“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, at the end of the fiscal year 2012, U.S. lottery ticket sales totaled over 78 billion dollars. Why do people purchase lottery tickets? They hope to “strike it rich”.
Is there anything inherently evil about money? No, money is simply a tool. However, the love of money is the problem. As the opening verses above indicate, the love of money creates a lot of problems for us and is a temptation we should acknowledge and of which we should beware.
The apostle Paul speaks about those who desire to be rich “fall into temptation and a snare” (1 Timothy 6:9). The love of money can entrap us. Furthermore, Paul adds that the love of money will “drown men in destruction and perdition” as they give “into many foolish and harmful lusts” (1 Timothy 6:9). Those who become consumed with greediness will soon find that they harm themselves as the pierce “themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). The consuming desire for wealth will cause some to stray from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10).
It is interesting that Paul describes the love of money as “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Normally, the root of a plant grows deep into the ground to get the nourishment the plant needs to thrive and grow. However, in describing the self-destructive desire of greed, Paul describes it as a root growing in the ground that is providing “all kinds of evil” for the owner of it. Instead of providing nourishment for the well-being of its owner, it is providing poison for the destruction of its owner!
How do we prevent giving into this powerful temptation of “the love of money”? We must learn to be content. In fact, learning contentment is described as “great gain”! Paul writes, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). Learning contentment is not easy in a society which measures success in the amount of money one has and constantly bombards us with advertisements telling us we must have the latest gadget!
Is there anything necessarily wrong with having material prosperity? No, there are many Christians, who have learned contentment, but still have been materially blessed by God. They have been given a wonderful opportunity to serve others, but need to understand the temptation that wealth can bring. Paul adds, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
I acknowledge that living in the midst of such a prosperous nation as the United States, the love of money is a powerful temptation. Today, I will fight this temptation by learning to be content!
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12).