Attitudes About Money
May 3, 2019
The Bible explains that idolatry is one of the most offensive things to God. When God gave the Ten Commandments, the first three commandments dealt with this issue. God explained that He was the LORD God who delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. He was the One that made the false gods and idols of Egypt look cheap and worthless. God proved that He alone is God and there is no other. Therefore, He commanded the children of Israel to worship Him as God, and Him alone. He commanded them to abstain from worshiping false gods and idols like the Egyptians. He commanded the people to keep from taking His name in vain; perverting the glory, holiness, and righteousness of God by associating Him with the corrupted things of the world. It didn’t take long for Israel to break those commandments, and it didn’t take God long to start judging the people for their disobedience. The extent of God’s judgments against Israel’s idolatry reveals the extent of offense it brings against God. In fact, the Bible goes so far as to compare idolatry to adultery. When God’s people desire and pursue the affections of the flesh in order to gratify self in place of serving and worshiping God, He looks at that as though He’s being cheated on. God desires to be a loving husband to His people as His bride. When His people go off chasing personal ambitions and corruptible ways of living in place of Him, He sees an adulterous relationship and responds as a jealous husband would!
This is why idolatry is such a dangerous situation. Not only are we prone to wander from God as human beings, but we are also prone to join ourselves to ideas, concepts, people, and things that take the place of God in our lives. When this happens, the Bible makes it clear that God is offended and will respond in some way. Idolatry is devastating to our relationship with God just as adultery is to a marriage relationship. Thus, the testimony of Job shows that he was diligent to stay as far away from idolatry as he could. In Job 31:25-28 the Bible shows that Job defended his integrity and faith towards God by explaining his diligence to abstain from idolatry. It is true that Job was wealthy and prosperous, but never allowed those things to go to his head or his heart. Job testified that, while God provided great riches, he never let those riches consume him so that money and the influence that came from material gain consumed his heart and mind.
The testimony of Job 31:25-28 begins by stating that Job never allowed his wealth to become his hope. Lots of people put hope into money. Since debt can be a heavy burden, people put hope into the increase of money so that the debt can be paid off and life can become more manageable. Since personal goals and ambitions usually require funding of some kind, people put hope into money, hoping to find enough to propel them into the fulfillment of their ideas. The problem is that being free of debt does not provide any spiritual benefit at all. Being able to fulfill personal desires and ambitions doesn’t provide any spiritual benefit at all. When people stand before God in judgment, He will not consider our bank statements. The Bible teaches that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it – including the money we think we’ve earned or that is our possession for a time. Job understood these truths. Though he was wealthy, he didn’t figure his money to have any bearing on his relationship with God whatsoever. His possession of great wealth didn’t immediately qualify him as someone “blessed” of God, nor did it disqualify him as a humble child of God. Job understood that money was an amoral object and did not let his heart consider his wealth to be anything more than a tool he could use to glorify God.
As a result, Job didn’t promote his wealth as if it made him better than others. He never attributed his possession of gold as the means by which he was able to serve others. Though Job used his money to take care of his needs, the needs of his family, and the needs of others, he never told others that his money was the cause of his service. Job never let his mouth speak of money as if it was the means of his confidence and assurance for spiritual things. Though Job was rich at one point, he didn’t want other people to think that his riches made him a better person and a more able person. Plenty of people have been rich and been unable to serve the purposes of God because their hearts were idolatrous. Job made sure that he didn’t allow his words to present the idea to others that his money was the cause of his ability to glorify God.
Job explained that his previous joy was not because of his wealth. Thus, his current misery was not because of the absence of wealth. Job previously declared that his chief concerning in his suffering was the apparent silence from God. When Job was wealthy, he clearly heard and received the revelation of God. His money was not the means by which he measured his blessedness. Job understood that his fellowship with God was more valuable than all the riches in the world. Job knew that his money had nothing to do with that fellowship. Job understood that God was not a respecter of persons, and that his relationship with God was not the cause of his wealth, nor any specific disobedience the cause of his poverty. Job rejoiced previously because he was able to receive God’s Word freely and he never considered money to be the cause or effect.
Likewise, Job explained that he never considered himself to be the cause of his wealth. Job knew that his prosperity was the result of God’s sovereign grace. Job was prosperous because God was determined to make him prosperous according to His sovereign determination. Job didn’t earn his wealth for himself or from God. The Bible never suggests that God made Job wealthy because he was blameless and upright. Job remained blameless and upright and yet God offered Job up to the devil for torment and suffering. Job’s heart didn’t change, but Job’s circumstances dramatically changed. This shows that Job was right to consider God the cause of his increase. Job knew that his riches weren’t the result of God’s “blessings” because he obeyed God or had faith. God was not obligated to reward Job in that way for his faith, and Job understood that. It is true that Job served God with his wealth, but Job never considered his service to God as merits that God rewarded with blessings.
The reason that Job never let his money go to his head and his heart was because he abstained from idolatry all around. Many Bible scholars date the Book of Job around the time of Abraham. During the days of Abraham, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars was common and prevalent in their culture. When God called Abraham to leave his home in order to head towards the Promised Land, God was calling Abraham out of the Babylonian region and worship system where they honored the sun, moon, and stars as if they were gods. When the children of Israel entered the Promised Land much later, the native inhabitants of the land adopted the same culture, showing that this form of idolatry was the dominant religious practice in that region for a long time. This is the region that Job lived in and would have been surrounded by these sorts of things that offended God. The testimony of Job 31:24-28 explains that Job never worshiped the sun, moon, and stars like the pagan cultures that surrounded him. He never adopted their manner of living. He never compromised in this manner to be accepted by the general population. Job confessed that his life was committed to God and God alone. He didn’t worship God’s creation instead of God as the Creator. Understanding God to be the Creator and sovereign Lord over all things, Job kept things in perspective. If the greatness of the sun didn’t impress him to worship the sun like everyone else, neither did his money, which was far lesser in glory.
Job acknowledged that if he had been guilty of idolatry in any of these ways, he would have been subject to God’s judgments, bringing great offense against Him. Job surrendered to the righteous judgments of God and accepted the consequences of idolatry. Job knew God was right to be offended by idolatry. Job feared the judgments of God and so made sure to flee from idolatry as best as he could. He kept idolatrous culture out of his life, which helped him keep idolatrous thinking out of his mind and his heart. Had Job indulged in the pagan practices that surrounded him, or succumb to the common lifestyles of those around him, Job would have been susceptible to God’s judgments, and rightly so. Job felt confident that he was not a hypocrite like his friends accused because he was sure to keep from offending God in these ways, and knew his heart was clean in these areas.