Have I treated people, events or things as more important than God?
The First Commandment tells us that we should not “have strange gods before me.” In this secular society, how many people actually keep the First Commandment and honor God above all else?
In today’s world, we are constantly deluged with the idea that the only way we can be happy is if we purchase the next greatest thing that is being advertised. We need a new car, new clothes, or a new electronic gadget.
The most popular television shows are reality shows that allow us to put ourselves in the place of the contestants as they vie for big money and great trips. If we could only own this or that; have more money or be more successful then we could finally be happy.
When we fall into the trap of our American culture, we are focusing our desires and betting our happiness on worldly objects and not on God. We are making these worldly objects our “strange god” and making them more important than God.
Matthew (19:16-30), Mark (10:17-31) and Luke (18:18-30) all contain the parable of the Rich Young Man, where Jesus explains that our attitude towards wealth and possessions is in conflict with where our true focus should be. This young man has faithfully observed the Commandments and he asks Jesus what else he can do to gain eternal life. Like most of us, the young man yearns for life in its fullest. He thinks that he may be able to use his wealth to purchase eternal happiness. Jesus understands this young man’s attitude, his dependence on and attachment to his wealth and possessions. Jesus’ advice is that he must sell all of his possessions give his money to the poor and then follow him. In doing this the rich young man’s treasure and his heart will no longer be on earth, but he will put God above all else. When the young man heard this, he turned away because he was very rich. Many of us would probably display the same sentiments as this rich young man. We have many possessions and these possessions are of great importance to us. Like this young man, if Jesus came into our lives today and told us to sell all that we had and give the money to the poor, there is a possibility we would also turn away.
Jesus goes on to tell the disciples “how hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.” This amazed the disciples and so Jesus goes a little further in his explanation, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The problem is not in being rich. In fact there are many rich people in the Bible who are blessed by God. The problem is with our attitude towards worldly things. Society tells us that only things can make us important and bring us true happiness. We have forsaken God for our possessions.
Wealth and possessions will never make us happy for long. A few short days or weeks after we purchase that longed for item, it becomes just another thing we own and we are looking for something else.
Our focus should be on Jesus. We must learn to recognize that everything we have comes from God. Nothing we have is based on our own efforts, but everything is a blessing we have received from God. It is only in him that we find true happiness and fulfillment. Wealth and possessions will never make us happy for long. A few short days or weeks after we purchase that longed for item, it becomes just another thing we own and we are looking for something else.
If you want to learn more about what God has to say about how we should handle our money and possessions take our nine-week Bible study, Navigating Your Finances God’s Way.