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Interconnected Idols

Idolatry Pride Temptation

Contributed By: Jason Seville | Date Posted: 2019-03-06

Scripture: Colossians 3:5 ; Ephesians 4:22

Author: Jason Seville


I was recently meeting with a young man in our church who has been very successful in business. Originally from Silicon Valley, he climbed his company's corporate ladder before taking six months off to focus on family, faith, and personal health. He's gotten to a really healthy place personally and spiritually and so he's recently decided to get back in the game and apply for some jobs. 

A corporate headhunter helped him find two great jobs pretty quickly. One is with a startup in a new industry that would pay a lot but also require a lot of hours. A second is with a household-name tech giant that would pay less but allow for a better balance of work, family, and church.

It wasn't easy for him and we met for several straight weeks as he labored over his decision. He finally told me that he was willing to prioritize the right things even if it meant sacrificing money. He knows that money isn't necessarily wrong or evil, but that the money that was so enticing for this job would come with some trade-offs in his life that aren't worth it. 

I told him that I was proud of him and that that I thought it was very wise for him in this season of life to take less money for a better work-life balance. 

You can imagine my surpirse, then, when we met the following week and he told me that he turned down the balanced job and took the lucrative job with the smaller startup. 

When I asked what happened, he hung his head and said that the job title offered by the tech giant was what he couldn't stomach. He'd gotten himself to a place where taking less money was palatable, but not where a lesser title was palatable. (They offered him a senior manager position when his level of expertise and qualifications should give him a job with the word "director" in the position title.) 

"It's pride. I know it's nothing but pride. But taking the lesser position would negate all the work and progress I've made. It would look poorly on me if I were to change jobs later on down the road."  

So, here he is again--back in the rat race. He's working 80-hour weeks and having to leave his family to travel all over the world. He dealt with his temptation to greed, but as soon as he did pride took its place. 


This is how sin works. It's a shape-shifter. We must remain vigilant against it and fill up our affections with the love of Christ because merely removing a love (e.g., greed) is insufficient because another love will take its place (e.g., pride). This illustration is also a reminder of the interconnectedness of our idols. We can't just focus on one struggle or temptation in our lives. There is rarely ever one single thing that is lurking to take us down. It's usually a web of temptations. 

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). 

The Dark Side Of Winning The Lottery

Temptation Betrayal Jealousy

Source: “Curse of the lottery: Tragic stories of big jackpot winners,” by NICOLE BITETTE, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, January 12, 2016

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-02-02

Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:10

Author: Illustration Exchange


The New York Daily News reports:

It's more likely you’ll get struck by lightning than win the Powerball — but if you do win, there is an even better chance that you'll go broke.

Nearly 70% of lottery winners end up broke within seven years. Even worse, several winners have died tragically or witnessed those close to them suffer.

Edward Ugel, author of the book “Money for Nothing: One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions,” told the Daily Beast of the thousands of lottery winners he's known, few were happy and only a small number lived happily ever after.

"You would be blown away to see how many winners wish they'd never won," Ugel said.

Here are a few of those stories:

Abraham Shakespeare: Murdered by a newfound friend

Shakespeare hit it big for $30 million in 2006, causing friends and family to hound him for money. He befriended Dorice (Dee Dee) Moore who tricked Shakespeare into believing she was trying to protect him from the greedy people around him.

Moore convinced the lottery winner to transfer his assets to her before he went missing in 2009. In 2012, she was sentenced to mandatory life without parole for his murder by a judge who called her “cold, calculating and cruel.”

David Lee Edwards: Lived in human feces before his death

Edwards — a former drug addict and felon — won a $27 million jackpot in 2001 while unemployed in South Florida.

He quickly blew through the money by purchasing a $1.6 million house in Palm Beach Gardens, three racehorses, a fiber optics company, a Lear Jet, a limo business, a $200,000 Lamborghini Diablo and a multitude of other luxuries.

Edwards and his wife returned to drug use and had numerous run-ins with police for possession of crack cocaine, pills and heroin.

He lost of all his money in just a few years and ended up living in a storage unit surrounded by human feces.

Jeffrey Dampier: Shot to death by his in-law

Jeffrey Dampier won $20 million in the Illinois lottery before his own family turned against him. The millionaire showered his family with cash and gifts, but that just wasn't enough for his sister-in-law, Victoria Jackson.

