1 Timothy 6:4 – 10:  Some false teachers may deny these things, but these are the sound, wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they are the foundation for a godly life. Anyone who teaches anything different is both conceited and ignorant. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, fighting, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they don't tell the truth. To them religion is just a way to get rich.

Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth. After all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Often times, we simply read the verses about money being the root of all evil and we call it a day. That’s what I like to call “verse of the day Christianity.” But, the Bible is not quite that simple. Whenever you read God’s Word, you must read it in its full context. As we read this verse, we can see that Paul is expressing to us the utter failure of money to give us anything. As long as we believe that money will bring us happiness, we will always be disappointed. When we love money, we learn it is an empty love.  You see, money can’t love you back.  It is incapable of reciprocating your love.

Loving money is expensive. It can cost you your family, precious time (as you pursue its accumulation), and of course your relationship with God. When you allow money to be your god, you find out rather quickly that it makes a poor god. It becomes a jealous god that has but one goal: to destroy anything in your life that doesn’t believe as it does. That’s not love. Jesus said:  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NIV). Jesus told us the two greatest commandments we can keep are love God and love others. He says nothing about loving money. Loving money interferes with our ability to love God and love others.

God created us to love people and use things, but materialism leads us to love things and use people. A.W. Tozer said “The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in. What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day.” 

John Calvin said, “where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost His authority.” And if God loses authority over your heart, there will be a God-shaped hole in your heart that can’t be filled by anything or anyone other than God. Money is like a fresh bag of potato chips: half substance and half air. Yet, we keep buying those bags of chips believing that the next time we open a bag, it will be completely full. But, alas, it never is.We continue to pursue it in hopes that this time it will satisfy. But, alas, it never does. Money is necessary. We need it for food and shelter. That is the substance part. The rest of it is simply vapor. 

Satan is the Lord of Materialism. He will use our money, our materials, and our possessions  to lead us down the deep and dark path that leads to his kingdom. In Luke 4, we see that Satan says the following to Jesus: "I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them-because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will bow down and worship me." You see, Satan wants nothing more for mankind to worship him. But, he has a more insidious plan for those of us who worship God. He’s smart enough to know we will never directly worship him, so he tries to tempt us to worship and depend on something, anything, else but God.

Some would say that Satan’s greatest resource in his effort to take our focus off God is money. Money is universal. It affects all of us. We need to remember how easily money can be a stumbling block whenever we are tempted to give our love and sense of security to our bank accounts. 

Steve Scalici is the Vice President of Treasure Coast Financial, a financial planning firm in Stuart, FL. He is co-host of God's Money which can be heard weekdays at www.oneplace.com. He can also be reached at his website www.tcfin.com.