Several years ago I was working almost all the time. I had my full-time job, I sold beauty products and I was working in a leadership role with that business to mentor other sales associates. I was working to be able to stay in my home–a home we obviously couldn’t afford. The time I wasn’t working to bring in more money, I was looking at all angles to see how I could bring in more money. I stopped going to church, which spiritually fed me, because I worked 7 days a week. When the “house of cards” fell and we had to admit that we needed to refocus our way of living and give up the dream of our country home, it was at once a relief and it was a feeling of dispair.
I remember talking with my boss to let him know I would have to be out of the office for some appointments to let the dream go, and he shared with me that I had been serving money as my master. That took me back, and I was confused. I had always thought of having money as a master happened to those who amassed huge wealth that was never enough. I wasn’t trying to amass wealth, I was only trying to keep my head financially above water, and stay in the home I loved and hoped to be our forever home. The house was my treasure. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)
In the Matthew 6:24 (RSV) Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [material wealth or possessions].” There is no question that God and money are both important in our earthly lives, but the point is that we cannot serve, or be devoted to, both. Mammon not only means money or riches, it is often used to refer to excessive materialism or greed.
Jesus warns against materialism specifically in Luke 12:15 (NRSV) “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Author Randy Alcorn offers, “Greed is money worship, a violation of the first and most fundamental commandment, “I am the Lord your God… You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3) Idolatry is worshipping and serving anything other than the one true God. Everything material we have, including money, is either a tool or an idol. If we fail to use it as a tool for God’s intended purposes, it mutates into an idol”.
“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.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
The money in our bank accounts is a gift from God and its value is only temporary. What is precious to us on earth, like gold and silver, will be the mere pavement we walk on in heaven according to the imagery in the Bible. Money is the single-most worldly distractor, and is discussed more than 1,000 times in the Bible. Not because God needs money, but because God knew that this would be a potential stumbling block for us. Most people – most Christians – do not trust God more than they trust money and the false security money represents.
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NIV). There is only One truly worthy of our trust and our worship. No mere earthly idol can ever replace the love that God has for each of us.