Are we money masters or do we have money masters controlling our lives? It is one or the other. There is no neutral when it comes to money.
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller zeros in on this in his chapter Money Changes Everything. In a masterful dissection of the Almighty Dollar’s hold in a person’s heart with its various manifestations, Keller leads the reader to understand that addressing the surface issues won’t effectively kill our being mastered by money. There is something deeper at work that uses things like money to obtain its desires. It is this deep rooted issue that must be attacked. The question becomes, “How do we get rid of this deep rooted idol?” Keller offers this prescription:
This is why idols cannot be dealt with by simply eliminating surface idols like money or sex. We can look at them and say, “I need to de-emphasize this in my life. I must not let this drive me. I will stop it.” Direct appeals like this won’t work, because the deep idols have to be dealt with a the heart level. There is only one way to change at the heart level and that is through faith in the gospel (p 66).
The solution to stinginess is a reorientation to the generosity of Christ in the gospel, how he poured out his wealth for you. Now you don’t have to worry about money – the Cross proves God’s care for you and gives you the security. Now you don’t have to envy anyone else’s money. Jesus’s love and salvation confers on you a remarkable status – one that money cannot give you. Money cannot save you from tragedy, or give you control in a chaotic world. Only God can do that. What breaks the power of money over us is not just redoubled effort to follow the example of Christ. Rather, it is deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ, what you have in him, and then living out the changes that that understanding makes in your heart – the seat of your mind, will and emotions. Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding and identity, our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without a complete change of heart will be superficial and fleeting (p 68).