"Money don't get everything, its true... but what it don't get, I can't use. 

Now give me money... that's what I want..

that's what I want, yeah - that's what I want...." 

-the Beatles

 

A few years ago when I was doing so much research in the Bible, my husband asked one day if I had any idea what the Bible has to say about money.  We know someone whose personality has changed a great deal since he became very wealthy - in some extremely negative ways that we didn't expect, too. This formerly friendly, kind person has turned into a competitive, belittling and obsessive person who talks of little but how much he has made this year & how many millions more he will make next year.  Once I watched him in conversation with my husband and my two hard-working brothers-in-law and was appalled as he proceeded to systematically criticize the companies these fellows worked for, call their employers incompetent, aggressively press these men as to what changes needed to be made in those companies (when these men are not the ones who can make those decisions!) then proceed to brag on how well-run his own company is. Sure he is doing well, and yes he is making a lot of money: what disturbed me was his insensitivity to the financial & working situation of these other men.  To brag about how many millions you've made to a hard-working man who just got laid off from a long-held job from which he had planned to retire - it makes me angry just remembering it now. How thoughtless and cruel.  Money - and here, the love of it - has changed this person in a terrible way.

 

In the Old testament, there is a LOT in the book of Ecclesiastes about money... remember this book was written by Solomon, a king who had the astonishing sense to ask God for wisdom, when told he could ask for anything and receive it.  His words ring true even these many years later. In *Ecclesiastes 2:10* and following, he says "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired.  I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

(v.17) So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.  All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.  And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?  Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun.  This too is meaningless."

In chapter 2 Solomon says:  "To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand over to the one who pleases God.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind!"

*Ecclesiastes 4:4* "And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor."  I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach when I read this, because it so accurately describes what I've observed in another financially fortunate friend who has a lot of money to spend on anything she wants; she constantly talks about how what she buys is better than what anyone else (including me!) has bought, without thinking how most of us have to settle for what we can afford... and she relishes bragging on how much better her stuff is, as though the joy is in outdoing everyone else.  It makes me very uncomfortable.

*Ecclesiastes 5:10*:  "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.  This too is meaningless... I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost through some misfortune so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him."

In *Ecclesiastes 7*, Solomon shows remarkable insight into the issue of why bad things happen to everyone.  Look at this: "Consider what God has done; who can straighten what he has made crooked?  When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.  There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins!"  (Well, so much for thinking we don't deserve to have anything bad happen in our lives...)  "The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant, or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all."

*Deuteronomy 8:10* "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands... Otherwise when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver & gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God.."

 

That gives me chills, because it so accurately describes the current mindset of that man I was telling you about earlier. The words of Jesus Christ are precise and insightful regarding the subject of money. *Luke 9:24* quotes him as saying "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his very self?"

Further on in the scriptures, Jesus has a LOT to say about wealth and materialism.  His views are so different from contemporary opinions its a bit of a shock if you're reading them for the first time... but I'll tell you something from the bottom of my own heart: his guidance will lead you to a peace of mind that is beyond compare.  He will lead you as he did me to a clearer vision of what really is important in this lifetime... please consider his words carefully:

Luke 12:15 "Then Jesus said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Luke 6:24  "What sorrows await you who are rich, for you have your happiness now.  What sorrows await you who are satisfied and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger is before you.."

(After telling the parable of the seed and the 4 types of soil they fall on, Jesus says) "The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things, so no crop is produced."

Matthew 6:19*  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and dust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven... for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

1 John 2:15 & 16  "For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world."

James 4:13 has these words from the apostle James to members and new believers in the church: "Now listen, you who say 'today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.'  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow!  What is your life?  You are like a mist that appears for a little while, and then vanishes... As it is, you boast and brag.  All such boasting is evil." 

Chapter 5: 1-3 says "Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.  Your wealth has rotted and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded.  Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.  You have hoarded wealth in the last days..."

Wow.  Those are strong words, aren't they?! 

 

1 Timothy 6 has Paul's comments on the same subject in this remarkable letter to his friend and fellow Christian Timothy: "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and into many foolish & harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, a man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.... Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous & willing to share.  In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life!"