• Michael Haldas

Idols and Prosperity


“Idolatry is making anything more important than God, and our lives are full of that temptation. Money, looks, success, reputation, security—these are today’s idols.” (Life Application Study Bible, Leviticus 26:1-46)

“When God discloses our attachments, our inordinate loves, and the idolatrous bondages in our lives, He is urging us to sell all – to do whatever is necessary to rid ourselves of anything holding us back from life in Him.” (Dynamis 12/21/2014)

“Jesus does not ask all believers to sell everything they have, although this may be His will for some. He does ask us all, however, to get rid of anything that has become more important in life than God. If your possessions take first place in your life, it would be better for you to get rid of them.” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 18:22-23)

"The deceitful charms of prosperity destroy more souls than all the scourges of adversity." (St.

Bernard)

“Idols are either false gods or things that turn us away from God…Whatever a man seeks, honors, or exalts more than God, is idolatry… When man puts his own interests above the spiritual, moral, and liturgical things of God, prosperity is fleeting.”(Orthodox Study Bible, 1 John 5:21, Zechariah 8:9, 10, William Ullathorne)

“Human beings have a tendency to invent idols. Whether grounded in our fear and need to control, or some other deep inner force, we simply have a way of creating false images of God.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The things of this world, when separated from God, deceptively promise fulfillment in the heart that they are incapable of delivering.” (Archimandrite Sergius)

“Reverence for material things is in itself a healthy and natural movement of the heart and mind.“How magnified are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all; the earth is filled with Thy creation” (Ps 103:26). Trouble begins when we “exchange of the truth of God for the lie” (Rom 1:25). Men start to believe that creation holds supreme value and deserves our highest reverence and devotion. Here we find the source of idolatry...We see precisely what is wrong with the secular culture around us: a supreme devotion to and worship of material things to the exclusion of all else.” (OCPM 2/17/2016)

“We engage in idolatry when our hearts and minds attach faith, reverence, and fear to persons or things – when we direct our energies to creatures rather than the Creator.” (Dynamis 7/22/2015)

“God sent His Son. He didn’t leave us or abandon us. He wants to save us. He wants to lead us and direct us to truth, goodness, holiness, and happiness. Again the Gospel tells us faith in anything other than God, who became man in Jesus, is idolatry. We may be so scattered in our

lives that we look everywhere but towards Jesus for an answer or a direction or a purpose or

meaning to our life." (Father John Zeyack)

“Power, status, appearance or material possessions can become our gods if we devote our lives to them. But when we reach times of crisis and desperately call out to these gods, there will only be silence. They can offer no true answers, no guidance, no wisdom.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Kings 18:29)

“Ambition! We must be careful what we mean by it. If it means the desire to get ahead of other people—which is what I think it does mean—then it is bad. If it means simply wanting to do a thing well, then it is good.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock)

“Material possessions, dreams of the future, approval of others, and vocational goals compete for our total commitment [to God].” (Life Application Study Bible, Jeremiah 1:16)

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold it would be a merrier world." (J.R.R. Tolkien)

"Idolatry is still a serious problem today, but it takes a different form. We don’t put our trust in statues of wood and stone but in paper money and plastic cards. Putting our trust in anything but God is idolatry.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:14)

“An idol can be almost any attitude, concept, person or material possession that strokes our own self-worth and takes our eyes off what God wants for our lives.” (NIV Men's Devotional Bible)

“Our hearts seldom remain neutral when possessing this world’s goods…The material things we possess can either help us grow toward the grace of God or turn us away from the true life in Christ.” (Dynamis 10/6/2014)

"When God discloses our attachments, our inordinate loves, and the idolatrous bondages in our lives, He is urging us to sell all – to do whatever is necessary to rid ourselves of anything holding us back from life in Him.” (Dynamis 1/19/2014)

“In subtle, imperceptible ways we become like the idols we worship.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalms 135:15-18)

"God is ..the creator of both the material and the spiritual dimensions of reality…our deepest needs our spiritual.” ( Goarch.com, Life Application Study Bible, Psalms 34:9-10)

