In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
-David Foster Wallace
Whom or what do you worship? You may say you worship God but does your life—your thoughts, affections, and habits—tell a different story?
Because we’re human, we are worshipers. Whether we realize it or not, we all spend time at an altar each day.
On the one hand, there is true worship of the Living God. On the other hand, there’s idolatry, false worship of gods that are counterfeits—fakes designed to deceive, devour, and destroy. There is only one God, one who is worthy of our praise and adoration. And He will not share His glory with another.
In this blog series, Counterfeit Gods, we will take a closer look at some of the gods that clamor for our worship. Our prayer is that these posts will help us to become aware of any idols we worship so we can more fully and freely worship our Father.
Counterfeit Gods - Money
Recently, my son and I did a homework assignment about the ancient Aztecs. It referred to their many gods. We paused and I explained to him that a lot of people worship a lot of different things. Sometimes they love them so much they even call them gods. I wanted him to understand that there is only one God and that He is the only one who is worthy of our worship, our adoration, our love, and our service.
We don’t worship money in the same way the Mayans worshipped their pantheon of gods, even offering human sacrifices to appease them. However, look around. Read the news. Talk to people at the office. Spend time with the poor and oppressed. Go to a third-world country on a Global Impact trip. Is it possible to honestly argue that we don’t worship money or that we haven’t gone to the extreme of human sacrifice in the name of this greedy counterfeit god?
Money is a miserable god, a relentless master bent on destroying those who love it (see 1 Timothy 6:9, NIV).
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. The counterfeit god of money lords it over those who have too much of it, those who have none of it, and everyone in-between. Those who have it love it, store it up, and seem to stop at nothing in the pursuit of more of it. Those who don’t have it dream of it, long for it, and put their hope in finding a way to get it. And, the rest of us pursue it and worry about it with just as much righteous passion and zeal. Have you ever looked at your bank account and been filled with either peace or fear? Have you ever lost sleep over a poorly performing investment? Have you ever sat on your couch, looked around, and wanted a nicer house? Have you coveted the contents of your neighbor’s garage, thought you deserved your coworker’s promotion, or envied your friend’s retirement home on the coast? If so, is it possible that money has become an idol? Is it possible that you’ve been worshiping at the wrong altar?
Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 6:24, NIV).
How do you stop serving two masters? How do you begin worshipping the only one deserving of your affection? I believe there are two keys that will open the locks and loosen the chains of materialism.
The Gift of Gratitude
When we decide not to worship the counterfeit god of money, we learn to be content. As we learn to be content, we discover that gratitude begins to crowd out envy, jealousy, and striving in our hearts. Grateful people don’t think about what they lack and wish they had it. They look at what they have been given and thank God for it. Gratitude is a gift. As we grow in gratitude we recognize that everything we possess comes from a good Father who knows what we need even before we ask (see Matthew 7:7-11 and James 1:17).
The Grace of Giving
Once we become grateful people, knowing that all we have is a gift from the hand of God, then we can grow in the grace of giving (see 2 Corinthians 8:7). Since it is not ours to begin with, we can open our clinched fists and give it away. It is incredibly freeing to be able to trust God so much that we can invest what we have been given in His Kingdom, placing it back into His hands. In so doing, it’s not just money that we give; we give Him our own hearts. And that is the kind of worship God wants.
Don’t become enslaved to the counterfeit god of money. Instead, grow in the gift of gratitude and in the grace of giving. As you do so, God will be faithful to remove any idols that have no place in your heart and He will seat Himself on the throne.