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God's Money and You: Part Five - Idol Money

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted September 12, 2012

RELIGION – I am not afraid of much. I have written at length before about my Christ-centered fear of the satanic hummingbird. But otherwise, I think I am pretty tough. I did, however, think of another fear I have and that is the fear of being broke. I married a wife who loves to save money, her frugality is so hot!

We save a little more than we spend most months and put a little away in savings. I check our savings account balance and bank balance almost daily. I look at the little money in reserve and I am OK. I mean if the washer and dryer broke, I am covered. If the transmission on my 16 year-old car goes out I am covered. But I also know that if my spleen ruptures or I fall and break my femur I am in trouble. I am pretty afraid of a medical disaster, not so much for the spleen and my femur, they will heal, but wiping out my little savings scares me.
Jesus addresses fear in Luke 12:4-7 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  (5)  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  (6)  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  (7)  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.“
Jesus is telling his followers, He knows and cares for evil and worthless birds (yes, I added in evil and worthless), so how much more will he care for and provide for us. Jesus is saying that fear of God (a healthy reverential, awe-filled view of God) should drive away and replace all other fears.
So what are you afraid? As we are looking at gaining wisdom in our use of God’s wealth we look at the fear of God. The book of Proverbs states in 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The knowledge that we live before God should bring out in us a certain amount of fear. The same way it did for the Israelites who encountered God when He gave the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:18 “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear.” So if you have no fear of God it probably means that you have never truly encountered God.  I mean I can say I am not afraid of a lion when I go to the zoo, but if I saw one in the wild it would be a different ball-game.
 Dr. Ed Welch writes that “Fear and worry reveal us, they reveal the things that we love and value.” So looking at my fear of losing my savings reveals that I find my comfort and security in the dollar more than I do God. This is not good! It is actually pretty depressing; I have been praying and repenting over this previously unknown sin in my life for the last few days.
Let me add that the things that we love and value can easily become things that we worship. So let’s keep looking at how our fears and money intersect. Let’s say you fear the rejection of others, so you use the money you have to buy the coolest toys to impress people and win their approval. If you fear financial troubles, you will never spend a dime and never give anything to God to ensure yourself a nest egg big enough in case something happens.
See money quickly and unknowingly can become an idol that offers comfort, popularity, ease of life, and freedom from worry! Money begins to replace the need for God. I am not writing this to person sitting on millions, but to the average person who maybe unaware that money has become an idol in their life.
Money is an awful idol. Our drive to satisfy our worship of money is always in vain. Someone else’s truck, house, purse, jacket, or sunglasses will always be newer and cooler than yours. That savings in the bank is never going to be enough to assuage all your fears. Money is so fleeting, stock markets crash, people lose their jobs, houses burn down. The Bible calls living life serving money as “striving after wind.” (Ecc 2:17 ) It is foolish to chase wind, the opposite of the wisdom that we want from God.
In the end it is folly—the opposite of wisdom. Fear of money must be replaced with fear of God!

One writer I read says that “Fear of the Lord leads us to worship him: acknowledging with reverence and awe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, always good Creator and Sustainer of the universe.” He further adds that “We are not all-powerful, but God controls everything, and we can trust him because he is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

So in closing, let us work to heed the admonition found in Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  (6)  So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
Thankful for God’s Grace in Exposing Misplaced Fear in My Life. 

Pastor Phillip

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