ANDREW: The Trap of Prosperity and Trusting God
Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15). Clearly, Jesus is warning us that we have a tendency to define our life by our possessions. Check out these questions for thought and discussion.
Speaking about the film in which she co-starred, The Joneses, Demi Moore said, “It is an incredible reflection on how we place a measure of our own value on our stuff—what we have.”
• Stop and think about this for a minute. How do you see this in our society?
• How do you see this in your life?
Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15). Clearly, Jesus is warning us that we have a tendency to define our life by our possessions.
Pastor Andrew spoke about the trap of prosperity—how money and wealth, though not wrong or evil, can lead to idolatry. In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller writes, “An idol is anything so central to your life that should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. The larger the idol—the more value you give it—the more you will spend your passion, energy, emotions, and money on it without much of a second thought…An idol is whatever you desire and think, ‘If I have that, then my life will have meaning and value; then I will feel secure and significant.’ Put another way an idol is anything you love, trust, or obey before God.” Is money a potential idol in your life? Is it already an idol? Here are some indicators it might be.
• Lovers of money are those who find themselves daydreaming about new possession to buy or looking with jealousy on those who have more or racking up credit card debt. King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”
• Trusters of money feel they have control of their lives and are safe and secure because of their wealth. You may trust money even if you don’t have it, and in this case it shows up in the form of excessive anxiety about it. Jesus said not to worry excessively but to trust him.
• Servants of money are really those who love and/or trust money. If you look to money for your significance (love) or security (trust) then you will serve it as your god to bring you that security and significance you want. You have become a slave to money when you don’t have means to pay your debt, or when tempted to rob God in order to pay creditors or buy things you want.
Making a Difference
If you want to get out of the trap of prosperity (remember money is not bad—idolatry is) then here are 2 specific things you can begin to do:
1. PRAY for things other than more money or your own financial needs. Do not stop praying for these but give significant prayer time to asking God to help shape the desires of your heart to focus on what he wants you to focus on. Pray for conversion and life transformation by the power of God.
2. GIVE money away. The antidote to the idol of money and greed is to give generously. That is why God commands his people to tithe (give a tenth of) their income to the church and to help the poor.
a. You might say, “I don’t have to give. I’ll just stop being greedy.” Addicts often say they can stop whenever they want, but they don’t. Could money/greed be such an addiction? How will you know you are not greedy if you do not give?
b. God says if you are not tithing (tenth) then you are stealing from him. Look it up – Malachi 3:8-10.
c. See what the New Testament says: Matthew 6:21 and 24-25; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 and 9:6; 1 Timothy 6:6-9 and 17-19.
3. My prayer is that you understand that tithing and giving are not just a blessing to the church and the poor but a blessing to you so that you always love, serve, and trust God as your provider.
• Make a budget and live by it. (Easier said than done, right?)
• Consider taking the Dave Ramsey course called Financial Peace or read his book, The Total Money Makeover.