Would a little extra money satisfy any of your desires? Do you want to decrease your liabilities? Perhaps you desire to reduce your mortgage, pay off your car, or eliminate credit card debt. Do you want to increase your assets? Maybe you would like to buy a new car, a new boat, a new house, a new set of golf clubs, a new technological device, or a new piece of jewelry. Money in and of itself is not evil. Owning stuff is not from the devil. The problem occurs when the stuff owns us. Ironically, it isn’t money that we desire, rather it is something deeper.
God created us with at least four primary desires. The first desire is significance, which came from being created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The second desire is contentment from being blessed by God to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue (bring contentment to) the earth (Genesis 1:28). The third desire is control from being empowered by God to rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28). The fourth desire is security from being given every seed bearing plant and fruit bearing tree (Genesis 1:29-30). These desires flow vertically from the heart of God into each one of our hearts and then horizontally in our relationships with others (Genesis 2:18).
The first sin was pride, man desiring satisfaction of these desires apart from God (Genesis 3:5-6), who had created Adam and Eve with humble hearts. The object of their desires was their Creator who satisfied them. Pride made man the object of his own desires. Now each person is born with and chooses a proud heart (Genesis 8:21). He trusts in his giftedness rather than his godliness.
Money is pride’s measurement of our giftedness (time, talent, and treasure). Wisdom is humility’s measurement of our godliness (Christ in us). Christ is the image of God (Hebrews 1:3). He is humble in heart (Matthew 11:29), and He is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Humility is the beginning of His wisdom in our lives (Proverbs 11:2).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned his disciples about attempting to satisfy their desires with money, offering wisdom as the alternative. The first desire He addressed was significance (Matthew 6:19-21).
Pride seeks significance from money. Jesus taught: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19). Why do we store up treasures on earth? We do so in order to find significance, which is expressed meaning, purpose, importance, or value. Significance can be encapsulated in attention, acceptance, affection, and approval. Notice that the first four letters of significance comprise the word “sign,” which says, “Look at me.” People might say, “Look at him. He is successful.” Others says, “Look at her. She’s got it all.” We often say to ourselves, “Storing up this stuff really satisfies. I feel significant.”
The result is insignificance. “Where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). In the end, the stuff is just that, stuff. The more we pursue it as the satisfaction of our desires, the more we thirst for more. The result is a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction.
Have you ever sought significance from money? What was the result?
Humility stores up relationships. Jesus continued: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 5:20). Relationships are the only treasure that we can store up in heaven because they are eternal. These relationships flow vertically in communion with God and horizontally in community with others.
Our treasures reveal the object of our desires. Jesus elaborated: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 5:21). Valuing people over profit, or relationships over remuneration, is what God designed for our lives. A proud heart searches for significance from money. A humble heart discovers significance in a relationship with God in Christ and shares that relationship with others.
The result is the love of God in Christ (John 3:16; 1:14). Christ is the love of God, a love that is so undeserved, a favor that is so unmerited, that it’s called grace. Paul wrote, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). God humbled Himself in Jesus Christ offering us the satisfaction of our desires when we humble our hearts to Christ. Only He truly satisfies our desires. This frees us to bring His satisfying Spirit to our relationships with a love that sacrificially serves others.
Discover the satisfaction of your desire for significance in the love of Christ and carry that love to others. Initiate conversations with your customers and prospects, whether you are in sales or service. Get to know them, asking questions and listening, rather than attempting to sell them a product or service. Do it just for the sake of relationship — storing up treasures in heaven rather than for storing up treasures on earth. With your spouse and family, connect relationally, serving them rather than expecting them to serve you. You will be satisfied. You will be significant. You will be loved. When we humbly center our lives in Christ, we discover that His love is greater than our desire for significance.