Fighting a Love of Money

The Bible says a lot about money and possessions. As the holidays approach, we can find ourselves looking for the best Black Friday deals. I personally find myself looking for new appliances, and was reminded how easy it is to envy the possessions of others. I found myself asking whether I need a stainless steel fridge with a smart T.V. and water dispenser or something more simple. This realization drove me to research the topic of money in the Bible. According to most scholars, there are over 2000 versus in the Bible on money. This is tremendous when we consider that there are only 500 versus on prayer and faith and the fact that 40% of Jesus’s parables are about money and possessions.[1] Money is an important topic for the Christian. So, we should ask the question, do I fight against a love of money?

When we love money or possessions, we don’t trust God for contentment and joy

Let’s start the fight by looking at what it means to be above criticism with our money. Paul sets the standard for qualified leaders and we can look to their expectation as we follow their example (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul tells Timothy and Titus, to be Aphilargyron (1 Tim. 3:3) and Aischrokerde (Tit. 1:7), both are one word in the Greek and are given in the pejorative (a negative connotation). Aphilargyron comes from: a (not) + philos (love) + agruros (silver) = ‘not a lover of silver’. Aischrokerde means to not be fond of sordid gain (c.f. 1 Pet. 5:2). When we love money, we don’t reserve our love for the provider. When we love money, we open ourselves to criticism. When we love money or possessions, we don’t trust God for contentment and joy (Mt. 6:25-34). When we pursue a successful life with lots of money, Scripture tells us that it can lead to future grief; Paul says “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:10). Thus, the saying is true, ‘more money, more problems.’

Biblical Examples

The early Church was fighting a love of money. Consider the following examples:

  1. False teachers – who tried to exploit the flock in greed (2 Peter 2). Leaders, especially need to seek the good of the flock and not exploit them to their own profit…all shepherds are susceptible to the degeneration of the hireling who is transformed by the spirit of lucre into a shameless profiteer.[2]
  2. Pharisees – were exposed for their love of money in Jesus’ Parable of the Unrighteous Steward (Luke 16:14).
  3. The Rich Young Ruler – was exposed for loving his possessions more than following Christ (Mark 10:17-27).
  4. The Money Changers – were lovers of money when they turned a practice of worship into a business opportunity where they took advantage of Jews through an ‘exchange rate’ (John 2:13-25).
  5. Church Members – James speaks harshly against Churches who showed preferential treatment to the rich more than the poor; as well as members who were pursuing riches and luxury (James 2:1-12; 5:1-6).

Paul promised that the Church that difficult times will come, when some will hold to a form of godliness, yet love money more than truth (2 Tim. 3:2-6). Paul must have had in mind those who teach the health, wealth, and prosperity Gospel of today.

Self-Examination

What about me? Do I love money? Here are some questions to help you examine yourself (2 Cor. 13:5):

  1. Does my wife have access to my bank accounts, spending, and finances?
  2. Do I have accountability with my spending (i.e. wife, family)?
  3. What do I buy and how is it affecting my giving?
  4. Do we confuse wealthy or successful business men with godliness?
  5. Do I envy others possessions? Do I spend a lot on ‘showy’ items to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’?
  6. Do I check my retirement obsessively?
  7. Do I choose friends based on their wealth?
  8. Are your relationships strengthened through financial difficulties?

Application

If you feel convicted based on the questions above, then consider some of these suggested application steps so you can start fighting ‘a love of money’:

  • Set financial ‘caps or limits’ on your personal spending and vacations.
  • Give more to Church and missions to counter-balance your love for money (2 Cor. 8:3).
  • Give first to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:4-5), on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2), and then make your personal budget.
  •  Sit down with your wife and/or family and have transparency with your spending.
  • If you’re in ministry, limit your involvement in the collection of money, awareness of others giving, and soliciting private business (i.e. book sales, etc.).
  • Actively ‘Flee from these things…and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness’ (1 Tim. 6:11).

[1] Consulting Rose Publishing’s use of Gregory Baumer’s new book: God and Money. https://blog.rose-publishing.com/2016/02/08/trivia-how-many-verses-in-the-bible-are-about-money/#.YZPzsr3MKfU. [2] Spicq, C., & Ernest, J. D. (1994). Theological lexicon of the New Testament (Vol. 1, pp. 46–47). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

David J. Lupinetti is the Associate Pastor at San Tan Bible Church in Arizona. He has a passion for Expository Preaching, Biblical Counseling, Discipleship, and Evangelism.