Love of Money

By Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Godliness With Contentment

Jesus taught we cannot serve both God and material wealth:

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Matthew 6:24

If we have a job and a regular paycheck and are able to keep our bills paid and food on the table, we feel secure. Jesus told us to be content with having our necessities of food and a covering, clothes and shelter. We get into trouble when we begin coveting more than we can afford; or when we look to that job and those wages as the source of our security, making it a god in place of or alongside God in importance.

We don't have to worry about those necessities, because when we seek God as a priority in our lives, he will give us what we need to eat and wear. We can have faith in him as our security. We do have to earn our living, but we don't have to worry. We can and should put away money for emergencies, planning ahead for education or retirement, but we don't have to worry. Anxiety robs us of today's joy, today's peace and the energy for doing what our present circumstances call for us to do. God is faithful to provide all we need. Our job is to be faithful to him and to be faithful stewards of whatever he has given us.

The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy in two letters on his duties as a church leader. He warned him to be wary of those who thought godliness was a means of financial gain and exhorted him to flee this greedy mind set.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:6-10

John Stott in his book "The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus" comments: "Not until verse 17 does Paul give Timothy instructions for the rich. In verses 9 and 10 he is still describing the poor. It is not now the contented poor he has in mind, however, but the covetous poor, those who 'want to get rich' (9) and are motivated by 'the love of money' (10)."

Timothy was instructed to tell those in his congregation who had wealth to put their hope in God, not their riches. God's will for those with wealth is for the wealth to be put to good use, generously shared with others (1 Timothy 6:17-18).

In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:19

Jesus told us that our life does not consist of the abundance of material possessions:

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Luke 12: 15

Our life consists of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the eternal life he has promised those who believe in him. Our pursuit should not be after the things of this world, but, as Paul told Timothy, we should be pursuing "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:11).