“Our hearts are preoccupied with the material. To recover our God-given nature, it is necessary to first reject this orientation and then seek to live the life of the Spirit. The Lord Jesus says plainly:"You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24). To be united to the Lord, our focus first and foremost must be on prayer, meditation, worship…” (Dynamis 3/14/2014)

“Jesus says we can have only one master. We live in a materialistic society where many people serve money. They spend all their lives collecting and storing it, only to die and leave it behind. Their desire for money and what it can buy far outweighs their commitment to God and spiritual matters.” (Life Application Study Bible, Matthew 6:24)

“A man may work hard to acquire money only to discover at the end of the day that the money actually acquired him.” (Douglas Wilson)

"In what does the true wealth of a man consist? In his image and likeness to God, and not in lands, nor money; neither in various earthly sciences and arts, nor in property of various kinds, nor in many servants, nor in many clothes, nor, in general, in a multitude of earthly blessings, for all these are corruptible, and temporal; while the soul – the image of God – is eternal, and its riches are virtue, holiness, humility, gentleness, temperance in all things, faith, hope, and above all, love!" (St. John of Kronstadt)

“Why do the Ten Commandments begin with a prohibition of idolatry? It is…because we never break the other commandments without breaking the first.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“There is always the danger, in this scientific age, that we will discount the possibility of falling into idolatry. The Israelites seem so unsophisticated when they demand the creation of"gods that shall go before us.” Yet we modern thinkers often show ourselves capable of being captivated by secular things and ideas. We fall into the trap of giving persons, programs, movements, or theories the devoted attention and obeisance due to God alone. This constitutes idolatry – the fashioning of other gods. This temptation is especially active when we are inconvenienced, fearful, or insecure.” (Dynamis 12/21/2013)

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.” (C. S. Lewis)

"In Christ, life is intended to have purpose. Perhaps we all too easily become worshipers of life. We may make life itself into an idol….to make anything, including life, into the"be all and end all,” squeezes God out of the picture. It is our relationship with God in life that enables us to make sense out of seeming nonsense. Even when sense and purpose seem to escape us, we trust that one day we will understand. On that day we will come face to face with the author of life.” (Philip W. Williams)

"The man who is dissatisfied with his house and food will not become happy with more money; this is because one desire leads to another, he will soon want an even bigger house and even better food. Happiness for him can only be achieved by looking inward, and learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming greed into gratitude… Riches are not forbidden, but the pride of them is." (St. John Chrysostom)

“He [God] made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalms 99:3 LXX, Psalms 100:3)

“God is our creator; we did not create ourselves. Many people live as though they are the creator and center of their own little world. This mind-set leads to pride, greed, idolatry, and if everything should be taken away, a loss of hope itself. But when we realize that God created us and gives us all we have, we will want to give to others as God gave to us.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalm 100:3)

"When the strengths and attributes of powerful humans or animals are revered or the cycles of nature are honored without reference to God who created them, this is idolatry." (Life Application Study Bible, Deuteronomy 4:19)

“Since the dawn of time, resistance to God has been the hallmark of the human race – the great problem plaguing every man and woman.” (Dynamis 5/28/2014)

“Someone who does not think of himself but thinks constantly of others, in the good sense, will be thought of constantly by God; and then others will also think of him. The more one forgets himself, the more God remembers him." (Elder Paisios the Athonite)

“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Jesus Christ, Luke 12:15)

"To be wealthy and to serve God is extremely difficult. Often-times those who have money and possessions make Gods of them and ignore the One through whom they were able to acquire them.” (Marianne C. Sailus)

“Today, idols may take a different form (home, clothing, possessions) but what doesn’t change is that tangible objects are valued more than intangible realities (spiritual growth, salvation, giving to those in need, spending time with loved ones).” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalms 115:4-8)

“We’ve all gone through times when material things or exciting events have become more important to us than God...It’s easy to forget that earthly things—no matter how attractive they appear—are worthless and temporary substitutes for God’s love. We create our own idols and set up our own places to worship them. But every idol, no matter how shiny or attractive at the beginning, will inevitably tarnish and fade away over time.” (NIV Men's Devotional Bible)"Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time." (Margaret Bonnano)

