In 1 Timothy 3:3 Paul instructs Timothy that elders should be “free from the love of money.” From further study of the Bible it’s clear that this instruction isn’t just limited to elders but it is for all of God’s people. I know for me, it can be easy to feel like I’m “free from the love of money” just because I don’t have a lot of it but Paul’s instruction here doesn’t have anything to do with our quantity of money. Paul doesn’t say, “Be free from money.” This instruction deals with our desires and feelings towards money, whatever the amount. My heart is often revealed when unexpected bills or payments come up. If I get stressed or frustrated this shows exactly how I feel about money and what my desire is. The stress comes because I am unsure or uncertain about having what we would need. This reveals that I desire money just to feel comfortable and under control. Frustration is usually a result of selfishness. I get upset because money that I thought I had can no longer be used to get what I want. This reveals that I desire money to have my way and depend on myself for what I think I need. There are many tough lessons the Lord has already taught me and is continuing to teach me concerning money. It is something that we all need to function in our society but it is also something that we all need to be extremely cautious and aware of because of the dangers that it can cause in our relationship with God.
Money can be hard to talk about but the issue of money, wealth, and possessions is touched on all throughout the Bible because it is important to talk about. The Lord not only gives instruction but also gives clear warnings about what the love of money can cause in our lives:
The love of money can cause us to forget God (Deut. 8:11-17)
God warned the people of Israel that there would come a time when they would be blessed and all that they had would increase. This seems like an unusual thing to give a warning about but God says, “Beware, lest you forget the Lord your God…otherwise, you may say in your heart, “My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.” If you think about it when are we the least likely to come to God about our finances? When we don’t have a need. It can be really easy to forget God when you feel comfortable. You are also more likely to trust in your bank account or checkbook during these times rather than God but the truth is, God provides and gives to His people just to remind us that He is the provider. God cared for His people throughout their time in the wilderness to show them where their trust should be. There are times that God puts us into difficult situations financially just so that we will remember this. In Matthew 6:31-33, we can find a principle from Jesus’ command to us not to worry about our basic needs in life. That principle is: Don’t forget God because He won’t forget you.
The love of money can cause us to not be content (Heb. 13:5)
In this verse we see the same phrase that Paul uses in 1 Timothy 3:3. Contentment is what it looks like to be free from the love of money. Ultimately, we should be content with Christ. If we have Him then we have all that we need. One of the major difficulties that we face living in our American society is a sense of entitlement that we all face. When it comes down to it we are just expected to have different things at different stages in our lives whether we truly need them or not. We should fight those feelings that we deserve certain things or earned the right to possess other things and be content with what God has already given us. A great key to contentment is perspective. Just think of all that you have been given that so many others don’t have!
The love of money always drives out love for God (2 Tim. 3:1-4, 1 Tim. 6:9-10, Matt. 6:24)
Paul is clear about this because Jesus is clear about this. Just think of the example of the rich young ruler. His stuff won. He just couldn’t follow Jesus if it meant letting go of what he had. We cannot let our desire for money, comfort, and stuff beat out our desire for Jesus.
If we want to be free from the love of money we need to remember the message that Paul relayed to us from Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Giving is always greater than getting. Contentment is always greater than want. We were made to remember the Lord and rely on Him- don’t let your money get in the way of that!
Trusting The Great Provider, Pastor Rudy