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Love of Money

aymon de albatrus

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Ti 6:10)

“For who makes you to differ from another? and what have you that you did not receive? now if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it?” (1Co 4:7)


Most people quote (misquote) this passage as such: “Money is the root of all evil”, but what Scripture says here is that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil, NOT money.  Money is not evil or good, it is neutral, the Love for it is the evil; in other words it is the GREED thereof that the Apostle is referring to.

It is the craving for and the way one uses money that Paul questions here. God does not forbid having money but it is our attitude to it that it is queried.  Nor the amount of money is in discussion here, for one could be a millionaire and have a healthy attitude towards it, and yet a poor man could be a miser and thus having a bad attitude towards money.  Although much money is usually a trap and a snare as exemplified by the rich young man: “21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said to him, One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mar 10:21-22)

Money itself is not evil, but the immoderate love of it is, or an over eager desire after it, or an excessive delight in it, is the cause of much evil, both of sin and punishment.

For the love of money is the root of all evil – Of course there are all kinds of evils and some are beside the love of money, for example: the evils growing out of ambition, and intemperance, and debasing lusts, and of the hatred of God and of goodness. Indeed the 3 greatest snares (the 3 Gs) that cause men to fall, even men of God, are: “Gold, Glory and Girls”. But the truth of this is that a large part of crimes in the world can be traced down to the love of gold. It is the ‘love’ of these things which is the source of evil, and at every social levels of life.

Money, silver and gold, which are God’s provision and his gifts may be used lawfully for many good purposes and required for the necessity of life, and to fulfil the duties we owe to God and men, to serve the interest of Christ, and do good to fellow creatures and fellow Christians. The appropriate use of these utilities are fully approved, the severe admonition is against an inordinate love of it, which is nothing but proper idolatry. When a man loves it even above God, serves it as if it was God and places his trust and confidence in it independent of God’s providence; such love of it is the source of all iniquity and the love of God is not in that man (1Jo 2:15) .

which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith - some who were professing Christians, which doesn’t necessarily mean they were of the elect. These have been led astray and have been so deceived, as to depart from the professed faith. The notion of deception or delusion is in the word, and the sense is, that, deceived by the promises held out by the prospect of wealth, they have apostatised from the faith. It is not implied of necessity that they were ever real Christians. They have been led off from truth and duty, and from all the hopes and joys which religion would have imparted.

Some coveted after money in a greedy and insatiable way that led them to err from the doctrine of faith. These professors when persecution arises and because of it, they drop their proclaimed profession; or else their minds are so filled with worldly cares, and deceitful riches, that the Word is choked in them (Mat 13:22) and becomes unprofitable and pretty soon, like Demas, having loved this present world they die spiritually (2Ti 4:10). They have erred or been seduced from the faith, that is, the doctrine of the Gospel, or profession of Christianity and gone after worldly attractions which makes their alleged conversion very doubtful and their names being listed with the elect of God improbable.

and pierced themselves through with many sorrows – Then when such idolatrous sin has run its course they will be full of sorrows as remorse, and painful reflections on their folly, and the apprehension of future wrath. Too late they see that they have thrown away the hopes of salvation for an ungodly mind which drove them on to a life of wickedness; which failed to deliver what it promised and in the great majority of instances, badly disappoints these rebellious souls. The effect on those who cast off religion for the sake of gold is that of having their souls pierced through and through. None of these can avoid these consequences for every human is in the hands of the holy and just God, and sooner or later he will have to render an account to Him of his sins and folly.  Unless they repent (unlikely, except by the grace of God, for one dies as he has lived) the lake of fire awaits their future for eternity.

They have pierced themselves through with many sorrows like arrows. Riches are therefore appropriately compared to thorns, which produce great trouble and uneasiness, both in getting the wealth and in keeping it. Not to mention the reflections upon the unlawful ways and means surely used to obtain the riches do give very pungent pains and distress to their miserable souls (Job 20:15) producing gnawing of conscience and remorse for the wealth badly acquired; and heralding a future in perdition: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” (1Ti 6:9)

The Christian view on Money

Christians ought to learn to be content (1Ti 6:6) with simple living and not falling in the trap of accepting the world’s standard for themselves. The Word of God through Paul commands an eternal perspective and an attitude of detachment toward the alluring things of the world and to develop an eternal perspective of life that will logically bring a lessening in the dependence on things material that will pass away.

