Money, root of all evil or not?

An Article by Adrian Buie, Jr.
Sr. Manager of Applications Services, Dialog

At you'll find the following statements:
"In a laissez-faire society, uncrippled by government bureaucrats, money is a symbol of man's unspent production, that has yet to be consumed. Money is a tool of exchange that allows men to trade goods and services that they have produced in a market economy. When money has been earned (as opposed to looted, stolen, and begged) it is a sign of material and spiritual greatness."

How about what Mark Twain had to say:
"The lack of money is the root of all evil."

A woman named Alice recently wrote to a psychic:
"My husband and I have come into some money. We have invested it and have had nothing but troubles with it."

So we have some saying money is a very good thing, even leading to spiritual greatness. Another is saying that evil will abound if we have no money. Still another saying that newly found money is a vice between wife and husband. It seems that money is a topic that surely begs to touch your emotions and life no matter what you think of it.

Money in and of itself is a concern because Jesus said (Matthew 6:24) "No one can serve two masters." He was referencing a contrast later in that verse of God versus mammon, an Aramaic word meaning wealth or property. I believe most people consider the discussion here about money, the mechanism by which wealth or property is usually obtained. Thus, this verse provides a starting place to address the money concern.

Jesus was using the comparison to show that if you live your life here on earth in such a way that your goal is to obtain wealth, you could not also live your life in the honor of God that created you. We have to come to realize that our lives are subordinant to the Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth. He is the master in this relationship. Jesus seeks to show that there is but one master in any relationship and in doing so making the point that you can't have two. So you have to choose. Is it Jesus, God the Son you choose, or is it something else, in this case, money or mammon?

I contend the choice is fairly easy to comprehend, but difficult to make. It is easy to sit back and say, "I choose God." But is it that easy to implement? What does it mean to choose God over mammon? Does it mean we don't go to work tomorrow and earn the money necessary to support our families? To pay our bills? To funnel money to the church?

So what does it mean to choose God?

If you follow the verses after Matt 6:24, Jesus lays it out quite simply by saying, "Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."

So if you choose God, you'll seek the kingdom first. How does one do that?

Much of the Bible is a story about how to live your lives in a righteous manner (see Paul's letters). It provides example after example of people who let their faith show them the way to the Father, the way to lead righteous lives. As you pursue your path to the Father, you'll find that money matters less and less to you as each day passes. You'll find that you're able to "let go" of worries about where the next dollar comes from. These worries, and their removal, was predicted by Jesus in Matt 6:30-31.

Let's return to the original question: Money, root of all evil or not?

If we examine 1 Tim 6:9-10 we'll find Paul describing what happens to people that seek out riches in this world: they plunge into ruin and destruction. He goes on to say that the love of money is the root of all evils. So there we have it ... to love money is the problem. To live your life just to obtain money to buy yourselves things is the problem. Jesus says you can't do both ... love God and love money. Love of money may find wealth here on earth, but that is such a short time span as compared with eternity if you pursue the love of Jesus. Seek first the kingdom, then all else will be granted to you.

So, in the years we now live in after 2000, what do we do to rid ourselves of this desire for money (wealth) and seek the kingdom?

My prescription for success begins with the tithe. It is a portion of what you bring home from work every payday. It is that portion, usually starting at 10%, which you acknowledge to belong to God. So return it to Him at your house of worship. The tithe has roots back to Abraham. He understood that his great wealth on earth did not come from his own doing. He understood the Master's relationship to himself. He understood where he stood with God. And God blessed him greatly for his faith.

You have to start with a tithe. You have to "let go" of your money in a tithe. Don't worry over where the church is spending it. It is not yours, let it go.

The next step is to analyze your debt and spending habits.

Spending habits:
1) Do you need that Pepsi every time you stop by McDonald's? Or could you just drink water?
2) Do you need that cable TV with ShowTime for $39/month? Or could you find time to read?
3) Do you drive to the store when you could walk or ride a bike?
4) Do you pour money on your lawn to avoid a few weeds here and there?

Debt analysis:
1) Do you have the MasterCard and Visa maxed out on credit?
2) Do you pay your credit card minimum payment?
3) Is your paycheck completely consumed before you receive it?

All these things should help you start to question what you're buying and why. YOU have to determine what is really necessary, cut out the unnecessary and you'll be left with enough to tithe and buy some things you should have (e.g. good tires on your car for safety).

This short article only touches the surface on the money/wealth issue covered in the Bible and attempts to just make you think a bit about your spending habits. I trust you'll expend some time to think about your own life, how you live and what you need. I pray you'll come to the conclusion I have: Jesus was right. Don't worry. Give your life to seeking the kingdom. Don't let your worry over food, shelter and clothing stop you from pursuing the kingdom. And realize that money is not evil, the love of it is.

Adrian Buie Jr. manages web application development (testing, process, infrastructure)

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