The Love of Money
By Gary Amirault
In 1 Timothy Chapter six, in the New King James Bible, verses 6-10 we find:
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Please note the New King James talks about a root of all kinds of evil. The original King James says the love of money is the root of all evil.
"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".
It is quite clear there is a difference between a root which leads to different kinds of evil and the root which leads to all evil. Having been saturated with King James scriptures, it surprised me when I saw a different reading in the New King James. Checking through other translations, I found them to be in agreement with the New King James. These few differences have changed my understanding of this passage of scripture. When people say there is no difference in doctrine from one translation to another, they are either not being honest with people or they are not really seriously comparing.
Now it seems obvious King James himself didn't care how the passage read. His love of money was insatiable. He loved extravagant parties, enjoyed bestowing lavish gifts upon his "male favorites," and as a result, was constantly in debt. He used many schemes to gather money; everything from selling titles to trying to marry his son to a Spanish Catholic princess for her dowry, which was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. He made his "male favorites" very rich. He clothed, fed and housed them with items far beyond the limitations of the scripture we are dealing with. King James died broke and miserable. It seems the latter part of the above scripture was to be the fate of King James.
One of the problems the King's translators may have had with this passage is the Greek word 'philarguria' which they translated "love of money." The Companion Bible states in the margin this word occurs only here in the entire Bible. This makes the word a hapaxlegomenon, which is a Greek word Bible translators use for words in the Bible that occur only once. It is difficult to give a word a meaning if it is only used once, especially if we don't have dictionaries from this time in history that will give us the definition of that word at that time in the history of the Greek language. The King's translators were faced with many hapaxlegomenon which perhaps forced them to rely on the Latin Vulgate and previous translations more than if they had the hundreds of manuscripts, papyri, etc. that scholars have access to today.
All languages change meanings of words from one generation to another. Our generation has changed the meaning of many words. Future dictionaries will have to change their definitions to conform to our usage of those words. Many people do not realize that the purpose of dictionaries is to give the meaning of words as used at the current time. When a society no longer uses a word a certain way, dictionaries will drop that meaning. In other words, using a 20th century English dictionary to try to understand 16th century English will certainly leads to many errors.
I threw the above in just for a little trivia, and its helpful to know these things. The subject of this article is the love of money, not etymology, etc., so let's look at that subject.
I feel like I know a lot about the love of money. As a small boy, I told my mother I would be a millionaire and buy her a big house. In my years before meeting Christ, I spent a great deal of my energy trying to become a millionaire before the age of 30. At one point, I had the position to do it, but my conscience got in the way. After becoming a Christian, I was probably encouraged to become a millionaire even more than when I was in the secular world. After all, the churches I was in always needed money for new buildings, new steeples, a Sunday school building, a new house for the pastor. I was presented more money-making schemes after becoming a Christian than before. And anyway, we were the sons of Abraham. He was rich and so should we. And isn't the wealth of the heathen laid up for us Christians? So as long as I made sure that I had plans to give at least 10% off the top to my church (not directly to the poor) I was encouraged to participate in as many dollar chasing adventures as my little old heart desired.
Today, I am delivered from much of this mammon worshipping in the name of Jesus, but I am definitely not delivered from the love of money. What really is the "love of money?" If it is a root, how deep does it go? Let us see how far we can trace this root. Perhaps if we can see the end of the tap root, maybe we can begin to starve it out.
The root of a plant is the source of much of what a plant needs to live. It draws minerals, water etc. which then gives the plant its nutrition. A plant has no choice where it is planted. It must draw from the environment in which it is planted. A Christian does seem to have a choice as to the kind of ground from which to draw from. My experience as a Christian has shown me the love of money root is alive and well in just about every denomination of Christendom. It is even preached as a good thing in America. Again, only if the church gets its "fair" share.
Most of us, when we think of money, think of dollars in our wallet, stocks in a mutual fund, or treasury bills, or quarters in a big water cooler container, something like that. But that is really not the issue here. Money is just a medium of exchange of goods and services. Even more basic, it is a medium of exchange of labor. I swap my skill of making shoes for your skill of baby sitting. Instead of swapping services, we swap an IOU or a E.O.M. (you owe me) that we can exchange with anyone we want for whatever our society thinks is worth the same value. Abraham Lincoln said it this way, "Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed."
Now if an hour of my labor is just worth an hour of someone else's labor, it would mean that someone who had a lot of money in the bank and didn't buy a lot of things would just save his labor. But that is usually not the case. People with a lot of money in the bank usually spend a lot of money as well. How is that possible? Well, that old Jacob nature (heel grabber) seems to have come up with a scheme where some people's hour of labor gets much more than someone else's hour of labor. Even worse, some of us "Jacobs" have gotten into the business of managing money for a profit so there are thousands of people sitting at desks managing money to make more money.
