The final play in an NFL match-up between the Packers and Seahawks seemed to expose to the nation why the real referees are so important to maintain the integrity of the game from an officiating perspective. Just ask Roger Goodell who reportedly received 70,000 voicemails overnight as a result of the decision to award the Seahawks the touchdown and win.
While this one call launched a media wildfire, and seemed to be the tipping point for everyone who loves professional football, there have been many signs since the pre-season that have proved the value of the real referees. While not perfect, many are excited about their return due to the recent resolution.
In a similar way, we can function through everyday life serving and depending on a ‘replacement god’ instead of the real God of the universe. This too will bring about a compromise of integrity in our lives as followers of Christ and faulty decision-making.
Jesus surfaces this issue in Matthew 6:24 where he shares, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
In this passage Jesus draws a clear dividing line between God and our wealth. He makes it clear that if we are serving our wealth we cannot also serve Him.
3 Signs We Are Serving Wealth
1. Pursuing of financial security.
While many would rarely admit their pursuit of financial security, I find it common in America. Many are chasing after a certain dollar figure for their retirement plans, savings, investments, etc. to obtain a so-called security. Webster’s Dictionary defines security as “freedom from danger, fear or anxiety.” There is an underlying belief that if and when a figure is reached, that one can be “secure” and free of troubles.
Jesus shares a warning in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” In verses 16-21 Jesus moves on to share a parable of a man who served wealth instead of God and how this ‘replacement god’ would not provide real security.
2. Believing money will solve your problems.
“If I just get that promotion, raise, inheritance, or won the lottery, my problems would be solved.” If this type of sentiment has snuck into your thinking, it’s cause for re-evaluation. While money might temporarily alleviate a pressure, more problems are sure to find us, and inevitably we will face problems money could never solve. Money will only mask a deeper heart issue that chooses to serve a ‘replacement god’ instead of the Living God.
3. When financial growth outweighs serving others.
A preoccupation or even obsession with financial growth and performance is another warning sign. Whether it’s sports, politics or Facebook, we are all susceptible to becoming obsessed and quickly self-absorbed. How often do you check your savings or portfolio balance? How much time and energy are dedicated to profit and financial growth?
As you inventory your life, reflect briefly on how much time are you dedicating to profit and financial growth in comparison to serving others around you? Philippians 2:3 provides a good admonishment if the ‘replacement god’ of wealth has stolen our hearts, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
3 Signs We Are Serving God
1. God is our security.
If we are serving God, our lives demonstrate that He is our security, and we will turn and rest in Him each day as our security instead of wealth or another ‘replacement god’. Psalm 18:1-2 reveals David’s heart, “I love You, O Lord, my strength.” The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge.”
David was a wealthy man yet we can see that he clearly served God over his wealth. While not perfect, he rested in God for security. We must strive to follow David’s example who was endorsed by the real God as “a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22).
2. Resting in God through life’s problems.
When we serve God instead of wealth, we turn first to Him when difficult times come (and they will). We first turn to Him in prayer, submission and total dependence, rather than trying to solve the problem with money or in our own strength. Problems and difficulties become an opportunity to rest on God and His precious promises to carry us through. “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble.” (Psalm 37:39)
3. A life marked by service to others.
Jesus set the ultimate example of service to others. While on earth, his days were filled with ministry that included preaching the Gospel, teaching, raising the dead, healing, reaching the lost, feeding the hungry, and much more. While we will never fully meet this standard, we can strive to be like Christ, and be intentional about serving others. By serving others, and giving our time, talent and treasure regularly, cheerfully and sacrificially, the ‘replacement god’ of wealth, loses its grip and power.
Is God our Treasure?
I was astonished at the passion and energy dedicated to the return of the real referees to the NFL. Hundreds of thousands of people were not willing to sit on the sidelines and tolerate this compromise of integrity to the game of football. The result was a successful negotiation and restoration of the real referees.
We too should be vocal about the ‘replacement god’ of wealth and not sit on the sidelines. I challenge all followers of Christ reading this article to first rid themselves of this ‘replacement god’ and to put the real God in his rightful place. I also encourage readers to take action and let your family, friends and churches know that you will not tolerate this compromise of integrity to the Christian faith. Perhaps we too will see a national movement that leads to a successful restoration of the real God to His rightful place in the hearts of His children.
Is God your treasure? What other lessons can be learned here? Leave a comment below!