4 Dangers Of Loving Money
An old Jack Benny skit illustrates how money can become more important to us than anything else. Jack was walking along when suddenly an armed robber approached him and ordered, “Your money or your life.” There was a long pause, and Jack did nothing. The robber impatiently queried, “Well?” Jack replied, “Don’t rush me, I’m thinking about it.” (Incidentally, in real life, Jack Benny was known as a very generous man!)
While we may laugh at this, isn’t it true money can have this kind of a hold over us? That’s why it’s no wonder that the Bible issues so many warnings about the dangers of riches. Many of those warnings came from the lips of the Lord Jesus himself. Below are a couple of examples:
Matthew 6:24 “You cannot serve both God and money.”
Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
The writer of Hebrews also reminds us, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” [Heb 13:5].
To be sure, the warnings concerning loving money are not merely New Testament teachings. Even the tenth commandment itself was a prohibition against greed, “You shall not covet” [Exod 20:17].
The desire for money poses many dangers. Four of those dangers are described below.
Danger # 1. It can make us trust in it rather than God.
The rich young ruler who came to Jesus for eternal life is a classic example [Mark 10:17-22]. He was deeply in love with his money and would not let go of it. The end result—he walked away from the Giver of eternal life with a death sentence written all over him. When the rich young ruler stands in front of Jesus—Judge, will his riches save him because he rejected Jesus—the Savior?
Even in our day, despite stock market crashes, economic recessions, sudden job losses, or business failures, many still put their trust in uncertain riches rather than in an absolutely certain God [1 Tim 6:17]. No wonder Proverbs 11:4 issues a timely warning, “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath.”
Danger # 2. It can bring many sorrows even in this present world.
The Bible clearly says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” [1 Tim 6:9]. The temptation to gain more money leads people to work long hours, neglect God, and family, and even gain money through sinful means.
It’s been rightly said that money is an article that may be used as a universal provider of everything—except happiness! One of the wealthiest individuals to have ever lived, Rockefeller, said, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.” The rich Henry Ford [founder of Ford Motor Company] once said, “I was happier when I was a mechanic.” Even Solomon, the wealthiest man in the Bible, said, “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep” [Ecc 5:12].
Danger # 3. It can lead us to be very selfish.
Naturally, if we want more, we will be more reluctant to let go of what we have and thus be anxious to try to hold on to it. This results in a dominance of selfishness—selfishness in giving to God’s work [Haggai 1] and selfishness concerning meeting the needs of others [1 John 3:16-18].
We forget that when we got baptized, our bank account also got baptized! We forget that God owns all our money. We are simply stewards of what he has entrusted in our care. We fail to understand that if God prospers us, it may be that he wants us to raise our standard of giving—not necessarily raise our standard of living. By this, I am not implying that if we live in challenging conditions and if God prospers us, we are not to improve our living conditions appropriately. The caution is that we need to guard ourselves against an attitude that thinks, “All I have is solely given for my pleasure.”
Jesus warned, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” [Lk 12:48]. While I do acknowledge the truth of this verse cannot be limited to finances alone, it indeed calls for an application in the area of our finances as well!
Danger # 4. It can bind us to the temporary and blind us from eternity.
The love of money can obscure our vision. The rich young ruler mentioned in Mark 10:17-22 is a good example. His encounter with Jesus shows how money, which is a very temporary thing, has the power to blind a person from seeing the true eternal riches found only in Jesus.
The story is told of a businessman who had an angel come to visit him and promised to grant him one request. The man requested a copy of the stock-market quotes for one year in the future. As he studied the future prices on various stock exchanges, he boasted of his plans and the increased riches that would be his due to this “insider” look into the future.
He then glanced across the newspaper page, only to see his own picture in the obituary column. Obviously, in the light of his inevitable death, was money really that important now?
And this truth is precisely what Jesus warned through a parable in Luke 12:13-21. The parable is about a man who was bound to the temporary riches of this world and was blind to eternity as he pursued money instead of God. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'” And then, Jesus went to make the application, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” [Lk 12:20-21].
So, 4 clear dangers associated with loving money—dangers that have temporary and even eternal consequences.
So, how do we make sure we are free from the love of money? Simple. We must love Jesus more than money. We must continually remember it was Jesus who left heaven’s glory to live amongst us and die in our place so that we could be forgiven of our sins. We must understand that nothing must come between him and us, and that includes money. We need to treasure him above all earthly treasures, which have no lasting value beyond this life. We need to bow down to his lordship over all areas of our lives. We need to constantly cry out to him to help us overcome the hold that money can have on us.
And when we do that, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will give us the power to treat money as a slave rather than control and call all the shots as our master. He will set us free from the love of money so that we can love God and be a blessing to others made in his image!
How about resolving to memorize and pray this prayer from the book of Proverbs daily and seek to apply it?
Proverbs 30:8 “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”
Interestingly this is the only prayer in the entire book of Proverbs. And isn’t it such a practical prayer?