“...the Creator has control over the created object. The created object, therefore, has no right to demand anything from its Creator—its very existence depends on him. Keeping this perspective removes any temptation to have pride in personal achievement.” (Life Application Study Bible, Romans 9:21)

"God owns everything and gives us all good things in life. He gives us the strength to work, healthy minds and bodies and the motivation to achieve. In fact, we can’t even take credit for the air we’re breathing or the fact that our chest continues to rise and fall or that our heart keeps beating. Each moment we live in this life is a gift from his hand.” (NIV Men's Devotional Bible)

“As long as you think there is a pretty good chance that you will achieve some of your dreams, as long as you think you have a shot at success, you experience your inner emptiness as"drive” and your anxiety as"hope.” And so you can remain almost completely oblivious to how deep your thirst actually is. Most of us keep telling ourselves that the reason we remain unfulfilled is because we simply haven’t been able to achieve our goals. And so we can live almost our entire lives without admitting to ourselves the depth of our spiritual thirst.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

"Once the deep thirst for God dawns on us, we must focus our efforts on the work of salvation if we are to avoid falling into these temptations and delusions. Our experience is rather like that of a pilot searching for a place to land – we need to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, our controller. We follow the Spirit’s direction, devoting ourselves to God and His path to salvation.” (Dynamis 6/8/2014)

“Let us learn to deny our very selves and follow Jesus. Riches cannot buy us happiness or everlasting life. For it is only through God that we may obtain these priceless things.” (Marianne C. Sailus)

"True happiness comes only from God, not earthly possessions. Unfortunately, many people think that money can buy happiness and contentment...Money cannot buy happiness. It may buy things, but not health, love, or anything that truly matters. In fact, money can buy misery. The rich, especially the suddenly rich, can be plagued by worrying that money to the point of mental illness." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“…what do we really consider important in our lives? The world presents us with much that it sees as important (money, power, work, prestige, etc.). It make all these things look very attractive...these things are not necessarily bad unless they take the place of what should be our highest priority—living a Christ-centered life. We must remember that this world and everything in it is temporary. Our days are numbered; the amount of time we spend in this life can not even compare to the eternity of the kingdom to come. We will all pass from this world and when we do, it will not matter what educational degrees we had, what material possessions we owned, or if we kept up with the Joneses. What will matter is if we worked to live a Christ-centered life…” (Melissa K. Tsongranis)

"Only in God are we truly safe and secure. Anything else is false security. Whether you are surrounded by mighty walls of stone, a comfortable home, or a secure job, no one can predict what tomorrow may bring. Our relationship with God is the only security that cannot be taken away.” (Life Application Study Bible, 2 Samuel 5:6-7)

"Do you spend more of your time piling up possessions or striving to develop Christ-like character?” (Life Application Study Bible, Peter 3:10-11)

“… Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.” (C. S. Lewis)

“Is there something inherently wrong with wealth in and of itself? Not at all! The danger of riches lies in how the heart orients itself to them… The threat is that we will love riches inordinately and set our heart upon them. The setting of the heart defines the matter, for that upon which we set our heart shapes our thinking and actions.” (Dynamis 12/21/2014)

"In a world where consumerism is the new golden calf, we think that having things will make us happy. Actually, it is often the reverse, as we are held hostage by the many things in our lives. But happiness doesn't come from having thing. Rather, having things can actually cause a fear. The poor person who wants nothing does not fear his/her things being stolen, because there's nothing to steal. The anxiety that comes from wanting to protect property is nonexistent for the person who doesn't own the property." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“…everyone is religious in some fashion. We all pay homage to something, or someone, above all else. Whatever we devote ourselves to is the"god” we serve. Our temple may be dedicated to the worship of comfort, wealth, prestige, ego, sex, pleasure, power, health, duty, or pleasing others. Potential idols are everywhere.” (Dynamis 11/26/2014)

“Often the desire for more or better possessions is really a longing to fill an empty place in a person’s life. To what are you drawn when you feel empty inside? How can you find true contentment? The answer lies in your perspective, your priorities, and your source of power.” (Life Application Study Bible, Philippians 4:12-13)

