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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Three Signs That Money (Or Lack Thereof) Has Become An Idol

In case you're new to our blog, here's what the wife and I are currently wrapped up in: selling our house. Yup, that's right—what we once thought was going to be our forever home is soon to be on the market.
3 Signs That Money Has Become An Idol

Recently we were reevaluating our life priorities and realized that our house was holding us back. When we considered how important family is to us, how important our church is and the ways we want to serve God, we realized that it was time to downsize and find something cheaper.

Shortly after we published the blog post discussing some of the reasons why we were selling, a pastor friend emailed me an encouraging note. He said ever since Dani and I began doing the whole Financial Peace University thing his prayer for us has been that we wouldn't make "getting out of debt" an idol. I suppose that was always a danger. I mean, if money can become an idol for people who like to spend it, why couldn't it also become an idol for those who don't have it?

And I'm not talking about the usual concerns and struggles about making ends meet, nor do I think that making a concentrated effort to get out of debt is wrong. The Bible is rife with helpful advice on improving one's financial situation, and it also strongly warns about the dangers of debt. So, by all means, if you're in debt, get out!

When you make something an idol you basically make it more important than anything else in your life. That includes your faith, your relationships, your grades, your future... everything! And idols, if left unchecked, will eventually RUIN your life because they're RUNNING your life!

I think Dani and I have done well at not making our whole penny pinching thing an idol, but I definitely saw signs that we occasionally teetered toward the edge of making it one.

Here are three indicators that you might be making your financial woes too big of a concern in your life.

#1 Money Woes Are ALWAYS On Your Mind

Is your debt the first thing on your mind when you wake up? Does it keep you from falling asleep? Earning more, saving more, spending less, getting out of debt... thoughts along those lines that never go away are a good indicator that you're putting too much mental focus on the issue.

Along with its plethora of useful advice on money matters, the Bible also has some good advice for controlling our thoughts. It tells us to take every thought captive, to submit our thoughts to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) so that by casting our burdens on him we won't be so obsessed with the fears and worries of this life.

#2 Your Loved Ones Are Increasingly Frustrated With Your Money Talk
You may have to ask some loved ones for their opinions on this, but if you're conversations with other people are riddled with the subject of money you may just be a little to focused on it. A certain amount of money talk is healthy and necessary, but the subject shouldn't come up every day.

#3 Are These Types Of Thoughts Familiar To You?
“If I can just get out of debt, I’ll be happy.”

“Once we have a fully-funded emergency savings, I’ll relax.”

“When I finally get that raise, everything will be perfect.”

"If I had a better job we wouldn't be so strapped for cash."

"If she'd just stop spending money we could pay off more debt."

"Why does everything he has to buy cost so much?"

“If I only have [fill in the blank]…”

This is called "destination thinking," because you're always looking toward a place you can't reach because of circumstances. This type of thinking is like poison. As soon as you start saying, "If only..." you'll just find yourself wondering more often, "If only..." ... "If only..." ...

Here's the reality: if your joy is dependent on reaching your financial goals you'll never have anything but disappointment. New goals are born every day... every minute, even. Whether it's financial goals, physical goals, education goals, or career goals, there will always be a new goal in your life the moment another goal is achieved.

Just check out Solomon’s experience with this subject in the book of Ecclesiastes. If this wealthy, powerful king couldn’t find satisfaction through money, no one can. Ask God to help you find true contentment in Him. Nothing else will fully satisfy.

Financial idolatry is real, and it is alive and well in America today. But recognizing it in our lives is half the battle, as well as the first step toward rooting it out.

Keep pinchin' :-)

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant! Yes, even 'getting out of debt' can become idolatry. Our enemy is crafty, and can use seemingly "good" ideas to imprison us. I like what C.S. Lewis said about seeking heaven first:

    "Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more – food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more."