Love of Money—A Root of Much Evil
EACH generation may argue that they have seen the greatest quest of all for that most-sought-after commodity on the face of the earth—money! Each can point to the wars they fought to gain wealth and riches, the length often determined by how long the money lasted.
Worldwide, people have been killed by the millions for money. Children of wealthy parents have been snatched away and held for ransom—money the parents will pay for their safe return. Unsuspecting victims have been swindled out of their life’s savings by con artists. People’s homes have been ransacked and burglarized for money. Daring men have been labeled “Public Enemy Number One” because they held up a single bank. No single generation can lay exclusive claim to these shameful acts. No generation, for example, has witnessed a greedier quest for money than the one that saw a despicable culprit betray his best friend, the greatest man who ever lived, for 30 pieces of money.
Late in this generation, however, the chase for this ever-elusive medium of exchange, styled by one American writer as “the almighty dollar, that great object of universal devotion,” has descended to new depths. No other generation has witnessed more daring bank robberies—millions of dollars snatched from tellers at gunpoint, not simply by men and women but even by youths. Such thefts are now so prevalent that they receive little attention in the news media. Financial institutions by the scores have failed because greedy owners illegally manipulated millions in depositors’ money for their own personal use, thus draining bank assets and leaving many depositors virtually wiped out.
What can be said of today’s white-collar workers who embezzle millions of dollars from their employers to try to sample the life-styles of the rich and famous? Reams could be written about people who lurk on dimly lit streets to rob passersby of the contents of their purses and wallets. And what of the daring holdups witnessed by many in broad daylight, victims killed and their pockets emptied of money? In some urban neighborhoods, residents lament: “It is not will I be held up on my street but how often.” Some even carry ‘mugger money’ to appease the robber, who may in turn spare their life. Unfortunately, this concluding generation of the 20th century is experiencing the most ruthless quest for money that the world has ever known.
The Power of Money in the Family
Witness the day-to-day battles between husbands and wives over money. “Money is a magnet that draws in all the frustrations in our lives,” wrote one researcher. “You must understand how you and your spouse view and use money if you’re going to stop fighting about it,” she said. Whether families are rich or poor or are somewhere in-between, most experts agree that couples fight mostly about money. “It amazes me,” said another researcher, “how many fights involve the spending or saving of money.” Consider, for example, the fabulously rich. Often the penny-pinching mate seeks to save his or her money, while the prodigal one seeks to spend it. In spite of the wealth, battle lines are drawn—not because of the lack of money but because of the abundance of it. There are those who marry for money, enjoy undreamed-of life-styles, and in due course divorce for staggering settlements of money.
In this money-crazed system of things, money is a metaphor for power and self-esteem. This often creates resentment when a wife earns more than her mate. When she does, her husband may feel that his power and self-esteem are lost. Jealousy rears its ugly head—not over some secret interloper—but over that coveted almighty dollar that has dared to come between them. In the fight between money and love, all too often money wins hands down.
And so it goes. Truly “the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.” (1 Timothy 6:10) Yet, the lack of money has brought great anguish and suffering to those who have been victimized by the ones chasing after it.
Money, Money Everywhere
It is often said that it takes money to make money. Witness the huge sums—multimillions—spent to lure the would-be shopper into buying the products hawked by advertisers. Check your incoming mail—maybe you will be the next to “win ten million dollars.” No one seems to be interested in just a million dollars anymore; now it is ten million and up. A number subscribe to magazines they do not want, and will probably never read, for fear of missing out on some windfall of money. The advertised promise “You don’t have to buy to be eligible to win” seems dubious to many.
Behold the states in America that now have lotteries with payoffs that can soar into the millions for the winners! A few million is “chicken feed.” These days, from 50 million to 100 million dollars may be won on a single drawing. There seems to be no end of money available for the jackpots. In many countries, national lotteries have been in existence for generations. People have spent an entire week’s pay on a single chance to win big money. Families have gone without adequate food and clothing—the money is sacrificed to “the god of Good Luck” instead.—Isaiah 65:11.
Take note of the millions who imagine winning large sums in games of chance. Consider those who play out their fantasies in gambling casinos throughout the world. With one roll of the dice, one draw of a card, one pull of a slot-machine handle, they hope to fulfill their dreams. Always, however, it would be easier for such ones to grasp and hold oil in their hand.
And so the inexorable chase for the elusive dollar continues at full speed, a chasing after the wind. Even though some have amassed a fortune, they have found that suddenly, in one unexpected moment, it is gone. Wise King Solomon’s words should have significant meaning for them then: “Your money can be gone in a flash, as if it had grown wings and flown away like an eagle.”—Proverbs 23:5, Today’s English Version.
Profile in Contrast
It cannot be denied that there are those who have brought great suffering to themselves and their families by spending their last dollar on a game of chance. Often they are poor, with little means, earning little more than a meager livelihood. Others are lazy and prefer gambling in quest of an unearned dollar. Today, however, most of the world’s poor are victims of circumstances beyond their control. Those with barely enough education to be able to write their own names can be counted in the untold millions. With countless others, failing local economies have brought their earnings to a poverty level. Even those with college degrees have had to face rejection of their applications for employment. As large corporations cut back on production because the supply of their products is greater than the demand, thousands more find themselves out of work. How do they cope?
Opportunities to get some money by dishonest means may appeal to them. They may reason that the end justifies the means. “I will do anything to feed my family” is a common attitude among those facing dire financial straits. The dishonest pathways are many, prostitution by women, thievery by men. Is dishonesty, stealing, or gambling—chasing after the unearned dollar—ever justified? The world is full of those who think so.
Do you believe in the Grand Creator, Jehovah God? His counsel is to throw your burdens on him, to rely on his support in times of need. After some 25 years of Christian experience, the apostle Paul could write: “I know indeed how to be low on provisions, I know indeed how to have an abundance. In everything and in all circumstances I have learned the secret of both how to be full and how to hunger, both how to have an abundance and how to suffer want. For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Philippians 4:12, 13) Obviously, Paul did not resort to dishonest means when he was low on provisions, but he trusted in Jehovah and was sustained.
So if you are poor, in want, do not seek dishonest gain. Certainly it is not wrong to make money honestly; Jesus himself said that “the worker is worthy of his wages.” (Luke 10:7) Nor is there any wrong in being rich. But never resort to moral compromise to meet your needs. Build a relationship with your Grand Creator, Jehovah God, and rely on him to help you cope with life’s hardships and problems. “Throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:6, 7.