For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. … 1 Timothy 6:10 NIV
Like an old, wrinkled dollar, 1 Timothy 6:10 has been bent, folded, and flattened in every way to purchase mental real estate in the minds of believers. It’s been forced on the wealthy to squeeze out their offering, and slipped in by others to justify their thirsty savings accounts. The Apostle Paul wrote this Scripture to Timothy, whom he was training up as a leader in the church. Was Paul getting ready to ask for money? Was he trying to make himself feel better about his own lack of a nest egg? Was he saying money is bad and we should do everything possible never to have much of it?
Let’s hunt for some context surrounding Paul’s first letter to his first son in the faith, Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2). Many scholars believe Paul wrote this letter on his third missionary journey, a few years prior to his arrest. Paul had long abandoned comfort and steady income for life as a nomadic leader of the early Christian church. In fact, Paul spread God’s Word without requiring payment (1 Corinthians 9:14-15), and at times made tents to support himself (Acts 18:1-3). So, we know Paul was sharing a deeply held, lived-out belief with Timothy.
What will Paul’s words to Timothy speak to us? Paul began chapter six with a servant-and-master theme. Later, he described false teachers who think godliness is a way to secure financial gain (1 Timothy 6:3-5). One verse later, he flipped the coin by claiming godliness paired with contentment is great gain in and of itself. Paul continued to make his case by reminding us what we get to take with us when we die (nothing). He called the desire to get rich a way to destruction (1 Timothy 6:9). Finally, he explained all this with 1 Timothy 6:10. Paul was not denouncing wealth, he was denouncing a lack of contentment which dethrones God as master and enslaves people to the pursuit of money. Jesus also used servant-and-master imagery to discuss money. In Matthew 6:24 NIV, our Savior plainly stated, “… You cannot serve both God and money.”
“… You cannot serve both God and money.”
Let’s think about it this way. Why do we all want to win the Lotto? Somewhere in our sinful nature is a whisper that says more money will mean more security, happiness, significance, generosity, and even godliness. But where do those things actually come from? God, our true master. What Paul and Jesus were warning against is this: the evil that promises good life through any currency other than crowning God your only King. Is money bad? No. Can it be put in submission to God to accomplish great things for Him? Yes. Is that an easy pursuit? No. How should we start? Godliness with contentment. How should we finish? Godliness with contentment.
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