“Don’t do it, Dreamz.” Irrationally, I was talking to a person on the TV, to a situation recorded months prior, trying to get him to be honorable, to do the right thing, which was so obvious to everyone outside the pressure of the Game. The show is “Survivor.” Dreamz is a young, ‘up the from the streets’ guy, a savvy player in the game. Two episodes ago, he made a deal with another player, accepting a new truck from Yau Man as part of a deal that would take both of them into the final four. With a $million on the line, Dreamz faced a critical question. Would he keep his word, a decision that would cost him any chance at all to win the big prize, or would he just ‘play the game?’ Despite many on camera ruminations about the importance of setting a good example for his 2 yr. old son and keeping his self-respect, in the end, Dreamz chose to renege on the deal. His perfidy not only cost him his self-respect; it caused the rest of the show’s participants to scorn him for the prize!
Why did I expect anything different from this kid? A whole lot of people fold on their ‘convictions’ in the critical moment, choosing self-interest over honor or morality. There are three big sources of temptation – pride, sex, and money! But, money (and/or material things) has a unique attraction. Money offers us the illusion of freedom and power, because with enough of it, to a limited extent we are able to fulfill our desires. How many times have you wanted more? The Bible hits the subject hard. Paul wrote to Timothy, a younger pastor, with this warning. “People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NLT) Please do not misquote, and therefore misunderstand, that passage as so many do! Money is not the root of many evils! The love of money is!
Is there evidence in your life that you love money or material things? Consider these questions.
When you’re unhappy or upset do you want to go buy things?
Are you convinced that you would be really happy if you could just afford a new house, or a vacation, or a car, or clothing, or…. ?
When someone else succeeds in gaining wealth, do you envy him?
Are you always short on cash because you chronically spend more than you earn?
A ‘yes,’ on any one of those indicates a need to seek God’s help to effect a change of heart, which leads to a changed behavior. Here’s the truth. “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, NLT) If you’re chasing money, striving to add to your pile of possessions by bending the rules, discarding moral choices, or neglecting the call of the Spirit; slay that dragon. Kill the love of money by choosing to give – sacrificially and frequently. Give your time to serve. Give things away. Share your resources. Don’t wait until you have enough, you never will! Don’t wait for the right feeling to come over you. If you only give emotionally, you will open yourself to manipulation and regret. Start to give now, with a plan, in a disciplined, God-honoring way. Become the owner of your things, not their slave.
The spiritual fact is that when we learn to give, and thus break the hold of money love, we become trustworthy servants that God can trust with leadership, influence, and greater resources.
Think I’m just making that up? Ponder this word from the Word today prayerfully.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:10-13, NLT)