I recently had the privilege to preach at my church on the topic of Proverbs and money. Here is an excerpt that I found helpful for my own soul and I hope it does yours.
Money worship is a constant threat to all believers. Money daily promises to give us the safety, security, and satisfaction that only Christ can. It never ceases it seductive work and is always calling us into its arms. But, King Jesus makes it clear to all his people, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24) and Proverbs 11:28 warns us about what money worship will ultimately bring: ““Whoever trusts in his riches will fall…”
So, how can we keep ourselves from drifting into money’s embrace?
Four Truths to Keep You From Money Worship
Let me offer four counsels that, if tattooed on your mind and heart, Lord willing, will protect you from the worship of money.
1) Remember Your God
Jesus said it clearly, “You cannot serve God and money “ (Matthew 6:24). Since everyday you will drift toward idolatry, you must intentionally remind yourself each day that Jesus is God and no one else is. Everyday we must ask ourselves, “Who will I worship today? What or who is my Supreme Treasure today?” We must consciously reject giving money your heart, mind, soul, or strength or she will take it. Daily, we we must consciously give those to King Jesus.
2) Remember Your Responsibility
Psalm 24:1 cuts straight to the matter, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…” God owns all that is in the world and all who is in the world. He owns you and he owns your money. Some may say, “That doesn’t say money!” Well, Listen to Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.” So, the world is his, you are his, and your money is his. All his.
What does this mean? Simply: all of your money is not your money, it’s God’s. It will do you a world of good to start referring to the money in your wallet, your bank, and your retirement as “God’s money.” You are a manager, not an owner. You’ve been given the company card for company purposes. It is not your prerogative to spend it how you want, but how he commands. Remembering your identity as a steward and your responsibility to use God’s money according to God’s Word will help you experience money as a blessing and not a curse.
3) Remember Your Gospel
Notice, when Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to be generous in giving, he doesn’t give them a scolding, he doesn’t give them threats, he doesn’t give them a guilt trip or sob stories of people’s need. What does he do? He shows them Jesus.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9).
Jesus became poor with our sin and death so we can become rich with his grace!
This is an important point for Christians who don’t give or give little. Some of you may giving because of some sterile sense of duty rather than delight. The little you do give is because you feel you have to rather than we want to. Can I suggest to you that, if your giving is non-existent or cold or begrudging, you may have lost sight of the cross? The cross breeds thankful, gospel-fueled generosity.
Remembering the gospel is important for Christians who give to ease their guilt. Some of your giving is fueled by guilt rather than grace. You may feel guilty about not being generous enough and you may be tempted to just start giving more to feel less guilty. If that’s you: do not give. Giving should never be done begrudgingly to get rid of guilt. Giving should be done cheerfully because our guilt has been gotten rid of! Fuel your giving by grace, not guilt. If guilt motivates your giving then sprint to the cross and stare at Jesus until your eyes bleed and your heart opens. Pound the cross into the deepest place of your heart until the joy of his free grace begins to pump through your veins.
Do you want to be free of money’s curse? Then tattoo the cross on your eyeballs. See God’s free generosity in forgiving your sins through the cross. It is hard to be tightfisted when you live at the foot of the cross.
4) Remember Your Eternity
Jesus instructs us:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell us to not store our treasures. No, he tells us to store our treasures in places where they won’t be stolen or lost. We’re shown that the safest place to invest our money isn’t in a conservative mutual fund or a well-diversified retirement account; it’s in the bank of Heaven. You know what your 401K looks like on earth, but what does your account look like in Heaven? What have you invested in eternal stock? You may be rich here, but will you be rich there? Where are you investing?