Avoiding Financial Hell (Part 1)
A few months ago I was asked to speak about the topic of money at a workshop for the Young Adults group at my church. I taught through 1 Timothy 6:6-20 and made the point that what you do with your money or desire to do with it has the power to send you to hell.
At first glance, that statement may seem a bit harsh, however the Bible speaks regularly and very seriously against our love for money. In the 1 Timothy 6 passage, the Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy about false teachers in the church. These false teachers were profiting from the gospel by using Christianity as a way to make money. Unfortunately, we see the same thing going on today with many preachers pitching a “prosperity product” to unsuspecting people and padding their pockets in the meantime.
What Paul is actually addressing in this passage is not about money in and of itself. After all, money is neutral. Instead, Paul is discussing the love of money and the power that money can have over us. Greed and materialism was around in Paul’s day and is alive and well in our culture today. These particular sins can be very difficult to identify in our own lives, which makes this passage even more important to study.
I’d like to spend a couple of posts talking about some main points of this passage and what our response should be to it.
1. Real Wealth Defined (v.5-8)
The false teachers thought that “godliness was a means of gain”. They weren’t preaching the good news because they loved Jesus, instead they were preaching to get rich. What they didn’t realize was their desire for wealth blinded them to see that Jesus is the true treasure. Paul doesn’t pull any punches when he describes them as being “depraved of mind and deprived of truth”.
What I love about this section is that Paul isn’t against Christians having any gain. He redefines the meaning of true wealth. He says that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” When our lives are lived for Christ and we are content with what God has given us there is great gain to be had. There is tremendous joy to be found in living a life with an open grip on our possessions and a desire to please Him in all we do. That is true wealth.
Contentment is a rare trait these days especially in America. I know how strong my inclination towards loving money can be and have to constantly fight against my lack of generosity and the temptation to covet, hoard or spend frivolously.
What is the basis for our contentment? Verse 7 tells us that “we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of this world”. Nothing we have is really ours anyways. It all belongs to God. We can be content with whatever He gives because it is all a gift and someday we’ll give it back.
2. Money Has the Power to Send You to Hell (v. 9-10)
It is especially easy to get ensnared by greed and covetousness in America. Even in evangelical churches, it is easy to identify someone who has a bigger house, a fancier car or nicer clothes and think to ourselves that they are the ones with a materialism problem. It’s important to examine ourselves to make sure we are not the ones with the issue. Why? Because money has immense power.
Paul says, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” In other words, the desires you have for money and wealth can lead you down the road to hell.
Paul goes on to say, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” Money’s blinding power is so strong that it can actually lead you away from the faith. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said that the deceitfulness of riches can choke the word out and prove it to be unfruitful in a person’s life.
Verse 10 is perhaps one of the most famous misquoted verses in all of Scripture. Money itself is not the root of all evil, as is often stated. It is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. Money can be used for great things, but it can also be used for evil.
In Part 2 we’ll look at how we can fight against loving money.