"Jesus says that the good life has nothing to do with being wealthy...This is the exact opposite of what society usually says. Advertisers spend millions of dollars to entice us to think that if we buy more and more of their products, we will be happier, more fulfilled, more comfortable...Learn to tune out expensive enticements and concentrate instead on the truly fulfilled life—living in a relationship with God and doing His work.” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 12:15)

“In subtle imperceptible ways we become like the idols we worship. If the true God is your God, you will become more like Him as you worship Him.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalm 135:15-18)

“Prosperity, more than poverty, can dull our spiritual vision because it tends to make us selfsufficient and eager to acquire still more of everything—except God. The same thing can happen in our church. Once we become successful in terms of numbers, programs, and buildings, we can easily become self-sufficient and less sensitive to our need for God. This leads us to concentrate on self-preservation rather than thankfulness and service to God.” (Life Application Study Bible, Deuteronomy 6:10-13)

"Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is"finding his place in it,” while really it is finding its place in him." (C. S. Lewis)

“We can stand affliction better than we can prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God.” (D. L. Moody)

"The problem among the children of Israel was a heart problem. Their heart was attached to this world, rather than to the Lord. This same problem persists in many today, but the door to the kingdom remains open to those who are willing to be detached from materialism and turn their hearts to Him." (Orthodox Study Bible' Deuteronomy 5:29)

“Examine your attitudes toward wealth and comfort. If you focus more on what you don’t have than on what you do have, it’s time to reexamine your priorities and put God’s work back in first place.” (Life Application Study Bible, Acts 20:33)

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

“…money, jobs and careers, and material things do not increase happiness beyond a temporary moment of satisfaction.” (Sacramental Living)

"One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give and so fail to realize your need for God.” (C.S. Lewis)

“Many people think that life is based on satisfying their appetites. If they can earn enough money to dress, eat, and play in high style, they think they are living"the good life.” But such things do not satisfy our deepest longings. In the end they leave us empty and dissatisfied.” (Life Application Study Bible, Deuteronomy 8:3)

“We may build many monuments to ourselves (expensive clothes, big house, fancy car, and important job) to call attention to our achievements. These may not be wrong in themselves, but when we use them to give us identity and self-worth, they may take God’s place in our lives.” (Life Application Study Bible, Genesis 11:4)

"A person is a slave to whatever controls him or her. Many believe that freedom means doing anything we want. But no one is ever completely free in that sense.” (Life Application Bible, 2 Peter 2:19)

“Whatever you possess must not possess you; whatever you own must be under the power of your soul; for if your soul is overpowered by the love of this world's goods, it will be totally at the mercy of its possessions." (Pope St. Gregory the Great)

“Our world is a material world. We are constantly presented with technological advances and improvements and sentiments such as:"He who has the most toys wins!” We must learn how to hold on to material things lightly with our fingertips, rather than grasp them firmly with our fists, if we are to avoid being mastered by them. We are stewards of the world, not owners.” (Fr. Joseph Irvin)

"The love of worldly possessions is a sort of birdlime, which entangles the soul and prevents it flying to God." (St. Augustine of Hippo)

"One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters." (J. R. R. Tolkien)

“Adam and Eve tried to become like God without God. They turned to the fruit of creation for knowledge and life and fulfillment rather than to the One Who had created all things and is the only source of life...In the same way, we also look to this world to give us life and fulfillment. We try to find meaning in our lives somewhere within creation rather than in our Creator.” (Clark Carlton)

“How frequently and easily we become sidetracked and expend our energies on things and issues of the world, and forget Christ. It is God that we were created to serve and worship, not the world.” (Fr. Joseph Irvin)

“Many"gods” entice us to turn away from God. Material possessions, dreams for the future, approval of others, and vocational goals compete for our total commitment." (Life Application Study Bible, Jeremiah 1:16)

“People who invest much or most of their energy into the goals of personal achievement and happiness are the most vulnerable to the adverse circumstances of life.” (Robert A. Emmons)

“Jesus calls mammon (“riches”) a master not because wealth is evil by nature, but because of the control it has over people…The more we love this life’s rewards (leisure, power, popularity, financial security), the more we will discover how empty they really are. The best way to enjoy life, therefore, is to loosen our greedy grasp on earthly rewards so that we can be free to follow Christ.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 6:24, Life Application Study Bible, Matthew 10:39)

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