Money and the Bible go together. The Christian, like others, is concerned about money and how the Bible instructs us to use money. Jesus used money as did all of his disciples. It’s not surprising that the Lord left us with sound instructions on the use of money. We have written recently on the subject of making good choices and we noted that choices concerning money were important to a godly life. This article expands on those thoughts.
While there are many Bible texts we could study on the subject of money, none is quite as plain as Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 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.
There are three key lessons for our consideration.
Money and the Bible: Contentment
There are many definitions for contentment. But one seems to fit especially well here. Contentment means to have peace of mind and to be satisfied. You might look at other uses of the word in the Bible such as Philippians 4:11 where Paul declared his ability to be content; Hebrews 13:5 where we are again remind to be content and not trust in money; or 2 Corinthians 12:10 where Paul announced his willingness to suffer (be content) with hardship for the sake of Christ. The example of Scripture is contentment. To trust in God and be satisfied in Him alone. The pursuit of materials things brings the specter of unwise choices such as mounting debt which assures future troubles.
We should add that contentment is satisfaction but not stagnation. The Christian is constantly pressing ahead (Philippians 3:12-14). However in matters of money and material things we are satisfied because the goal is not the money but the ultimate reward of Heaven.
When one finds satisfaction in his financial life he will find that many of the pressures of life lift away. To learn contentment is a great goal indeed!
Before we leave the subject of contentment let me leave you with a passage from Solomon:
“Sweet is the sleep of a laborer whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12)
Solomon’s point? Work hard, be content whether in abundance or famine, be at peace.
Money and the Bible: You Can’t Take It With You
Temporary. That’s what your money is. It’s temporary and will not make the trip beyond the grave. Paul is clear, you brought nothing into the world and you will take nothing out. An infant born into a wealthy family still arrives with nothing. If that infant grows old and becomes incredibly wealthy not one penny will follow him beyond the grave. It’s all left behind.
Here’s Solomon on work and money:
“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing I must leave it to the man that will come after me…” (Ecclesiastes 2:18 – emphasis mine, jbe)
When we come to appreciate that piles of money are only short lived and do nothing for us beyond the grave we will find a much more appealing and stress free life. Paul’s call is to work to have what you need not what you want. It’s a simple plan but so hard to achieve!
Money and the Bible: Loving Money is Trouble
In the text Paul is quite clear. “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money alone is neutral. It is an object and neither good nor bad. It is how we view money that is the problem. When you love something you give things up for it. You sacrifice for the object of your affection. Such is foolish according to the apostles. Such a view of money brings temptation to which we may surrender. Have you noticed the number of highly paid film stars and athletes who so quickly get into trouble? The deceitful allure of alcohol, drugs, gambling and all sorts of vice quickly draws them into a destructive life cycle.
Even those of us without such wealth may find ourselves tempted to cheat, steal or be dishonest to save one more dollar or earn one more sale. Loving money is never good and is always bad.
Sometimes the result of loving money is subtle. For example, the foolish farmer of Luke 12:13-21 was condemned not because of his success but because he trusted in himself and not in God. And like Solomon before, he was left to ponder the question of who would then possess his riches.
Once more from the wisdom of Solomon we note the avoidance of material affections and the fixing of our gaze upon God’s service.
“Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
We can restate Paul’s argument this way: Because the love and pursuit of money brings trouble; because money is temporary; let us seek the permanence of God’s service instead of material wealth. Let us pray that we live in the middle, neither rich nor poor, only content.