Several hundred years after Christ, a monastic movement emerged and many of those who most devoutly followed Christ chose to pull out of society and took vows of chastity and poverty. Incredible fruit was born from some of those communities and the world was very different then, so I am not saying whether or not what they did was wrong. However, since that time most of the Church has come to agree with the idea that, “we should be in the world, but not of it” (John 17:13-19) shows that it is God’s desire that we be part of the community around us so that we can be salt and light to those who don’t know the love of God.
We’ve also come to agree that although Paul did say that it is best for a man to stay single and purely devoted to God (1 Cor 7:33-34), God’s original plan was for a man to leave his parents and be united together with his wife as one and that in doing so could be a living example of the love of Christ to those around them. (Gen.2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Eph. 5:29-32).
But this third area has held sway in the hearts of many to this day. This belief is rooted in a couple scriptures such as, “…For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (1 Tim 6:10),” and, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt 19:24), and, “give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. (Prov. 30:8)”
Let’s examine these.
Paul never said that “money is the root of all evil”. He said, “the love of money is a root of all evil”. This is another thing entirely. Money is never called evil in the Bible. It is evil to make an idol of money and therefore place it above God in your heart. When we love money above all else, it gets a grip on us and we must have more and more. Like all such lusts, it is impossible to satisfy. There must always be more.
Much of the pain in the world is due to this striving of one against another brought on by this lust for money. Because it is so common, I believe many over the generations have been saved from this lust and have therefore recoiled so strongly over it that they went in the opposite, but an equally ungodly, position.
The other two scriptures listed also point towards the central question, “What is the focus of our attention?” A man becoming rich is often the outcome of that man being focused on growing wealth. If you are focused mostly on growing wealth, then you can not be focused on growing closer to God. Thus it is not possible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Also, when we are wealthy, we are able to buy many more things which have the capability to distract our attention. This applies to everyone in the Western world. Television, internet, restaurants, shopping: there is an endless supply of things to do to distract us from what God is speaking into our lives. The poorest of us have far more distraction readily available to us than the richest of people did 2000 years ago. So when the author asks to not be rich so that he can not be distracted and forget about God, it is too late for all of us to enjoy this simplicity. We are rich. We are distracted. But the author did not say it was impossible, and since Jesus taught in other situations that we are responsible for growing wealth, He clearly did not mean this either.
What do you think? Make this post even more powerful by giving us your thoughts.
We’ll continue this discussion tomorrow. Do you know someone who should join us?