A Dangerous Love

Love of Money

Paul has some sobering words for us about a dangerous love – the love of money:

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 6:10, ESV)

Think about that for a moment.  The love of money, which by any reasonable measure is far more prominent among professing believers than we might imagine, is also far more dangerous than we might think.  I am often far more prone to the temptation to love money than I imagine.  Maybe you are too.

I don’t know about you, but the first way that I tend to mis-read this warning is to somehow assume that it must be primarily for the benefit of someone else (i.e. someone other than me, of course). We do that with a lot of the warnings and admonitions found in Scripture, don’t we?  And that serves to demonstrate the truth of Jeremiah 17:9, which tells us that our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”  Our hearts can be tricky things, can’t they?  Our hearts can fool or deceive us.  (Next time someone tell you to “just follow your heart,” remind them of Jeremiah 17:9!)

Another way that I tend to mis-read this warning is to assume that it must primarily be for the rich. (And by “rich” of course, I mean someone who has more than I do.)  But that is not what Paul says at all, is it?  He doesn’t say that having too much money is a root of all kinds of evils, but rather loving money.  So it is not a matter of being one of the haves or the have-nots, but a matter of loving money.  Both haves and have-nots can and do love money. Rich people can certainly love money, but so can the poor.  In fact, the poor person can easily spend just as much time obsessing about money as anyone else, rich or otherwise.  So being poor is no sure defense from the love of money, and neither is living comfortably somewhere in the middle.

Paul warns about at least three (3) dangers inherent in the love of money:

First, loving money is a “root of all kinds of evils.”  In other words, it is the cause or source of all kinds of other sins.  So to fail to guard your heart against the love of money is to effectively leave the door wide open for a host of other sins/evils.

A thoughtful examination of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21) will reveal that the love of money can lead to any number of the sins listed there.  Can the love of money lead to breaking the first commandment (i.e. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3, ESV)? You bet!  Jesus Himself tells us that we “cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).  How about the second commandment?  Paul tells us that greed or covetousness is “idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).  The fourth commandment practically spells it out for us:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, ESV)

It is easy to see how the love of money (and/or a lack of faith in God’s provision for our needs) can cause someone to work unnecessarily on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) in order to make more money.  While there are certainly vocations in which working on the Lord’s day cannot be avoided (e.g. emergency service personnel, doctors, etc.), it must be said that most forms of work in our day simply do not fit that description. 

If you skip out on the public worship of the Lord Jesus Christ on Sundays in order to work and make more money, the love of money may be the culprit. After all, the Lord has given us “six days” (v.9) in which to work. (Six days sounds like plenty of time to work, right?)

How about murder? Certainly. (What do they always seem to say in the crime shows on TV? “Follow the money!”)  Adultery? Again, yes. Theft? Well, duh.  You get the picture.

Second, loving money is a “craving” that has led many a soul to ‘wander away from the faith.’  This alone should cause us to beware the love of money, and to guard our hearts closely.  Again, Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:24 come to mind – we cannot serve God and money at the same time. It is one or the other.

Third and finally, loving money leads to pain and regret.  To use Paul’s words from 1 Timothy 6:10, through the love of money some have “pierced themselves with many pangs.” Now to be sure this piercing with many pangs is something that Paul connected directly with wandering away from the faith.  The one leads to the other. In v.9 Paul says that a desire to be rich leads people into “many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” This is deadly serious stuff that Paul is talking about here.  The love of money is a very dangerous love.

Now think about the so-called “prosperity gospel” in light of all of this.  At the end of the day, what the proponents of the prosperity gospel are proclaiming is a false gospel that actively encourages the love of money (the very thing that Paul warns us against in 1 Timothy 6:10).  Their false gospel leads to “all kinds of evils.” Their false gospel leads its followers down a road that is likely to lead to wandering away from the faith!

The preachers of the prosperity gospel would have you to believe that earthly prosperity is your divine birthright, that you should have your best life now.  Paul warns us that such a message is a lie straight from the mouth of hell and that it leads to nothing but regret and heartache, and destruction.

But beyond even that, how many of us would never fall for the false teaching of the prosperity preachers on TV, but still in many ways seem to make it our goal to live our best life now?  How many of us are not content to live within our means? (Hello, credit card debt!) How many of us give God the leftovers rather than tithing? How many of us are desperate to seem successful, even in the eyes of others in the church?

No wonder the Apostle Paul also tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6, ESV). May the Lord give us grace to guard our hearts from the love of money, and so spare us from all kinds of evils, wanderings, and pangs.  And may he drive out the love of money by pouring out His love in our hearts, that we might love Him first and foremost.

At the end of the day, the great commandment (to the love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. – Matthew 22:37) is not only for the glory of God, but for our own good as well.

The Ultimate Cure for Discontentment


How many of us struggle with envy and discontentment? To put it another way, are we truly content and at ease with our present circumstances?  Are we anxious about the future?

