John T. Willis

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Love of Money

"Love" is a multilateral phenomenon. In English and other languages, "love" has many, many meanings. We often say things like:
    "I love chocolate."         "I love football."          "I love movies."
    "I love flowers."            "I love friends."            "I love sleep."
    "I love my parents."      "I love my church."      "I love Jesus."
    "I love my wife."           "I love my children."    "I love the flag."
    "I love travelling."         "I love California."       "I love ice cream."
The list goes on and on and on. The Bible itself uses the word "love" in numerous ways. A strong warning in the Bible repeatedly is the danger of "the love of money."

I. The Value of Life.
    a. What is really important in a person's life? In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus taught us that what we eat, what we drink, what we wear are all gifts of God. None of these belong to us. They are not really our possessions or under our control. Our daily bread is constantly a gift of God. What is important is "the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Let us focus on that, not on our possessions.
   b. Our greatest problem is ourselves. We are very self-centered people. We assume that what is important is WHAT I WANT. Our heart problem is GREED. I WANT WHAT I WANT. Jesus taught us in Luke 12:13-21: "BE ON YOUR GUARD AGAINST ALL KINDS OF GREED." Then, to emphasize this point, he gave the Parable of the Rich Fool.
     "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and then I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'YOU FOOL! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is for THOSE WHO STORE UP TREASURES FOR THEMSELVES BUT ARE NOT RICH TOWARD GOD."

II. The Brevity of Life.
     a. Psalm 90 uses six figures to emphasize the brevity of life.
         1. Yesterday. Tomorrow today will be yesterday. Tempus fugit. Time flies. Our lives are like yesterday. 90:4.
         2. A watch in the night. In the ancient Near East including often in the Bible, people set up people to keep watch to guard against enemies and invaders and predators. A watch was normally from 6 to 9, 9 to 12, 12 to 3, and 3 to 6, or in other cultures, from 6 to 10, 10 to 2, and 2 to 6. After those few hours, new sentinels would replace the former sentinels. Our lives are like a watch in the night. 90:4.
         3. A dream. All human beings dream often while they are asleep. After they wake up, the dream is over. Our lives are like a dream. 90:5.
         4. Grass. Throughout the world, in the spring plush grass is beautiful green. But when the sun beats down on the earth, the grass withers and the land becomes brown. Our lives are like grass that flourishes for a very short time and then withers. 90:5-6.
         5. A sigh. Almost every day, every individual sighs at one time or another. This is a very natural part of daily living. Our lives are like a brief sigh. 90:9.
         6. The migration of birds. The psalmist reminds us that our lives are 70 or 80 years, and then "they are soon gone, and we fly away" like a flock of geese migrates from south to north as winter moves in. Our lives are like flying away, like the migration of birds.
    b. In 1 Timothy 6:6-10 gives us this strong, important message:
        "There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought NOTHING into the world, so that we can take NOTHING out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who WANT TO BE RICH fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For THE LOVE OF MONEY IS A ROOT OF ALL KINDS OF EVIL, and in THEIR EAGERNESS TO BE RICH some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains."

III. Nations, Churches, Universities, Agencies.
      a. Most nations, churches, universities, agencies, and the like assume that they MUST make MORE and MORE and MORE MONEY to survive. That sounds so LOGICAL.  And does indeed IF one is thinking on a human level.
      b. But what if a person or a nation or a church or a university or an agency seriously trusted in God alone, what would happen then? It is always a BIG RISK to step out in TRUST. What is YOUR choice? What is OUR choice? What is MY choice?

Share YOUR thoughts and experiences and insights and reversals and shortcomings with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis