I wrote a lot about the Bible and money, and now I'd like to write a bit about how people often conflate their views of God and money. Paul wrote to his young disciple Timothy:
1 Timothy 6:10Note that there's nothing wrong with money itself, but rather with the love of money. Jesus also recognized the competition for worship between God and money.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Luke 16:13Money is a powerful tool because it represents the value we create for the community around us and it can be exchanged with other people to get them to do what we want. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't know how to build a couch, so when I need a couch I work, get paid, and then trade my money (which represents my labor) to someone else in exchange for a couch (the product of their labor). It's an excellent system, and far more efficient than direct bartering. After all, I build satellites, and it's hard to trade satellites for food or housing. Money that is gained dishonestly is obviously tainted, but money that is earned through honest labor is worthy of respect because it represents that the earner has contributed to the well-being of his fellow man.
"No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money."
So money is a tool, and as such it increases the capabilities of its owner. I can't drive a nail into a plank with my bare hands, but I can do it easily if I've got a hammer. The reason people tend towards loving money should be pretty obvious: we tend to love ourselves quite a bit, and we take an immense amount of pride in the wonderful things we can accomplish. Love of money is fundamentally love of self. Look at what I've earned, look how powerful I am, look at everything I can accomplish.
People who love money tend to view God in the same way: as a tool. They think that if they say the right words (prayer) or act in certain ways (e.g., going to church) then God will do what they want him to do. To many people, religion is all about manipulating God into giving them what they want. Why? Because at the root they love themselves, and even their religion is all about them. These people see God as a genie in a bottle and think that if they rub him the right way he'll pop out and grant their wishes. After all, that's how money works.
Loving money -- and the power it brings -- warps our view of God. Rather than loving God and seeking a relationship with him, we try to enslave him. Rather than realizing that he is the master and we are the servants, we reverse the roles. Unlike money, which is a tool, God has his own purposes and his own desires, and he wants to use us to accomplish them, not vice versa.
So instead of valuing money as a tool to be used towards loving ends (e.g., feeding our families), we value money as an end in itself for the power it gives us; instead of loving God as a relational end in itself, we see him only as a tool. Again, the roles are exactly reversed: money takes the place of God and becomes an idol, and God takes the place of money as a tool. As with most modern idolatry, love of money is all about putting ourselves at the top of the pile because we trust ourselves more than we trust God. We think that if we've got enough power we can accomplish whatever it is we need to do, and we won't have to trust God for anything. Unfortunately, as they say, you can't take it with you.