“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (NASB)
My relatively long life has proven at least one thing to me: the love of money is pervasive in our culture and can be a deadly, soul-robbing desire that has ruined—and will continue to ruin—countless lives.
I have read and reread 1 Timothy 6:10 many times throughout my life; it offers, in a few words, a profound and dark truth about the inordinate love and desire for money.
Americans are obsessed with making money. It fills virtually every waking hour for so many people and the pursuit of money and gain is the central focus of hundreds of millions of people.
I admit, like most Americans, I pursued money, most notably in my younger days when I first started my business. Like most Americans, I was deceived by the constant drumbeat of materialism that permeates virtually every single aspect of this society, from stupid television and media commercials glorifying the pursuit of wealth, materialism, gadgets and gimmicks, to hobnobbing with friends (including fellow Christians) and customers in the never ending discussions of money and its accompaniments.
Getting married and having children only increased both the desire and need for making money; since I wanted the best for my family and did not want them to lack for the good things and comforts of life, I worked hard and long in a business that well provided for their needs.
I could write a book about money and all the traps and snares I and those I personally knew fell into during mine and their deluded pursuit of it. Now, drawing near the end of my life and looking back, I can almost say I hate the very thought of money and greed and what it did, not only to my life, but to those I loved.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand we have to have money to survive. I have worked hard my entire life to be self-sufficient and not have to rely on family, friends, or the government to put food on my table and a roof over my head. I grew up in a very poor family and was blessed to be able to break free because of my business and some halfway decent wise financial moves from the bonds of that poverty to a somewhat comfortable lifestyle.
My business helped shape me into the man I am today, and though I would have never chosen the occupation I ended up in—a contractor working outside in the extreme weather conditions in Tucson with his own hands—I do not regret my career. It was an honest, oftentimes brutally hard living, but one that provided well for myself and my family. Through my business I learned responsibility, diligence, how to work with customers (not always an easy thing to do), how to manage employees, save, manage and spend money, understand how money works, time management, the wisdom of “early to bed, early to rise,” etc.
And I’ve seen the dark side of money, the greed that motivates so many people in this country for making more and more and more money, never being satisfied no matter how much they have in their bank accounts. I’ve learned people will sell the soul of their own mothers to the devil as long as they realize a sizable enough profit on the sale.
I recently watched a true story based on the very depths of depravity a man will stoop to in order to make money. It is a three part series on Youtube called “Riphagen.” Part One is here:
I’ve watched this several times and it is horrifying, breaking all bounds of decency and normality of human behavior. And it is a warning to all of us that, if we allow our greed and love for money to get the best of us, we can become like Riphagen, and perhaps worse.
“Ethics of the Fathers” is a Jewish text. The following is taken from the linked page:
“Pirkei Avos / Ethics of the Fathers contains timeless wisdom. It is a collection of ethics, honesty, and advice…”
From Chapter One, we find this profound word of wisdom: “Who is rich? One who is happy with his lot.” This is so exquisitely wise and profound that it should be committed to memory and often taught to our children. I have meditated over it many times and have adopted it as a part of my life: to be content with my lot, my small portion in life, however humble it might be, living in an attitude of gratefulness and contentment with what God has blessed me, instead of the constant grasping and striving for more and more, never able to stop and “smell the roses.”
Let me close with this profound quote from Albert Einstein:
“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.“