By Ryan Weber
Author Oscar Wilde once said, “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.”
Why is this? Why do the Lincolns and the Jacksons and the Franklins hold so much weight in our lives? To cut to the chase: More money puts us in the position to do God’s job. I don’t have to rely on His provision and sustenance at all when my bank account is padded with cash.
This human condition goes all the way back to the very beginning. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. When Satan tempted the two as they were frolicking naked in the Garden, without a care in the world, how did Satan frame his temptation to make it the juiciest and most enticing he could?
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” (Genesis 3:5, emphasis added)
We’ve wanted to be like God since the very start. And money is the most tangible way that we Americans feel like we can get there. With money, we have a highway to security, power, prestige, honor, comfort, stuff. These are all things that should be ascribed to God. Our security should come from our dependence and reliance on God; power, prestige and honor should be given to God, the Lord should be our source of comfort.
If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you understand and are aware of our need to cast our desire for independent success aside and fully rely on God for our existence. And if we’re honest with ourselves, this has the potential to suck. A lot.
When I was out of work for seven months, all I could think about was money. How the savings I had built up was evaporating before my eyes, I couldn’t go out to eat like I used to, whether I would be able to make next month’s rent payment, how to pay for the unexpected car issue at the wrong time. Money consumes you when you don’t have it because you want it to feel ok.
Now that I’m working and am more comfortable in my financial situation, guess what still dominates most of my thoughts? Yep, still. Instead of worrying about how I’m going to make ends meet, I worry about paying off the debt, saving for that trip we want to take this year, wondering why it is we spend so much on groceries every week, padding that savings account. Money still consumes, even when you have some.
It’s because at our root, we want God’s job. We’ve wanted it for years. A better description of that attitude is sin. It’s what Jesus came to die for and redeem in us. What once we were powerless to ever overcome – namely our pride, greed and selfish ambition to be more than we actually are – now in Christ we have the ability to fully conquer.
I just want to let this verse sink in for you. You’ve probably read it, but if you let it penetrate your spirit, I believe you will experience a wonderful conviction which will lead to freedom from this bondage:
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 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. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:3-12)
The cure for the power of money: Contentment.
The remedy for the grief encountered by the rat race of money chasing: Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
This means letting go of your need to be God, to let Him do what He does, and to tell Him that He is enough for you (and mean it).
Why do you think Jesus asked the rich, young ruler to sell all he had, give it to the poor and then follow Him? It was time for him to let God be God. He couldn’t do it. Could you?