‘A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.’ Psalm 49:20
Have you ever heard someone make the statement that if only they were rich, they would be happy? On the flip side, I have heard people say that they were glad they were not rich, because they wouldn’t know what to do with all that money. But the way we feel about these statements often depends on who said them and why they said them.
I have always said that if I were rich, I could certainly find something to do with all that money. I would have absolutely no problem spending a lot of money. And that would probably also help me to feel some happiness. But would it last? Would I really be happy? But what if I have no money at all? Can I still be happy? Can I find contentment? Would I still have self-worth?
1 Timothy says that money is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). And this is indeed true when we allow money to become the primary sustenance in our lives. While there is nothing wrong with being rich, in and of itself, it is the value we place on it that matters. All are at risk of being changed for the love of money. But is money even worth that change? Can it really solve all our problems? Can it make us content?
Of course the answer is no. Silver and gold sound lovely and good. And they can be. But as the Word of God warns us, we must guard our hearts and our minds. If we do not, we will fall prey to the evils of our fortunes. In Matthew 16-25, when the rich young ruler heard the words of Jesus, that to gain eternal life he must sell his possessions and give to the poor and then follow Him, he went away sad. He could not make that sacrifice, to part with his wealth, even to attain the promise of eternal life. His wealth had become the most important thing to him. And wealth, or the lack of it, has also become the most important thing to many of us today. We tie our personal worth to the amount of our riches, or to the opposite state of being poor.
The abundance of money, or the lack of it, is not evil. It’s the hold it can have on us that is evil. If money becomes number one to us, then it has become a god. Once it has, then it has replaced Jesus in our hearts. And there is the true root of evil.
‘And God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.’ Exodus 20: 1-3