I know from time to time you warn people about putting money in the place of God, but how do you know when that's happened? I really believe I love God, but I admit that my wife and I like a nice car or a decent home as much as the next person. Does this mean we're putting things ahead of God? — S.K.
No, not necessarily—although you should always be on guard against this, because it can happen almost without realizing it. Jesus warned us against "the deceitfulness of wealth" (Matthew 13:22)—and we need to take His words very seriously, especially in our materialistic society.
One way for you to answer your question would be to ask yourself how you would react if you suddenly lost everything you own. Would it devastate you and send you into endless depression? Or would you accept it and thank God that you were alive and still belonged to Him? Would you even see it as an opportunity to trust God more fully than you did before?
Wealth isn't necessarily wrong—as long as we don't worship things and allow them to consume us. Everything we have comes from God, and we are only stewards or trustees of our possessions. But when our goal is to impress others, or we surround ourselves with luxury and ignore the fact that most of the world lives in terrible poverty, then we have allowed things to take God's place in our lives.
The Bible says, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have" (Hebrews 13:5). Someday all the things of this world will be destroyed—but God will remain, and He alone should be our treasure.