God or Money: Choose One

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

We treat money like time. We want more of it, but when we have it we are desperate to spend it. We want to stockpile it, but it flows through our hands like sand. It is our security, a warm blanket on a cold night – but it has holes or it’s too small to cover us.

It feels good to have money, but the satisfaction never nourishes our souls. Like a sugar rush, the pleasure of having a fat wallet is indeed satisfying, but it is fleeting. Spend it or keep it, but its satisfaction expires quickly as we yearn for more.

Could it be we have misplaced our desire? Could it be that we don’t actually long for money but for something else? Will we ever find it?

The greedy man who chases money will not find God, because he isn’t looking for him. He won’t find money either, because there is no such thing as enough. So he will toil and toil, but he will never be happy on a deep level. He will live with the unscratched itch of joy not realized and he will run himself into the ground.

Jesus makes it clear that this whole money thing is binary. That is, it’s an either/or proposition. Choose God or choose money, but you cannot choose both. And there’s an obvious reason that God and money are mutually exclusive: the pursuit of God is a completely different journey than the pursuit of money. You can’t drive to Canada and Mexico at the same time, as they’re in opposite directions.

It’s not quite that simple, though. There’s this wonderful dynamic that Jesus weaves into the story of our lives. When we submit our lives – and yes, our desire for money – to God, we will find contentment. We will begin to taste thankfulness for God’s provision and thus we will begin to see money in a new way. We will begin to see that we’re beggars with overflowing cups and we’ll begin to trust that God will be by our corner again tomorrow with new coins so we can eat.

The pursuit of God breeds humility, and humility helps us to realize we are owed nothing. Thus, as we pursue God we will find the money we do have – however much it is or isn’t – to be an undeserved gift. So while you may have very little money, you will have a full heart and you’ll be satisfied with the money you have.

God’s provision doesn’t always taste like a steak dinner, by the way. Sometimes it’s stale and a day old and rather than explode on our palates, it might just disintegrate into dust. But it fills our bellies and keeps us going. You may not have as much money as you want, and it’s possible that God will reward your hard work with more. But you must also realize he may not – and he will still be good.

God does not love the rich more than the poor, and as much as this offends our western capitalistic worldview, there is Biblical evidence that he cares more for the poor than the rich. Why is that? It doesn’t seem to make sense, does it?

It’s all about the heart.

God really doesn’t love the poor more than the rich. But he loves a contrite and humble spirit. He honors the humble and lifts the lowly. The danger of getting rich is that we lose sight of our lowliness. So it’s not that being rich is bad or that rich people shouldn’t be rich – it’s just that being rich is quite dangerous to our spiritual health. We might forget who we really are.

Allow me to end with some words from one of the richest men ever to walk the earth. He had everything money can buy. His name was Solomon, and he wrote:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;

give me neither poverty nor riches;

feed me with the food that is needful for me,

lest I be full and deny you

and say, “Who is the Lord?”

or lest I be poor and steal

and profane the name of my God.

(Proverbs 30:9)

Pursue God and you’ll have everything you need. Hold out your cup, fellow beggar. He’ll be by this corner again today.