So, my professor had us to an exercise in class this week, which was comparing one of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:3-21) with on of the 8 Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). I was assigned to compare the first commandment and the first beatitude. I must say, it was a very interesting exercise and I thought I would share my findings with you.
THE FIRST THOUGHT
that came to my mind, was when Jesus said, “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:24 NLT). Some people do not like this passage, because they believe that Christ is saying that being rich is wrong. On the contrary though, what Christ truly means here that a love of money is wrong. When we make our entire lives about making and spending money, it quickly takes priority in our lives. And according to the first commandment, that is a sin. Anything that is first priority in our lives becomes a god and is inadvertently places before God.
It is possible to be successful but not make money the primary focus of your life. A person could be wealthy, but not make their riches their priority. Jesus warns here though, because from the beginning of time, humankind has worked hard to make more and have more than everyone else. It does not take long before every thing a person does is directed at making more money so they can buy more things. As Dave Ramsey says, "The problem is when you close your hand tight around your money. You see it as all yours and not Gods. However when we open our hand, and see it as God's which is temporarily in our hands, we cannot get so attached to it," (paraphrase).
IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY,
people are surrounded with the worldview that you must make a certain amount of money, have a certain size house, drive a certain brand car, and wear certain kinds of clothes to be considered successful. I am not saying that having nice things is bad. However, in the recent years, Americans have stopped working for these items and stared financing things. Forgive my soap box, but…
When we rely on credit, financing, and loans, it is like telling God that the amount of money he provided us isn’t enough. We need something so badly that we cannot wait until we have the money because we must have it (we need it) now. I know many of you would say, “I always thank God for what he has provided me.” Do you not trust that what he gives you is enough? Jesus goes on to teach us by saying, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:26 NLT). Off the soap box, back to the topic at hand…
What really hit home for me was that Christ emphasizes here that the poor will receive the kingdom of heaven. We can interpret poor many ways (not just financially), but I think the core truth here is that only when we rely on God for everything can we be sure he is the #1 priority in our lives. When I trust God will take care of me, then I seek his guidance in my life, in all areas of my life.
ANYTHING BEFORE GOD
is the real problem, not money. God makes it very clear that he does not want our attention anywhere else when he says, "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods," (Exodus 20:5 NLT). It does not matter what it is we are putting before God. If it is ahead of him in our priorities, than it is making him jealous. Please understand me here. Being a parent and saying that you would do anything for your child does not mean your child is a false god. The Lord instructed parents to take care of their children. When God gives us any command, following that command with dedication does not make our actions go above God. We should be following those commands with the intent of please God and doing his will. In that case, God is still first in our lives.
Think about what drives you every day. Is it pleasing God, or is it something else? If it isn’t pleasing God, then you may have something in God’s place. Ask yourself, who am I trying to please, myself, society, or God? God promises us he will give us the strength we need to counter the sinful ways of the world. If you have something in your life that is in place of God, ask him to help you get rid of it.