The Most Dangerous Idol of All
Mar 8, 2021 1621
You might be surprised to know that in the teachings of Jesus, money is the most dangerous idol of all. It’s not immorality or pride or anything else. It’s money.
When you think about it, that’s a very sobering thought, because our whole society, with its economic, political, and social systems, is centred on money. Having money as the very heart of our world-view is so natural to us, that we rarely take time to think about it. Yet the truth is that you worship whatever you make the centre of your life. That becomes your idol.
There are even religions, and even Christian churches, that put money at the heart of everything.
But Jesus reserves some of his strongest statements for the topic of money. Consider, for example, this teaching:
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 (Luke 16:13, NIV).
Money isn’t only the most dangerous idol of all. It’s also the most deceptive.
What Jesus is saying here is that when you choose money you are saying that you hate God. Jesus is also saying here that we are to love God and hate money. How can these things be true? What does Jesus mean?
Money itself is neither good nor bad. It’s just a thing. It’s your relationship with money that determines your destiny. The point that Jesus is making is that no matter how sophisticated you may be, there is only one choice you can make about money: will you make God your master, or will you make money your master?
God and money will draw you in completely different directions. To serve money means that financial gain will be your prime consideration in your decisions, and you will necessarily reject God as your source of security and happiness. To serve God means to allow his will and his kingdom to reign supreme in all of your decisions. You will be able to use money wisely, being very aware of its deceptions, and without being its slave.
Two opposing examples of this in the Gospels are Matthew the Tax Collector and the Rich Young Ruler.
God and money will draw you in completely different directions.
Matthew’s life had been completely consumed by money. For money he had become a traitor to his nation and his religion. For money he had given up his morality. And for money he inflicted untold suffering upon his own people. Money was truly his idol: the worst idol of all. But when he met Jesus, he found a better master, and his life was renewed and transformed (Matt 9:9-13).
The experience of the young man whom we call the “Rich Young Ruler” was completely different. But it started the same. He too had made money his idol, although he didn’t realise it. That’s why it was so dangerous. When Jesus offered him salvation, his pocket was too full of money for anything else to fit within in (Mark 10:17-22).
You see, money isn’t only the most dangerous idol of all, it’s also the most deceptive.
What about you? To what extend is your life dominated by money?