How to Describe the Love of Money
Many people can quote the maxim on the love of money and how it can lead to all types of immorality and vileness. And while it is oft quoted, it is oft misunderstood. I suppose that is true of many oft-quoted statements. I misunderstand it, too. I get the underlying premise - pursuing riches leads to a sin-filled life. But I am far away from a full understanding. If you were to ask me how to describe the love of money, I would blabber about greed and unbalanced life. I would try to distract you from my ignorance.
But the irony of it all is that I know it all too well. The love of money reaches deep into my soul.
Now if only I could describe it, maybe I can be set free from it.
An accurate description of the love of money must begin with what money equates to in the society that we live in. Maybe these various kinds of evil that Paul warns against are the illusionary statuses that money can buy. After all, money is power. Money is affluence. Money is comfort. Money is importance. Money is security.
Money is the answer for all the things I feel are lacking in my life.
The more money I have, the more my status in society is secure. But just as that green paper is a mere symbol of purchasing power, money is my way of purchasing symbols of my status in this world. Money equals the ability to tell the world a convincing lie.
"Of course I am both amazing and supremely secure. Look at all my new ______________!"
"Why yes, I am successful. Thank you for noticing my impressive _____________."
Money equals the ability to choose which story you tell about yourself. It is having the ability to control your own narrative.
But this flies in the face of a sovereign God, doesn't it? If it is in Him that we live and move and have our being, then why are we so consumed at controlling our own narrative? Perhaps it is because we want the credit that only God deserves. I don't know, but I will confess that it is more satisfying to be the reason for personal success than it is to give thanks for the plain hand of Providence. And this might be why we do everything we can to hold on to our cash, no matter the cost.
If death and taxes are the only sure thing, then we should admit that doing all to avoid them is the primary occupation of the masses. We have come to accept that the government will take money from us to provide services that benefit us. Taxes build roads, military defenses, and national parks, after all.
But when our money is taken from us to help others it becomes a crucial sticking point in the political commentary. Government programs that help the underprivileged are central to heated debates.
Why? Because I have to give my money to someone who I don't feel deserves it as much as I do?
Our verbal claws come out when the topic turns to the government distributing our money to others. It becomes less of an intellectual, philosophical discussion and more of a personal stance. The money is coming from our pockets after all. The money the government takes from me could be used for my new iPhone. Don't they know that?
Maybe one way we can describe a love of money is to describe our reactions when we have it involuntarily taken from us and given to those who need it more than us.
The desire to be rich leads to ruin and destruction. Yeah, tell that to Mark Cuban or Bill Gates!
That's the immediate response, right? We look at the lives of those who are rich and famous and see little evidence of ruin or destruction. Neither do we see the rich piercing themselves with many pangs, unless you count have to take their backup private jet as piercing pangs.
This immediate reaction of jealousy and dismissal gives us another clue into describing the love of money. It has to do with comparison. We don't just desire to have money we desire to be rich.
But how do we know how much money equals being rich? We play the comparison game.
Mark Cuban is rich, but so is Bob from down the street with the bigger house. Mary is too. She rolls in the new BMW 7-series. Everybody is rich if we presume they have more money than us.
A constant comparison of your life to the lives of others is another way to describe the love of money.
The love of money will cause us to trade our precious eternal faith for depreciating temporary existence. A love of money has caused many pastors to walk away from their calling and many parishioners seek a philosophy that fills their pockets with cash and their hearts with a perverted gospel.
A love of money causes you to make a choice and it convinces you that accumulating money is the right choice. Even if it means forfeiting your faith. I doubt you would ever hear a Christian proclaim, "I would abandon Jesus for 2.5 million dollars." But every day we make choices that place the pursuit of wealth above our pursuit of Christ.
When you get distracted from your pursuit you begin to wander. Seems like Paul had it right.
Yup, that's the best I can come up with.