In the midst of such political turmoil and a global pandemic, why talk about money? At the mention of this topic, I sense defenses going up, even my own. The thought of generosity is a direct challenge to my greed. When it comes to taking in what the Bible has to tell us about money, we can often seem like the young kid turning his head to avoid the cough medicine he needs. But if we avoid the medicine of generosity, there is a sickness far worse that will overtake us.
Here is why we are talking about 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). Now, it doesn’t say that money is the root of all kinds of evil, but rather the love of money is the root, or at the cause, of all kinds of evil, and is also the reason behind wandering away from the faith.
So, here is the question: Do you love money? Of course we do!
Money is also the root, or the means, to nice clothes, new gadgets, granite countertops, vacations, a new car, a nice meal. Maybe you even think money is the path to social status, security, relaxation, happiness. We all value money, we work for it, spend it, save it.
The real question is: Do you love money too much?
If the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, that is a very important question to answer. How is someone even able to answer that question? We compare ourselves to someone we think loves money more than us to feel good about ourselves. That’s tough to do, and ineffective. We can also compare ourselves to someone who has more money than us, but that is different than loving money more. You don’t have to have a lot of money to inappropriately love it.
How do we know if our love of money has gotten out of hand? A simple test. Examine financial generosity in your life. How much money do you give away? Do you even know the answer to that question? Can you name a percentage? Is it a part of your life? Part of your budget? When do you give money away? Is it after you have obtained all you want for yourself? Do you give away leftovers or first fruits? Is generosity an afterthought or a first priority?
Church, if the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils, then we have to do the tough work of asking ourselves these questions. The love of money is tricky. It doesn’t barge right through the front door of your heart, it sneaks in, justifying each step it takes. And when it has made itself at home in our hearts it leads us away from the faith. If we are not proactively fighting greed with generosity, it is ground in our heart we will lose. We can’t be passive in this fight.
The writer of Hebrews commands us, “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). We are to keep our life free from the love of money. That is a command given to us.
Please wrestle with this question: Do I love money too much? Examine your heart, take this threat seriously. Fight back with proactive generosity. Work to grow in contentment. We see in this passage the opposite of the love of money is contentment with what you have. There is a command to keep your life free from the love of money and a command to be content with what you have. Are you content with what you have? Can you be happy if you never make any more money? If you never get a different house? If you never drive a nicer car? I suppose those are things we can tend to think of when we examine our contentment, but that’s not where the author goes with it. He quotes a beautiful promise from God, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Our contentment does not come from our stuff, our contentment comes from our God. We have God! We have a future with God in His kingdom. We are fellow heirs with Christ.
We are rich, and we should act like it. Our generosity should proclaim it. The best guard for keeping your life free from the love of money is the gospel. And may the gospel also be our motivation for being cheerful givers.
Because of the gospel, we don’t have to hoard our money or seek to find belonging, value, security, or happiness in stuff. We have something so much better, that will last forever.