Exodus 32:4-5 “So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a goldencalf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!””
Exodus 35:20-22 “Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord.”
Money: it’s a gift from God for everyone that has it, at least for those who have acquired it by legitimate means. Indeed, the Bible tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17).” It also says, “What do you have that you did not receive (1 Corinthians 4:7).” That includes the very ability to earn money, for God has given us the ability to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). What we do with that wealth is a choice that God gives each and every one of us.
In the verses above from Exodus, we see these choices demonstrated in a stark contrast. In one account, we see the Israelites taking their gold and forming a golden calf as an idol in direct disobedience to God’s command. In the other, we see these same people (at least those who hadn’t died in God’s judgment for the sin of the golden calf) willingly giving of their gold for the construction of the tabernacle, which would be the focal point of their worship in their wilderness wanderings. With this contrast we see that wealth can be either an object of worship, or an object for worship.
In the New Testament we are told that “the Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7),” and we are also told that “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).” You see, it is in the use of such a mundane thing as money that the contrast between a heart that loves God and a heart that does not can be seen. If money is something we are focused on – and it’s hard not to be – in that we constantly want more of it and the things it can buy – and to give it away to serve God in any way feels like it is being pried from our fingers, we are following the example of Israel in the golden calf incident. However, if we are thrilled to use the resources God has given us to serve Him, be it in helping the needy, giving to missions, or any other worship-focused thing, it is a sign that God is the God we worship rather than the things He has given us.
May God give us willing hearts to serve Him with the blessings He has poured into our lives, for that’s the thing that glorifies Him and brings joy to the heart of those who love Him.