We are all born with a desperate need for love, purpose and security. Those are good things to desire. Unfortunately, since our sinful nature is absolutely and resolutely opposed to God, we will search for those things everywhere except the one place we can find them…in God himself. Since our society equates all three—love, purpose and security—with money, we learn to look to money as our source of satisfaction. We are caught up in the lie, and like all really good lies, this one has some truth behind it.
Look at how “loved” wealthy people seem to be. They get the best seats in restaurants, they have the beautiful people surrounding them, and they are the ones whose opinions count. Look at the sense of purpose and the satisfaction it must bring them. They run the biggest companies. They advise our leaders. They can give huge sums of money to charities to “really make a difference”! And look at the security wealth brings! With enough money, who cares if Social Security fails? Who worries about health care? Who cares about the cost of living or mortgage rates? With enough money, you are free from these worries.
Now, before you start thinking that money really is the answer to our need for love, purpose and security, let’s think about the dark side of the money equation. As with everything that God has created, his good and perfect purposes become twisted and bent by our old nature. Money is neither good nor evil in itself. People can do good things with money and they can do bad things. But when money moves from being an inanimate thing to being a power that controls us, then we have succumbed to the lie that money can satisfy us.
Money can be used as part of God’s providence for all people as we help each other by buying and selling goods and services in our place in society. But we will by nature take advantage and use our money to feel loved, to get satisfaction and provide security for ourselves. We may even harm others so that we can get more money than we could if we dealt honestly (paying unfair wages, cheating on taxes, hiding a car’s known defects from an unsuspecting buyer…). Many of the things that the world admires as shrewd business dealings are really nothing more than taking advantage of other people.
So, since God desires that we rely upon him—not money—for our love, satisfaction and security, how do we know if our relationship with money is healthy or harmful? Try answering these questions: Is being more important to you than having? Are people more important to you than things? Is giving more important than keeping?
Do you live in the realization that God has solved your “big problem” or do you try to “help” him by using money to satisfy? Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
These “powers” and “forces of evil” employ the spiritual power of money in their destructive struggles among people and against God. Praise God that he has defeated the Enemy and is at work in us to battle against those spiritual powers that seek to elevate money to God’s place in our lives, and keep us from using our resources for the benefit of our neighbors and God’s kingdom.
Roy Heggland serves the CLB as Associate for Biblical Stewardship.