And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
There is no neutrality when it comes to our relationship with money. It is either our master or our servant. As Jacques Ellul pointed out, the way we prove money has no lasting power over us is by giving it away to advance God’s Kingdom.
We all want to be refreshed — to experience a life of wholeness and joy. We spend our time and energy seeking it either through the true God or a substitute god, which Scripture calls an idol. Martin Luther described a “god” as that from which you expect to receive all good things and to which you flee in times of need. We all have a vision of the blessed life and the corresponding god we believe can give it to us.
- If your vision of the blessed life is stability and predictability, order becomes an idol.
- If your vision of the blessed life is authority, power becomes an idol.
- If your vision of the blessed life is material prosperity, wealth becomes an idol.
As Americans, we live in one of the richest places and times in human history. Material prosperity is celebrated as the ultimate goal of the American dream. One pastor noted greed is the sin any father would be most likely to overlook in his daughter’s fiancé. Material prosperity is held forth as the blessing to be desired and money is the god who can bring it to us.
Throughout Scripture, God challenges our idols, the very assumptions upon which our culture is built. Idols are typically formed by taking something good God provides and allowing it to become a ruthless master instead of a helpful servant. Money is good. It is gift from God for which we should be thankful. Yet, when we make it an idol, we are wearied instead of refreshed.
Your idol is always something you think will give but ends up taking. It is always something you think holds value but ends up worthless. Money is a helpful servant. It enables us to be rewarded for our work and provide for our families. Money is meant to be a means, not an end.
One way we keep from worshipping money is to give it away. We treat our money as vain, worthless, and powerless by being generous with it. Generosity is one way we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Every time we give to the church offering, we testify that money is our servant and God is our master. Generous giving keeps money from having power over us.
In a money-obsessed world, generosity looks foolish. The only power for generosity is a new heart with new priorities. As Robert Murray M’Cheyne preached, “To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its lifeblood than its money.”
If we make an idol of money, it will not refresh us. It will weary us. It will take our time and energy. Money promises to give but only ends up taking. We should seek after it through honest work. Only God can help us to use it as a servant rather than worship it as a master.
We will be refreshed not by focusing on refreshing ourselves. Rather, we will be refreshed when we utilize our resources to refresh the nations with the gospel.
- Examine your own record of giving to the church and Christ’s Kingdom. Does your giving make money look like a master or servant in your life?
- Develop the habit of giving regularly. Decide not only how much to give but how often to give, whether it is ever week or every month. Giving regularly will help you create the habit of generosity.
Holy Spirit, we need the power of the risen Christ to indwell us. We need You to put to death the deeds of the flesh and the idols that enslave us. Help us experience the liberty Christ purchased for us and the joy of serving Him as King. We praise You for Your life-giving power and ask for You to give us new hearts that give willingly and sacrificially to advance Christ’s Kingdom.