Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Love of Money

"For the love of money is the root of all evil,.... Of all the evils before mentioned, and of others; not money itself, as silver and gold, which are God's creatures, and his gifts, and may be used to, and answer many good purposes; but the love of it, and not any love of it; for there may be a lawful love of it, and desire after it, so far as it is requisite to the necessaries of life, to answer the calls of Providence, the duties we owe to God and men, to serve the interest of Christ, and do good to fellow creatures and fellow Christians: but it is an immoderate insatiable desire after it, and an inordinate love of it, which is here meant, such as is properly idolatry: as when a man loves it, not only besides, but above God; serves it as if it was God, and places his trust and confidence in it, independent of God, and his providence; such love of it is the source and spring of all iniquity, as above; it was the sin of Judas, and the root of all his iniquity. The phrase is Jewish. So idolatry is said to be , 'the root of all iniquities.' " - Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

My Personal Response to an Inquiry in Facebook

The Inquiry:

How do you balance wealth creation with this wisdom?

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people 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. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:9-11 NIV)


My Response:

I think the central idea of the passage in 1 Timothy 6, which starts from verse 3 is the wrong notion about godliness. These people were using even the teaching ministry in the church to achieve their end, financial gain. They didn't see godliness as a worthy goal in itself, but only a means to acquire wealth. The biblical idea of wealth is different; it is a result of covenantal faithfulness. In this context, godliness is not a means, but an end, even a higher and greater end than wealth itself. At this point, I see two relationships between godliness and wealth. Since wealth is an outcome of covenantal faithfulness, we can deduce two things: first, godliness has an independent existence even apart from wealth, and; second, that remaining faithful to divine covenant results to wealth increase. 

Returning to 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul tells us that the real reason these teachers had a distorted concept of godliness was due to the love of money, philarguria in Greek and better translated as avarice, greed or covetousness. The text therefore does not condemn money per se or the legitimate means to acquire wealth, but the excessive desire to accumulate money even resorting to illegitimate means.