"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains."
Why does the bible give us so much wisdom about the use of money, wealth, and possessions? Jesus taught about the wise use of wealth more often than he talked about love, or peace, or justice, or faith. Yet, in many Christian churches talking about money is taboo. It seems like money is nobody's business, not even God's business. Money can often be the one thing we keep so close to ourselves that it takes the place of God in our lives. We place our trust in wealth, we spend our time counting it, working on it to grow, and thinking it can solve all of our problems. I think Jesus, and St. Paul talk and write so much about money because it is so dangerous to love money more than we love our God, our neighbors or our enemies. Love of money is a rebellion against the first and capstone of God's commandments - to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength.
St. Paul wrote to Timothy this admonition - that the "love of money is a root of all kinds of evil". The key here is not that money, by itself is evil. Money, wealth and possessions are all gifts from a good and gracious God. Instead, it is our love of money that produces so much evil in the world. It is the love of money that has sorted people into specific categories. Categories which are formed by measuring human worth by the amount of money one has, or goods one owns. The global imbalance in the share of wealth is the "kind of evil" that Paul is warning against. When too much wealth is concentrated in the hands of too few, all kinds of evil emerge - the evil of poverty and the perpetuation of a social underclass, the evil of victim-blame, where it assumed that if one is poor, one is responsible for it, and responsible to fix it, - the evil of racism, where economic systems that benefit the few are protected and inaccessible to those who are considered less than worthy because they look and behave differently - the evil of injustice, where so many go hungry while others are lavishly overfed.
Our Lord Jesus loves us so much that he doesn't pull punches when it comes to the wise use of money. When he saw people who put their money where their God should be, he told them so, whether it was the man who had so much grain he decided to build bigger barns, or the man who refused to give up what he had to follow Jesus, or rich man who ignored the suffering Lazarus all his life because he thought his god, his wealth was bigger than the one true God, the author of all that is good and loving in the world.
So when you are sorting out your gods, which one gets your fullest attention?
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.