“Be Free of the Love of Money”
Not money, but the love of money is “a root of all sorts of injurious things.” What are these injurious things?
ALMIGHTY God knows what man needs for happiness. In his Word, the Holy Bible, he gives much counsel that, if heeded, can save a person from a life of anxiety, worry, heartache and tragedy. One of the formulas for happiness found in God’s Word is: “Be free of the love of money.” How few among Christendom’s professed Christians heed this counsel! What unhappiness could be avoided by being free of the love of money! What a cloud of sorrows envelops those who are not “free of the love of money”!—Heb. 13:5.
Telling us why it is vital for Christians to be free of the love of money, the apostle Paul writes: “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) The money lover need not necessarily be rich; indeed, he may be among those millions of persons with little or moderate means who are determined to be rich. This determination to be rich is one symptom of the love of money. A person deliberately sets his efforts to amass money and riches.
Another symptom of the love of money is a lack of consciousness of one’s spiritual need. The materialist centers his life around himself, his desires and material things. The Christian, on the other hand, is to center his life around Jehovah God, His Word, His will, His ministry, making spiritual things the core of his existence. So the cardinal injury that comes from loving money is that it ruins one’s relationship with Jehovah God. Let us see how this happens.
Certain requirements are set down in the Bible for Christians. They are (1) to imitate God, (2) to trust in God, (3) to obey God and (4) to love God. Those afflicted with the love of money make a mockery of these divine requirements.
IMITATORS OF THE WORLD
“Become imitators of God,” is the divine will. (Eph. 5:1) But the love of money insidiously prompts one to imitate this wicked world and its ways. Instead of imitating God’s qualities—his slowness to anger, his long-suffering, his loving-kindness, his mercy, his generosity, his faithfulness—the lover of money adopts selfish, grasping, cruel and unscrupulous ways. Kindness and generosity get in his way of making money, and so such benevolent qualities he squelches; he forces and trains himself to be hard and ruthless, inuring himself to every manner of unkindness his cleverness can contrive. Love of money thus readily leads one into the injurious practice of telling lies. Anything to make a dollar! What are promises to the money lover? They mean nothing; they are just something to break when more money is to be made. Agreements? Keep them when it is expedient; break them when it is financially expedient—this is the money lover’s policy.
Money lovers often obtain a superabundance of money, and yet, despite this, they will lie, cheat and defraud even their best friends to get more—only to add greater burdens to their already wearisome load and to heap upon themselves the scorn and hatred of those whom they have defrauded.
As the money lover more and more imitates this world, he may even turn to stealing and robbery. Four robbers were recently arrested after having robbed a Massapequa, Long Island, New York, bank of $72,231. Three of the robbers told police they took up robbery because of their being in debt, but the other robber offered police a different explanation: “Sure they were in debt, but who isn’t? . . . It was more a lust for money than a need.” (New York Journal-American, March 10, 1959) What multitudinous crimes, what frightful deeds, what hideous acts are committed out of lust for money!
Did not Judas Iscariot betray his best friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the hands of murderers for thirty pieces of silver? Yes, and the Bible says of this money lover: “He was a thief and had the money-box and used to carry off the monies put in it.” (John 12:6) What a disastrous end overtook Judas! How different it could have been had he been “free of the love of money”!
Suppose one determines to get rich in a scrupulously honest way. Can he then escape falling into “temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires”? Can he escape stabbing himself “all over with many pains”? Can he escape the evil of imitating this world? Declares the inspired Word of God: “He that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent. A man of envious eye is bestirring himself after valuable things, but he does not know that want itself will come upon him.”—1 Tim. 6:9, 10; Prov. 28:20, 22.
Because he is not imitating Jehovah God and his beloved Son, the lover of money burdens himself with worries, cares, distractions and dissatisfaction. He never has enough. One survey by social scientists of people of different income levels showed that those making $5,000 a year wanted $10,000 and those making $10,000 wanted $20,000. Even those with millions of dollars wanted more millions. “It is generally true,” said the report, “that the more money a person has, the more he wants.” There is no real satisfaction in the money lover’s wealth or in his pride of ownership: “A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income. This too is vanity.”—Eccl. 5:10.
The lover of money, betrayed into a multiplicity of employments, has no time or inclination for laying up treasure in heaven. “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” advised Jesus. But the lover of money does not imitate Jesus in this regard; he imitates this world by storing up treasures upon the earth, where, said Jesus, ‘moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal.’—Matt. 6:19, 20.
