Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to find out who God is, what is He like, and how to partner with Him now.

Fighting the temptations of money

We joke about it, but there’s certainly some truth to it – There are no luggage racks on a hearse.

We’ve also heard the more serious advice – You can’t take it with you when you die.  Travel light.

However, our consumerism-driven American lifestyle isn’t the first time Christians have had to wrestle with the desire to acquire things.  There really is nothing new under the sun.  Every generation is faced with the same issues, they just might come at us in slightly different ways.  When warning Timothy about the dangers of greed-driven false teachers, Paul made this observation:

1 Timothy 6:7-8
For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out.
But if we have food and clothing
we will be content with these.

Paul is telling Timothy that we can choose our perspective on acquiring money and the things money can buy.  But…we will be content.  That is a choice.  When we stop and consciously think about it, it makes all the sense in the world.  Having lots of money in this life provides no guarantees on how life in eternity will go for us.  We can’t buy our way into Heaven, and anything we accumulate will get left behind with our physical bodies when we die.

And yet it is so, so easy to get caught up in the pursuit of money and the things money can buy.  Our selfish desire to be comfortable, to “live the good life”, actively creeps into our thoughts and attitudes.  From my experience, the desire to take it easy has gotten stronger the older I get.  As my career and experience progresses, so does the value of my work.  With more money comes the opportunity to selfishly spend it on myself.

Which is why Paul then warns:

1 Timothy 6:9-10
But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Whether we’re wise with our money (and have no debt) or we’re unwise with our money (and buy everything with credit), the world repeatedly tells us that we deserve to take it easy.  But believing that lie is only the first step down path to a trap leading to ruin and destruction.

Don’t think for one moment that this kind of temptation only ensnares “false believers” and that “true believers” wouldn’t fall into the money trap.  With his very next sentence, Paul tells Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:11
Now you, man of God, run from these things…

We must choose to run…and we must choose to be content.  Paul isn’t advocating that we live with just the minimum food, clothing, and shelter needed to stay alive.  In just a few verses, Paul will tell Timothy that God gives us all things to enjoy (see 1 Timothy 6:17).  Paul’s warning is for Timothy (and us) to guard against the human tendency to take something meant to be enjoyed and allow it to become something that we focus on and love.  The best way to protect ourselves is to remember Paul’s words and choose contentment:

1 Timothy 6:7-8
For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out.
But if we have food and clothing
we will be content with these.

Keep Pressing,
Ken