Upon first glance at this post title two Bible verses probably jump into the minds of most Christians.
They scream as flashing warning signs to this topic: Is it OK for a Christian to love money? First from the lips of Jesus we read in Matthew 6:24:
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
If that wasn’t clear or challenging enough, Paul describes to us the dangers of loving money in I Timothy 6:10:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
I could list countless other Bible verses about money that would describe the damaging effects money can have in one’s life. But none are really needed after these two. It seems the Bible makes this an open-and-shut, case-closed issue.
But what are we to think about those people in the Bible who had great wealth? Job and King David come to mind. So does Joseph of Arimathea, the rich man who buried Jesus in his personal tomb. And of course there is King Solomon who had so much wealth he was unmatched in his day.
Doesn’t their wealth accumulation demonstrate a love for money? Similarly, doesn’t our desire to save and invest for the future hint at an affection and desire for money? If we didn’t love money, why would we seek to have more of it? No one seeks to have more of something they don’t love, right?
Allegiances Vs. Outcomes
There is a fine but important line between loving money in and of itself and loving money for what it allows us to accomplish. The first focuses on allegiance, the second on outcomes.
I don’t love money like I love God. I don’t love money like I love my wife and kids. I don’t love money like I love church, my close friends or Ohio State football.
Those allegiances are deep. They are 100% committed. They will weather some fierce storms. My love of money doesn’t reach into any of those categories.
But I’ll admit I do love money for what it does, for the outcomes it allows me to achieve.
I love that money provides for the needs of my daily life like food, clothing and shelter. I love that I can use it to buy insurances that provide for me during moments of crisis. I love that it allows me to support my church and bless others when they have a need.
So it’s a different type of love, one that is focused on what money can do. I’m pretty sure God’s OK with that.
Think about the Bible characters I mentioned above. Job used his wealth to bless his family members (Job 42:15). David and Solomon used their great wealth to build and furnish a temple for the people to worship God. Joseph of Arimathea’s wealth gave him the freedom to offer his family tomb for Jesus’ burial.
Each one used their wealth for good. It became a tool in their hands to affect a positive outcome. Their actions followed along the lines of what Paul told his young protégé Timothy:
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share…” (I Timothy 6:17)
Do You Love Money? It’s A Fine Line
It’s a fine line I’m drawing, the difference between loving money in and of itself and loving money for what it allows us to do. The line is an easy one to cross. If we are not careful our outcome-based love of money can become the inherent love for money that the Bible clearly warns against.
So when has your love of money become more than it should be? From the verses above it would seem you’ve crossed the line if you:
- have loyalties that are continually being pulled in two directions
- have fallen into evil practices (ex. cheating, stealing, addictions)
- start being characterized by others as greedy
- don’t practice your faith like you once did
- feel proud in your financial accomplishments
- lack a desire to give and do good to others
So check your attitude at the door. God allows us to use money and wants us to be appreciative for how it impacts our life. But He certainly doesn’t want our love for it to supersede our love for Him. That's a line to dangerous to cross.
Questions: Do you feel the pull between your faith and money issues? How have you kept from letting money control your life?