Did you catch yourself fantasizing last week about what you would do with 1.6 billion dollars? Tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people did more than that as lottery tickets to win the largest Powerball Jackpot in history were snatched up at record pace by people believing that if they had all that money, things would be radically different for them. But as always those dreams evaporated for all but three people as news came late last week that winning tickets were sold in Tennessee, California and Florida. Instead of 1.6 billion, the three winners will split a “paltry” pre-tax payout of $528 million.
You know, I wonder how many believers also got caught up in the frenzy, wistfully dreaming of holding that massive pile of money. While certainly, extra cash would take care of any material needs a person might have, as God’s children, we must vigilantly guard our hearts, being careful not to look to money and the accumulation of things as the source of our fulfillment.
Most are familiar with the often misquoted admonition in 1 Timothy 6:10 that says “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” However, few know the preceding verse’s warning that “those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.”
While it may be easy to roll our eyes and shake our heads when we hear stories of foolish decisions, ridiculous indulgences, and questionable investments by the uber wealthy, it’s an easy thing to overlook the spiritual trap of a covetous and greedy attitude that can lie hidden in the shadowy corners of our own hearts.
As our loving and protective Shepherd, Jesus brings to light the deeper purpose for scriptures’ strong warnings against allowing our affections to dwell on the acquisition of wealth. Matthew 6:24 states “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Regardless of how high (or low) the balance in our bank account, the value (or absence) of our retirement investments, or the worth (or lack) of personal belongings and real estate, we can still subtly be lured away by an inner desire for monetary gain which Jesus clearly identifies as a form of idolatry. If not kept in check, this dangerous attitude will influence our choices, dominate our thinking, and in doing so, uproot God from His rightful place in our lives.
The remedy for this worldly view is found when we reorder our priories according to 1 Timothy 6:11 and “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” With these values fueling our pursuit of the Lord, we can confidently rest our hope, not in the promise of millions, but in the God who does immeasurably more! (Eph 3:20)