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Chasing other gods

Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.
-Psalm 16:4

God designed us to be worshipers.  God designed us to serve and follow him, and he in turn, takes care of those who have given themselves to him in their whole lives (Romans 12).

It is profound and instructive that the first command is, "no other gods", or, "to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength."

In the world, people worship other gods.  There are many other gods and people give themselves over to variety of them in each of their lives.  Richard Foster wrote about money, sex, and power as being the three greatest challenges to navigate, for the Christian, in his book, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power.

I am going to focus in on the idol of money.

Thomas Merton wrote, "Money has demonically usurped the role in modern society which the Holy Spirit is to have in the Church."  Martin Luther wrote that there are three conversions that a person needs: "of the heart, the mind, and the purse".

Jesus talked a lot about the dark side of money.  A few examples are:
  • Woe to you who are rich (Luke 6:24).
  • Do not lay up for your yourselves treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19).
  • 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 (Matt 6:24).
  • It is easier for a came to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:24).
  • Take heed, and beware of all covetousness (Luke 12:15).
  • Sell your possessions and give alms (Luke 12:33).
  • Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again (Luke 6:30).
The Bible does not say that money is evil, but that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10) and that greed is idolatry (Col. 3:5).

Timothy Keller wrote:
"The human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them." ... "We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life."
How do you know if you are stepping into idolatry? If something (or someone) is more important to you than God, or if it captures your heart and imagination more than God, it is an idol.  If something else takes a controlling place in your life and you are more passionate about it than God, it is an idol. (Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power)

It has been observed that the one of the overarching themes of the Bible is the devastation caused by idolatry (Idolatry, Halbertal & Margalit, p. 10, (cited by Keller)).

Codependency is a form of idolatry, when we either try to fix others or we enable or rescue others and shield them from paying the price for their actions.  In both cases, we cease to partner with God's mission and instead make an idol out of our selves and/or the other person.
The key to happiness is obviously not money, but Christ.  He gives you contentment, which is something you discipline your self to learn.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. -Phil 4:12 (NIV)
The Bible teaches us generosity.  The "give and it will be given" principle means to be generous to others because God has been generous to you, and when you are generous, God always gives back to you, because you can not out give God.  "Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor" (Prov. 22:9), is echoed in 2 Cor. 9:6:
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. -2 Cor. 9:6-8
"Love Jesus and get rich", is perversion and invites a rival god into the believers life.  There are 'gods' of money, sex, and power; for example, in the world, that are not God, but demonic powers and principalities (Col. 1:16).  These things are here, in the world, and when people worship them, by serving them, they gain power in that person's life.

Jesus said, "you cannot serve God and money" (Matt. 6:24).  We all have money and use money.  But, we are not to serve money.  That's the command of Jesus.  We might find this baffling because money is a thing, a commodity.  Jesus is saying, be very careful with money because it has power.
For Christ money is an idolatry we must be converted from in order to be converted to him.  The rejection of the god mammon is a necessary precondition to becoming a disciple of Jesus.  And in point of fact, money has many of the characteristics of a deity.  It gives us security, can induce guilt, gives us freedom, gives us power and seems to be omnipresent.  Most sinister of all is its bid for omnipotence. (Foster, p. 28)
This is why Paul wrote that the love of money is the root of all of evils.  Have you seen a beautiful family destroyed by divorce?  Other idols came into play, but the main reason often is money, and the divorce did not solve the spiritual money problem either.

There is only room for one Lord in your heart.  The person with Lord Jesus is a content person.  Money, and other things like sex and power, for example, and dethroned to King Jesus.  The person who has Jesus as Lord in there heart has a life filled with Jesus.  Money has no power over them.


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