The Sensible View of Money
HOW often we hear someone call money “the root of all evil.” This gives the wrong impression, conceals a treacherous snare and obscures a sign of the last days. Why? Because money is not the root of all evil. There is nothing evil intrinsic in the circulating medium called “money.” What the root of all evil really is can be found in the words of Christ’s apostle: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10, NW) Here, then, is this evil-inspiring root—the love of money! What happens to those who fall victim to the love of money?
The love of money is a snare whether money be obtained honestly or dishonestly. We might compare this snare to a trap or pit dug in the ground that is filled with sharp stakes, the whole snare slightly covered over. So when a man, or any animal, steps upon it, he tumbles in. Such a snare is that into which “those who are determined to be rich” must necessarily fall. The way to avoid tumbling into a snare like this is to have a sober-minded view of money by heeding the advice given in God’s written Word, the Bible. That book gives graphic evidence that the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.
Take, for example, the case of Achan. Just before Jericho fell the Israelites were warned not to take to themselves any of the spoils; all gold and silver was to go into the treasure of Jehovah’s house. But when Achan found some silver and a gold bar, his love of money gave him other ideas. He took the money and hid it in his tent. Israel suffered a defeat before the city of Ai because of Achan’s disobedience. When his sin was discovered, Achan, together with all his family, was stoned to death. Achan’s love of money led to disobedience, and his disobedience to death.—Joshua, chapters six and seven.
Another who allowed his love of money to lead to disloyalty, and disloyalty to disaster, was Elisha’s servant Gehazi. Elisha, through Jehovah’s power, had just cured Naaman of leprosy. When offered gifts, the prophet refused to accept them. But Gehazi, running after Naaman and falsely using the name of Elisha, asked for silver and garments. Gehazi’s disloyalty, however, was detected. Said Elisha: “‘Was I not present in spirit when the man turned from his chariot to meet you?’ . . . ‘Is it a time to accept money? . . . The leprosy of Naaman shall fasten upon you and upon your descendants forever.’” (2 Ki. 5:26, 27, AT) The desire for selfish gain turned Gehazi into a liar and a deceiver and ‘stabbed him all over with many pains.’
The name “Judas” has become a synonym for traitor. But what started Judas on this traitorous course? Greed. He loved money. He loved money so much that he turned into a thief long before he betrayed Jesus. When Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus with expensive perfumed oil, Judas denounced it as extravagance, for he wanted the oil to be sold for money. Why? “Not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money-box and used to carry off the monies put in it.” Whatever were Judas’ reasons for betraying Jesus, the love of money was predominant. To the chief priests he asked: “What will you give me to betray him to you?” They agreed on thirty silver pieces. The rest is well known. Judas, after the betrayal, cast down the silver and hanged himself. What did this love of money do to Judas? It turned him into a thief, a betrayer and, in a sense, a murderer; for he well knew that the priests wanted Jesus killed. Not money itself, but the love for money, led Judas ‘astray from the faith’ and plunged him into such destruction that Jesus said: “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”—John 12:6; Matt. 26:15; Mark 14:21, NW.
Many are the reasons why money is loved. Often it is the desire for power and prestige. Simon of Samaria loved money in this sense, for he lusted for power so that he might exploit others and exalt himself. When he saw Peter and John imparting the gift of holy spirit, he asked: “‘Give me also this authority, that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive holy spirit.’ But Peter said to him: ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought through money to get possession of the free gift of God.’” (Acts 8:18-20, NW) Today “simony” is the practice of buying or selling church positions.
Indeed, today the love of money has pervaded organized religion. Christendom’s churches commercialize the Word of God, placing emphasis, not on Bible truths, but on collections, bazaars, bingo and on other methods to raise money. No one needs to be told of the love of money that actuates commerce. And the love for selfish gain, power and prestige in politics is all known only too well. Even marriage has been corrupted by the universal love of money. It was the same in Jesus’ day. Of ancient Rome Lord’s Beacon Lights of History says: “Money was the first object in all matrimonial alliances.” So it is with many today.
The Scriptures give us warning of the ever-present danger of loving money. But is not money essential? Yes, but the true Christian realizes that, beyond a certain amount needed to provide the needs of life, money has no power to bestow happiness or life. Real happiness and real life come from laying up treasure in heaven by showing love for God and not love for money. Jehovah, the true God, is rich, for all the gold and the silver of the earth are his. Still the Christian can use the money of this unrighteous world to make friends with God. For Jesus advised: “Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches, so that, when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling-places.” (Luke 16:9, NW) Jehovah and Christ are these true Friends who can preserve life when money utterly fails. Only those who have used their life, time and material wealth to honor Jehovah and Christ will have true Friends at Armageddon.
Part of the sign of the last days is the abundance of “lovers of money.” (2 Tim. 3:2, NW) This, together with all the other features of the last-days sign now flash before our eyes. How vital, then, that we be sober-minded regarding the use of money, that we avoid the snare that could plunge us into destruction at Armageddon. Millions of people will die rich at Armageddon. No profit this! So make money your servant. Use it to honor God and to show love for neighbors by bringing them the good news of God’s kingdom. Jehovah and Christ will then be your everlasting Friends. They will not forget your loving service. For the King Christ will welcome you to the “everlasting dwelling-places” of the new world: “Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world’s foundation.”—Matt. 25:34, NW.