TRUSTING IN RICHES
The Christian is to trust in God and not to put his trust in uncertain riches. But one blinded by the love of money feels his life depends on his riches and possessions. Showing the injuriousness of trust in riches, Jesus told an illustration: “The land of a certain rich man produced well. Consequently, he began reasoning within himself, saying: ‘What shall I do, now that I have nowhere to gather my crops?’ So he said: ‘I will do this: I will tear down my storehouses and build bigger ones, and there I will gather all my grain and all my good things, and I will say to my soul: “Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.”’ But God said to him: ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?’ So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12:16-21.
What a horrible thing to die without being rich toward God! But the lover of money dies, like the man in Jesus’ illustration, having laid up treasure only for himself. Warning against this unreasonable course of action, Jesus said: “Be on the alert and on guard against every kind of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.”—Luke 12:15.
What injury comes from this belief that one’s very life results from the things one possesses! What happens, then, if such a person loses, through some disaster or adversity, the possessions in which he has trusted? Well, what happened, as an example, in the 1929 Wall Street stock market crash? Many persons who lost the riches in which they trusted could now not bear to live. A waiter at a lunch counter in the Wall Street area, recently retired, told a reporter how the stock market crash affected those who had trusted in their riches: “You’ve no idea what it was like. Men came in worth a million dollars one day and the next they jumped out the window.” Suicide—just another of the injurious things spawned by the love of money. How different it is for those who trust in God! The God-trusting person could lose all his possessions and yet never think of suicide; whatever his burden he does not resort to self-destruction but follows the divine counsel: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” Jehovah, who sustains the whole universe, will sustain the one who trusts in him; but the money lover cannot say: “In Jehovah I have trusted, that I may not wobble.”—Ps. 55:22; 26:1.
SERVING TWO MASTERS IMPOSSIBLE
Then there are the divine requirements of obeying and loving Jehovah God. But the love of money causes one to become a slave to riches and to give his obedience and service to this world. So what monstrous injury is brought about? The despising of Jehovah God! How so? Because the lover of money cannot obey and serve and love two masters. Showing how utterly impossible it is to be a slave to two masters, Jesus Christ said: “No one can be a slave to two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.” (Matt. 6:24) There is no changing of this divine rule, there are no exceptions; “no one” can serve, obey and love two masters. Sticking to Riches, making it his idol, his god, the lover of money despises Jehovah.
Though he may be called a success in the eyes of this world, in actuality, what a colossal failure the lover of money is in the eyes of God! What is true success in life is to live up to what Jesus Christ said was the greatest commandment of all: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matt. 22:37) But the lover of money gives his whole mind to the making of money and with his whole soul he works to that end; and in his heart he has assigned to money the place that God alone should occupy.
Because so much injuriousness issues from the love of money, it is not surprising that the money lover puts on an outward form of godliness. Hypocrisy results! The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were outwardly religious, but what was the condition of their hearts? After Jesus told them that no one can be a slave to two masters, the Pharisees exposed their true heart condition, as the Bible account shows: “Now the Pharisees, who were money-lovers, were listening to all these things, and they began to sneer at him. Consequently he said to them: ‘You are those who declare yourselves righteous before men, but God knows your hearts.’” (Luke 16:14, 15) The Pharisees tried to serve two masters; they loved money and so were hypocritical in the worship of Jehovah God. Some money lovers today may fool men, but as Jesus showed, God knows their hearts.
True it is that the love of money is “a root of all sorts of injurious things.” It causes one to imitate this world, to trust in riches and to obey and love this world with its riches. This is the very opposite of what God requires. No wonder such injuriousness is disastrous, plunging men “into destruction and ruin”!
How may one guard against suffering unhappiness and ruin? By following the divine counsel: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For he has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’” (Heb. 13:5) Similar counsel is given by the apostle Paul at 1 Timothy 6:7, 8: “We have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.”
Everyone came into this world empty-handed. If we came in this way, we are not obligated to carry anything out. But we can enrich the world despite our initial empty-handedness. How? Not in material ways; but we can enrich the world by using our mental endowments to help others learn God’s truth and to gain everlasting life in his righteous new world. No one can buy life in the new world: “Those who are trusting in their means of maintenance, and who keep boasting about the abundance of their riches, not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.”—Ps. 49:6, 7.
So why waste time, effort and energy trying to get rich, going after earthly riches? Such riches do not make one wealthy in God’s eyes. The only way to real success is to please Jehovah God by doing his will. Then we will be rich indeed; and, being “content with the present things,” we will feel a true sense of richness and happiness.