“Word for Today” – 1 Timothy 6 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

April 30, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

swine-flu-1Amidst the many health fears that are swirling around the recent swine flu outbreak, an outbreak which the World Health Organization is now ominously calling a pandemic, there are also some financial fears.  Although pharmaceutical stocks are understandably soaring, other portions of the economy are not faring nearly so well.  Some countries like Russia are restricting imports for fear of the spreading pandemic.  The airlines are hemorrhaging capital as people cancel flights to Mexico, the epicenter of this worrisome outbreak.  Wall Street, it seems, once again has the jitters.

Jitters about money are nothing new:  Not in the past two years, and not in the past two millennia.  Such jitters can, however, invite us to a kind of “gut check” on the position that money holds in our lives and souls.

“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  These words from Paul to Timothy have been quoted and misquoted countless times.  Because of the widespread misuse of this famous passage, a couple of observations are here appropriate in order to guide us in a proper understanding of Paul’s instruction.  First, it is the love of money, not money itself, which Paul warns against. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this verse quoted as, “Money is the root of all evil.”  Wrong.  Money itself is not evil.  It’s the perverted desire for money, also known as greed, which is evil.  Thus, jitters about financial downturns are perfectly appropriate and even understandable, for we are called to be responsible with the wealth that God has entrusted to us.  And watching this wealth evaporate in a tide of financial uncertainty is never fun.  However, if our jitters over the latest financial effects of the swine flu pandemic reveal that we are more concerned with the pandemic’s financial effects than we are with its human effects, we have crossed the line from managing money to loving it.  And that is sinful.  For the people who are suffering from this dreaded ailment must be more precious to us than the money that is lost from it.  After all, we are called by Jesus to love people.  People belong in our hearts.  Money only belongs in our checkbook.

Second, it is important to note that the love of money, although it is “a” root of all evil, is not “the” root of all evil.  There have been some who have told me, quite glibly, “I don’t love money.  I don’t have a problem with greed.”  For argument’s sake, let’s grant that for a moment.  That does not mean that there is not another root of evil which can plague a person’s soul.  By using the indefinite article “a” rather than the definite “the,” Paul reminds us that we, as sinful, fallen, broken human beings, have the propensity to multiply roots of evil ad infinitum.  If the love of money isn’t a person’s particular root of evil, there is sure to be another root lurking not too far away.  Arrogance is not an appropriate response to Paul’s warning here.  For Paul’s warning indicts us all.

With this in mind, perhaps today is a day for a bit of soul-searching.  Ask yourself, “What roots of evil are growing in my life?”  Then confess them to God, asking for his forgiveness.  And, above all, remember that you need not be enslaved by these roots of evil.  For you are a beloved child of God, set free from sin by Christ’s cross.  Thus, as Paul promises, you can “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (verse 11).  Roots of evil need not take root in your heart.  For your heart is not a place for sin to grow, it is a place for Christ to dwell.  Praise God that our hearts are Christ’s home.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 Timothy 5 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 2 Timothy 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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