Fleeing the love of money

Fleeing the love of money

We live in a time where greed is perfectly acceptable to most people. We use words like “ambitious” and “upwardly mobile” and “aspirational” which sound so much more positive. Using all of our efforts towards a better life and nicer things is just the norm. We need to realise that this desire for more is a great danger for us. The Bible is full of warnings that greed can be a big problem for our faith.

For example, look at these famous verses from 1 Timothy:

10 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. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.                                                           

(1 Tim. 6:10-11a ESV)

The danger being warned against here is the love of money, not whether you are rich or poor. Whatever your current financial status, it is the desire for more than can lead to people wandering from the faith. It is a craving, a relentless wanting, that leads only to disaster in terms of our faith. It is so easy to substitute our love and service of God with a love and service for money.

Paul’s advice to Timothy is simple: flee these things. Notice how strong that word is. Paul doesn’t calmly say that greed can be a bit of a problem, so be careful. No, Paul says FLEE! It’s the kind of word you scream out when imminent danger is around you, when there is a fire or a wild animal which can cause you great harm. To flee is to take large steps in the other direction, to note the danger and react appropriately.

Yet it is easy, even for Christians, to not see the danger. Greed is so normal and acceptable that we don’t see the need to flee. We feel Jesus and Paul were overstating things by saying things like you cannot serve both God and money; we’re prepared to give it a go!

Greed so easily dominates our minds and our lives. The desire for nicer things, better experiences, and more comfort capture our mind like few other things can. The word translated “flee” in the 1 Timothy 6 quote is an ongoing verb; the idea is not that we make a decision once to run from greed. It is an ongoing temptation that requires repeated action. We need to work hard to avoid greed in many different ways.

How might we practically take steps to flee the love of money? There are all kinds of ways, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Avoid advertising as much as possible. The whole point of advertising is to make you dissatisfied with what you have. Cancel your subscription to advertising emails. Avoid going to the shops unless you want something specific. Don’t read the junk mail. If we don’t control our input, we will be feeding our greed and always wanting more.
  • Be aware of when greed controls your heart. When you realise that many of your conversations turn to the subject of money or house prices, or that much of what you dream of revolves around new things, confess to God that you have a problem.
  • Avoid gambling. I know this is somewhat controversial and Christians have different views on this, but buying that lotto ticket or entering the sweepstakes for the horse race is not just a little bit of fun. It turns your mind to the greed of what you might buy with the winnings. It fills your mind with thoughts that can be harmful to you.

Greed is far worse for us than we often think. Don’t walk away from it; run.