How sympathetic would you be if someone were distressed about losing a book under the pile of money in their back room? Perhaps it depends on the book. Hilkiah, a Jewish priest, found the book of the Law given by Moses under a pile of money in the temple storehouse. Of all of the material possessions in the temple, this book should have been the most important because the very future of Israel hinged upon the people faithfully following all the terms of that law. In fact, to ensure the book’s survival, God commanded Israel to keep it beside the Ark of the Covenant. Yet this critical document had been lost, buried under a pile of money in the temple storehouse.
What a picture this paints for America today! We live in a society focused on money, even within the church. TV, radio, and all kinds of literature offer money management advice, money saving offers, get-rich-quick schemes, etc. They tell you what you want and what you deserve, and then proceed to tell you how to buy it. Then you throw in talk of a Depression and rising unemployment rates, and who can ignore the subject? In March, 2006, National Geographic featured an article on Houston’s River Oaks. It gives a roadmap for navigating the social scene behind the curtains of major oil money. Is this truly what Americans seek at the end of our rainbow?
People who do not live to save big and spend big still subscribe to the principle: work hard, buy a house and save up for college and retirement. Even most Christians with a true heart for God subscribe to that American dream. So what is wrong with this picture? Somewhere along the way, God’s commandment got lost in the pile.
Jesus said to love God first with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So what is our purpose for the day? Do we go to work to achieve a particular quality of life, or do we see our job as part of God’s plan for us in the advancement of His Kingdom? Are we seeking prosperity from God, or are we seeking the heart of God? Are we pursuing the American dream, or are we pursuing God’s dream?
This is not a matter of isolating ourselves from the world around us, living in little “Christian-only” groups, and doing “religious” activities only. The apostle Paul worked as a tentmaker during part of his ministry. But as Paul worked his purpose and focus never strayed from his calling. He did not work to make a living or to pursue worldly goals, no matter how reasonable they might seem. God was the center of all that Paul did. We are not to work hard in order to buy a house and save up for college and retirement. We are to serve God with all our heart in the work place, and let Him arrange for the house, college and retirement!
Money has assumed a position of far greater importance in the storehouses of our hearts than it was ever due. Let us take that with which we have been blessed and apply it to God’s work. And this time with God’s commandment once again in hand, let us not find another shelf for its safe-keeping. Rather let us wear it close to our hearts – the New Testament Ark of the Covenant – lest we lose it again.