Here’s a question, if you found a $20 bill lying on the sidewalk, would you pick it up? My guess is your answer would probably be “yes”, I certainly know mine would be. Money is the one thing in this world people can’t seem to get enough of. We give up our time and effort for it, we work Holidays to get just a little more, or if things are really bad, we appear on an obnoxious reality show for the chance to win big. There’s no denying our bank accounts have a huge sway over our daily life, yet the Bible has a few curt words concerning humanity and wealth.
“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 6:10
It was this verses specifically which John Piper chose to examine in a recent post for Desiring God. Piper began by asking what Paul meant when he first penned this message. Was it a sin to be wealthy? Was it wrong for Christians to be ambitious, or work diligently for a high-paying job? Eventually, Piper concluded the verse was not so much a warning against money, but of what it represents,
“My suggestion is this: he meant that all the evils in the world come from a certain kind of heart, namely, the kind of heart that loves money.”
“Now what does it mean to love money? It doesn’t mean to admire the green paper or the copper coins or the silver shekels. To know what it means to love money, you have to ask, What is money? I would answer that question like this: Money is simply a symbol that stands for human resources. Money stands for what you can get from man instead of God.”
In other words, Paul isn’t warning his followers against money so much as he’s warning them against greed. Few Christians realize how subtle greed can be. It’s inexorably tied to wealth, hence all the disciples warnings against money, but that doesn’t mean it is bound by it. Greed can manifest in many different forms; discontentment, miserliness, spite. Author Steven K. Scott has assembled a list of early warning symptoms for Christians concerning greed, and it’s worthwhile to keep these in mind every time you pull out your wallet,
“Coveting. All of us see things that others have and feel a momentary desire to have them, too. That’s perfectly natural. Coveting, on the other hand, is a strong and persistent desire or craving for something that you don’t have. It becomes a focus of your thoughts and desires. Acquiring it ultimately becomes a priority in your life, deferring or replacing more important priorities.”
“More, More, More. As you achieve your goals and acquire the things you want, instead of being grateful for what you have, your focus keeps shifting to what you don’t have. You find that you have lots of desires but little lasting contentment or joy.”
“Closing Your Eyes to Compromise. When you find yourself contemplating compromising your values or integrity to achieve what you want more quickly than would otherwise be likely, you know that greed is overtaking you. By the time you are actually compromising your values, it is too late. The good news is that once you’re aware of your tendency toward greed, you can hit the brakes and reverse course.”
Commerce will always be a part of human life. Christians must worry about bills and bank accounts just like everyone one else, the difference is we know our salvation doesn’t lay in wealth. As John Piper wrote, “God deals in the currency of grace, not money” and His grace is beyond priceless. So don’t let yourself be deceived by greed, true treasure is found in Christ alone.
*Ryan Duncan is the Editor of Crosswalk.com