Across the Pastor’s Desk: Putting anything above God is the issue

Published 8:00 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” — I Timothy 6:10a

Don Rose

Perhaps one of the most well known and yet most misquoted verses of scripture comes from First Timothy. How often have you heard it said that money is a root of all kinds of evil rather than the love of money? Though money can have its issues, the writer of First Timothy clearly understands that it is not money, but rather the love of money, that is the problem for human beings. In the sixth chapter of this letter, the writer has advice for those wanting more money as well as for those who already have wealth. 

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The writer makes it clear that when the desire to obtain and to hold on to money takes over someone’s life, it will cause trouble. The writer does not say that poverty is noble and wealth is evil. He does say that there is a point at which God’s people are to be satisfied with what they have, knowing that they cannot take any of it with them when they die. The writer notes that a single-minded desire to continually acquire more can lead one away from the most important relationship with God. At the same time, the writer does not tell people of wealth to give away all that they have, but rather to hold loosely that with which they have been blessed and to be prepared to share with others whom they encounter in life.

The writer clearly understands that wealth can become a stumbling block to a healthy relationship with God and with others, as well as God’s creation. Wealth according to the measure of the world means power and influence. It can come as a shock to realize that none of that means anything to God. God desires and values a relationship with the children of God, a relationship based on trust in God’s love revealed in Jesus the Christ. Thus a healthy relationship with God is not based on anything someone can do or achieve or accumulate on his or her own, rather such a relationship is the result of what God has already done for all of creation in the gift of the Savior. When people are able to realize by the work of the Holy Spirit that what God has already given provides more than anything that the world can offer, they are set free from accumulating for the opportunities of sharing that present themselves regularly.

Often persons of less wealth are freer to share than are persons of wealth and means. Perhaps this is possible because they are not in a position to take things for granted or to become haughty about their social status. The sense of entitlement is rampant these days, a feeling of being owed whether by the culture or by God. The writer of First Timothy knows that there is no entitlement when it comes to God. Ultimately nothing of what the world values in the face of God’s gracious gifts and God’s desire for life for all of God children and creation.

Fundamentally the love of anything above God, whether it be money or prestige or power, can destroy the relationship that God would long to have with God’s people and the relationship God calls for God’s people to have with others. To love God first and foremost is to follow the path first walked by the Savior, one who continues to walk with us even in these days. Such a path leads and guides God’s children to faithful use of any and all gifts that God has so freely showered upon them.

Don Rose is pastor of Mansfield and United Lutheran Churches.