Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
God does not want us to be controlled by money. We are so easily obsessed with it, whether we have too much or too little. Responsible money management is important for our physical needs, but it is also a form of spiritual discipline to have our affairs under control so we are making decisions based on what God wants, not our budget. We often think of the super rich as the ones who most need to hear the beatitudes: “blessed are the poor!” But poverty can just as easily lead to idolatry if all of our thoughts are centered on money. The author George Orwell begins his book Keep the Aspidistra Flying with a tongue-in-cheek retelling of the famous love passage from 1 Corinthians to illustrate the overwhelming preoccupation that the poor (and everybody else!) have with money:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not money, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not money, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not money, it profiteth me nothing. Money suffereth long, and is kind; money envieth not; money vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things…And now abideth faith, hope, money, these three; but the greatest of these is money.”
So, we must be responsible with what we have and not orient our hearts towards constantly earning more. That’s harder said than done! It feels good to earn money! Responsibility and frugality are virtues, right? Sometimes the easiest sins to fall into are the ones that begin as virtues. Honesty is a virtue until it turns into needless cruelty. Purity is a virtue until it turns into a badge you can use to judge others. Responsibility is a virtue until it turns into greed.
It’s a tricky path, and we will almost certainly fail unless we continually pray for God’s guidance. We are prone to fixation, so we must begin each day with a submission of ourselves to His will. That is the takeaway for today and every day! Submit yourself to God’s will.
Pray: Heavenly Father, we pray that You clean our hearts and remove our obsession with money. We trust in You to provide for us. Grant us the wisdom to use what we have wisely and to further Your kingdom. Amen.