From the Other Side of the Pastor’s Desk: Putting Anything Above God Is the Problem
Posted at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, September 30, 2022
Through the Pastor’s Office by Don Rose
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” — I Timothy 6:10a
Perhaps one of the best known yet most misquoted verses in scripture comes from First Timothy. How many times have you heard that money is the root of all kinds of evil rather than the love of money? Although money can have its problems, the author of First Timothy clearly understands that it is not money, but rather the love of money, that is the problem with human beings. In the sixth chapter of this letter, the author has advice for those who want more money as well as those who already have wealth.
The author clarifies that when the desire to get and keep money takes over someone’s life, it will cause problems. The writer does not say that poverty is noble and wealth is evil. He says there comes a time when God’s people must be content with what they have, knowing that they cannot take anything with them when they die. The author notes that a single-minded desire to continually acquire more can lead us away from the most important relationship with God. At the same time, the writer does not tell rich people to give away everything they have, but rather to freely keep what they have been blessed with and be willing to share with others they meet in life. .
The author clearly understands that wealth can become a stumbling block to a healthy relationship with God and with others, as well as with God’s creation. Wealth according to the measure of the world means power and influence. It may come as a shock to realize that none of this means anything to God. God desires and values a relationship with God’s children, a relationship based on trust in the love of God revealed in Jesus the Christ. Thus, a healthy relationship with God is not based on anything one can do or accomplish or accumulate on their own, but rather such a relationship is the result of what God has already done for all of creation in the Savior’s gift. When people are able to realize through the work of the Holy Spirit that what God has already given provides more than anything the world can offer, they are freed from hoarding for the sharing opportunities that regularly present themselves.
Often, less wealthy people are more free to share than wealthy and well-to-do people. Perhaps this is because they are unable to take things for granted or become haughty about their social status. A sense of entitlement is rampant these days, a sense of being owed whether by culture or by God. The author of First Timothy knows there are no rights when it comes to God. In the end, nothing the world appreciates in the face of God’s gracious gifts and God’s desire for the lives of all of God’s children and creation.
Basically, the love of anything above God, be it money, prestige or power, can destroy the relationship that God would have with the people of God and the relationship that God calls the people. of God to have with others. To love God first and foremost is to follow the path first walked by the Savior, the one who continues to walk with us even today. Such a path leads and guides God’s children to the faithful use of all the gifts that God has so generously bestowed on them.
Don Rose is pastor of Mansfield and United Lutheran churches.