Money isn’t bad. The problem is the LOVE of money. While the Bible lays out the proper perspective and practical wisdom for our finances, it makes one thing very clear: money should not be our god, our focus, or our motivation. We cannot love money. It’s one thing to get money in your pocket; it’s another thing to get it in your heart.
The Problem with Loving Money
In the Bible and in modern times, there are godly people who work hard and have money. That is not bad. When we have resources great or small, it can (and should) be a blessing to our families (1 Tim. 5:8), the work of the Lord (2 Kings 4:8-11; Phil. 4:15-17), and those in need (Eph. 4:28). The wisdom in the Word of God cautions us repeatedly, though, to the danger not of having money, but of loving money, becoming greedy of gain, and chasing riches:
- Proverbs 11:28 teaches us, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall.”
- Proverbs 15:27 points out, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.”
- Proverbs 20:21 says, “An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
- Proverbs 28:20, 22 warns us of the trouble of trying to get rich quick: “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent… He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.”
- 1 Timothy 6:9-10 highlights a host of major issues: “But they that will [wish, desire, purpose to] be rich fall into temptation and a snare [a trap], and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction [ruin] and perdition [loss]. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after [desired, reached out after, longed for], they have erred from the faith [strayed from truth], and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Whew! Reread that last point! This is so serious! When people love money and that desire takes a seat in their heart, you’ll find many willing to do almost anything, no matter the consequence or morality, to get riches. Want examples? Look at the news, history, and the scriptures: Whether oppressing and stealing from the poor and needy (Prov. 14:31; 22:16, 22; Ecc. 5:8), profiting from unjust practices (Prov. 28:8), or preying on widows and robbing fatherless children (Isa. 10:2), the love of money is the root of all evil! When it gets in your heart, it can produce all kinds of trouble!
Gain Is NOT Godliness
Despite the danger of loving money, people will lie and make it seem like one’s godliness, favour, and place in God is evidenced by riches! FALSE! There were and are godly people all over the world, who do not have riches, yet are abundantly blessed and used by God! Even Jesus, in His time on earth, did not make Himself materially rich (even though He could have). He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).
The Apostle Paul spoke of his hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness (1 Cor. 4:11-12; 2 Cor. 11:27). Even the Apostle Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). He was used mightily by God despite not having riches!
The reality is some people love money so much that they try to spiritualize their greed and justify their focus on it, by making it seem like it’s God’s focus. Here’s the truth: IT’S NOT! He came to save (Matt. 1:21), reminds us “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:7), and teaches to be content (1 Tim. 6:8). He even warns us in Colossians 3:5 that covetousness, greed and a desire to have more, is idolatry, like bowing to a false god!
When you encounter those people who are “men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:5). Withdraw (S:868) means to depart from or remove. In other words, when you find people supposing, believing, or telling you that gain is godliness, equating worldly gain (money, houses, land, riches) with closeness to God, get away! Don’t keep listening to that false doctrine, hanging with them, or going to their churches. Cut them off!
What Are You Going After?
Proverbs 23:4-5 says, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” Money is not bad, but despite what man’s wisdom or your logic says, money cannot be the object of our affection, the end of our pursuit, and the goal of our lives. It’s here today and can be gone tomorrow. It certainly won’t go with you into judgment or help you in eternity. We all would be wise to answer the question, what are you going after?
After strongly warning of the dangers connected with the love of money in 1 Timothy 6, Paul told Timothy, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Tim. 6:11). Flee, escape, run away from the greedy mindset and wisdom of the world, and instead pursue the things that matter to God. Yes, we work hard and should use what we have on earth for our families, community, churches, and neighbors in need but money cannot be our focus. And with it being so temporary, it doesn’t even make sense for it to be.