For the Love of Money

The love of moneyDo you love money? Most, if not all, of my Bible friends will immediately shout, “No! The love of money is the root of all evil,” quoting 1 Timothy 6:10. “So, no, I don’t love money.”

But we deceive ourselves. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I like a raise, a promotion, a bonus?
  • Would I like my salary to be a bit higher?
  • Would I like to grow my business, double my clients, increase my sales?
  • Would I like to have more money in savings?
  • Are you content right now with what you have, or would you like more money?

If you would like more money right now, listen to what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:10:

Whoever loves money never has money enough;
Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.

Let me simplify this for you: would you like more money right now? If yes, then you love money.

I think most Americans are dissatisfied with what they have. I wrote an article about this undertow of lack that is so pervasive in our culture. We are convinced that we need more stuff. We think excess = success. So, we buy, we collect, we gather more and more stuff, thinking it will be bring us happiness, peace and joy. But, ironically, this craving for more is what is killing our happiness, peace and joy.

It’s even popular in most of our church sermons. “Give to God so he can bless you (with a better job to make more money to buy more stuff).”

I read the following quote this morning from a book called “The Rest of the Gospel”,

It’s easy to live as if we are the center of the universe. We would never say it, or even think it consciously, but we can live as if God is here for us. That has come across in a lot of “Christian” teaching. God is here to bless you. You ought to be rich. You ought to be prosperous. It’s your due to be successful. It’s your due to get ahead. God has to respond to your faith. God has obligated Himself to bless you if you do the right things. All of which means what? You are the center of the universe.

Are you the center of your universe? Are you building your kingdom?

It’s funny how we Americans desire to be rich. It’s funny because if you make more than $40,000 a year, you are wealthier than 99% of the world. Yet, we’d never think that a $40,000 per year salary would make anyone rich. In fact, we’d almost say you’re bordering poverty with that kind of salary.

We think being rich will give us peace and rest. But, it’s backwards. It creates misery, pain, struggles and distress. Here’s what James said in 5:1-3,

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

The great American lie is simply this: life is better when you have more.

I don’t think it’s evil to have money, or even lots of money. Nor is it evil to make money or grow a business. Scripture does not say, “Money is the root of all evil.” No, it’s the “love of money”. The evil is when we desire more because we think it will bring security, peace, joy and happiness. Ironically, the pursuit of money does exactly the opposite. Read all of 1 Timothy 6:10,

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

This really resonated with me this morning as I was listening to an excellent sermon from Pete Briscoe at Bent Tree Church called “Less is Better.” Everything he says is spot on and so true. It’s so easy to get sucked into this “more” mindset, but as we crave more, we miss out on what we already have today.

Here’s Pete’s sermon:

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

— Jesus in Luke 12:15


The Beauty of the Now

The Beauty of the NowMy racquetball buddy surprised me one evening when he leaned over and whispered, “Russ, I have a couples crush on you and your wife.” I laughed. I knew what he was talking about. But, I also knew something he didn’t.

You see, I run a video production business. It’s quite simple. There’s one employee: me. There’s one office: my home. I take on the clients I like and turn away the ones I don’t. My schedule is wonderfully flexible. I work as little or as much as I want. Dreamy.

My wife is in a similar situation. She’s a personal trainer, works out of the home and sets her own schedule as well. We spend much of our day together. Our marriage is really amazing. Again, dreamy.

But, here’s what my friend didn’t know. In the wee hours of most mornings, before the sun comes up, my wife and I often stir awake thinking about the day ahead. And then it hits. Pressure. Stress. Moments yet to happen rushing into the now.

These mental, morning intrusions often provoke anxiety and pressure—pressure to perform, succeed and accomplish. What exactly? Not sure, but the day already feels heavy and we haven’t even gotten out of bed.

It shouldn’t be this way. If anyone should awake to an exciting day of opportunity and promise, it should be us. Throughout our marriage, we’ve made specific, intentional choices to live a simple, minimalist life. Why then is it so hard to experience the dream life that my friend thinks we have? I want to know why this uninvited pressure continues crashing into our calm mornings, setting an unhealthy pace for the day.

I think it has something to do with our cultural mindset of performance—if you work hard enough, you’ll be happy. We learned it as a kid: work hard and you can have a happy life. But, if you’re not working, not succeeding, not accomplishing, then you can’t be happy.

It’s so pervasive in our culture. Do well in school, and you’ll get good grades. Work hard at your job, and you’ll get that promotion. Perform well and you’ll do well. It’s the American Dream. But, if you’re not performing, then life will not be good for you. What we do becomes who we are instead of letting who we are become what we do.

What is it that drives us, that fuels our need to perform? I believe it’s this undertow of lack that makes us feel like we haven’t quite arrived yet. There are more tasks to accomplish, more mouths to feed, inventions to create, stories to tell. So, get to work. No time to rest. Why? Because right now, in someway, you are lacking. You can always be moving towards more.

This lie fuels performance. And, it’s everywhere. It’s prominent in the TV commercials we see, the magazine ads we read, the sermons we hear. The unsettling discontentment shifts our thoughts away from the present moment. We become focused on the past (with its failures) or the future (with its pressures), and we miss the beauty of the now. Perhaps, choosing to live in the now is the key to a joyful life.

Last night after dinner, my wife was getting ready to take the dogs on a walk. Alone. I was busy juggling some client emergencies and trying to get things ready for the next day. Alone. Our son had disappeared into his teenage man-cave to the battle cries of League of Legends. Alone.

I was about to sacrifice a now moment at the altar of tomorrow.

So, I shut down the computer, grabbed my shoes and said, “Hey, I’ll come with you.” My wife smiled, probably leaping on the inside. Then, to our surprise, Caleb emerged from his gaming lair and wanted to join us.

We spent the next 20 minutes walking, talking and laughing. Together. Completely content in the moment. And, it almost slipped right by us.

Yes, we do have an amazing life. I have a wonderful, beautiful wife who loves me unconditionally. I have brilliant, witty son attending college to be a professional game designer. (Go figure.)

Life is good. I just need to be careful not to miss the beauty of the now.

“God deals out joy in the present, the now.” — King Solomon