Repent of Loving Money
Friday, April 10, 2020
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. - 1 Timothy 6:6-10, ESV
“It is for our own good that we are warned,” a friend of mine quipped in response to my question, “What is it about the love of money that is so dangerous?”
It's controversial, right? We are told both that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and that money is a sign of God's blessing and care. Money is both the root of many evils and a source of many blessings. With it, we may hoard and starve our neighbor or bless and feed our neighbor. It is the necessary means of providing for ourselves and our families, and yet it can tear people and families apart.
This passage is particularly interesting because the love of money is called a “craving” and we are warned that it might lead us to “fall into temptation.” Cravings are spiritually dangerous because they often proceed from a demand that we have for something we do not have, something other than the good gifts that God has provided for us.
When we demand something that God has not given, we may also be tempted to envy, despair, greed and idolatry. The problem with envy is that we measure things against what others have instead of our actual needs or even desires. The problem with despair is that it is a denial of all that God has done for us in Christ. The problem with greed is that we want more than we have and are tempted to hoard, rather than to be content and generous.
Worst of all, though, money becomes an idol. Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods helpfully describes idols as things that we are tempted to love, trust and obey. Psalm 135 tells us that idols have mouths but cannot speak, eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear and that those who make or trust in them become like them. Idols are saviors that cannot save. Not surprisingly, money is the example of “idols” that the psalmist gives.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain,” says our passage above. Why? Because we brought nothing into the world and we will take nothing out of it. Because having enough food and clothing, enough basic sustenance, is enough. Because money is meant to be used in the service of loving God and loving neighbor. Money is a tool for serving His eternal purposes, not our cravings. Like love or education or success or power, money cannot save us. Only God can do that. And that is why we have hope in times of trouble.
Dear Lord, I am sorry for the countless ways that I have hoped in money to save me. I am sorry for the ways that I have used it in self-indulgence or to meet needs for security and comfort that it was never intended to meet. I am sorry for the times that I have checked my budget before Your Word. I am sorry for the times I have hoarded my money rather than shared it, loving You and my neighbor with it. I am sorry for the anxiety that I have allowed to reign in my life worrying about money. Please forgive me. Please help me, Lord. My heart is so prone to wander and I want to remain near You, to return to You. If economic troubles beset me or if I lose out financially in some way, would You please help my heart to remain steadfast in You? This world is so uncertain, but You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Calamity may come, but You are forever. I praise You for Your promises and entrust my finances to You. Make me a person whose life is one of godliness with contentment, a life of great gain.
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union Lux