The key ingredient in making this all work is this magic thing called "interest." The Law of Moses called this stuff "usury" and it was a big no no! The "Jacobs" (intellectuals, professionals) of this world have changed the medium of exchange to be able to steal some of that labor of the Esaus (general laborers) of this world. As a matter of fact, the scheme has gotten so sophisticated, the "Jacobs" of this world can pass on this stuff called money to their children, and their children can make the money work for them instead of having to work for themselves. They no longer have to labor to earn their daily bread. As a matter of fact, they can get other peoples money just by having money sitting in the bank. In other words, there are many people today making money by having money, not by laboring and earning their bread, clothes, etc. I have steered into economics a bit just to let you know the world's system of proper payment for a day's labor has gotten far off God's plan of fairness.
Now those of you who are playing "Jacob" in this situation, please don't feel condemned. You have been born into a world economy which has certain principles and you are just doing the best you can. I am not writing this to condemn you. You may want to ask the Father to search your heart and see if there be any wicked way in you. You may also ask Him if there is anything you can do to get more into His line of economics. Things are not fair in this world. We do the best we can.
Those of you who feel you are being ripped off by the money managers, professionals, doctors, lawyers, politicians, ministers, businessmen etc. and want your "fair" share back, just remember this, it won't happen until Jesus sets up His Kingdom. This whole structure is too big for any of us to dismantle. We must learn to be content wherever our Father has us. Learn to be content with little and learn how to manage much. One day the "Jacobs" (all of us) will give an accounting and probably be found very short. One does not have to have money to have the "love of money." The poor and the rich qualify for this disease. Enough of economics. Let us get back to the subject again and look at this from a much deeper view point.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?. . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Portions of the end of Matt. Chapter 6, read all of it)
Here is where I have my trouble with the love of money. Why do I want a large bank account? I have no desire to use money for the power of controlling people. My ego does not find satisfaction anymore in having more than Mr. Jones. I really want Mr. Jones to be comfortable, happy, and if he has much more than me, it does not make me feel inferior. I don't want a mansion, Cadillac, $500 dollar suits, or diamond rings. But I also don't want to wake up each morning empty-handed like a sparrow and rely on His provision for the day! I see some sparrows in the world (human sparrows) who wake up in the morning and die that very day because there was no food in their country. I look at world history and I see the greedy always get more than their share because they stole it from someone who now has less than their share and our Father lets it happen. If I don't watch out for myself maybe I will be the next casualty. Who am I that He should pass over me as far as being ripped off goes? If He lets a little African kid die of hunger because we American Christians spend a trillion dollars on church properties, pastor retirement funds, and stained glass, then maybe He will let other people's greed cause me damage as well. It really comes down to "Can I really trust Him?" "Do I really trust Him?" We are so quick to religiously say "Of course," but I have gotten much more honest with myself these days.
Of all the people I know, I should trust Him. I have received so much miraculous provision, I could write books of the miracles He has done in my life. He has sent angels, had a Bible fall from the sky when I needed one, had people give me envelopes with money in it. Envelopes in the mail with no return address with money in it. He has given me a healthy body and education that can allow me to earn far more than the average income. But I have definitely seen His ability to provide miraculously.
In the midst of all this, however, I've had physical ailments I couldn't go to the doctor for due to lack of insurance, had to work in a position for almost a year as a near slave for a fraction of the salary I really could make, found myself all of a sudden on food stamps and electrical assistance. I could blame these things on other's greed, my stupidity, etc., but I see the Father's hand in all of it. I learned compassion in the midst of all this. He showed me how much pride was still in me that I thought was no longer there, He showed me I still don't completely trust Him yet. As long as things are not "fair" down here, perhaps I will always have a problem here on earth with this. I don't know.
Now if I were truly crucified with Christ, no longer living to self, then there would be no problem, would there? Dead men don't have to worry about things like hospital bills, can I help my children with college etc. or will they have to fend for themselves?
Jesus spoke those words about not worrying about tomorrow in front of His disciples. Yet these disciples had to go on Jewish welfare while Jesus was with them. Remember the grains of wheat they ate on the Sabbath from the field? That wasn't their own wheat they were eating. Then on Pentecost, the church laid their possessions at the feet of the apostles. First crack at Christian communism. Not too many years later, Paul had to go around to Gentile churches to bail out the first church, Jerusalem. It seems the administrative system or something went wrong. They found themselves poor and Yahweh allowed it. Many had their properties taken away from them because they were Christians. Many died.