The Christian goal ought to be a genuine relationship with God, our source of contentment, and a healthy detachment from material things. This combination is great gain. In contrast to (1Ti 6:5) gain is measured according to spiritual rather than material value. Eternal benefits are surely promised, but the focus is on how the believer with this healthy perspective can avoid the many pitfalls of greed in the present life remembering that he came in this world with nothing and will go out the same (1Ti 6:7).

The Christian's aim with respect to material things is godliness with contentment. Godliness means the genuine Christian life, a faith-relationship with God and a new way of life. Contentment is defined as an attitude of "self-sufficiency," meaning detachment or independence from things or possessions, but deeply dependant on God. Contentment comes from within by the Spirit in us, and Paul supplied a Christian basis for it: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phi 4:11,13).

To ground his view of contentment, Paul draws on Old Testament wisdom. Both (Job 1:21) and (Ecc 5:15) expound the principle that material things belong only to this world, all our degrees, all our learning and all the material things we did and got in this life are but dung in a spiritual sense (Phi 3:8). Material things have no lasting value and provide no eternal advantage. Therefore one's contentment cannot stem from natural things. Human contact with the material world begins at birth and terminates at death. But Christian hope takes the believer beyond the material limit to a boundless eternity, and logically, then, eternal values must shape our view of temporal things. Job, the Preacher and Paul meant that the value and usefulness of material things belong to this world only, which is but a temporary home, but we are looking forward to the Heavenly city built by God (Heb 11:8-10).

For the Christian a standard of material sufficiency is minimal indeed: food, clothing and shelter, these ought to be enough as our Lord tells us clearly (Mat 6:25-34; Luk 12:16-21). Paul does not say anything negative about living above this minimum standard, though he does teach that life at a higher material level carries with it heavy obligations. But he does say that real contentment and material prosperity have nothing to do with one another. And hoarding has nothing to do with godliness for our calling to death can be at any time (Luk 12:19-21).

An obsession with acquiring wealth is a self-feeding self consuming fire. Strangely enough, seeking money leads more to ruin than to wealth and yet people will do anything necessary to obtain it. In these depraved democratic days it is difficult to decide which is more damning, the love of money in a materialistic society or the Christian's rationalization for joining in the pursuit of it (1 Timothy 6:9).

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, the root metaphor contains an important truth. Everything in life has its source in the root and if one really wants to get rid of the problem the roots must fully come out. Therefore, Paul's exhorts not simply to treat the problems caused by greed but must also tear out the root that produces the problem.

Above the story of the rich young man (Mar 10:17-31) was mentioned to show how hard it is to loosen this particular root of possessions. Jesus' own assessment which follows is no easier: “24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answers again, and said to them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mar 10:24-25)

Praise God that nothing is impossible with Him and so there is hope even for this young man (Mar 10:27).  The answer is in seeking God to give us strength and determination and help to do what would otherwise be impossible for us, that is, to take control of the lust for money and of all the other things that so easily snares us into sin, preventing us to have God and His interests as the absolute priority of our little lives. “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mat 6:33)

There is no doubt whatsoever that the pursuit of wealth leads down a road filled with every variety of pitfall. The Devil’s snares are certainly capable of using the hope of wealth to blur the moral distinctions of believers instilling in them foolish and harmful desires not only for wealth itself but also for immoral cravings unleashed by access to wealth. Wealth will without doubt leads people into circles where the rules are different, the peer pressure is tremendous, and the values are totally distorted. What, for the believer, might have been unthinkable from the outside becomes quite natural once in the inside and the end of this is utter devastation.

We have all witness how greed had helped destroy the testimony of some who turned from positions of leadership in the church to become teachers of heresy. If it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, it is relatively easy for those who strive to be rich to turn away from it. Fuelled by greed, many have lost their way, a sobering illustration of how the desire for riches drives a wedge between the believer and God: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mat 6:21)

CONCLUSION

“Do not deceive yourselves. God is not to be scoffed at. For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Gal 6:7) It is an universal law that every man will receive what he has sown and that evil companies corrupt godly principles (1Co 15:33)

Love of money is a terrible snare leading for sure to perdition so that, if it were possible, it would deceive even the very elect. The cure of God against such a dreadful danger is: “But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1Ti 6:11)