God’s Most Powerful Rival

The World’s Most Dangerous Idol

A jigsaw puzzle forming a $100 bill.There is one idol out of thousands which our Savior highlights as the most dangerous. This is the idol which will completely disrupt or destroy any believer’s desire to obey and follow Christ.

If we start serving this idol, we will consistently say “No” to Jesus, while we slavishly obey this idol’s every demand.

Which idol is it?

It’s greed or the love of money.

In Luke 16, Jesus makes clear that greed is God’s chief competitor for His children’s love and loyalty.

13 “…You cannot serve both God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.  (Luke 16:13-15 NIV)

Cartoon of a man with a sack labeled "Debt."Having a healthy bank account or a well-paying job isn’t evil. Money can be used for godly and generous purposes. But craving money or constantly hungering for more things? That’s bad. Greed is such a powerful idol that anyone rich, poor or middle-class can be ensnared by it. Greed is the raging inner desire for more—and this idol lodges itself firmly in the heart. A greedy man or woman is never satisfied or content for very long.

Jesus’ Clear Warning

After being submerged in a constant flood of 21st century commercials, promotions and advertisements, Jesus’ words seem to come from an alien world.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15 NIV)

Jesus’ teaching slashes right across the world’s insane focus on wealth. Our Savior is more blunt in His warnings about greed then anything else.

Yet popular culture announces loudly that the only life worth living is one filled with “an abundance of possessions.” The Devil understands a simple psychological truth: if you tell people a lie often enough, they’ll believe it. Worse, when we chase after materialistic things, we’re chasing a mirage. A lifetime of material wealth can be destroyed in a day.

For the people living in New Orleans, that day was August 29th, 2005.

Cleaning up After Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Isobel off the coast of the United States.When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, roughly 80% of New Orleans flooded. Many of the houses remained filled with water for weeks, until the engineers repaired the levees and re-started the pumps.

The following summer, my church sent a team of people, down to help with the clean-up. There were eight or nine of us.

The first house we entered was bone dry. I remember seeing mold growing on the wall above my head, marking the water line, Otherwise everything looked fine. It appeared to be just a quiet, tastefully furnished home.

We’d been told to gut the house completely. I didn’t understand why until one of my teammates touched the dining room table. It promptly collapsed in ruins. Whenever we lifted any furniture, it disintegrated in our hands. Being submerged in water ruined everything. We salvaged only a few ceramic items. By noon, my team had hauled out most of the home’s contents and heaped it up into a huge mound. While eating lunch, we watched the city workers fill a dump truck and cart the debris away. The possessions accumulated over a family’s lifetime disappeared forever into a landfill. Even the walls and ceiling had to be ripped out. Only the home’s outer shell remained. The structure’s two by four wooden skeleton and outer walls would be treated to kill all the mold. Only then could the interior start to be rebuilt.

A roulette gambling wheel with the white ball on red 23.The people of New Orleans didn’t deserve such a heartbreaking loss. No one does. But it illustrates my point. Any of us can lose everything we own in a day. Our electronic toys, our new car, all the money we’ve saved or invested, our house and even our clothes. Hungering to acquire more and more material things is foolish—like trying to carry water in a in a woven basket.

…life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.

A Very Challenging Prayer

Here’s an ancient believer’s simple prayer request to God.

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9) NIV

Let me be honest; I can’t bring myself to pray “give me neither poverty nor riches” because I’m afraid Jesus might answer.

A strongbox completely chained and padlocked.I tithe to my church and give to charity, Other people see me as generous. Yet the thought of saying this prayer unnerves me.

Why?

Because God might disrupt my comfortable lifestyle.

Living for my Savior might just require me to let go of my man-made “life preservers” and start depending totally on Him.

How about you? As a Christian, can you sincerely pray “give me neither poverty nor riches?” Or like me, do you have some spiritual growing to do?

All images came from Pixabay.com

Resources:

Because this video of a Thai man’s generous deeds fits so well with this post, I have included this link to You Tube.

 

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