Times change and the challenges we face change. But the sin of loving money hasn’t changed except to become more respected in the world. Everywhere we turn we are pushed to believe that more money is the answer to every problem. We so respect the love of money that people are actually drawn to vote for a man for president whose number one qualification is that he is very rice. The writer of Hebrews offers us this challenge: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
The only sin Jesus spoke more about than the problem of loving money is the sin of being afraid. In far too many cases the two are joined together. Love of money is promoted out of the fear that we may not have enough to take care of us when we get older or when something tragic happens in our life. The fear of losing our security leads us to think that saving more, making more investments or putting more back somewhere will somehow lead to us being secure in life. I suspect that is exactly what the rich young ruler was thinking when he came to Jesus and fell before him asking what good thing he could do to have eternal life. He likely thought that Jesus would tell him to give a certain amount of his money to support his ministry or to help in some good cause. No wonder when Jesus told him the thing he needed to do was to go and sell everything he had and give it to the poor and to come follow him, so that he might have treasures in heaven, he was so shocked he simply walked away sadly. Jesus responded by saying, “It is hard for a rich man to be saved. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved.” The poor disciples around Jesus were shocked. How could that be? They had grown up thinking like worlds of us still do, that wealth meant God was blessing a person, so to be wealthy surely meant God liked what they were doing. Jesus pointed out it was more likely the devil liked what was being done.
Paul wrote to Timothy that many felt that godliness was a means of making more money. He declared, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” “But the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Money itself is neither bad nor good. It can be used to do all kinds of good things in life or to do the most evil things imaginable. But loving money is evil. It is so easy to turn money into our god. When our feelings of contentment and security in life are tied to the money we have, suddenly God has been moved from the throne in our life to a side room somewhere. Our contentment, our security in life is to come from God and His promise to be with us all the time. If I can truly believe God’s promise that he will never leave nor forsake me and that he is my helper so that I need to have no fear of what some man can do, then I can be secure, content and confident about my present and my future.
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. He will either love the one and hate the other or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Do you remember the answer Jesus gave for all of us if we are to live for him? It was to not worry about what we will eat, what we will wear or where we will live. Instead his challenge was to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The message of the whole Bible is instead of living in constant worry and fear about what will happen if, seek God before everything else and trust him to take care of your future and present. But Leon, what if the stock market fails? What if I lose my health? What if there is some tragedy that happens? We can go on with the “What if’s” for a life time. But God is still there and will never leave or forsake us. Faith means to put our trust in him and not live in fear or worry.