Dampier was kidnapped and shot in the back of his head by Jackson and her boyfriend around seven years after winning the jackpot. The couple was charged in his murder and are each serving a life sentence in prison.

Billie (Bob) Harrell Jr.: Shot himself in the head

In less than two years, Bob Harrell lost all of his $31 million winnings.

He donated his money to those in need and lended some of his cash to those close to him, but his generosity proved to work against him.

Being broke led to a split from his wife and the Texas man was found dead in his home with a gunshot wound to his head.

Before committing suicide, he said, “winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”


These tragic stories read like something out of a horror movie, rather than a list of people who have experienced a huge windfall. 

Have you ever thought that if you just had a little more your life would be more complete? If only you had just a little more money, or fame, or success?  It’s hard to see the downside to more success, but it’s there … hidden in the human heart.  Jealousy, greed, betrayal and even murder have been the experiences of many who thought all of their troubles were finally behind them.  

But the subtle dangers of too much success aren’t limited to how others might respond.  Human nature doesn’t typically do well with too much privilege or too much temptation.  Money combines these two forces into a potent cocktail.  Priorities become skewed while pride and ego overcome good judgment.

While worldly success promises to solve all of our worries, the reality is that it is just as likely to give us far worse things to worry about.  This is why the Bible offers us this solemn warning:

“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" (1 Timothy 6:10). 

Don't Covet Your Neighbor's Lottery Win

Envy Witness Temptation

Source: “Why Lottery Winners Make Dangerous Neighbors,” by Kelley Holland, Time, Aug 18, 2017

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-11-08

Scripture: Romans 11:14

Author: Illustration Exchange


Kelley Holland, with Time, reports:

If you don't win (and we all know almost everyone who plays the lottery loses), you might think the next best thing would be for someone in your community to hit it big.

After all, a sudden windfall would probably lead the winner to throw a party for the neighbors, indulge in fancy landscaping, or splurge on other things that make the neighborhood a nicer place.

The idea makes sense – but there's a downside to living near a lottery winner. Neighbors of lottery winners are significantly more likely to declare bankruptcy within a few years of the big event than are people living near ordinary folks, according to a 2016 study. The study focused on lottery winners in Canada, and found that every $1,000 increase in lottery winnings raises the risk of bankruptcy among the neighbors by roughly 2.4 percent.

Why the negative ripple effect? When people win the lottery, they often spend some of the money on envy-inducing goodies like new cars, boats, and supersized TVs. Researchers say that these lifestyle upgrades then tempt their neighbors to boost their own spending on visible markers of prosperity, even though they haven’t had a sudden run of financial luck. Down the road, that leads to more bankruptcies, said Sumit Agarwal, a professor of finance at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and an author of the study.


Those who are rich in possessions induce others to lust after those possessions.  Might not the same be said of spiritual riches? Do others see your wealth in Christ? Is it attractive, compelling them to want to “get some of that?”

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry, in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them” (Romans 11:14). 

The Secret To Losing Weight

Holy Spirit Temptation New Birth

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-12-14

Scripture: Romans 7:22

Author: Illustration Exchange

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The World's Ugliest Color Could Save Lives

Sin Repentance Temptation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-10-27

Scripture: Romans 5:12 ; Romans 6:23

Author: Illustration Exchange

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"This Won't Happen to Me"

Denial Consequences Temptation

Contributed By: Paul Lingren | Date Posted: 2016-04-27

Scripture: Proverbs 6:27

Author: Rev. Gary Richmond

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I'll Gum Sin Into Perdition!

Sanctification Sin Temptation

Contributed By: Ryan Strother | Date Posted: 2016-02-05

Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:22

Author: Ryan Strother

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Deadly Desire

Temptation Sin Nature Consequences

Contributed By: Ryan Cortright | Date Posted: 2015-10-02

Scripture: Genesis 4:7 ; James 1:14

Author: Ryan Cortright

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Fire Extinguisher Company Burns to the Ground

Temptation Sin Arrogance

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-03-23

Scripture: Galatians 6:1

Author: Illustration Exchange

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The Right Kind of Separation from Sin

Temptation Die To Self Filled With The Spirit

Contributed By: Rod Crowell | Date Posted: 2015-02-13

Scripture: Matthew 5:30 ; Galatians 5:16

Author: Rod Crowell

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