He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Eliot
So what is your attitude toward money? The Scriptures have much to say about money. But really it is not so much about money as about our attitude toward money. I am sure we have all heard the quote by the missionary Jim Eliot noted above. And we would all agree that it would be a foolish choice to let our attitude toward money or anything jeopardize our soul’s eternal destiny.
I would like to visit one chapter and note some things addressed to 3 groups of people. Perhaps you will find yourself in one of the 3 groups. The groups are those who are not rich, those who want to be rich, and finally those who are rich. That is pretty all encompassing. If we are honest with ourselves we will find ourselves in one of the groups. The 6th chapter of First Timothy has something to say to each group.
To those who are NOT rich let us examine verses 6-8 for a simple reminder. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
Now let us note that to this group contentment is the key. Contentment is a choice that we make. It is an attitude and our attitude is a decision we make. Our life should not be defined by things. A friend once remarked that he had never seen a U-Haul trailer hooked behind a hearse. True, we will not take anything with us when we go.
The equation from verse 6 is simple, godliness plus contentment equals great gain. Contentment is a learned trait (Philippians 4:11) and is even expected of the child of GOD (Hebrews 13:5). Contentment with a godly lifestyle is a great combination.
So are we to conclude that NOT having riches is being praised? Not at all. As we read further it will be clear it has nothing to do with what we have or don’t have in our possession. It has everything to do with our attitude toward these possessions.
This attitude is clearer as we look to the warning given to the second group, those who WANT to get rich, in verses 9-10. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Note the emphasis is on the “desire to be rich” and “the love of money.” It is an attitude. It is not the actual money but rather one’s attitude toward the money. There are 2 warnings given in verse 10. This love of money can cause one to wander from the faith and also to encounter grief personally.
Occasionally we might hear someone sincerely note that money is the root of all evil. Please observe this is not a scriptural truth. It is not the money but rather the love of the money. It is the attitude. We can be guilty of loving money whether we have any or not. Further, I like the modern translations that read it is “a” root of all evil as opposed to “the” root of all evil.
And lastly we observe instruction given to those who ARE rich in verses 17-19. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living GOD, who give us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Now let us observe first that those who are rich are NOT condemned for having riches. They are admonished to 1) Not to be conceited; 2) Not to trust wealth for security; 3) And to be generous.
The Bible has much to say about financial matters. It is like so many other areas of life, are we willing to listen? Regardless of what we think, most of us are in the last group. We are rich compared to the world’s standards.
May we remember the words of Jim Eliot, He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.