How many of us are content with our income? Our automobiles? Our homes?  Our families? Our social status? No matter how much we have, we always seem to focus on what we do not have.  There is always someone around us who has more (or something better) than we do.  We are an envious lot.

It is not without reason that the 10th commandment not only prohibits envy, but does so at great length and in great detail.  The 10th commandment (Exodus 20:17) is much longer than the commandments against murder (v.13), adultery (v.14), theft (v.15), or bearing false witness (v.16).  Rather than simply saying, “Thou shalt not covet.”, the 10th commandment specifies a number of the various ways that we are tempted to covet:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17, ESV – emphasis added)

We covet the estate or place of others, the family of others, the possessions of others, and all kinds of things.  The green-eyed monster is a many-headed hydra.

So what is the cure for discontentment?  The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews writes,

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV)

How are we to guard our lives from the love of money?  How are we to learn to be content with what we have?  Take a vow of poverty?  Lower our expectations?  Think about those who have less than we do or are worse off than we are? (And do that instead of focusing on those who have more than we do?)

All of those things may sound like good advice, but is that what the writer of Hebrews is saying?  No – not even close.  We are to guard our lives from the love of money; and we are to be content with what we have, not because we just need to bear down and get used to not having as much, but because we need to see with the eyes of faith how much we actually do have!

Concerning Hebrews 13:5, John Calvin writes,

It is quite certain that lack of faith is the source of greed. Anyone who has the firm conviction that he will never be forsaken by the Lord will not be unduly anxious because he will depend on His providence. Therefore when the apostle wants to cure us of the disease of greed he properly recalls us to the promises of God by which he bears witness that He will always be present to us. (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries Vol.12, p.207).

So faith in the providence of God (God’s “most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” – Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11) is part of the cure for envy and discontent.  When we believe that God Himself is working all things together for our good and is providing for our needs according to His power and wisdom, it is then that we will be able to rest from our anxiety about the future; it is then that we will be able to be content with our present circumstances.

But Hebrews 13:5 not only encourages us by pointing us to the providence of God; it also encourages us by pointing us to the God of providence.  We may be tempted to think that we do not have much in this life.  But in telling us that God Himself has promised His people that He will never leave us or forsake us, the writer of Hebrews is reminding us that we can be ‘content with what we have’ (v.5) because what (or rather who) we have is God Himself!

If you are in Christ by faith, you have God Himself as your God.  God has blessed you not just with things, but with Himself!  You have God Himself as your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:5-15).  You have Jesus Christ, the Son God Himself, as your Savior and mediator, who not only died for your sins and rose again from the dead for your justification (Romans 4:25), but who is also reigning at the right hand of God the Father almighty and interceding on your behalf (Hebrews 7:25). And You have God the Holy Spirit dwelling within you (1 Corinthians 6:19), who also intercedes on your behalf (Romans 8:26-27).

So if you are a Christian be content with what you have, because you truly have more than anyone on this earth without Christ can even dream of having – you have the one true and living God, the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable triune God as your God. And He will never leave you or forsake you!

That is the ultimate cure for discontentment.

Sex & Money

Sex & Money

Sex & money.  Both are pretty important parts of our lives.  Both are good things, given by God, and loaded with tremendous potential for good in our lives.  And both are also fraught with dangerous consequences if abused or misused.

Both are spoken of clearly in Scripture.  Both are spoken of often in Scripture (especially money). But both are seldom spoken of by many pastors and other church leaders.  Paul David Tripp writes,

We seem to approach both areas [sex and money] with a timidity, reserve, and embarrassment that does not make personal, cultural, or biblical sense. Pastors are often hesitant to teach and preach about money issues as if somehow this topic is outside the boundaries of what they’ve been called by God to do. And if they’re cautious in talking about money, they’re even more so when it comes to the topic of sex. Meanwhile, in both areas the world around us never seems to stop talking. (Sex & Money, p.17)

If we as believers are not properly equipped with a biblical view of sex and money, we will be ill-equipped for living in a world that seems to be utterly consumed by them.  And if we are not thinking about these things biblically, there is little doubt that we will be influenced by the world’s faulty view of these things instead.  And so (to use Paul’s words from Romans 12:2), we should not be surprised if more and more professing Christians are conformed to this world in these areas, rather than being transformed by the renewal of our minds.

So what are we to do? We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  We must, by God’s grace, conform (or renew) our thinking on these subjects to the Word and will of God, not to the pattern of this evil age.

For that to happen, pastors and teachers in the church must be committed to teaching the biblical view of sex and money.  While we certainly should not be fixated on these subjects in an unhealthy or unbalanced way, we must speak about them wherever, whenever, and however the Scriptures do so.  To do less than that is not only to fail to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) to the people of God, but then also to fail to be innocent of the blood of all men (Acts 20:26).