Are you a Lover of Money?

By Ryan Dawson
We have worked hard to be wise stewards of the resources God has given us, and we have been so blessed, but I must admit that the closer we get to paying off our house the more I dream about what that will be like for us.  As I creep towards 55 it’s also easy to think about having enough for the day when we are no longer drawing an income.  I’d like to think this is all innocuous, but I know better.  Our hearts are “idol making factories”, forever looking for something to cling to for life, other than God, and money has a subtle way of getting its tentacles around your heart.  

Ecclesiastes 5:10 says: “Those who love money will never have enough”, and I must admit I often wish I could have a little more, even if it is for noble purposes.  It’s easy to be preoccupied with money and the things it can bring, which tells me I’m allowing myself to be under the power of money.  I think I need to learn in greater measure that godliness with contentment is great wealth (1 Tim. 6:6), so that we are not possessed by our possessions.  

It’s easy to make money and possessions into an idol and most of us don’t recognize when it happens.  Tim Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods, offers four ways to identify idols in our own hearts, and I think these questions really help us discern if money (or something else) has become an idol for us.
Where does your imagination go when you have a moment of reflection?
Archbishop William Temple once said, “Your religion is what you do with your solitude”.  Where does your heart run to when it has a spare moment to think privately?  Are you thinking about acquiring more possessions, buying a bigger house, or a nicer car, spending money on vacations, kids activities, sports equipment and clothes?  Are you preoccupied with making more income, increasing your savings, investments, or building your business?  Our heart follows what we dream about.

What does your bank statement reveal about your heart?  
Author and finance expert Ron Blue says, “A life story could be written from your bank statement. It reflects your goals, priorities, convictions, relationships, and even the use of your time. A person who has been a Christian for even a short while can fake prayer, Bible study, evangelism, going to church, and so on, but he can’t fake what his bank statement reveals.”
What does your bank statement tell you?  If you look at your spending habits you will be able to discern if money is an idol for you.  We tend to spend effortlessly on our idols (what makes us feel significant and secure) but if God is our true master, we will give radically and generously to our church, ministries, charities and other needs that God puts in our path.  An increase in our standard of living will mean an increase in our standard of giving.  

Is money your functional saviour?
If money is the thing that brings you ultimate joy and meaning then it has become a functional Saviour for you.  We know our functional saviours because they are the things we can’t live without.  What brings you the ultimate happiness and joy in life?  When Christ is Lord we find our ultimate satisfaction and joy in Him and the rest is just details.  

What do your emotions reveal about your heart?  
What kind of emotions do you have surrounding the issue of money? Keller says that our most uncontrollable emotions reveal what kind of idols we have.  If you’re angry, ask yourself, “Is there something here too important to me that I must have at all costs?”  If you are fearful or despairing, ask yourself, “Am I scared because something I view as so important is being threatened that I think is a necessity when it is not?”  Ask, “Is this thing (promotion, money, possession etc) so important to me that I must have it to feel fulfilled?”  Asking questions like these help us identify if money has become an idol in our heart.

So where is your heart today?  Has money and possessions become an idol for you?  If so, confess this to God and receive His grace, but then seek to change.  The best antidote to money as an idol is to actively pursue generous living because our heart will follow our habits.  When we are generous with our time, talents, and treasure we are reflecting our generous God, and the rhythms we establish will train our heart towards love of God and others, over self.  As you grow in generosity the pull of money and things will become less and less, allowing you to experience the freedom of grace and life found in Christ.  

“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:5-7

May the Lord meet us as we seek to grow in generosity,
Blessings, Ryan