Sunday, December 26, 2010

Idol of Money

Idol of Money

Money Tells lies:

Let me first clarify that I do not believe that money in and of itself is evil. To accumulate wealth is not an evil thing. There is no great virtue in pursuing poverty for poverty’s sake. There were many wealthy men in the Bible…Abraham was very rich. Solomon by modern day standards was probably a billionaire. It is our attitude toward money that gets us into trouble. Money is not the root of all evil, it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.

Having just been through the Christmas season it might interest you to know that the average family usually spends about $750.00 on Christmas gifts.

The average American family makes payments on 13 credit cards and has $5800 in month to month debt. Approximately 40% of American families spend more than they earn.

The average American individual owes over $15,000 in credit card debt.

The debt of the American government is about $14 trillion. In order to pay off this debt every individual in America would have to shell out $44,000. It looks like we have money problems at every level.

Ayn Rand, “Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue.” Can our money problems not be traced to the heart? We are a society that is governed by greed. Jesus warned us about that: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed…” - Luke 12:15

James, author of the epistle of the same name, summed up quite well what is wrong with modern society. “You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God” – James 4:2. The mess we find ourselves in can pretty much be traced to greed and covetousness.

My wife and I were discussing recently what would be our most prized possession if our house was caught fire and we could save only one thing. We mentioned family pictures, pets, big screen T.V.’s and computers. Its hard to realize how attached one becomes to the stuff in life until we are put in a position where we must do without.

We hosted a part at our house recently and when I walked into our living room I counted six people using their cell phones. When I asked what they would save from a burning house I was not surprised when they all held up their phones.

This was illustrated humorously in Steve Martin’s performance in The Jerk. This clip helps us understand how we cling to our stuff! Navin Johnson goes from rags to riches back to rags again. He wants to believe he can walk away from it all, but he just can’t:

We are deceived when we think we need the insignificant things in life.

Col. 3:2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

There is an old saying: Money Talks.

“Money talks, I’ll not deny, I heard it once, it said, ‘good-bye’.”

Suppose we consider some money as redeemed and some as unredeemed. To be redeemed means to be free from the consequences of sin.

Money makes the false claim: “I can make you happy.”

We all claim that money can’t bring us happiness but if we look at our check stubs, do we really live like that? The wisest man who ever lived (Solomon) once said “Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people will come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth—except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)

There is no correlation between money and happiness. In fact, more money may bring unhappiness. The more money you have the more time you’ve invested. Money comes and goes. Time is something lost forever. You may think, if only I made $100,000/year. But then you would want to make $150,000. If you made $1 million you would want to make $2 million. Dissatisfaction is a plague that comes with money. We believe the lie of unredeemed money when it tells us that we will be happy if only we keep up with the Joneses.

The Puritan Preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs once said, “What a foolish thing is this, that because I have not got what I want, I will not enjoy the comfort of what I have!”

Happiness based on external things is no happiness at all. Happiness comes from within. For those who are Christians, God’s presence living within causes them to be content in whatever circumstance they find ourselves:

Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Contentment does not come to us naturally. It is something we must learn.

I taught school for nearly 15 years on the other side of the tracks. I saw my students dragging their book bags out of Baker Village, one of the poorest housing projects here in Columbus, Georgia. I thought, “Those kids must be the saddest kids on earth, they have so little.” But, I’ve never been around kids who enjoyed life and loved to laugh as much as they. I’ve also taught at Duluth High School in Atlanta where some of the city’s wealthiest kids attended and I’ve concluded that the amount of money you have has nothing to do with your ability to be happy.

Money simply can’t make you happy!

In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Eighty years later let’s look back and see what happened to nine of them:

1. Charles Schwab, president of largest steel company, died bankrupt.

2. Samuel Insull, president of the largest utility company, died penniless in a foreign land, a fugitive from justice.

3. Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company, went insane.

4. Arthur Cotton, greatest wheat speculator, died overseas unable to pay his debts.

5. Richard Whitney, president of the NYSE, went to Sing Sing Prison

6. Albert Fall, member of the President’s Harding’s cabinet, was pardoned in prison so he could die at home.

7. Jesse Livermore, the greatest ‘bear’ on Wall Street, died a suicide.

8. Ivan Krueger, head of the greatest monopoly, died a suicide.

9. Leon Fraser, president of the Bank of International Settlements, died a suicide.

These men knew very well how to make money but they had no idea how to find the contentment in life that the Apostle Paul talks about.

People who look for the abundant life in their money and possessions never find true satisfaction. When we worship money with our time and energy it becomes an idol in our lives. True happiness and the truly abundant life are found only in a right relationship with our great Creator God and Savior.

Why do we set our affections on the creation rather than the Creator? God alone owns the world. The cattle on a thousand hills are His (Psalm 50:10). He alone can supply our every need (Philippians 4:19). There is no security in any plan which denies God as Lord of our lives and of all that we possess.

Money will make you happy? Don’t believe it. It provides a temporary pleasure like all the other ‘stuff’ in life. True happiness can only be found in a higher, transcendent One.

Todd E. Linaman, Ph.D. , Family Life Radio.

Insights from Bill Bright: Nine Wealthy Financiers

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

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