Summary: Paul says the love of money is the root of all evil, and Mark Twain said, the lack of money is the root of all evil. The one does not eliminate the other, for Twain's remark compliments Paul's.
Someone said, life is an everlasting struggle to keep money coming in,
and teeth, hair, and vital organs from coming out. Few have known this better
than General Ulysses S. Grant. He led the armies of the North to victory in
the Civil War, and was twice elected president of the United States. He was a
fairly wealthy man when he retired from public office, but he proved that the
wealthy have problems with money too. They make mistakes on a grander scale.
Grant invested his capital in a new Wall Street investment firm operated by a
smooth talking young man, whom Grant considered a financial wizard. If the
ability to make money disappear was what he meant, then he was a wizard,
indeed, for Grant lost everything, and at 62 he was penniless.
Among his many friends was Samuel Clemens who had published many
successful books under the name of Mark Twain. Clemens convinced Grant he
should write about the Civil War, and he would publish his book. Grant signed
the contract and got to work producing two volumes that rank among the world's
great military narratives. Grant got 10 thousand in advance, and his widow
got 200 thousand in royalties. His heirs also got close to half a million.
Clemens made a fortune on the deal, and he decided to try it with two other
famous generals. It didn't work, and Clemens had some reverses that led him
to go bankrupt at age 59. He too made a come back, and when he died in 1910
he left his heirs over half a million.
These two famous men illustrate the universal battle of life-how to make
money; how to keep it, and how to make it count. The Christian does not
escape this battle at all. The Christian spends a large portion of life
engaged in making, spending, giving, saving, and losing money. What makes
this hard is the Christian is not endowed with any special gift that enables
him to be any wiser than the non-Christian in his management of money. That
is why the New Testament is so full of warnings about money, and the danger of
being obsessed by it. There is also, as in our text, a lot of New Testament
advice on how to use money wisely.
All of this would be unnecessary if Christians were just naturally
financial wizards, but this is not the case. Martin Luther was one of the
great theological minds of history, but he had no skill whatever with money
management. At age 42 he had not yet saved a penny. When he married
Katherine Von Bora she discovered he was a money management drop out, who let
money slip through his fingers with no accounting for where it went. She had
to tell their banker not to honor a draft unless she first approved it. She
had to take over to protect him from himself. This story has been repeated
over and over again in the lives of Christian leaders.
C. S. Lewis was one of the most brilliant Christians of the 20th century,
but he had no sense of money management. When Joy Davidman married him, she
found that he had thousands of pounds he didn't even know he had. He also had
a small fortune in his checking account, and this was back in the day when
there was no interest on it. She quickly got it into a savings account.
One of the reasons many genius type people are not good money managers is
because money is not that important to them. They are preoccupied with other
and greater things. Einstein, for example, sometimes used his check as a book
mark, and then turned it into the library. Robert Frost wrote, Never ask of money spent
Where the spender thinks it went.
Nobody was ever meant
To remember or invent
What they did with every cent.
It is admirable to be preoccupied with values greater than money, and not
to be obsessed with it. Prov. 3:13-14 says, "Blessed is the man who finds
wisdom, the man who gains understanding. For she is more profitable than
silver and yields better returns than gold." Luther and Lewis were wise in
devoting their minds to greater values than money management. But the higher
wisdom yet is to know how to use money wisely without it being the dominant
occupation of your mind. The Proverbs also speak highly of the values of
money. Prov. 10:15-16 says, "The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor. The wages of the righteous brings them
life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment." The balance life
calls for both the avoidance of addiction to money, and the application of the
advantages of money. In other words, money is a paradox. It is both