9. Money Can Be an Idol

In Your Bible Read This Out Loud Luke 16:13

Memorise This Verse Luke 11:41 ‘Give what is inside to the poor, and everything will be clean for you’

Afterwards Talk About This Which is the greatest threat to the church persecution or materialism?

Something To Do Before Next Time Pray that God would show you any areas of your life where you are worshipping money.

Written Diploma Work Write one page on what the evidence is, that someone is not serving money

Meditate Word By Word On This Verse Luke 16:15

So having seen the great desire of God to put wealth into the hands of his people, this section seeks to keep a true balance of what the bible teaches about money. Whilst we have read lots of scriptures regarding prosperity, it must be made very clear that there are just as many scriptures which warn about the dangers of money – many from the lips of Jesus himself. Whilst prosperity used in the right way and for the right purpose can be a great blessing it can also be a terrible snare for those who do not show integrity and righteousness regarding their financial dealings. Sadly, there has been a lot of teaching about prosperity which people love to hear but very little teaching about how to handle and steward money in a Christ honouring manner if you are seeking the good things of God seek also the warnings of God concerning money.

As God reveals his nature in the Old Testament one of his attributes is that he wants his people to worship him and him alone God has put claims on the lives of all humans that they give their worship and praise to him alone. Man was created with a desire to worship and to idolise God – when they fail to do this the desire does not go away but it can be expressed in different ways, such as worshipping football teams, sports and rock stars. Consequently, Jesus himself identified the greatest commandment that God has ever given mankind – namely to worship him, in Matthew 22:37 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment’.

A further revelation of God’s character in the Old Testament is that he is in fact a jealous God who is grieved when his people worship things and people other than him – just look at the scriptures below where the Lord himself says this in many places.

Exodus 20:4 ‘I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God’

Exodus 34:14 ‘Do not worship any other God, for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a Jealous God’

Deuteronomy 4:24 ‘For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God’.

Sadly, the children of Israel chose to worship foreign Gods and as Deuteronomy 32:16 shows, this aroused both God’s anger and his jealousy, ‘They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idolatry’. This idea of God’s jealousy is carried forward into the New Testament under the new covenant, Holy Spirit comes and lives within the Christian to empower them to love and praise God and walk in obedience to him. However, when we choose to put something or someone in the place of God the bible says in James 4:5 that Holy Spirit takes offence at this ‘The spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely’.

So, the question arises, can money be a false God and idol that people are worshipping? – once again both the Old and New Testaments agree that it is. As the children of Israel prepared to enter the promised land and move into the fullness of what God has planned for them, even before they put a foot inside it, they receive solemn warnings about what prosperity can do to a person. An abundance of money can lead people to self- sufficiency and away from a daily life of faith and trust and relationship with God. Worse still, it can lead people to steal away from God the glory that is due to him and in the deception that money can bring, people take credit themselves for the good things in their life.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12 ‘When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery’.

Deuteronomy 8:10 ‘When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, ….. then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God’

Deuteronomy 8:17 ‘You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me”. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth’

As we move to the New Testament, Jesus himself makes this point in very unmistakable terms in Luke 16:13 when he identifies money as a false god, ‘No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’.

He goes on to say in even stronger language that when people love money before they love God it becomes detestable in the sight of God, ‘What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight’ (verse 15).

Finally, as the two scriptures below show, a greedy person who, loves money is viewed in the sight of God as being an idol worshipper.

Ephesians 5:5 ‘No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God’.

Colossians 3:5 ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry’

So, in conclusion we can say that we should very much believe and receive God’ s very best in our finances that we might enjoy everything he has got for us. However, we should be aware that his blessings come with a fairly stern warning that money can be a false God that we can eventually end up worshipping. Therefore, it is perhaps very fitting that we end this section with warnings that the bible gives, not about money – for money in itself is not evil – but about the LOVE of money which is the major warning to God’s people that comes with the prosperity that God longs to give his people.

1 Timothy 6:9 ‘People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’

2 Timothy 3:3 ‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves , lovers of money’

Hebrews 13:5 ‘Keep your lives from the love of money and be content with what you have

Ecclesiastes 5:10 ‘Whoever loves money never has enough whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income’

A House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations

Pray for Belarus

10,236,181 people, large secular minority

Effects of Chernobyl still being felt

This study contains the personal beliefs and practices of of the author who recommends them to the reader. The author takes no credit for their success where applied and likewise takes no responsibility for any failure or disappointment.

The House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations at the end of each section is based on Operation World 21st Century Edition © Patrick Johnstone, Jason Mandryk. Published by Paternoster. All scriptures are NIV © Hodder & Stoughton.

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