Today, in many parts of the world, as in many Moslem and Hindu countries, one's faith often means a loss of income, station in life, and persecution and death. If our Creator allows these things to come upon his own children, there is a very natural mechanism within us to try to hedge our bets, create a little buffer zone, an ace in the hole, so to speak.
Part of my lack of trust comes from the fact that I don't hear Him on every decision that deals with things that concern money. I don't "check in" on every purchase. I am not really sure how much we are to check in and how much He wants us to do the best we can. Doing absolutely everything you are told produces a good slave, but I think our Father is interested in producing more than slaves.
Let's get right down to the root of this whole thing. It really started back in the garden. There is where the "love on money" thing really started. The serpent in Genesis Chapter 3 told Eve that the Creator was holding out on them. There was something she should have, but God didn't want her to have it. She was not content with her provision from God. She was open to getting more than what was given to her. Now the Creator of Eve made her that way. She had the ability to covet more than what was given her and so she did eat and so did her husband and the curse for our sake went into affect. "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return." (Gen. 3:17-19)
In this scripture we find the source of our problems and also the solution. Toil, thorns and thistles, sweat, dust-- who in the heck wants to live a life like this?! On top of that, He says all this will come upon us for our sake! Most people, Christian and non-Christian cannot make any sense out of passage of scripture. Most people, Christian and non-Christian do whatever they can to avoid the above. We will devise all kind of schemes to avoid hard work, sweat, etc. We will gamble, play the stock market, put our hope in a patentable devise, steal, cheat, create sophisticated corporations to rob the poor while appearing to be a Godly law-abiding citizen. We will even elect congressmen with our own corrupt nature to pass laws to make ourselves look lawful while we rob the poor. We will put several middle management levels between us and the victims. We will create all kinds of institutions who will declare we are righteous, while in our hearts, we are really thieves. We speak so pompously of how we have laid it all at Jesus' feet, but we are only deceiving ourselves. Most of us really do not want God to speak to us about how to manage our resources. He might want us to give a lot of it away, and perhaps He will ask us to do just that.
The church is the riches institution in the world. If you saw the methods it used to become the richest institution and who its victims were you would be shocked. Our tape The Church is a Rich Whore briefly touches on the subject. The church is definitely a great horder. The Roman Catholic church has warehouses full of precious art, gold objects studded with valuable jewels. The denominations of Christendom keep the stock brokers very busy managing their stock portfolios. Billions upon billions of dollars while the world is supposedly going to hell. This unsatiable desire to hoard, which the church is very guilty of, is a desire in all our hearts. We want rest. We want to decide how many hours we want to work, and when, and where. We want life insurance, retirement insurance, college insurance, dental insurance, health insurance, insurance, insurance, insurance! Why? Because we really don't trust Him! We have to watch out for ourselves. And we really would like to get rid of this "thorns and thistles, sweat, toil, and dust" business.
There have been societies in which many people did manage to get rid of the "thorns and thistles" business. Perhaps the society most associated with evil in the Bible is Sodom. This city is used often by evangelists to scare people into their sects. But God's account of the evil of Sodom is quite different than the account of this city's sin portrayed by most modern preachers. Here is God's reckoning of Sodom's situation: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore, I took them away as I saw fit." (Ezekiel 16:49,50) All of Ezekiel Chapter 16 should be read a dozen times by those who are the "God's people" of today.
What do we have in this account of which the church and the United States is guilty? There is no doubt in my mind that the American church alone could alleviate all the hunger of the world immediately. Why doesn't she do it?
I know my problem with God is one of trust. As I said before, if there is anyone who should have no excuse in trusting Him absolutely, it should be me. I believe His ultimate end for all mankind is for its good; I believe He will eventually save all mankind; I believe ultimately He is not a respector of persons; I believe He loves me and you with an indescribable love; I believe He will one day wipe away every tear, and yet I know my trust still has to come to a deeper place. I also know He is the one Who is going to have to work this thing into my heart. Saying I trust Him and manifesting true trust are two entirely different things. My words are worthless, but when He perfects it, then there will be worked in me something Eve didn't have in the garden, true trust. We will all one day have this trust, it will be a very precious thing which He has been working on in us since the garden. We all will have learned that He truly does all things for our good. We need not believe lies anymore like "God is holding out on you." All He withheld from us in the garden were things like suffering, pain lack, selfishness, and toil. When Eve trusted in the word of the Serpent, we received those things which our Father withheld from us. When our trust returns perfectly to our Maker, we will be fooled no more, and our tears will be wiped away forevermore. My heart yearns for that day.