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Commentary: The subtle deception we all face

FARGO — My greatest fears and life wounds are: the fear of rejection, abandonment, loneliness and failure. Growing up I felt "poor" so my entire life the spirit of money has whispered in my ear that money would protect me from my fears; money would insulate me from the pain of rejection, abandonment and loneliness, and as long as I had money I would never feel like a failure. Is that true? Of course not! Money makes promises it is unable to deliver with the goal of ruling our lives. This is exactly why Jesus said we cannot serve God and money.

There have been times in my life, through the subtle influence of money, I made decisions around my fears rather than listening to the voice of God. And when I followed my fears I got off-track. In the Old Testament there is an instance when the Israelites started on a path for spiritual growth and they got off-track. Once they got off-track, guess what led them further off track and kept them off-track for 16 years? Yes, the spirit of money. They chased money and stuff, and in so doing they wandered from God.

God, through the prophet Haggai, had to talk to them about money in order to wake them up spiritually and bring them back. Isn't that interesting? Haggai had to talk about money in order to re-ignite faith, spiritual obedience and growth. Jesus wasn't stating something out of "left field" when he warned us that we cannot serve two masters. We either serve God or money.

In 1 Timothy 6:17, a pastor named Paul gave clear instructions to a young pastor, Timothy, what he needed to remind Christians of: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

We are tempted to think "I am not rich" because we rank our wealth on our present neighborhood rather than on our present world. The website globalrichlist.com indicates if you make $25,000 per year you are in the top 2 percent wealthiest people in the world. Based on a world population of 6 billion people, if you make $25,000 per year there are 5,879,784,793 people who would trade places with you. That is very humbling.

As a pastor, I talk about the spirit of money, financial freedom and managing our money God's way at Prairie Heights. Money is the greatest competition God has for the affection of our hearts. Money is my greatest temptation to ease my fears. I long to be a man who loves God with all of my heart and loves people with no strings attached. If the spirit of money operates unbridled in my life I will get off-track and lose my foundation.

Here is Haggai's warning: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." Let's invest our money in causes that will provide a Godly harvest!

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