Is Money Evil, or Does It Just Seem That Way?
1st Timothy chapter 6, verses 6-11, 17-19
by Minister Paul J. Bern
To begin this week’s message, I will skip over the worn-out cliches about money being the root of all evil. That’s not what the Bible says about this topic. At best that time-worn phrase is a half-truth. At worst it is a calculated deception, plain and simple. Here is what the Bible really, actually says about money, from 1st Timothy chapter six in your New Testament: “6) But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7) For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8) But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9) 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. 10) 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. 11) But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
All right people, let’s break this down, beginning at verse 6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Let’s get this one thing straight,everyone – there will be no selfish and materialistic people living in heaven for all eternity with the rest of all the believers. (I will decline to speculate on president Trump’s chances of getting that far) Right here is where the Word of the Lord hits home for a lot of people. It’s time for everybody to grow out of their needs for glittery merchandise, as well as the need for the very latest and greatest in electronic devices and mechanical monstrosities (WTH do you need 500 horsepower? Or 600, etc.?). Our planet is gradually dying all around us, and all some people can think of is how to get more stuff delivered to their door than their neighbors have. Or, who owns the fastest car or truck. It’s high time for many of us to grow up.
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it….” As the master evangelist Rev. Billy Graham once said during one of his many crusades’ “You’ll never see a U-Haul truck following a hearse in a funeral procession.” In the very next verse, the apostle Paul continued his train of thought when he added, “ 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.” Can I get a witness out there, somebody? People do all kinds of things to earn money. From tradesman to factory workers, restaurant workers and retail employees, numerous ways of earning a living are being worked out (and with paltry wages, I’ll say). But then there are those who do things that are unethical or illegal, the ones who don’t play by the rules. I don’t know for sure how God will sort through this cargo ship full of wayward individuals – some of whom are actually very good people, and who would give you the shirt off their back if they could. That’s why I never judge people for their economic situations.
“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.” Wealth can be addictive. Trust me, I’ve been there. Within wealth’s foundation is a mortar whose main ingredient is greed. Wealth starts off in liquid form, otherwise known as liquid assets, just like that concrete I just mentioned. As it grows in power and strength, wealth gradually solidifies until anyone who has accumulated less of it eventually gets crushed into powder by those who have so much more. Wealth, and its economic system ‘Capitalism’, are predatory in nature. The profit at one company, or one sole proprietor, invariably comes at the expense of another. Capitalism turns everyone into backstabbers – a miserable and pathetic existence for all. And then the apostle Paul continued his exhortation to Timothy:
“But you, man (or woman) of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” Here in verse 11, Paul is giving direct orders to Timothy, a beloved pastor in the early Church, to pursue all the positive things that make up a life free of hate, prejudice and greed, while being filled with compassion and empathy, making all others greater than ourselves. Having said all that, let me close out the remainder of this week’s commentary, once again in 1st Timothy. “17) Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18) Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19) In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6, verses 17-19)
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth….” There it is again, people. Don’t put all your hopes into wealth, or it will fade away like that new car you just bought. There’s no use in feeling more important just because you have more stuff, or a newer car, or a bigger house, or nicer clothes, etc. “… but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” If material goods are what you’re after, ask God to grant your wishes for new things, whatever they may be. But don’t be surprised if they don’t all show up at once, or if at all. God discerns the motives of anyone who asks him for anything. If you have wrong motives, don’t be surprised if you receive nothing. But if your motives are genuine, honest and pure, the Lord may decide to send you a series of blessings, as it is written: “….to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
Don’t put your faith in anything made by the hands of men and women. Don’t put your faith in anything that comes from the ground, from the red clay all the way up to the finest diamond. If you want someone to believe in, place your faith in God. Above all, stop putting your faith in money! Why put your faith in created things when you can place your faith in He who made it all (see Psalms 44:1)? Above all, God is commanding us “….to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ – remember that? If we all do this together,our love for others will replace our love of money – hands down!