Summary: We're continuing in our series called CONTEXT so we make sure to understand the text in context.
Money is the Root of all Evil
Rev. Brian Bill
June 10-11, 2017
Our text for today is commonly taken out of context in our culture. When I did a Google search for “Money is the root…” it auto-filled with “of all evil.” As we will see today this is actually a partial quote or rather a misquote, of a Bible verse.
There are all sorts of clever clichés and maxims about money…
• Here’s one: “Money talks but all mine ever says is, ‘Goodbye.’”
• Mark Twain used to say, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”
• It was Elizabeth Taylor who quipped, “How can money be the root of all evil if shopping is the cure for sadness?”
• And here’s my favorite, “Money is the root of all evil. For more information, send $10 to me.”
You don’t need to give me ten bucks but hopefully we’ll discover some new information that will lead to our transformation today.
Last week we put the text of Jeremiah 29:11 into context and discovered that God will not always do what we desire but He will always do what He decides. This is sermon #8 in our series we’re calling CONTEXT – and we have six more to go!
Our text today is found in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to young Timothy. After installing him as pastor of the church at Ephesus he sent him two letters to equip him for the task of pastoring. We could summarize Paul’s proposition this way: True gospel preaching leads to true godly practice. He goes over the key ingredients that will make for a healthy church and in chapter six he gives Timothy some practical ways to deal with false teachers.
These prosperity preachers were promising financial gain for those who claimed it by faith. They were also trying to get rich from the redeemed. Sound familiar? In verses 6-8, Paul gives three ways to become a contented Christian.
1. Prioritize faithful godliness over financial gain. Look at verse 6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” The word, “but” shows the contrast with the common teaching. Godliness leads to contentment, which is “great gain.” The word “great” is the Greek word, “megas,” which means large or huge. Instead of focusing on wealth and health, we’re to prioritize growth in godliness. Godliness does not give financial gain; it is itself gain when combined with contentment. When we seek our satisfaction in the Savior, we’ll become content Christians.
2. Proclaim that what you have is not yours. Everything you have has been given to you and you can’t take what you do have with you when you die. Look at verse 7: “For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” The word “nothing” can be translated, “absolutely nothing.” Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return…” Solomon discovered this as well in Ecclesiastes 5:15: “As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.” Psalm 49:17: “For when he dies he will carry nothing away.”
3. Pursue wanting what you already have. Notice verse 8: “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” If we have the necessities of life, our needs are met, right? Contentment is not having everything you want; contentment comes when you want what you already have. Proverbs 15:16: “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.”
It’s interesting how millionaire J.D. Rockefeller once answered the question, “How much money is enough?” Here’s what he said, “Just a little bit more.” After he died, someone asked, “How much did he leave behind?” The answer: “All of it.” In contrast, listen to the wisdom of Corrie Ten Boom: “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
Contentment is not a function of what you possess but what you cherish. The key question is this: Is Christ alone enough for you? Christians can be content because Christ is with us as Hebrews 13:5 says: “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
In verse 9 we see a contrast with contentment: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” Paul lays out the slippery slope of chasing after “just a little bit more.”