The love of money is the root of all evil1.
Time and time again we hear this saying. We resolve not to fall into the trap of money love. Unfortunately when faced with money love triggering situations, many of us fail. Why is it important not to love money?
Money in itself is not bad. It is used to acquire things required for living. In the good old days, people exchanged goods for goods – barter trade. The system was based on using what you had to get what you wanted. However, our fore fathers found that buying and selling in this way was filled with setbacks .This led to the invention of money. It became very convenient and easy to use. Its advantages were enjoyed by all and soon greed crept into man. The need for grabbing and acquiring money at all costs became the order of the day.
The bible says you cannot serve two masters2. You cannot serve both God and money. Money satisfies needs. Loving money however, means constantly choosing money over God. Keeping money at the centre of all decisions, choosing money over what is right. Loving money increases the tendency to give up our principles to acquire it, opening us up to sin and destruction.
In the bible, there is a story about King Saul 3. After the war, he chose to take the plunder- sheep and oxen (which in his time constituted material wealth to be acquired from conquered enemies as spoils of war) instead of sacrificing it to God. At times the love of money is synonymous with the love of other material things like power 4. King Saul decided that he would no longer wait for God’s chief priest to come and give the sacrifice. There he decided to stand in and do the sacrifice himself against God’s instruction. His decision in itself was not bad. It was the impatience and disobedience that grieved God.
By disobeying God and not waiting for God’s chief priest to offer sacrifice, he opened himself more to further sin. The sin of doubt and total trust in God’s methods, degenerated into the love of materialism for which God rejected Saul as king5 .From then on, Saul fell out of favour with God and the sin of greed led to his ultimate death. His personal desire for power blinded him from accepting God’s will to crown David. The more he disobeyed, the more he walked into his destruction and final demise.
In the New Testament, another example was Judas Iscariot the betrayer. He was initially one of the ‘chosen’ apostles. He was a good man. However, as soon as he started to disobey God’s plan through Jesus, he opened himself again to disaster. One day, Jesus talked about being the bread of life emphasizing on the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood6. Jesus knew the ones who did not believe his teachings and he knew his betrayer7. During the conversation, it was clear through Judas’s utterances that he did not believe in this teaching. This disbelief led to Judas ultimately being likened by Jesus to the devil8 . In the end, money love led him to betray Jesus.
Unbelief and disobedience stains us as Christians. It turns us into the likeness of the devil whose only nature is to perfectly rebel against God. The sad news is that once this disobedience takes hold, it degenerates into all sorts of sin. By disobeying God, we automatically choose to serve all but God. ‘Self ‘ becomes what is served. To satisfy ‘self’ ultimately leads to seeking things to gratify ‘self’ and what better object than money!
Ananias and Sapphira 10 also decided to hold back and disobey. The rule the early Christians had was for each person to sell all they had for the communal good. By joining the fold, one became automatically bound by this rule. However, this couple thought they knew better (disobeyed) and what happened? Greed crept in. The bible says that they held back part of their possessions for themselves and this led to their death11.
Many of us do not set out to love money especially as Christians. We know it is wrong. We have this drummed up into us through our lives and we know all the examples. The sad thing is that this does not exempt us from falling into this trap. By disobeying and disbelieving God in even the smallest way, we become open to the danger of money love.
We must make a constant and consistent choice to obey God and focus on faith and not on materiality including ‘self’. Everything material is temporary and passing, that is, money, wealth, fame, family, ‘self’ etc . Let us always remember what St Paul said ‘we do not look at the things which are seen but at the things unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are unseen are eternal’12. God is eternal, he gives great gifts13 . By accepting his gifts, we bear fruits of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control 14 . Let us nurture and grow these, make them our focus and he will meet our needs according to his riches in glory 15
1(1 Timothy 6:10); 2(Matthew 6:24); 3(1 Samuel 15:21-25); 4(1 Samuel 13:11-14); 5(1 Samuel 15:23); 6(John 6:53-59); 7(John 6:64); 8(John 6:70); 9( Matthew 26:15); 10(Acts 5); 11(Acts 5:2); 12(2 Corinthians 4:18); 13(1 Corinthians 12); 14(Galatians 5: 22-23); 15(Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:19)
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