Money is a Counterfeit

Chief of Staff/Director Tim Henderson

Last week I shared some thoughts about what we love about money. It is a currency that we trade in for Power, Pleasure, Identity, Security and Rest. I suggested that those five things aren’t bad, and neither is our desire for them. This week, please notice that they share something else in common:

Each one of them is a good thing that God wants us to find in Himself.

God is the source of every one of them which is why we long for them. We are supposed to long for them! The problem isn’t that we want those things; it’s that we seek them in the wrong source. God invites us to find them in Him.

Money is a currency because we exchange it for the things that we want. But it is a counterfeit because it falsely imitates what God invites us to find in Himself. 

Consider:

God offers to be our source of Power.
Ephesians 1 exhorts us to know the riches to which he has called us, his incomparably great power for us who believe.

He also offers to be my source of Pleasure.
Who doesn’t want pleasure? In Psalm 16, He promises to “fill us with joy in his presence, with eternal pleasures at his right hand.” As C.S. Lewis says, one day we will drink joy from the foundation of joy.

God offers to be our source of Identify.
“We are hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, we also will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:4)
Can you imagine? Our identity will be in Him and He will share His glory with us. If we knew what that meant, the red carpet galas would appear as so much dress up.

He offers to be our source of Security.
He’s a strong tower, and our refuge. Jesus says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb 13:5)

He offers to be our source of Rest.
Jesus said, “Come to me all who you are weary burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

With that in mind, do you see why the Bible so often suggests a parallel between God and money? Money is a counterfeit God, and a convincing one, too. It is an incredible imitation, but it is still an imitation. It claims to provide the things that God offers in Himself. Listen to the parallelism in these texts:

“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth.” Psalms 52:7

“No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, [time out, do you know the second half of that verse?] because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

We don’t have to love or crave money because we already have the thing of which it is a counterfeit. As a lover of money, I find that penetrating.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17

Wow. My love of money betrays that I want to find the very things God offers in Himself, but I don’t want them from Him; I want them from money.

Whatever you love about money, and therefore whatever keeps you from giving it away, is found in Christ. How tightly you hold on to your money, and how tightly I hold on to my money, suggests something about whether we are allowing God to meet our desperate needs for power, pleasure, identity, security and rest.

Therefore, key to being generous is not to stop wanting pleasure, or stop needing identity. It is to experience those things in Christ, rather than in money. In fact, you will never destroy a desire, you can only supplant it by presenting to its regard another object more alluring.

Next week I have one more thought to share, about the One who is more alluring. In the meantime, honestly consider what your love of money suggests about your willingness to trust God to meet your longings.

Tim