Most pastors don’t teach on money very often and most of us don’t think we have a problem with it. But Jesus said it was our number one spiritual obstacle. About twenty-five percent of his teaching dealt with it.
Can you imagine if your pastor taught on money once a month?
Jesus knew that something will always be in the center of our hearts and if it’s not God, the most likely substitute is money. This is as true for housewives as for investment bankers, for ministry leaders as for corporate executives.
Our main rival to loving God is loving money.
From The Beginning
The worst day in history was the day we stopped believing God is generous. You remember the scene in the Garden of Eden. Satan spun a lie that God is holding out on you. You can’t trust him. If God really loved you than you could have everything you wanted. The devil took Adam and Eve’s eyes off God's generosity and got them to focus on the one tree God said not to eat from.
And they ate.
They ate because they believed life would be better if they took what they wanted. They ate because they believed God is not generous. This is where our love of money began. We loved created things more than the Creator, good gifts more than the Giver.
We all wake up in this world with those same lies echoing in our hearts. We seek security and chase comfort in our bank account balances. We implicitly believe more money really would make us happier. We may not say this out loud, but at times we can all look to money as the answer.
Jesus told a story about a younger brother who was thinking this way and eventually spoke up and asked his father for an early inheritance so he could go have some fun. He took his father’s wealth and chased his own first-century version of Las Vegas. Wild parties and expensive drinks were probably the kind of happiness he sought. But at the end of every night and the bottom of every glass something was missing.
Money didn’t keep its promise. The friends it bought were temporary. The pleasure it provided ran out. And the surprising reality of money set in; it's not enough. Money will fail us. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but there is coming a day when money will fail us.
Generous After All
The younger brother quickly found himself in survival mode, feeding pigs for some random farmer just to make a buck and Jesus said, "no one gave him anything.” The world was cold and hard, not warm and giving. The only flicker of light left was the memory of his father's generosity. His father’s hired servants had more than enough bread and they were only hired servants. He was a son. Perhaps, his father was generous after all.
Jesus highlights this as his turning point moment. This was his breakthrough. Seeing the truth of his father's generosity is what unlocked the lie. We too must learn to see our Father in heaven as the most generous being we could ever imagine. It's the way out of slavery to money. It's our first step back home.
Instead of holding out on us, God desires good for us and is working all things for our good all the time. (Romans 8:28) He even gave us his one and only son! God doesn't prevent all pain and struggle because his goal is our Christlikeness, but make no mistake, his heart is to bless us, to provide for us, and to give us good gifts.
Do you see God this way? This is what I invite you to.
Every coin and bill of US currency has "In God We Trust" printed on it because our temptation is just the opposite. Like the prodigal son, we need to see and remember who our Father truly is. This is the life that's truly life.