Episode 1. The Root of All Evil
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You’ve perhaps heard it said that money is the root of all evil. It comes from the Bible. But actually that’s not what it says. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. That’s …
You’ve perhaps heard it said that money is the root of all evil. It comes from the Bible. But actually that’s not what it says. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. That’s quite a different thing. It turns out that our attitude towards money, rather than money per se – can be quite a problem in our lives.
I don’t think that there’s a single person on the planet who is not affected by money or at least what money represents: value, wealth. Most of the time it seems that we don’t have quite enough. Some, in fact, many of the people listening to this programme today, around the world, simply don’t have enough to feed their families, or provide for their basic needs – a safe home, education, health services … Yet in the affluent west where we have so much money compared to most people in the world, there’s so much middle class debt that it’s become a pandemic. People are drowning in personal debt, credit cards maxed out.
The cry of a whole generation is that we don’t have enough and yet by any objective measure, we have more that enough. Sure, economies fluctuate, interest rates go up and down and inflation strikes, unemployment, house prices … all those things effect people’s disposable incomes but why is money such a big issue and why do so many people who have enough, feel as though they don’t?
That’s why today we are kicking off a teaching series called, “Money Matters – a Kingdom Perspective”. Because God’s wisdom in the area of money (as counter-intuitive as it may seem to you and me) is powerful, it’s effective and it sets us free from the tyranny of wealth.
Now we all, to a greater or lesser degree, are products of our environment. Our circumstances, our culture and wealth in most cultures is a big thing. Not all, but most. It goes with position, power, status, recognition, comfort … let’s face it; they’re all pretty seductive things. Who doesn’t want to live in a nice house? Who doesn’t want to drive a nice car? Who doesn’t want to wear nice clothes? They are all pretty much universal desires, even though they work themselves out in quite different ways in different countries and cultures.
There is a basic premise; a central thesis around which our societies and cultures operate. If my needs and wants are met, then I’ll be at the very least nine tenths of the way to being happy and contented and satisfied. This is the central tenet of advertising, it makes the economy go round. If people in the West didn’t want expensive clothes, shoes and handbags, people in developing countries wouldn’t have jobs.
All this leads to trade and commerce and that’s a good thing, and to an extent, that’s true. We need trade and commerce, otherwise there would be a lot of unemployed people around and that’s not good.
But this central tenet of happiness – me being able to have everything I want and do anything I want – also brings a lot of trouble into this world. It’s why people argue and fight and have conflict; it’s why countries fight wars; it’s why people rob banks (well, maybe you and I don’t rob banks so much), it’s why people tell little lies on their tax returns. That brings it a bit closer to home then.
It’s in fact why we need governments, laws, police forces, court houses and jails. It’s why we need armies and air forces and navies, because ultimately we can’t all have what we want, so there have to be mechanisms for dealing with the conflict between individual wants and needs and the social good; the broader good.
That’s what all these institutions are about; balancing out selfishness in the context of society. We can’t all have what we want. It doesn’t stop us from trying of course. I want, I want, I want, I want to win. And so, because money or wealth are powerful, powerful components of winning, all of a sudden it’s as though we have become enslaved to them.
Why does a family of four need a house so big that they can live in the place and almost never see one another? Why do we need a hundred thousand dollar car when a twenty five thousand dollar car would admirably do us, say to get us from A to B? Because we all, to some extent, covet wealth and what goes with it – comfort and recognition. We want to win. It becomes an obsession, people working so hard to keep up appearances; to conform to what appears to be the social norm in their people group. All of a sudden wealth becomes a tyrant, which is something we are going to look at later in the programme.
Jesus said this in Luke chapter 12, verse 34. He said:
For where your treasure is there your heart will also be.
But God doesn’t have a problem with money, per se; in fact, He has a whole bunch of good advice about money. He has no problem with people working and earning money and enjoying the fruits of their labours, in fact, one of the wisest men of all time, King Solomon, in the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, writes this – Ecclesiastes chapter 5, verse 19:
All to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil, this is the gift of God.
So, does God have a problem with money? Nope, not at all! The problem … the problem lies in our attitude towards the money. First Timothy chapter 6, verse 10:
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and in their eagerness to be rich, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
See, there’s the problem! And over these coming weeks we are going to start exploring not just the problem so we truly understand it and can identify it in our own hearts, but God’s solution; God’s answer; God’s way of setting us free from the tyranny of the love of money in our lives, the plague of desiring wealth, and turning it back to what it was meant to be. Money is meant to be something that serves us, rather than something that rules us.
So I have to warn you – don’t say I didn’t warn you – that God’s solution, as is often the case, flies completely and absolutely in the face of the wisdom of this world. It lies in an upside down, counter intuitive principle of sacrifice. Listen to this. Luke chapter 9, verse 24:
For those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.
See, it’s a principle about the whole of our lives as well as our money. The more we hoard money, and the more that the love of money runs deeper and deeper in our hearts, then the more we are going to bear the fruit that comes from the root. And the fruit that comes from the root of the love of money, as Paul writes to his young protégé Timothy here, is all kinds of evil.
It causes us to wander away from our faith in God because of our eagerness to be rich and as a result we experience pain. Lots of it. We end up piercing ourselves with many pains – debt, fear, financial insecurity, a maxed out credit card, long hours of work to pay for this financial madness – many pains.
That’s why God’s treatment for this malady is so radical; so upside down; so counter to anything that you or I, who have the propensity to love money, would ever have come up with.
For those who want to save their lives will lose them but those who lose their lives for my sake (Jesus) will save them.
That’s what we’re going to be talking about over these coming few weeks.