The Love of Money (Sunday, 25/9/2016)

The love of money!

The love of money is the root of all evil!

Love of money

Now this is a famous verse. Unfortunately the Catholic Lectionary picks up the reading just from the next verse on. Let’s read the whole chapter:

1. Tim. 6:

[1] Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and [his] doctrine be not blasphemed. [2] And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do [them] service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. [3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

[4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. [6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. [9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. [10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Here the Catholic Reading sets in:

[11] But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. [12] Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. [13] I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and [before] Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; [14] That thou keep [this] commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: [15] Which in his times he shall shew, [who is] the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; [16] Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom [be] honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Here the reading ends.

[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. [20] O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane [and] vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: [21] Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace [be] with thee. Amen.

This chapter obviously does not just address the love of money. It sets guidelines for us how to act, on what to focus instead of the love of money.

Some criticise Christianity for the beginning of this chapter. Today we educate children to be critical and to resist injustice, to stand up for their rights! We speak of class struggle! But we don’t have anymore high ideals. Our ideal, our way to motivate young persons is love of money. It is what the love of money can buy once they have grown up.

There is a text in which Paul asks for subjection to authority. It is

Rom. 13: 1 to 8:

[1] Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [2] Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. [3] For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: [4] For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

[5] Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. [6] For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. [7] Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. [8] Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

This is from the letter to the Romans. Some Christians, in particular those of Jewish race, misunderstood the meaning of the Kingdom of God. They thought of a secular kingdom.

Critics say,

that these two passages make Christians obey authorities no matter what. However, one has to remember two things. Firstly, the letter to the Romans was to the Christians living in Rome. They were persecuted and Paul basically asked them to blend in. He even asked them to pay their taxes in verse 6. And he warned them, not to do evil in verse 3.

Secondly, this attitude has led to Christianity being the Religion of the whole Roman empire in the end! Who would have listened to terrorists? Who would have listened to tax evaders?

So the text in Timothy at the beginning deals with the everyday life attitude towards our neighbours. The purpose of these instructions is (verse 1), ‘that the name of God and [his] doctrine be not blasphemed.’ So we need to build a good reputation by obeying the laws of Christianity. The intention is to build a Christian society which is not based on the love of money. It is built on love thy neighbour.

Who is my neighbour?

When Jesus was asked this question he told the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In Jesus days the people regarded Samaritans as bad. Today Jesus might have told the Parable of the Good Communist or the Good Fundamentalist Muslim.

So this is a real challenge! And this is what makes Christianity different from other religions. Particularly these days, circumstances make us hate. Even Barak Obama called for the eradication of ISIS. If we aim for eradication, how can we expect that they might change?!

The American Baptist Minister Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez! Some people ask for violence out of fear. Jesus said (Matt. 5: 44), ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ No other religion says that. That is what makes being a Christian challenging!

Now the text

from 1. Tim. 6 above also shows that most Christians were slaves (verse 1). However, some of them seemed to have been masters (verse 2). Today we all seem to be our own masters. We appreciate freedom. So, does our freedom come form the love of money? In any case, we shall not be highminded. We shall not trust in riches. We shall not hold a love of money!

Don’t covet riches, for (verse 10), ‘the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.’ We might have to deal with money, but we shall not hold a love of money. We shall not serve it!, For (Matt. 6: 24; similar in Luke 16: 13), ‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding!