Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Money... The Root of All Evil?

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Okay, so now that I've got your attention with my crafty title, let me clarify what I'm talking about. 1 Timothy 6:10a says:

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

Have you ever heard anyone say, "The Bible says that money is the root of all evil?" I have. And guess what? They are wrong. The bible doesn't say that. The Bible isn't against money. It isn't against believers having money. What it does teach though is this: "...the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

So what was Paul talking about when he wrote this rather strong word to his young charge Timothy? Why did he give Timothy and the church at Ephesus such a strong warning about money?

In the preceding verses, Paul was directly addressing false teachers in the church of Ephesus who were warping and compromising sound doctrine because of their own greed. These teachers were altering the message that Paul had previously preached to the church for their own financial gain, instead of finding their contentment and satisfaction in Christ alone. These leaders were profiting financially from the gospel, leading people astray and had ultimately "...wandered from the faith" (1 Timothy 6:10) as a result of their sin.
Paul was concerned. Really concerned. Here were people that he had previously ministered the truth of God's Word to who were wandering from the gospel message, promoting a completely different message – a radically different message. A message that was not the gospel at all. So Paul reminded Timothy that everyone comes into the world with nothing and anything that anyone has is a gift from God's hands (1 Timothy 6:7-8). Paul let Timothy know what happens to people who want to get rich: "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9). Finally, Paul concludes his thoughts with the verse that we started with: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

So what does the Bible teach elsewhere about the "love of money"? Jesus addresses the love of money in his Sermon on the Mount stating in Matthew 6:24:

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money". 

In the first commandment recorded in Exodus 20:3, God commands us to have no other Gods before Him – that is, we are not to allow anything to take "...first place in our lives other than our creator God" (Got Questions 2013). Anything that takes precedence in our lives above God effectively becomes an idol in our lives, ultimately making us guilty of breaking the first commandment (Got Questions 2013).

Jesus also addresses the issue of money with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-30. The young man seeks Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life to which Jesus exhorts him to follow the commandments. The rich young ruler indicates to Jesus that he has kept all the commandments to which Jesus replies: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matthew 19:22 records the young man's response: "When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth." The young man was stuck: he couldn't do what Jesus asked him to do. It was too costly; he couldn't part with his money. His wealth was an idol and it had become the master of his life. Money was ultimately more important to this young man than relationship with Jesus himself!

Directly after this passage of scripture, Jesus addresses his disciples and uses this event to teach his disciples a very important spiritual truth. Jesus says in Matthew 19:23:

"Truly, I tell you, it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."

Jesus is effectively saying to his disciples: "Look guys, the love of money is one of the biggest obstacles to coming to faith in me!" Jesus is highlighting that wealth or the "love of money" can very quickly become an idol in our lives, driving us further and further away from trust in and relationship with God. The bible is very clear – the "love of money" is a dangerous snare that keeps believers from experiencing the fullness of relationship with Christ.

So what lessons can we learn from Paul's words to Timothy all those years ago? What of his teaching can we apply to our lives today? We can learn and apply quite a lot actually. Here are some thoughts to prayerfully think about and consider in light of Paul's words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:10a:

We need to be careful to not allow ourselves to be consumed with "the love of money" as this ultimately leads to behaviours that "plunge people into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9).

We need to learn to be content in Christ and not become preoccupied with financial gains. As 1 Timothy chapter 6 verses 7 and 8 suggest, we came into the world with nothing and everything that we do have is a gift from God. We should practice and develop grateful and thankful hearts towards God for what we have.

We need to always be wary of being influenced by false theology. As believers we should always be prayerfully testing and discerning biblical teaching from extra-biblical theology.

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." – 1 Timothy 6:10a

God, help us to not become preoccupied with the things of this world and the pursuit of financial gain and prosperity. Help us to put our faith in you – not in what we can do, or what we think money can provide for us. May we experience the fullness of relationship with you and may you keep us from the snare of "the love of money" by the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Note: This blog post is taken directly from my assignment submitted for Harvest Bible College in April 2013.


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