t be dealing with because it’s none-ya. None-ya
business. It’s not your stuff. God didn’t give it to you to manage. If He gave it to
you to manage, then it would be your problem. Otherwise, you need to shut up. You’re judging
something you don’t have any idea about. You don’t have any grasp of. The last one is the proper spirit, and my
prayer is that I’ll be there and you’ll be there and we stay there. And that’s a spirit
of gratitude. This is represented by Mary. And a spirit of gratitude says, “Wealth not
only comes form God, it is God’s.” The Psalmist says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness
thereof.” He owns everything and He asks you to manage it and me to manage it. It’s not
yours; you’re just a manager. A spirit of gratitude says, “Thank you.” Thank you for
giving the money to me to take care of my family and put food on the table and buy a
decent car and take my wife of 31 years on a vacation. Lord, thank you that I can take
care of my own household first, or I’m worse than an unbeliever. Thank you Lord, for providing
for my household. Lord, thank you for providing for my future. Where there is no vision, the
people perish. In the house of the wise, there’s stores of choice food and oil. Wise people
save money so they can retire with dignity. Oh, Lord, thank you that I can leave an inheritance
to my children, because a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.
Remember that David didn’t build the temple, Solomon did with his dad’s money. It was an
inheritance. It was an inheritance. Generational wealth is Biblical. Go figure. The spirit of gratitude says, “Thank you Lord,
you’ve given me these things to manage. I love you. Thank you for the price you paid
on Calvary. How do you want me to manage these things?” The spirit of gratitude says, “I’m
going to do it Your way, with Yours stuff because it’s Yours, and that’s my way of saying
thank you.” The spirit of gratitude busts the oil onto Jesus’ feet. Now let me help
you with this. 300 denarii worth of oil. 300 denarii in that day was approximately a year’s
wages. I already told you what a year’s wages are, it’s $50,000 in America. That was a $50,000
bottle of perfume the woman dumped on his feet. Now I grew up a hillbilly redneck, I
don’t know much about perfume. But I married a lady who does. And she has instructed me
that the cheap stuff is not nearly as strong as the expensive stuff. The cheap stuff is
like gurgle, gurgle, gurgle Old Spice, right? The expensive stuff, one little drop right
there, boom! Yeah! Right? Now that’s the expensive stuff. $50,000 on Jesus’ feet. Not only did
the fragrance fill the room, the windows weren’t there because they didn’t have windows. It
filled the streets. Not only did it fill the streets, Jesus said, “It anointed me for my
burial.” And so, not only did this spirit of gratitude from Mary sitting at the feet
of her savior say, “Thank you, Lord, for what you’ve given me. Everything I have is Yours.
I’m going to manage it for You and Your glory.” Bust it on to His feet. A few days later she
and her sister Martha are again in the Bible and they walk to the tomb with the stone rolled
away and she said, “Where’s my Lord, He is gone.” He was gone, but I’ll tell you what
was in that tomb, the smell of that perfume was there. And Jesus told us it was going
to be. “She’s anointed me for my burial” He said. This is the spirit of gratitude. When your
dad works overtime and he gets you a new bicycle and the family’s barely making it, but he
takes the graveyard shift. And you know your family really can’t afford that bicycle, but
on Christmas morning, the bicycle you knew your family couldn’t afford is still sitting
there in front of the tree, because the price your daddy paid. Do you know what you are?
You’re grateful. And you show your gratitude for the bicycle by the way you take care of
it. That’s not a bicycle that gets left in the rain. That’s a bicycle that when it gets
dirty, you get your daddy’s wax out that he uses on the car, and you clean the bicycle.
That’s a bicycle that’s taken care of. That’s a bicycle that years later, when you find
it in the attic as a grown man, it brings a lump in your throat, because the price your
daddy paid. Your gratitude is real and it’s displayed by the way you handle the thing
you were given. When you start to understand that about money and wealth, you will learn
that the Bible says to get out of debt and stay out of debt. You will learn that the
Bible says to get to a budget because Jesus said, “Don’t build a tower without first counting
the cost, lest you get halfway up and you’re unable to finish. And all who see you begin
to mock you and say, ‘this man began to build and was unable to finish.'” You will understand
that you spread your portions of your investments to 7, yes to 8, for disaster may come upon
the land, it says in Ecclesiastes. You will understand that you are supposed to save money,
because in the house of the wise there’s stores of choice food and oil. But a foolish man
devours all he has. If you spend everything you make, you’re a fool according to the Bible. My reaction, my gratitude, the way I say thank
you is with the passion and the excellence with which I handle what he has given me to
manage. But then the strangest thing happens. Because I’m grateful, and because I’m excellent
and I’m faithful with the little things, He gives me more to manage. Because I don’t own
it. I’ve instructed my kids, they don’t own it. When I die, they get to take over the
management but not the ownership. Who’s the heir to your estate? The current owner, Jesus
Christ, is he heir to my estate. The managers will probably have the last name of Ramsey
or one of my daughters’ married names. That will be fine. But if one of my children is
confused about who owns it, and confused about who the Lord of glory is, we will remove them
from the will. Why? Because it’s not mine and I can’t leave God’s stuff to someone who’s
not going to manage it properly according to Him. This is an act of gratitude. This is the way
I say “Thank you, God.” This is my best shot at being Mary. Because Lord knows I’ve been
Judas. I’ve been that guy who judged someone else and said no one should have a car that
nice. I’ve been that guy who said, “Oh, if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” I’ve been that
prideful guy. I’ve operated with a spirit of poverty. I’ve operated with a spirit of
pride. My goal as I get to be an old man is to more often be operating in a spirit of
gratitude. Where I say, “Thank you, Lord.” And not just with my mouth, but with my actions
of excellence in the marketplace. My actions of excellence in the handling of the money
and the wealth and the possessions He gives me to manage for His glory. I hope when we’re
done, that when the kids find the Bible, the greatgrandkids find the Bible, the legacy
is, that old man, don’t know a lot about him, but he loved Jesus and he knew who owned his
stuff. He was managing it for God. That’s the legacy we want to leave. We want to be
very, very intentional about that. God, we thank You for this day, we thank You
for these bright students, we thank You for Your Word to guide us. Lord, help us all to
have that spirit of gratitude. In Jesus’ name, amen.