In this concluding post of the series, I write about the third money temptation to avoid. As long as money exists as a medium of exchange, it is important that we master the dynamics of money. While the importance of financial independence has been emphasized, this third part brings necessary balance to the script. Yes, money is quite important. It is a form of power and it puts the possessor in control. He who pays the piper calls the tune. However, the love of money aka covetousness and greed is the root of all evil. Simply put, money gives you power but money can also have power over you. Money empowers but it also overpowers. And this is where we must be cautious.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “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.” Note that He did not say you cannot serve God and the devil. Apparently money has the power to rule over people and become their master. If all or the bulk of the decisions we make are driven by money, then there is the very distinct possibility that money has overpowered us. Money controls people and it’s even worse when the pursuit of money causes you to sin against God.
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus. – Matthew 4:8-11 (NLT)
The third money temptation to avoid is the ‘shortcut’. The shortcut is the temptation to serve money. To serve money is to regard money more than we do God and this becomes obvious in our actions and the choices we make in our quest to become rich. One of Satan’s proven methods is to present you with illegal, immoral or sinful shortcuts. This temptation differs from the first two in that the first two are temptations on how to spend your money (consume wealth) while the shortcut is a temptation on how to get money (acquire wealth). Here lies the balance between our desire to be prosperous and our desire to please God.
Jesus had to walk the earth, live a sinless life, be betrayed into the hands of sinners, suffer greatly (as a payment for certain elements of the curse on mankind), be publicly humiliated, and condemned to die on a cross; for the wages of sin is death. He was to shed his blood for remission of sins as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Thus, He would regain all the kingdoms of the world, the keys to hell and death, all power and dominion, a name above every other name, and a seat at the right hand of the Father. That was the arrangement.
Devil came to Him with a proposal to circumvent the due process. Bow down and worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Satan true to character offers us shortcuts to wealth occasionally. These temptations come in different forms and varying degrees but they fall under three broad categories; illegal, immoral, or sinful and in some cases, a combination of the three. A path to wealth that isn’t pure.
This temptation appeals to the greed in man or the desperation of the moment and causes us to take a shortcut. Very few go seeking an illegal shortcut. Some do, but most were tempted and fell into the trap which ultimately became a lifestyle. We must have the presence of mind to discern when a decision or course of action would be seen as a shortcut in the eyes of God. The litmus test lies in three simple questions. Is it illegal? Is it immoral? Does it cause me to disobey God?
Jesus was eventually going to have the kingdoms and more through the proper channels. Likewise, with devotion to your financial vision, hard work, some discipline and God’s favor, you will have the results that you currently crave and tempt you. It is achievable by going the right way and the only reason Satan would offer it through deception is he knows it is within your reach. Its pointless to try to lure someone off track if he wasn’t on to something. He would never gamble with something you originally have no shot at getting. That’s a bad investment. Remember Gehazi the servant of Elisha in 2 Kings 5:20-27 went after riches through the shortcut and ended up leprous.
“Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.” – Proverbs 10:2 (NIV)
“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” – Proverbs 13:11 (NLT)
Jesus responded by saying, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’ Remember, you cannot serve God and money. Jesus was not suggesting that we should be poor. His argument was that when there is a conflict between God and money, your choices must clearly be in favor of God. Seek first to serve God and be righteous, and all other things will be added. The priority and ultimate loyalty must be to God therefore we can walk away from those situations that present a conflict. What shall it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?