“People of corrupt mind… have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:5-11, NIV
It’s a great passage and very prophetic, since Paul foresees a lot of crap that future Christians will teach about money. He debunks these heresies so that true disciples would have solid biblical arguments against them. First of all, he debunks the prosperity gospel, the idea that if you have a strong faith in God, you will get rich – godliness is a means to financial gain. Those who believe this are people of corrupt mind that have been robbed of the truth, according to Paul.
Another heresy Paul addresses is the idea that Christians should and could want to be rich. He says that we should be content with food and clothing (literally: nourishment and covering) while those who want to get rich fall into “many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction”. The Greek word for “get rich”, ploutein, can also mean “be rich”. We should thus not desire to be rich, but we should be content with the most necessary of things.
In fact, the love of money is a root to all kinds of evil, Paul says. How true is this not! The economic inequality of our world is responsible for millions of deaths in the developing world, it causes environmental destruction, conflicts, terrorism and refugee crises. 20% of the world’s population consume 80% of its resources, and the richest 85 persons have as much money as the poorest 3.5 billion persons. To fight poverty, we must fight wealth.
Now, many Christians today claim that it’s possible to be rich without having love of money. It’s not a problem with having wealth, they say, if your heart is in Heaven. However, Jesus said that we should acquire treasures in Heaven instead of on the earth, because where our treasure is our heart will be also (Mt 6:19-24). Thus, it is impossible to have our hearts in Heaven while we have our treasures on earth – to be committed to the Kingdom of Heaven, we have to give away our earthly treasures to the poor.
As we’ve seen, Paul equates love of money with the desire to be rich. Say that Mr. Smith has no love of money at all – he doesn’t want to be rich. Suddenly, a big bag of money pops out of thin air in his bedroom. Since he does not want to be rich, would he keep the money and spend them on a big house, fancy cars and luxury?
Of course not – he doesn’t want to be rich, so why would he be rich? Rich Christians often defend their wealth and greed with claiming that they would give their affluence to the poor if Jesus told them to. Well, He already has: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” (Luke 12:33)
As Paul said, flee from the horrible love of money, dear men and women of God. Stop being rich, be generous and promote equality instead. Then you will get a treasure in Heaven.